COLLEGE STATION, Texas — As we continue to highlight Breast Cancer Awareness Month, doctors say they're seeing more and more younger women being diagnosed with breast cancer, even here in the Brazos Valley, and the statistics are alarming.
1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. According to the American Cancer Society, women should start getting yearly mammograms at age 40 but that doesn’t mean younger women are safe.
“I’m 32 years old and I am a stage three breast cancer survivor,” said Rabekah Chesnutt of Iola.
Chesnutt was diagnosed with breast cancer back in March of this year, eight years before her first recommended mammogram.
“February I did at home self-breast exam and I found a lump and me and my significant other said this isn't right," said Chesnutt. "So we made an appointment with Dr. Rayburn. He did a mammogram ultrasound biopsy and on March 2, 2021, at 8:49 a.m. he called and said you have breast cancer.”
According to a study in the American Society of Clinical Oncology Journal more than 12,000 women younger than 40 received a breast cancer diagnosis in 2020. While 1 in 196 women under the age of 40 will be diagnosed with breast cancer, it was never something Chesnutt thought she would ever have to face.
“I never thought it would get me because it did not run in our family," said Chesnutt. "So, I would have never thought it was me.”
But for Stephanie Gutierrez, breast cancer is not a stranger to her family.
“It was in October, actually, two years ago, I had my regular screening mammogram, which my mom had breast cancer at 42," said Guiterrez. "So I started at 32 having mammograms. And this was just my yearly one.”
Gutierrez was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer back in 2019 at just 38-years-old. She says while the statistics are scary, support and trust in doctors is so important.
“I think just take a deep breath, find someone you can talk to because it will help and there's nothing you can do to change that you have cancer, you have cancer," said Gutierrez. "So, you need to get seen quickly by the doctors, trust in that science, and believe in what they're telling you.”
Gutierrez tells KRHD 25 News that both her mother and herself tested negative for the BRCA gene mutation but ensures her teenage daughter that she will also get screened early to help prevent her chances of getting breast cancer.
"My daughter, it almost broke my heart, she said, 'Does that mean I'm going to have breast cancer?' She's like, 'Grandma had it, you had it? Does that mean I'm going to have it?' I took a deep breath and just told her baby, that's why we do screenings. Once you get older, we're gonna start screening you early, just like I was screened early. And if you do have it, we'll catch it early."
Both Chesnutt and Gutierrez stress the importance of early detection in a breast cancer diagnosis and urge everyone to get their yearly mammograms.
To schedule a mammogram at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center College Station, interested patients may call 979-207-3049 or visit online here.
To schedule a mammogram at St. Joseph Health, visit here.