Ashland, Ore.– “Pick something to do with your life that is going to leave the world a better place behind you,” says Katelyn Carey as she reflects on life advice from her late mother. For her that advice has never rung more true.
“It has since become clear what she was talking about,” she explains.
Katelyn is a wife, a mother and an ER nurse. Recently added to her long list of jobs is author.
“A medical textbook, combined with a letter from your best friend, combined with the mastectomy version of the sports illustrated swimsuit magazine.” Beauty after Breast Cancer, Katelyn’s three year project shares the intimate stories of breast cancer from the point of view of 38 survivors, 37 women and one man.
“For me the book came about because it’s the resource I wish I’d had,” says Katelyn. “Breast cancer was a part of my life before I was even born.”
Katelyn is all too familiar with what breast cancer can do to a woman and a family. Her great grandmother, aunt, and mother all passed from breast cancer.
Katelyn says, “The next several years I spent in fear of what is this going to mean for me.”
Extensive genetic testing showed Katelyn had a strong chance of getting the same diagnoses as her late family members. For her a preventative mastectomy was the best option.
“It is not only a body altering surgery, it is to a great extent a life altering surgery,” says Katelyn of her choice.
It was then that she realized the only resources available to women in her shoes were what she refers to as “cold” medical pamphlets.
“I wanted to change that. You can’t look at these women, these beautiful strong spirits and not think feminine, and strong and beautiful,” explains Katelyn of her book.
Pages of personal fears, triumphs, advice and laughs along with photos in which surgery scars are worn as accessories.
“For many people the book has become their private support group.” For Katelyn, the book has helped her heed her mother’s life advice.
“This project has become not just a legacy for me,” says Katelyn. “But also a legacy for my mother and she has been on my mind from start to finish.”
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