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When former "The Bachelor" contestant Lesley Murphy learned that she'd tested positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation, which indicates a significantly higher risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer, she knew she wanted to be proactive. Murphy's mom is a breast cancer survivor, after being diagnosed three years ago.
Murphy, 29, decided to have a double mastectomy to give herself the best odds of beating cancer before it strikes. And she knew she wanted to share the process with her fans and followers.
On Monday, less than one week after surgery, Murphy posted an open-shirt photo revealing her body as it is now — along with a message revealing where she is in her healing process.
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"My mom washed and dried my hair today," wrote Murphy, who gained reality TV fame during Sean Lowe's season of the love-connection series. "She dresses me in the mornings. She also measures my drains twice daily which are the tubes you see coming out of my lovely red apron I never take off. She's the freaking best. She slept in my hospital room and bed at home for the first few nights, helping me in and out of bed and giving me meds at horrid hours to control the pain."
Even with all that help from mom, recovery hasn't been easy for Murphy.
"I have to sleep on my back in the exact same position every night," she explained . "Sometimes when I make the wrong movements it feels like my chest is detaching from my body, but all in all, I think my upper half is healing nicely!"
As for what's really on display in her photo, Murphy offered a straightforward explanation.
"Sure, it's sunken in and lumpy because what you see are deflated expanders that were put in which will gradually get filled every 2-3 weeks as I get ready for reconstructive surgery," she added. "I feel lucky because my surgeons only made one vertical incision on the lower half of both breasts while saving skin & nipple. So while all breast tissue is (hopefully) gone, I retained some of the old me!"
The now travel blogger hopes that sharing her story will help others. It's already helped her.
"I read every heartfelt comment and truly feel the love of this incredible support system," Murphy wrote in her most recent post. "I'm amazed by all the stories told in comments, emails and DMs. Young, old, sad, happy, preventative, or a fight of a lifetime. Each one is inspiring, so thanks for telling your story and being so open and vulnerable here with me. Together we are creating so much awareness for early detection, screenings, gene mutations and how to work with the options we have."