By Shannon Lane @shannonroselane

GOING through the diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer not once but twice before the age of 40, Shay Sharpe has decided she doesn’t need boobs to prove she is a woman

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Videographer / Director: Jay Mallin
Producer: Shannon Lane, James Thorne
Editor: Alex Saunders

The 40-year-old not only decided to forego reconstructive breast surgery after her second cancer diagnosis, she has also posted numerous topless pictures of herself to celebrate her all-natural body - scars and all.

Shay, from Baltimore, Maryland, told Barcroft TV: “I am comfortable with my scars and I am comfortable exposing them

“We have this crazy picture in our head of what beauty is supposed to be and how we are supposed to look.

"Our breasts make us curvy and make us the figure that is gonna attract the man and make the woman jealous but I feel like I can still do those things without my breasts.”

Shay has also set up her own charity Shay Sharpe’s Pink Wishes, working with women with terminal cancer and, something she wouldn’t have begun if it wasn’t for her own experiences.

“I know that if I hadn’t been diagnosed with breast cancer I would have never started Shay Sharpe’s Pink Wishes, I would have never had the opportunity to meet these women - and I feel like that was a thing that had to happen.”

In 2004, at just 26-years-old, Shay was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.

She told Barcroft TV: “Nothing can prepare you for cancer, even if you had a family history. Breast cancer wasn’t on the radar because for all I know you can’t get breast cancer till you’re 40.

"In my mind you can’t because you can’t get a mammogram till you’re 40 so how would you get breast cancer prior to that?

"At the time the stats were that breast cancer was the number 1 killing cancer of women between the ages of 15 - 55. I never knew that information, why aren’t we preaching this more to our young women?

"Radiation is every day for several weeks, I needed age appropriate support and it wasn’t available.”

After undergoing treatment, in 2011, Shay founded her own non-profit cancer support charity: Shay Sharpe’s Pink Wishes.

Shay said: “We grant wishes to young women who have been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. We’re educating, advocating, supporting, mentoring women who feel lost, who have questions, who need that age appropriate support that I needed that wasn’t there.”

Ten years after her first diagnoses, Shay’s cancer returned.

She said: “Whilst the first time I went through numerous surgeries to have implants that look like breasts, when the cancer came back I had both breasts removed.

“It’s hard to embrace your femininity when there’s so many negative comments from people, and I’m just tired.

“These breasts don’t define me, this isn’t what makes me a woman.”

As she learnt to love her body again after her second round of breast cancer, Shay started using modelling to embrace her scars and to inspire other survivors to do the same.

“There are other young women who need someone to talk to, other young women who feel lost, who have questions. Women in middle-America who tell me they have never saw a woman without a breast before, they’ve never saw [sic] mastectomy photos.

“I just did a photo-shoot and a young woman said I was the first person she’s seen of colour who has a mastectomy online.

“I have a plethora of topless photos online and some people love it, some people hate it you know, I’ve had messages - would you be all sad without one? ‘Have some dignity’ and ‘put your breast on’ like I’m being un-lady like by going outside or showing myself

“Other people say I give them strength and I don’t know how or why this is just what it is.

“I am comfortable flat chested, I don’t mind. If people are like: ‘how do you find clothes to conceal it?’ There is no concealing it.”