Jessica Florence (24) was given the all clear last week after her three-year battle with cancer led to her losing her right breast.
Now the architecture student from Jacksonville in the US has shared images of herself posing topless and wearing only jeans and a denim jacket on social media to show how she “slayed cancer”.
She first discovered small lumps in her right breast in 2014 and was eventually diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in May 2016.
After months of chemotherapy she had a mastectomy a year ago and following further rounds of radiotherapy had the breast reconstructed.
“I started treatment in June 2016 and had six rounds of chemotherapy in six months. Every three weeks I’d go to hospital. I had to move home and give up college.”
Jessica says she had a number of symptoms, which left her feeling very sick.
“Having cancer is this burden; there are always doctor’s appointments to go to and you’re afraid you might not wake up the next day.
“To know it’s not in me anymore is such a great feeling.”
Jessica says being given the all clear made her feel like she’d slayed cancer.
“I was the youngest at the treatment centre and I’d always go for my treatment in my red lipstick and heels.
“I’d dress up for every treatment. I tried to stay positive.”
Jessica says when she first had her mastectomy she felt like less of a woman.
“When you look at yourself you feel like what makes you a woman is your hair and breasts. Aesthetically you don’t feel normal, you feel handicapped.
“But I have a different perspective now and that’s because of the support I’ve had. My breasts aren’t going to define me. I define myself as a woman.”
Even though her recent photoshoot took social media by storm, Jessica says her first photoshoot was with her close friend Carissa Glanton in February after finishing radiotherapy.
“Carissa was the first person I revealed myself to and told my story to. People knew I had cancer but didn’t know what I was going through.”
The topless shoot with friend and photographer Nehemiah Nash only took place after she was given the all clear.
“He had a whole vision for it, which involved a pink background and me wearing a T-shirt but I said, ‘I think I have another idea.’
“I wanted to share my vision of what I thought breast cancer was. I want to show people you can smile through the pain.
“This was me explaining breast cancer and that’s why I love this photoshoot. It was so genuine and raw.”
Jessica says she hopes her pictures will inspire others to never give up.
“People told me I wouldn’t be here at the end of 2017 because of how sporadic the cancer was and how young I was.”
She says the response to her shoot has been nothing short of amazing.
“There has been so much love and support from both men and women.
“I’ve had a tiny percentage of negative feedback, including one guy who said breasts aren’t breasts without nipples, but it’s nothing compared to the 99% of people who’ve shown support.
“Everybody is afraid to show what they look like. I hope by doing this it will help somebody else in the long run.”
Source: Magazine Features