How 5 Breast Cancer Survivors Learned to Love Their Bodies Again

How 5 Breast Cancer Survivors Learned to Love Their Bodies Again

young breast cancer survivor on Skin Wars

Going through a breast cancer diagnosis and a mastectomy -- sometimes two -- not to mention countless cancer treatments, doesn't just take a toll on your health, but on your body image as well. For survivors, there is triumph, but there is also struggle. Recently, five young women were featured on the body painting competition show Skin Wars and took part in an extra-special project that not only told their personal stories, but also aimed to transform how they felt about their bodies. Powerful? Yup.

The five skin artists left in the running to win the competition on the Game Show Network program were given a surprising mission. They were paired up with a volunteer from the Young Survival Coalition, a nonprofit that helps women diagnosed with breast cancer increase their length and quality of life. After hearing about the tremendous physical and emotional journey they'd gone through, each artist was tasked with painting a representation of that touching story directly onto the survivor's body.

"To say this experience was amazing is an understatement," Courtney Lercara, a two-time breast cancer survivor by the age of 35 and a single mom of four, wrote afterward. "It changed my life, the way that I feel about myself."

Click through the slideshow to see the transformation.

 

Image via Lisa Rose for Game Show Network

  • A New Normal

    1

    Image via Lisa Rose for Game Show Network

    "Breast cancer changes you," Courtney Lercara told CafeMom. "Going through chemo, surgeries, radiation can take nearly a year from the date of diagnosis -- and once you are finished, you will have a new normal. You will never be the same person you were before your diagnosis."

  • Leaving the Comfort Zone

    2

    Image via Lisa Rose for Game Show Network

    Amanda Hynum was 30 when she was diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer, which tends to be more aggressive than other forms of the disease. "I'm the person who doesn't wear shorts in the summer," she admitted on Skin Wars. "I'm here to push myself outside my comfort zone."

  • Stand & Fight

    3

    Image via Lisa Rose for Game Show Network

    "Once you're diagnosed with cancer, you have to make a decision," Marenda Hughes Taylor, who was diagnosed at 39, explained during the episode. "I chose to fight."

  • Express Yourself

    4

    Image via Lisa Rose for Game Show Network

    Felicity Palma, a Los Angeles–based artist, found out she had breast cancer when she was just 28. Out of all the survivors, she was the most eager to shed her clothes and be painted. "It just feels like an awesome and fun way to creatively express what I've been through," she explained.

    More from CafeMom: 20 Awesome Tattoos for Breast Cancer Awareness

  • Peaceful Warrior

    5

    Image via Lisa Rose for Game Show Network

    "By being here," Amanda Hynum said during the Skin Wars episode, "I'm showing that there is a purpose after breast cancer."

  • What Resilience Looks Like

    6

    Image via Lisa Rose for Game Show Network

    Pasadena native Brandi Melton said she refused to let herself get down when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 28. "Instead," she said, "... I was resilient."

  • Confident Inside & Out

    7

    Image via Lisa Rose for Game Show Network

    Felicity wasn't looking for fame when she agreed to come on the show.  "My focus is to try and find empowerment," she said.

  • Super Strong

    8

    Image via Lisa Rose for Game Show Network

    "Being here," said Marenda, "it really represents something strong, like a heavyweight champion type of feel."

    More from CafeMom: 10 Foods That Can Help Fight Breast Cancer (PHOTOS)

  • A New Beauty

    9

    Image via Lisa Rose for Game Show Network

    "I always see nothing but scars, lack of symmetry, ugliness, indented, no nipple on one side breasts," Courtney told CafeMom. "After Alison painted me, all I saw was beauty! I didn't see any of my flaws ... none! I have never felt so beautiful before."

  • Inspiration

    10

    Image via Lisa Rose for Game Show Network

    Brandi's motivation to appear on Skin Wars? "To inspire other women to actually go and get a mammogram," she said.

    For more info about breast health, visit YSC.

    More from CafeMom: 'I Survived Breast Cancer Because I Disagreed With My Doctor'

breast cancer body image

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