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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Coastal Carolina chapter.

On February 5th, 2010 my aunt had a double mastectomy to remove the cancer. This wasn’t the end for her though. There would be a long journey ahead. It isn’t easy going from having a flat chest to Dolly Parton. When I asked my aunt about her experience she said that she remembers thinking, “Okay so it feels like a brick on my chest and eww the two drains are nasty.” And yes, the two drains were nasty–I can confirm it. 

It took about four months for her to be able to get the expanders “the things that felt like a brick” removed. This got rid of most of the pain. My aunt felt so great that she overexerted herself. She was doing laundry when she felt/heard a pop under her breast. She had popped a stitch and would need to have the implant removed. It was back to square one for her right boob. Shortly after popping the stitch and getting it fixed she developed a nasty infection that took a week in the hospital and a PIC line. 

Finally, she was able to get her other implant back in and get her nipples tattooed. This was the most exciting part for me to hear about because she was able to pick the color and shape. If she wanted to she could have gotten her breasts to look like unicorns shooting rainbows. Literally whatever my aunt wanted she was able to get. I was upset that she decided to go with normal shaped and colored. I mean, I would’ve so gone for pink fists if I beat the battle against cancer. 

I asked my aunt if she had a message for other people who are going through treatment or for the family and friends of those going through treatment.

“American Cancer Society. I spoke with women who had the same surgery as me,” she said.

It helped her because she had people that knew exactly what she was going through and they were able to help her feel normal. She also gave advice on what type of clothing to wear, suggesting button-up tops and pajamas. 

Stay strong, you’re not alone. Find a Relay for Life event near you. Check it out. Meet people with the same experiences. Talk to people at different stages of their journey. Talk to the family members of people who are battling, battled, or fell to cancer. Learn about each person’s experience. It is empowering to know that you are not alone in your fight and that you are not the only person that is living with the side effects of battling cancer. 

It is a decade after my aunt’s life-changing diagnosis and she is in remission. Just like any cancer patient she is still worried about hearing those same three words for a second time. My aunt is heavily involved in her local Relay for Life Committee. Captain of her own team for the past nine events and celebrating her battle. A few years ago she had the honor of being the speaker at her town’s Relay for Life event where she gave a speech about her experience. She was honored as a survivor and honored other survivors. 

Michelle Boyette

Coastal Carolina '22

Michelle is a student studying public health, psychology, and creative writing. She is hoping that through her writing she will spark joy and change in a world that is desperately in need of both.