Content advisory: The above gallery contains images of female breasts and the aftermath of surgical procedures.
Mastectomy. For some women, the word is a specter, a threat to the very essence of womanhood. For others -- and for many who have endured the process -- it is, surprisingly, an opportunity for rebirth.
The decision to have breasts removed in the wake of a cancer diagnosis or -- as in the case of Angelina Jolie's recent announcement -- a high probability of future cancer, is sometimes the toughest and most personal decision a woman has to make. But the goal is always the same: To persevere, to survive. To come out on the other side a whole woman, a woman changed but unbroken, breasts or no breasts.
The remarkable women pictured above each have a story to tell. They may not reflect the experiences of every woman who has had breast cancer, but they reflect the collective understanding that all women's bodies are complete when they have faced their challenges and won.