Photo: ImAnandalewis Instagram
If you grew up in the 90’s and kept your television on BET like me, then you’re probably familiar with the hit show “Teen Summit” that dealt with everyday issues surrounding teenagers. One of the former host, Ananda Lewis, now 47 announced Thursday (Oct 1st) the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness month of her almost two year battle with stage 3 breast cancer in her lymph nodes on her Instagram page. In her emotional video she regrets not taking mammograms seriously due to her own mother being diagnosed in the past after having mammograms for nearly 30 years and exposure to radiation.
As a cancer research professional, I know cancer does not discriminate; so to learn of her diagnosis still comes as a shock.
“If I had done the mammograms from the time they were recommended, when I turned 40, they would have caught the tumor in my breast years before I caught it through my own breast exam, self exam and thermography,” Lewis said. “And they would have caught it at a place where it was more manageable. Where the treatment of it would have been a little easier. It’s never easier, but I use that word in comparison to what I’m going through now. Instead, what I’m dealing with is stage 3 breast cancer that is in my lymphs. I need you to get your mammograms.”
In 2020 alone, the NBCF reports “an estimated 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S. as well as 48,530 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer,” adding that an estimated 42,170 women will die of the disease this year. For Black women, the risk is especially high; though comprising just under 14 percent of the total female population (h/t Catalyst, Inc.) the Susan G. Komen Foundation reports that Black women nearly equal white women in the highest rate of breast cancer occurrences, with a 12 percent likelihood of diagnosis in their lifetimes. Black women under 40 also have higher rates of breast cancer compared to white women, and at every age, are most likely to be diagnosed with more aggressive triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC), which spread more quickly to lymph nodes (which can distribute cancel cells throughout the body) and are more difficult to survive.
It’s very important to take advantage of early detection, do your self-checks in the shower, the couch, bed or wherever you feel comfortable and please inquire about mammograms with your primary care physician. Matter of fact, I got my reminder letter in the mail recently to schedule my appointment. I’m not 40, but I have a family history of breast cancer.
With Ananda sharing her story with the world, I hope this will convince both men & women, yes men (ya’ll get it too!) to check your boobs.
Thank you for sharing your truth, Ananda and WE are sending you GOOD energy!!