When 33-year old mother of two Amanda Stewart from Carluke, Scotland, decided to get a double mastectomy to reduce her chance of getting breast cancer, she turned to the Internet for preparation and advice on just what was in store for her. Though Stewart did not have the BRCA1 gene that increases the risk of cancer, two of her aunts died of the disease and her mother also had it. (Her mother has been in remission for seven years.)
So she and her four family members decided the surgery was necessary to reduce their likelihood of being diagnosed—from 97% to 5%. Unfortunately, the internet failed to provide her with the kind of intimate information she was looking for.
"I couldn't find any preventative post-surgery photos or stories in the lead up to my operation, only post-cancer ones and they were all very sombre and sad," Stewart told The Independent (opens in new tab).
So she took matters into her own hands and set up a Facebook page called "Cancer. You Lose (opens in new tab)," where she chronicles her journey through personal accounts and "before and after" photos that courageously show the reality of going through the surgery.
"I wanted to share my scars in a positive way," she said.
The page has geared a strong following, probably because Stewart doesn't shy away from posting about some of the emotional and physical challenges of losing your breasts.
But users are also inspired by the way Stewart handles the serious situation with a great deal of humor and strength.
"I didn't think I'd be this positive afterwards but it's six weeks down the line and I'm getting better instead of facing breast cancer," she said. "I'm going to be around for my kids. It's a gift that's been given to me...and I've grabbed it with both hands."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said Amanda Stewart's mother had died of cancer. This was incorrect. Her mother, who is alive, battled cancer and has been in remission for seven years. Marie Claire regrets the error.
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My writing has regularly appeared in The New York Times, The Paris Review, Salon, VICE, Guernica, The New York Observer, BuzzFeed, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Esquire, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, and many more publications.
I was previously the Senior News Editor at Best Life Online and the Viral Content Editor in the Newsroom of Hearst Digital Media. My portfolio consists of a vast and diverse body of work that includes personal essays, lifestyle articles, breaking news posts, and viral content. My areas of expertise, however, are Russia, sex and relationships, and mental wellness.
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