metamorphosis and breast cancer
Breast Cancer,  Fashion,  Mental Health

Metamorphosis and breast cancer. Why I wear a butterfly pendant

Ever since my diagnosis, I’ve been drawn to symbols of resilience, strength, and transformation, finding comfort and inspiration in them while navigating my own journey through breast cancer. Among these symbols, it’s a small butterfly pendant – barely the size of my fingernail that carries the most profound meaning and resonates with my spirit. 

My Butterfly Strong pendant is a simple, beautiful piece of jewellery that was gifted to me shortly after my diagnosis by my jeweller friends at DimplesCharms. It has become an integral part of my identity in these testing times. It’s more than an accessory; it serves as a gentle but constant reminder of my capacity to embrace change and navigate through life’s adversities while retaining my inherent grace, strength, and beauty, much like the butterfly. I never take it off.

We all know the transformative journey of the butterfly. It starts its life as a plain and humble caterpillar, only to retreat into the relative darkness of a cocoon, to emerge, after a process that must feel frightening and disorienting, as a creature of breathtaking beauty and grace. This process of metamorphosis is symbolic of our own life transformations, with all the challenges and uncertainties they entail.

So, why a butterfly pendant? For me, my breast cancer journey felt much like the metamorphosis of a butterfly. I began as one person, my self-concept intrinsically tied to my physical attributes. I found myself in an unexpected and disorienting situation. I had to retreat and introspect, confront my vulnerability, and then re-emerge, transformed — a different version of myself, but still intrinsically ‘me.’

I’ve been asked before if my decision to go flat after my mastectomy made me feel less feminine. Going flat was a choice that was neither easy nor taken lightly. But to answer that question — no, I do not feel less feminine. If anything, I feel empowered. I selected aesthetic flat closure, a choice that allowed me to retain control over my body in a seemingly uncontrollable situation. My butterfly pendant is a tangible affirmation of my transformation; its delicate, defined shape resting at my throat just above my flat chest is a constant reminder that my beauty and femininity is not tied to physical attributes and change – even when terribly hard – can be exceptionally liberating.

When I initially decided to go flat, I had an inkling that my journey was uniquely personal. But the sheer influx of people sharing their stories with me following my decision has shown me how every journey is uniquely personal. It’s different for everyone, and that’s okay. The crucial part is the ability to endure, adapt, and emerge stronger. 

Just as a butterfly flies freely after its transformation, I too have found a newfound freedom, a renewed perspective on life. The butterfly pendant serves as a symbol of my journey and never fails to evoke feelings of strength, resilience, and transformation. It’s a simple piece of jewellery, but it’s packed with profound symbolism and personal significance. And that, my friends, is why I wear a butterfly pendant. 

Ellyn Winters-Robinson is a breast cancer survivor, entrepreneur, author, in-demand speaker, women’s health advocate, professional communicator and a globally recognized health rebel. Ellyn's best-selling book "Flat Please Hold the Shame," is a girlfriend’s companion guide for those on the breast cancer journey. She is also the co-creator of, the world’s first conversational AI companion for those on the breast cancer journey. With Dense Breasts Canada and award-winning photographer Hilary Gauld, Ellyn also co-produced I WANT YOU TO KNOW, a celebrated photo essay showing the diverse faces and stories of 31 individuals on the breast cancer journey. Ellyn’s story and have been featured in People Magazine, Chatelaine Magazine, the Globe and Mail, CTV National News and Your Morning, and Fast Company.

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