Woman Covers Her Scars With A Wonder Woman Tattoo After Undergoing A Double Mastectomy

"I have this image of strength, power and fearlessness across my chest and that continues to build me up."

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In honor of the month, we will be highlighting the stories of those affected, as well as the people who come to their aid and help bring awareness to the issue.

Wonder Woman may be a fictional hero, but the strength and tenacity she's known for helped one woman recover and heal after a preventative double mastectomy nearly a year ago.

Stephanie Kelly, a 42-year-old mother living in Michigan, underwent the invasive procedure that involves the complete surgical removal of both breasts after learning she tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation, which put her at an elevated risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer.

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According to the Daily Mail, Kelly's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time in December 2015, so the stay-at-home mom-of-four elected to have the operation the following December. "With my family history full of cancer, I had always thought breast cancer was a question of 'when' and not 'if,' " she told the publication. "The genetic counselor said I had a very high risk. I didn't want to live in fear. I live next to my mom, and just watched her suffer from the chemo more than anything else."

Kelly, who also suffers from gastroparesis, fibromyalgia, depression, and anxiety, knew she wanted to embrace the double mastectomy because it was the best decision for her and her family, and throughout the course of her recovery she developed a special connection to Wonder Woman. "I have always loved Wonder Woman, and during this time I began to joke that I was going to be like Wonder Woman and be strong and unfazed by the things I needed to do that scared me," she told People, adding friends and family frequently sent her Wonder Woman-themed gifts. "It all helped me feel stronger, and it was a way to feel all the love and support I had and bring that along with me."

Though Kelly tells Daily Mail she misses her breasts on occasion, she knew she wanted to celebrate her scars and use tattoos to do it. Along with Wonder Woman, Kelly explained she was also drawn to images of the phoenix because the bird reconstructs itself from the ashes of its former body, and so the unique hybrid ink was born. "I brought both of these ideas to my tattoo artist, Miss Jamie at Lovely Monkey in Whitmore Lake, Michigan, and she designed my amazing chest piece. I absolutely love it," Kelly told People.

While a scar may serve as a painful reminder for some, Kelly's empowering tattoo has been a source of strength for her over the past year. "With my new Wonder Woman Phoenix tattoo across my mastectomy scar, I feel very confident. I have never been one to be just like everybody else," she told Daily Mail. "I feel like this gives me even more freedom to not care. I am never going to look like the majority of women in this world, so I get to reinvent myself into whatever I want and make this my new body my own."

As she concluded to People, "I have this image of strength, power and fearlessness across my chest and that continues to build me up. I see my scars now as entirely positive."

That freedom and confidence has connected Kelly with a new community of women and inspired her to raise awareness of the BRCA mutations โ€” an act Wonder Woman would most definitely approve of.

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