This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Bring Your Brave campaign for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

Bring Your Brave

When it comes to the word “prevalent,” it seems safe to say that breast cancer falls into that category. Not only is breast cancer widespread among my friends – it seems like every day I hear of someone in my circle of friends being diagnosed with the disease – but it’s also prevalent in my own family. My sister, several aunts and cousins, and both grandmothers have had it.

For that reason, my doctor has advised me to undergo genetic counseling and testing to explore my risks for breast cancer. The papers are sitting on my desk, and I’m planning on filling them out this weekend. I am definitely following the “Bring Your Brave” campaign that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have launched in order to help inspire young women to take action and learn their risk for breast cancer.

Feb. 2014: Two amazing women in my life, my mom and sister, who underwent treatment for breast cancer in 2014 and is doing great | Jane Boursaw Photo

The Bring Your Brave campaign is the CDC’s first campaign specifically addressing breast cancer in young women. The goal is to inspire young women to learn their risk for breast cancer, talk with their health care provider about their risk, and live a “breast healthy” lifestyle. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but any time of year is the perfect time to hear breast cancer stories of women who are taking action in their own lives.

Click through to “Bring Your Brave” and read the stories from women of all ages and heritages – stories about prevention, exploring personal and family history, risk, and talking with health care providers.

Reading these women’s stories actually calms my mind, because these are amazing women who are tackling the breast cancer issues in their lives head on. I especially identify with Lisa’s story. In her family, four women younger than age 50 have been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer. After her kids were born, Lisa, 41, began to look into learning more about her risk.

Look, I know it’s not easy to be brave when it comes to this stuff. Honestly, I feel like a ticking time bomb and it scares the heck out of me. But I would be even more scared if I buried my head in the sand about breast cancer, especially with its prevalence in my family.

A few facts: breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States, and 11 percent of all cases of breast cancer in the United States affect women under the age of 45. However, many young women do not know they are at risk.

Young women face a unique threat when they’re diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s more likely to be hereditary, it’s more often diagnosed at a later stage, and it’s often more aggressive and difficult to treat.

All women, no matter their age, can benefit from learning the risk factors for breast cancer; however, some risk factors put young women at a higher risk for getting breast cancer at a young age. If you’re under the age of 45, here are six factors that put you at a higher risk for breast cancer:

  1. You have close relatives who were diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 45 or ovarian cancer at any age, especially if more than one relative was diagnosed or if a male relative had breast cancer.
  2. You have changes in certain breast cancer genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2), or have close relatives with these changes, but have not been tested yourself.
  3. You have Ashkenazi Jewish heritage.
  4. You received radiation therapy to the breast or chest during childhood or early adulthood.
  5. You have had breast cancer or certain other breast health problems, such as lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), atypical ductal hyperplasia, or atypical lobular hyperplasia.
  6. You have been told that you have dense breasts on a mammogram.

Here are three important steps the CDC encourages women to take to understand their breast cancer risk.

  1. Know how your breasts normally look and feel, and talk to your doctor if you notice anything unusual.
  2. Talk to your relatives about your family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Use the CDC’s excellent worksheet as a guide for your conversation.
  3. Talk to your doctor about your risk.

Most of all, be brave. We’re truly all in this together. Feel free to share your own story in the comments below and post on social media using the hashtag #BraveBecause.

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