SHAY SHARPE: You know I have had people say that,
‘You have no breasts and you can’t get pregnant. You can’t give birth. So, technically
you are a man now.’ These breasts don’t define me. This isn’t what makes me a
woman. COMM: In 2004, at just 26 years old, Shay
was diagnosed with stage 3-breast cancer. SHAY SHARPE: Nothing can prepare you for cancer,
you know, even if you had a family history. Breast cancer wasn’t on my radar because
from all I know, you, you don’t, you can’t get breast cancer until you are 40. In my
mind, you can’t because you can’t get a mammogram till you are 40. So how would
you get breast cancer, you know, prior to then? And at the time the stats were breast
cancer was the number 1 killing cancer of women of 15 to 55. I never knew that information.
It’s like, ‘Why aren’t we, you know, preaching this more to our young women?’ SHAY SHARPE: And then radiation, you know.
Radiation is every day for several weeks. I needed age-appropriate support and it wasn’t
available. COMM: In 2011, Shay founded her own non-profit
cancer support charity, Shay Sharpe’s Pink Wishes. SHAY SHARPE: I grant wishes to young women
who have been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. We are educating, advocating, supporting,
mentoring all the young women who, who feel lost, who have questions, who needed that same age-appropriate support that I needed that wasn’t there. COMM: 10 years after her first diagnosis,
Shay’s cancer returned. SHAY SHARPE: It was cancer again. Whilst the
first time I went through numerous surgeries to, you know, have implants and preserve what would
look like breasts, you know. But after the cancer came back, I had both breasts removed.
It’s hard to embrace your femininity with so much, so many negative comments and negative
people and I was like, ‘You know, I am just tired. These breasts don’t define me. This
isn’t what makes me a woman.’ COMM: Through her organisation, Shay met Shanicka
who also survived two rounds of cancer. SHAY SHARPE: Shanicka just so happened, I
found out lives a block away from me but we met in New Orleans. Not even we met, I sat
on a panel and she remembered me from New Orleans. SHANICKA RICE: November of 2016 when my second
recurrence happened because I was just so traumatised and knowing that she had been through
it and I see that, you know she had been doing well. So I just felt like I needed to reach
out to her and connect with her. Unfortunately, we got close due to this nasty cancer thing
but something good, you know, came out of it. SHAY SHARPE: Even at the cancer, doing cancer,
she is gorgeous. I am picking her up and we are late because she is putting on makeup.
I love that because it came back to embracing that loving yourself at the breast cancer.
I am going through this. Yes, I am going through chemo. Yes, I am going through whatever. But
she still wanted to be sexy for her husband. She still wanted to be pretty for us. We were
not supposed to have this. You know, this wasn’t supposed to be our disease or whatever.
And we don’t want to lay around just be sick and old and ugly. We want to be cute
even in the midst of all of this. COMM: As she learnt to love her body again
after her second round of breast cancer, Shay started using modelling to help her embrace
her scars and to inspire other survivors to do the same. SHAY SHARPE: I have a plethora of topless
photos online. Even in 2014, when I came up with the decision to just remain flat. The
night before my surgery I called a guy that I would deal with off and on for years and
I said, ‘Would you still sleep with me when I have no boobs?’ He like, ‘Sure will.’
Like, I, he’s a guy and I just hung up. And in that moment, you know, even we have
just been silly, you know. I don’t think he knew the, the pat on the back that was
for me of, you know, ‘Hey, its okay. I am comfortable being flat chested. I don’t
mind it.’ You know, people say, ‘Well, how do you find clothes to conceal it?’
There is no concealing it, you know. And it’s’ just is, it’s just that and I am comfortable
with it. I know if I would have never been diagnosed with breast cancer, I would have
never started Shay Sharpe’s Pink Wishes. I would have never had the opportunity to,
you know, bless these women and I feel like that thing had to happen. I had no personal relation to it versus now it being my whole, my whole life.