Model Mieko Rye says she’s hoping to empower other women battling cancer.
Mieko couldn’t even look at herself in a mirror after starting chemotherapy treatments.
“I would purposely brush my teeth, but I wouldn’t take a second to look,” she told ABC News. “I didn’t want to spend time on that because in my mind I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty. It’s hard enough to feel it, let alone see it.”
But eventually, she decided no woman should ever feel that way, which is why she shared photos of herself to Facebook.
“With Cancer comes destruction. However, it has also provided me with the opportunity to rebuild from the inside out. I have shed what is no longer necessary and quite honestly, impeded my growth,” wrote Mieko.
She said when she first started modeling 20 years ago, women of color did not embody the “American concept of beauty.”
“I was told I was too dark, too light, too curvy, or that my hair was too dry, too curly, or too big,” wrote Mieko on Facebook. “Then the curvy Brazilian girls took over the fashion industry, god bless them, and my career took off.”
She said cancer has helped her become comfortable with being “alone.”
“So when I say I am alone, I mean free of a man, career, role, or title I may have clung to in the past to define myself. My happiness does not depend on the love, reassurance, loyalty, or approval of another,” wrote Mieko. “I am simply Mieko. I have nothing to hide. I have stage 3 breast cancer and I have never felt more beautiful in my entire life.”
Rye says she is now preparing to have a bilateral mastectomy to have both breasts removed. She made the decision for her 7-year-old son.
“I’m a single mom and it’s just me and my son,” she explained. “I didn’t want to go through this again. I didn’t want my son to go through this again.”