EYE ON HEALTH: Young breast cancer survivor raises awareness
Brittany Hanks is a busy young mother of two small children; but last December, she noticed something strange while taking a shower.
Hanks says, "I was showering and felt a lump that had not been there previously."
Brittany knew something wasn't right. So she called the doctor and went in for a visit the next day.
Hanks says, "My first initial reaction was it was going to be nothing."
But is was something. Brittany was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer.
Hanks says, "My initial reaction was just complete shock. This couldn't be happening. It was hysteria. I will say my head went to my kids. Am I going to see them grow up? Get married? Will I have grand kids?"
At just 23, breast cancer wasn't on her radar and she was a lot younger than the recommended age of 45 to get annual mammograms.
While breast cancer in young women is rare, there are more than 250,000 currently diagnosed under the age of 40 in the United States.
Brittany says the past year hasn't been easy.
Hanks says, "Chemo definitely takes a toll on the body and trying to raise two kids at the same time was difficult; but, I was blessed to have an awesome husband and support system."
Brittany says she has made it her mission to raise awareness and encourage other women of all ages to make time when it comes to your health and mammograms. She knows her outcome could have been a lot different if she wasn't paying attention.
Hanks says, "I caught it early enough. I found it in the shower myself as a lot of women do just bathing."
"You have to put aside that time, do your checks and don't put it off," urges Hanks.
According to the American Cancer Society, it's optional for women ages 40 to 44 to get annual breast cancer screenings. Women in the age range of 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year. Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every two years, or they can continue yearly screenings.