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Commentary: Know Your Family's Breast Cancer History

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Tina Lewis, entrepreneur and 10-year-survivor of triple negative breast cancer, shares how her diagnosis made her conscious of the importance of being aware of our family's health history. I truly believe that no event in life happens without the direction of the hand of God and over the past few years, it has become more and more apparent to me that the trials I have experienced have been for the purpose of educating others. I am a 10-year survivor of triple negative breast cancer. Having been married for 35 years to the love of my life, Harold, and a mother to three children, Jeremy, Jonathan and Jennifer, my diagnosis became more than my fight. It became theirs. When I first heard the words "You have breast cancer," I knew that my life would change forever. What I did not know was how. At the time, I had no family history and my knowledge of the disease was very limited. As I soon learned, family history has to start somewhere, and in my family it was with me. My diagnosis left me stunned. I scanned my belief system trying to determine why this happened to me. Innately solution minded, strong willed, a tough and resilient woman who could handle whatever life dealt her, I immediately felt as though I was helpless and out of control. After long thought and deliberation, I made the conscious decision to turn away from negative thoughts and began educating myself about my disease. Education is the key to early diagnosis and survival. Education about breast cancer and your family's health history can help save your life. That's why I'm educating my daughter, Jennifer, about our family history. Because of our discussions, she knows that I fought breast cancer. And that shortly after my diagnosis, my mother learned that she, too, had the disease. And that breast cancer took the life of her father's mother. Because of these conversations, she's aware of her increased risk and the importance of practicing good breast self-awareness. February is Black History Month and Susan G. Komen for the Cure's Circle of Promise encourages you to Know Your Health, Know Your Self. In addition to studying our cultural history, let's also study our family's health history. Visit Circle of Promise to become part of the circle and you'll receive a family tree to get you started. Let's talk about it. Make sure that starting the dialogue around your family's health history is the theme of your generation's legacy. Read more:
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