For a list of Breast Cancer web resources, scroll to the bottom of this article...
The increase is the result of many modern day factors but remains a universal fear for women of all ages.
However, early detection is the most powerful weapon women have no matter what their age. Just ask Jamie Ledezma.
Her family is growing. New mother Jamie is a lawyer, her husband Rigo a teacher and coach. Their son Blake is 10 months old and Tiki, their miniature pincher, fearlessly watches over everyone. She has a huge bark and sharp teeth waiting for anyone who threatens her family. Tiki also has a great deal of compassion according to Jamie: "She was priceless throughout treatment."
Jamie is talking about the 'Chemotherapy treatment' she endured for breast cancer at the age on 27. Yes, 27 and pregnant with her first child, Blake: "Jamie Ledezma, cancer survivor: He was just bouncin' around, it didn't faze him."
She earned her optimism during a 14 month battle with this disease that runs on both sides of her family.
Jamie discovered a lump in her breast during her monthly self examination. She'd never had a mammogram, they are not considered necessary for women under 40, even with risk factors like hers. "Jamie Ledezma, cancer survivor: the moment the words were told: you have cancer I took out my pen and pad and started asking questions. I was on a mission to get information, to get my baby here healthy."
Two weeks after her diagnosis of invasive breast cancer she began chemotherapy with oncologist Dr. Christopher Perkins. He assured her it would not harm her growing baby. "Dr. Christopher Perkins, Oncologist: "Jamie's now back working being a mom, being a wife, having a normal life.' The treatment did shrink the tumor but surgery was unavoidable. With her family history she struggled with what to do next.
Ultimately Jamie chose to eliminate as much risk as possible. Following Blake's birth she underwent surgery to remove both breasts and to begin the process of breast reconstruction at the same time. A decision Dr. Perkins supported: "It's not something you go from normal breasts to normal breast again but when we have to because of genetic problems or family history or patient preference, patients get through that." Jamie chose the least invasive of reconstruction choices: implants. She has accepted the fact the results will not be picture perfect: "My husband and I decided if we can make me as whole as possible again, it's worth trying."
Last October, two weeks after that surgery, Jamie, her family and supporters were all participating in the Komen race for the cure at Fresno state.
The young baseball players coached by her husband were her Race Team that day: "It's really an honor to have young men, grown men become interested in our journey."
That journey taught those men to encourage the women in their lives to take action for their own breast health. Jamie is a powerful example and force for action: "The survival rate is wonderful if detected early. Having cancer really taught me how to live and I'm grateful I got that lesson at such and early age."
Jamie Ledezma recently celebrated her one year 'cancer-versary' and is looking forward to many more. She expects to spend the rest of her life dedicated to the message of early detection of breast cancer.
She also suggests every woman arm herself with the kind of information to help improve their breast health. You can start right now and right here on this website: www.ABC30.com.
Check out the list of links to information (below) about family history risks for breast cancer. You can watch a video to learn how to do a self breast exam, get answers to your own questions and even download self breast exam instructions to print and use.
And there's more like when to start having regular routine mammograms. You'll find links to photos, illustrations and video showing the reconstruction process. You can also read a Jamie's personal battle with breast cancer while pregnant in her own words. She's honest and open about here thoughts and feelings of the reconstruction process. Her blog is inspirational.
She chose not to let fear keep her from the power that knowledge brings. You can too!
Knowledge is power, why not unleash yours?
Breast Cancer Websites
Jamie Ledezma's Personal Breast Cancer Blog: Let the Battle Begin
Hereditary Risks of Breast Cancer
American Society of Plastic Surgeons Website
Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
American Cancer Society
Breast Reconstruction After Mastectomy
Photos & Story of one woman's Breast Reconstruction
How Reconstructive Surgery is Done & After Photos
American Cancer Society - Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer Information and support
National Institute of Health Medline Plus - Breast Cancer www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/breastcancer.html
Komen for the Cure - Latest Breast Cancer News
American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Self Exam Instructions to print
Komen for the Cure Breast Cancer Self Exam Instructions to Print