Being brave together makes us stronger

I was sitting on the beach in Mexico next to my husband. We were celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary, enjoying some much needed time to reconnect, just the two of us. The waves were lapping up, I had a cold drink in one hand and a good book in the other, when I got a Facebook message from my sister Angela. It confirmed what we all had hoped wouldn't be true.  

The biopsy that she had had the week prior was indeed breast cancer.

Angela had only just turned 43. It had been a rough year for Angie. The year before, she had lost her husband Randy very unexpectedly to a heart attack. Now here she was, a widow diagnosed with breast cancer. Her 40's weren't looking so good for her.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States. And while it's rare in women under the age of 45 {an 11% diagnosis rate}, it's important to know your risk because young women can and do get breast cancer. 

Angie's mother had passed away at a very young age {she was only 26} from breast cancer. After her mother passed away, our dad got remarried to my mom and my mother adopted my dad's children.

Most young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer find that it's usually diagnosed at a later stage and often it's more aggressive and difficult to treat. There are great benefits to just knowing what your risk factors are and keeping those in the back of your mind so that you can be aware of any changes that might indicate some risk. 

Like my sister, you might be at higher risk for breast cancer under the age of 45 if you have close relative who was diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age. But there are other factors that might increase your risk as well.  You can find some of the risk factors for breast cancer in young women here.  

Angela fought her way through treatment.  I was impressed with her positive attitude throughout the whole process. She had been getting knocked down at every corner it seemed, but managed to get right back up and fight.  It's been almost two years exactly since her initial diagnosis and she's changed.  But it's been a good change. She's so much more resilient than she thought she could ever be. She's bolder and braver and she's enjoying all that life has to offer. You can read other young women’s stories here.

These women tell their stories of prevention and how they explored their personal and family history and risk and how they are working with their health care providers to live a full life.

The CDC has started the Bring Your Brave campaign specifically geared towards young women under the age of 45, so that we can be inspired to learn our risk for breast cancer and be brave enough to talk with our health care providers about any possible risk factors that we may have. 

It's a sad reality, but most of us have been personally affected by breast cancer. Let's share our stories to bring awareness and inspire others to know their risk. Use the hashtag #BraveBecause when you share, because being brave together makes us stronger. 

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