She was a contestant on Sean Lowe's season of the 'Bachelor' and has since launched herself into her travel blog, The Road Les Traveled. But what 29-year-old Lesley Murphy wasn't quite expecting this year was to find out that she was BRCA2-positive, the rare gene mutation that puts you at a higher risk for breast and ovarian cancer.
But once she knew -- she set in motion preventative measures to keep herself safe.
On March 8th, International Women's Day, Lesley revealed that she'd made the choice to get a double mastectomy. She said of the decision: "I have lots of life to live and potential cancerous cells aren't welcome here."
Bachelor alum Lesley Murphy shares double mastectomy story
Bachelor alum Lesley Murphy shares double mastectomy story
I've been thinking on what message to put out there about power, courage, and love and then it hit me... #InternationalWomensDay is the perfect time to share what I've been up to the past few weeks. It has nothing to do with exciting new destinations or more stamps in my passport. A couple of weeks ago I found out I'm BRCA2 positive, which means I'm at a high risk for breast and ovarian cancer one day. Buzzzz kill. I know. But it's true what they say - knowledge is power. I'm left with a few options and have decided that preventative surgery is what I want over various screenings multiple times a year. A double mastectomy at 2freaking9. Wtf?! Yep, it's happening.
In no way am I looking for pity through this story. I've wanted to share the news since the beginning simply to be an advocate for early screenings, detections and girl power👊🏻Bear with the choppy edits/audio. Day 2 video is coming (reconstruction/plastics, exciting stuff!) but in the interim, I'll be celebrating boobs, knowledge, taking action, and my breast cancer surviving mother today💞PS if you see dirt on my forehead, I shot this on Ash Wednesday😜
Day 2 was filled with plastic surgery discussions plus a mammogram, ultrasound and MRI in order to rule out any existing cancer or other problems before surgery (I'm cancer free!). I haven't spent much time in hospitals, so a long day like this gave me so much appreciation for those who must endure many minutes, hours and days inside their walls. As you can tell, I made it as much "fun" as I possibly could. Also, I can't tell you how much I appreciate everyone's messages on my video from yesterday. It feels SO good to have a support system like y'all, and I love how a platform like @instagram brings people together who've gone through similar circumstances. You say I'm inspiring, but the stories told in my comment section inspired me just the same and reconfirmed my decision to move forward with everything. A surgery date of April 11th is in the books! Until then, I have a month packed full of adventures overseas!🎉✈️
Lots of pink today as we say Ta-Ta to the TATAS!👋🏻
Cake✔️Pin the boobs on the babe✔️Pick your cup size drinks✔️The best support team ever✔️Ready as I'll ever be for Tuesday's surgery!💞If you didn't see my Insta live today, I'll be doing more either on surgery day or shortly after! #thanksforthemammories
The sun has set, and my final night with all body parts is here and now😱In less than 24 hours I will wake up different. What a strange feeling it is to miss your boobs, but I know this prophylactic double mastectomy is for the best. I have lots of life to live and potential cancerous cells aren't welcome here👋🏻✌🏻Thanks to all my family, friends and followers for wearing pink today and loving me the way you do! Thanks especially for drawing attention to genetic testing and raising awareness that saves lives. Y'all are my heroes.
If you are new here, I recently tested positive for the BRCA 2 gene mutation which greatly increases my risk of developing breast cancer. My mom was diagnosed almost three years ago to the day and came out a badass survivor! It's because of her diagnosis that I underwent genetic testing and can now do something about it. Knowledge is power. #LesleysBreasties #LesnipsBRCAinthebud #FightLikeAGirl
Day 1 post op. Oouuuchh. My mom took this photo when I first arrived to my hospital room after surgery. It was hard to breathe. My chest was super tight and still is. There are so many tubes hooked up to me and lots of beeping noises. My boobs are gone. Crazy, right? Gone. It's hard to wrap my head around. My doctors and nurses come by all the time to check on my vitals and give me pills to ease the pain. I really love the people here. Everyone is SO nice at @uamshealth. The staff and level of care is topnotch. There is a chance I could go home tonight, but truth be told, I'm not so sure I want to! The grilled cheese and coconut chocolate cake make me happy. Moving hurts. I tried getting out of bed for the first time about an hour ago. I don't want to do it again but know I have to. I finally caught a glimpse of my bare chest during a FaceTime call a couple of minutes ago. Whoa. It looks like I was in a bear fight and lost. Badly. The human body is truly amazing, though, and I will heal soon enough. I am overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from friends, family, followers and complete strangers. So so overwhelmed. You guys know how to make a bruised and weak woman feel on top of the world. Thank you from the bottom of my heart💗Your prayers, well wishes and good vibes are working🙏🏻 #LesNipBRCAintheBud #LesleysBreasties #FightLikeAGirl #BreastCancerAwareness
Day 2 post op. Baby steps, but not many. Just enough to show the doctors I can walk in order to go home. It's funny to look at this video and see a slight smile. This was no walk in the park. Ow. I think I was just glad to be in anything but a horizontal position. It was time to disconnect the IV, the oxygen tube and those lovely compression socks I couldn't wait to leave behind! That red apron you see around my waist holds the 4 drains that I have to measure every day, so those will be coming with me and eating with me and sleeping with me and showering with me. Unfortunately they are sewn into my sides and when they read a certain amount of fluids coming from my chest, I can finally get them removed which will be a huge milestone. A few minutes after this video was taken, I somehow shuffled myself into a wheelchair. I was so nervous as we made our way to the car. Dad drove slowly and carefully, but you can't always avoid every single bump in the road. Ouuuchh.
