A brave woman who had both breasts removed due to cancer took part in a nude photo shoot and says she’s now “a happy flattie”.
Sharon Donnelly, 54, said she had to fight to have her second breast removed as she feared her cancer would return.
She said doctors told her it was healthy and initially refused to do the second operation.
But after battling the decision for months and finally convincing them to operate, she said surgeons discovered cancerous tissue in the remaining breast.
She now says she barely ever thinks about cancer and did the photo shoot to prove she’s “so happy being a flattie”.
Sharon, from Peterborough, Cambs., said: “Doing that empowered me more than anything else.
“It’s helping me. I just want women to know they can be empowered and free.
“You don’t have to worry about getting a bra on in the mornings.”
She added: “I didn’t feel my boobs defined me as a person.
“The most liberating thing of all is I have not thought about cancer since.”
Sharon was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2015 and in October of the same year, she had an operation to have one breast removed.
But soon after she decided she wanted to have the second one gone as well.
She said: “Every time you look down and see one boob there, you think it [the cancer] is going to come back. That thought will never leave you.”
Sharon said her cancer medication made her feel extremely ill due to complications with her type 1 diabetes, and claims she was “poisoned” by her radiotherapy.
“Even after all that I knew I still wanted to be flat for my health,” she said.
“I thought it I had it removed I would have the best chance of surviving the cancer.”
However, she claims that doctors initially refused to do the second operation, saying the remaining breast was healthy and offered reconstruction for the first breast instead.
“I never wanted the reconstruction,” she said.
“Reconstruction takes a long while to get over. It’s a series of surgeries. I didn’t want that; I just wanted to get on with my life.”
On Christmas Day 2016, Sharon sat down with her husband John and wrote a nine-page letter to her consultant surgeon.
In the letter, she explained why she wanted a prophylactic mastectomy – surgery to remove her second breast to reduce the risk of developing the cancer again.
Sharon was seen by a consultant in January, and after having to see a psychologist, she had an operation in April to have her second breast removed.
She described her recovery as “superb” and said it allowed her to enjoy the last moments with her husband John, who died in March this year.
She said: “John fought for me have it and I’m so grateful for that because I recovered and we had the last nine months together.”
Now, Sharon wants to fight to make it easier for women with breast cancer to opt for removal rather than reconstruction.
She said: “There are a lot of women wanting removal and having to fight to convince surgeons.
“I’m angry that I still had to go through that. I’m not angry for me anymore but other ladies are still going through it and it should not be like that.
“You don’t need a psychologist to have reconstruction but you do to have removal of a supposedly healthy breast.
“I want to fight for patients to have the options.”