Kelly Garrison, 46, was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer – a form of cancer that’s incredible aggressive and spreads fast – in August 2019.
She decided that losing her breasts was a sacrifice she was happy to make if it meant she could live.
The mum-of-two underwent a double mastecomy, a surgery in which both breasts are removed, in a Floriday hospital in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now on a course of chemotherapy, Kelly has posed topless to inspire other survivors of cancer to embrace their post-surgery scars.
The former Starbucks manager said: ‘I’d rather lose my boobs if I know it gives me an extra day to live.
‘With the chemo I did, I lost my hair, my nails turned black, I gained weight and I had sores in my nose.
‘I took it in my stride and when my hair started to fall out – my fiance shaved my head for me.
‘I wanted to share the pictures because of the insecurities women go through.
‘You lose a part of your sexuality and womanhood when this happens.
‘Your body turns into something you no longer recognise in the mirror.
‘Eventually I realised this is the new me and I needed to learn to love the new person I am now.’
Kelly, a mum to Robert, 24, and Allison, 22, is at an increased risk of coronavirus as chemotherapy has left her immune system weak.
She has had to stop seeing her children for fear of infection, but has been able to go on social distanced dates with her fiance, Willie Miranda, 51, a school custodian.
Willie even surprised Kelly with a proposal on Christmas day, four months after her diagnosis.
‘With COVID going on, I hardly go out anywhere,’ Kelly said.
‘When I go to the hospital, I had to go by myself and Willie would wait outside in the car.
‘I have to be extra careful and there were times I couldn’t see my own kids after my surgery because of the risk.
‘Willie and I still have date nights but we order our food and eat it in the car.
‘It just makes your life a little more hectic because you have to stay secluded.’
Kelly plans to have breast reconstruction surgery down the line, but wants to love her body as it is now in the meantime.
Taking a topless photo is part of that journey of self-love.
‘Sometimes I hated to look at my reflection because I didn’t feel like that person,’ said Kelly.
‘I want other women who are going through this, who are afraid and ashamed, to know they need to learn to love their new body and not hold on to the old one.’
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