Miranda McKeon is building back her confidence while in remission after her breast cancer treatments. The 20-year-old Anne with an E star, who was first diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2021, spoke to PEOPLE about "regaining some sense of bodily autonomy" moving forward.
After freezing her eggs, eight rounds of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, and 25 radiation sessions, the actress says that it's been a challenge adjusting to her "new normal."
"Navigating survivorship has been more complicated than I anticipated in some ways — just being on different types of medications and also how to kind of integrate this experience into my life and work with it rather than working against it," McKeon, who's been in remission since February, tells PEOPLE.
"Becoming comfortable with this new body that I have has been an empowering journey this past year," she adds.
Three months after finishing chemotherapy, McKeon made the decision to get breast reconstruction, partnering with Sientra and board-certified breast cancer and plastic surgeon Dr. Anne Peled for the procedure. She says getting the implants helped her feel more confident.
"I was really frightened at first about what I might look like after and what that would mean for my relationship to my body and my self confidence and self esteem," McKeon says of her double mastectomy. "I think this is something that a lot of women face when leading up to this surgery. Am I going to look like myself? Am I going to look normal? Am I going to look like Frankenstein?"
"I think talking with my surgeon about her training, being dual trained and board certified, and also her sharing Sientra's safety information made me rest assured going into the [breast reconstruction]. Because I'm so young and I have so many years ahead of me," the actress notes.
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She adds that once she felt she was in good hands, her mental health "drastically improved."
"I began to feel like 'Oh my gosh, this is not going to be the end of the world. I think I'm actually going to love the way I look after this.' And that's exactly how it turned out to be," McKeon says. "I can truly say that I do feel so confident and beautiful now in my new body. I look and feel like myself."
As Breast Cancer Awareness Month begins, McKeon is hoping to raise awareness for other breast cancer survivors, specifically those at a young age like herself, that there are options for "feeling like yourself" after such a physically taxing journey.
"I really want women to know that they should feel amazing about the decisions that they're making for their bodies," she explains. "While going through the breast cancer experience can feel very powerless and helpless and overwhelming, there is empowerment to be found in the choices we get to make around our bodies and these choices should never be compromised."
"Having a double mastectomy does not mean the end of self confidence, self esteem, looking and feeling like yourself, and you can feel just as beautiful after," McKeons says.