Real Women Speak: This Is Why You Should Get Your Breasts Examined

22 breast cancer survivors -- and 22 reasons why you should start getting an annual breast exam.

Real Women Speak: This Is Why You Should Get Your Breasts Examined

22 survivors — and 22 reasons why you should start getting an annual breast exam.

-Diana Denza

 Marlena Ortiz Breast Cancer survivor

National Breast Cancer Awareness month may be over, but, of course that doesn’t mean it’s time to forget about it. Despite the many awareness initiatives during October, many of us don’t answer the call to breast health. In 2008, the Center for Disease Control found that only 68 percent of women ages 40 and older (those at the highest risk for the disease) received mammograms within a two-year period. In an attempt to motivate the millions of women who fail to receive needed exams, 22 brave survivors shared their emotional stories on RealBeauty.com as part of the website’s campaign to combat ignorance surrounding breast cancer, and we really encourage you to visit their survivor’s gallery.

If you happen to flip through any women’s magazine in a supermarket, log on to a website catering to women (like this one), or turn on the TV, the message is loud and clear: breast cancer is serious and getting checked regularly is key to life-saving early detection. Yet, the National Cancer Institute estimates that by the end of 2011, nearly 40,000 women in the United States alone will have lost their lives to breast cancer.

Young and old, black and white, single and taken, with kids and without, the women on Real Beauty.com came together to share their empowering stories of fighting breast cancer –and winning. In the hopes that a picture really does speak 1,000 words, each of these women has posed for the camera – some with scars showing, but always beaming, so that readers will be inspired to lift their pink shirts and get examined.

Marlena Ortiz, breast cancer survivor (pictured at top of article) and founder of the nonprofit Beating Cancer with My Heals On, writes: “The mind is a lot more powerful than you think. Always believe that you will beat cancer, no matter what negative thoughts you have, or what anyone, even the doctors, say.” Read the rest of her story here.

Kara Skaflestad breast cancer survivor

Kara Skaflestad, above, was diagnosed with breast cancer 13 days before Christmas, at the age of 26. She met her boyfriend’s parents for the first time wearing a wig. She shares her feelings about her changed body: “I am 29 years old. I have scarred breasts and a little more flab than I did in my early 20s, but I feel smarter, stronger, and more beautiful than I ever have before. I am proud of my scars. I’m proud of my new hair. And, the best part is that my boyfriend loves all of it.” Read the rest of her story here.

Even if you feel perfectly healthy, there is a chance that you’re living with a deadly lump. The only way you’ll know for sure? Get checked!

Diana Denza is a regular contributor to BettyConfidential.


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