And just like that, we were home🏡A shower is now in order since I still have iodine and permanent marker all over my chest from surgery markings. Walking and breathing still doesn't come easy, so this should be veryyy interesting🙈😝 #LesNipsBRCAintheBud #LesleysBreasties #FightLikeAGirl #BreastCancerAwareness
Kicked cancer's ass before it could kick mine, and my favorite people were very instrumental in the process.👊🏻4•11•17 #DreamTeam #LesNipsBRCAintheBud #LesleysBreasties #BreastCancerAwareness #FightLikeAGirl Photo by Kelley Cooper
My Sunday best, or what I could manage to put on today with limited arm movements.🤷🏼♀️My mom washed and dried my hair today. 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. I have to sleep on my back in the exact same position every night. 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! 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. Hopefully by then the permanent marker will be off my body😂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! Happy Sunday. God is good.🙌🏻💞 #LesleysBreasties #LesNipsBRCAintheBud #BreastCancerAwareness #FightLikeAGirl
1 week post op: Today was a good day. I put on make-up and pants for my doc appt. Make-up and pants! And shoes! I actually left the house for the first time since surgery. I didn't even have to wear the dreaded pink cape for very long today either😂They are always used on patient's so doctors can have easy access to check their handiwork. This one really wasn't so bad. It's very 2017 Hospital Spring Collection, if you will💁🏼Maybe just fringe the sleeves and boom. Coachella Weekend no. 2 outfit is done. Anywho, I was so excited to wake up today because I was getting 2 out of the 4 drains removed! I wish everyone could know what that before-and-after felt like. Beforehand, 4 drains made my chest feel so tight. It hurt like hell to laugh and to cry. To cough and to sneeze. All of these common occurrences reminded ever fiber in my body of the recent trauma it just experienced. Now with 2 drains out, so much weigh feels lifted from my chest. I can breathe a bit deeper and sit up faster. I can't wait until next week when the final two come out, even though it truly felt like snakes were slithering through my body as the doctor pulled at them this morning.🐍BLAH. Gives me chills just thinking about it. Check my Insta story for more explanation.
As always, I love you guys. I read every heart felt comment and truly feel the love of this incredible support system. 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. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
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To put the risk Lesley faced into perspective, Cancer.org says that while 12 percent of women in the general population will develop breast cancer in their lives, that risk jumps to 55-65 percent if they have the harmful BRCA1 mutation, and 45 percent if they inherit BRCA2. And while the numbers are smaller for ovarian cancer, the risks jump an equal measure for women who inherit these genes. (Read more here.)
And now she's bravely shared the first photo of her chest post-surgery, thanking her mother for everything she's done to help her through the process.
As she shared her experience, Lesley consistently called out that "knowledge is power," and used the hashtag #FightLikeAGirl. It's clear that she's hoping her story will inspire people to get tested early and be more proactive about their health -- and is using her platform for good. As such, she's had an outpouring of love and support on her social accounts.
Our hats go off to her, too. Thanks for your story and strength, Lesley -- and here's to healing quickly so you can get back out there traveling soon!
