SurvivorshipBreast Cancer

Cancer Took My Breasts and Gave Me Self-Acceptance

Bethany Sell takes us through her thought process after learning she would have to lose her breasts to cancer, as she grapples with wishing to look “normal” but learning to embrace her new look.
April 2021 Vol 7 No 2
Bethany Sell
Cedar Lake, Indiana

As a woman, it was a lot to process when I found out I was losing my breasts to cancer. Besides the shock of having to undergo major surgery, I was overwhelmed by the amount of decision-making ahead.

Looking “Normal”

The first thing I had to decide was whether I wanted to reconstruct the shape of the breasts after they removed the cancer. It was a decision I did not take lightly, because I knew it would impact how I felt as a woman, but at the same time, I hated the idea of multiple surgeries, complications, and risks involved just so that I could look more “normal” again.

While trying to figure out what I wanted to do, I came across a picture of a beautiful survivor who had decided to go “flat,” and there was something about her photo that emanated resilience, power, and bravery.

Accept Yourself

I also discovered online groups of women who boldly shared their stories of going flat after mastectomy, and I was amazed at their fearlessness in the face of this life-altering change. Seeing them proudly accept their new bodies gave me so much hope—I wanted to own my scars with as much confidence as them.

I decided then and there that if I went flat, the only choice left was to fully accept myself, exactly as I am, without wanting to change a single thing. I would go forward with my decision boldly, without shame, rocking that fearless confidence I saw in those women who had inspired me to go flat.

Be Who You Are

Now, as a woman living outside the “normal” standards of beauty, I want to empower people to be who you are. To take your biggest insecurity and fully embrace it as a beautiful part of you that makes you unique.

I openly share my scars and my story, to help others feel that they can go through life-changing difficulties and come out the other side more confident and resilient than ever.

I hope to inspire others to own their journey and find their inner resilience and power.

Share this:

Recommended For You
Issue IntroductionsBreast Cancer
Shades of Pink
By Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, HON-ONN-CG
In her introduction to the October issue, coinciding with the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Lillie D. Shockney reflects on her own breast cancer experience and urges people to tell their loved ones to schedule screening mammograms.
Breast CancerFamily Members
A 40-Year Battle Against Breast Cancer: How I Continue to Honor My Sister’s Dying Wish
By Nancy Brinker
Nancy Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen, shares her inspiring story of how she started one of the most impressive cancer foundations in the country by keeping a promise she made to her older sister, Suzy.
Patient StoriesBreast Cancer
My First Mammogram and a Surprising Diagnosis
By Nicole Davis
Nicole Davis went for her first mammogram a few weeks after turning 40 and suddenly her worst nightmare was a reality.
Breast CancerPatient Stories
My Ups and Downs with Cancer
By Fay Jones
Fay Jones shares her story of a breast cancer diagnosis full of uncertainty, how she dealt with hair loss, and then finally being cancer free.
Last modified: April 26, 2021

Subscribe to CONQUER: the patient voice magazine

Receive timely cancer news & updates, patient stories, and more.

Race or Ethnicity
Profession or Role
Primary Interest