Related: Lesley Murphy's best travel Instagrams
Lesley Murphy's best travel Instagrams
Lesley Murphy's best travel Instagrams
Time to press pause on my adventures and encounters with Mother Nature's artwork✨Instead of staying inside a cozy cabin in the woods, I'll be staying overnight in a hospital next week and then home for the next four weeks. FOUR WEEKS. The scariest part about my upcoming surgery is not that I'm going to have a body part cut off. It's that I'm not going to be able to move. Travel. Work. Fly. Explore. Discover. Learn. Do the things I love. Stillness and I don't get along very well. I've had to work around trips and cancel trips in order to go through with this, and so then I ask myself: why am I doing this right now? I'm not going to die tomorrow or the next day or the next due to this gene. But then I remember reading so many messages that came through when I shared my story a few weeks ago. Many women have undergone this same thing either later in life, around my age, or even younger. Some preventatively and some in a vigorous fight for their lives. Talk about inspiring!
There's no time like the present and no time like now to nip (pun intended) BRCA in the bud! #breakingupwithmybreasties #boobvoyage #tatatothetatas #thanksforthemammories
Really into the new airport remodel here in the Yukon😜Loved everything about this bird's eye view over the wilderness with @curio_trips 🌲Thx for the ride, #AlpineAviation 💙Peep my insta stories while they still live! #skiplane #ExploreYukon #ifollowmycuriosity #Canada150
Helsinki is best seen via bike, in 30something degree weather, and during snowfall. Today's forecast called for 100% chance of white powder and abundant happiness🤗 @ourfinland @visithelsinki #visithelsinki #finland #helsinkisecret
W A L E S. This country in the U.K. has seriously blown my expectations out of the water. Too often I feel as though it's overshadowed by England, Scotland and Ireland, but do yourself a big damn favor and @visitwales next time you're near these parts. It has everything: coastline, mountains (Mt. Snowdon, I'll be back for you), culture, castles, history and ohhh the Welsh cakes.😋😛And my new found Game of Thrones obsession is officially a problem🐉🏔 #FindYourEpic
Sunday situations ⛪️ From northern to southern Wales, weather may change but beauty definitely remains❤💛 Photo by @kirstenalana #FindYourEpic @visitwales
The Road Les Traveled got a facelift! When I started my blog in 2014, I said if it's successful after a couple of years, then I'll redesign the whole thing. I did, after all, create version 1 by myself with hardly any knowledge of web development or design. Ha. That was fun😂Here we are two and a half years later and BAM! The construction zones and orange cones came down today after almost six months of surgery. The Road Les Traveled version 2.0 is now open for business! I hope you love what you see (link in bio). Feel free to send any and all commentary about the new site my way!
California dreamin' on such a winter's day🌞
Draw me like one of your French girls✍🏻
What a time to be alive💙 #oia #santorini #greece #travel #islandlife
Put yourself in the way of beauty.
When you travel well, you broaden the mind. When you broaden the mind, you see in all colors, shapes, sizes and religions. 👩🏽👨🏼👳🏾👱♀️👭👬
If you can't beat the Monday blues, join them in Puerto Rico💙
The most beautiful places on earth are often times the hardest to reach. After flying into La Paz, I took a 12 hour bus ride that turned into a 16 hour bus ride overnight. Yeahhh not the most comfortable thing but totally worth enduring the unpaved roads. I felt like I was in a world of my own here. Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat on the planet and sits at an altitude of 12,000 ft above sea level. A word of advice: don't miss the sunrises here.💕 #bolivia #salardeuyuni #travel
Blogger by day, jockey by sundown🐎 #bali #sumba @nihiwatu @britishpoloday
Horseshoe Bend in its best lighting. Not pictured: 500 other tourists trying to capture sunset. If you caught the snap, you know what it looks like behind the scenes😳
One day I might have a closet to call my own, but right now pressed linens are overrated. Living out of a suitcase never looked so good😍😍 #greece #santorini #travel
Life is brewtiful 🍻
Exploring with a beer in hand never hurts, and I loved learning about how the drink comes from natural ingredients like barely and hops, experiencing it from ground to glass thanks to Anheuser-Busch and Quilmes. Salud Argentina! Nos veremos pronto🇦🇷#wealllovebeer #beertour #patagonia #bariloche #argentina
I don't even know what to say about this...but here's a photo of me with a monkey on my head. Happy Monday!🐒 #RCMemories #ubud #bali #monkeyforest
Easy like Sunday evening💫
I'm curious...what's your favorite Caribbean island?? Aruba just might be inching its way up my list!😜#celebrations #aruba #rcmemories #caribbean @ritzcarlton
Do you remember the 21st night of September?🎶
Love was changing the minds of pretenders🎤
While chasing the clouds away🎧
Travel for the sunrises. Who wants to join?🙋🏼 #sunrise #travel #santorini #greece @kaparinaturalresort
Flying the coastline > driving the coastline
See more of my West Maui and Molokai heli ride with @airmaui on snap! (Lesmurph) #maui #hawaii #heliride #molokai