Ceylin Guillermo. She was one of my besties in college. We spent weekends listening to DMX (her fave rapper of all time), chowing on Domino’s pizza after many tipsy nights, and lamenting over college boys. How much we hated them and loved them and needed them but didn’t because we were independent Dominicanas who were raised by strong mothers. “Sky’s the limit,” we’d say. But that wasn’t the case for Ceylin. At 29 years old she died of metastatic breast cancer.
She died over 8 years ago and was diagnosed at the young age of 23. After feeling lumps in both breasts, she went to her primary care physician. He brushed it off, claiming it must be her time of the month. She was Latina and too young for it to be anything else. Thing is Ceylin had a history of breast cancer in her family. Her aunt and even her mother had battled breast cancer in the past. Her doctor failed to connect the dots.
Three months passed and her lumps grew. She went for a second opinion and learned the awful news: she had Stage 3 breast cancer. She called me, sobbing and terrified. I cried with her. I didn’t know what to say. How did this happen? I thought. We’re Latinas, this isn’t something that happens to Latinas! All my life I thought breast cancer was a “white woman’s” disease, and here was my bestie from college undergoing chemo, radiation and a mastectomy. This couldn’t be happening! But it did, it does. Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in all women. About 1 in 8 women born today in the U.S. will get breast cancer, and there are about 231,340 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in the U.S. annually.
What can we do to protect ourselves and loved ones? Early detection, education and help raise funds for research. And what better time to spread awareness than in October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The annual campaign’s mission is to increase awareness of breast cancer, offer information and support to those affected by the disease, raise money for research and to find a cure. But first, let’s learn about early detection. Millions of women are surviving breast cancer thanks to screening exams. The goal is to find cancer before a lump is formed and felt. The American Cancer Society recommends that women over the age of 40 and older get a mammogram every year. Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of their regular physical exam every 3 years. Women in their 20s should also conduct breast self-exams (BSE).
Health insurance is also important for prevention and early detection. Consider a policy like Aflac’s; it helps ease financial worries about the cost of breast cancer if you or a family member is diagnosed. Aflac recently introduced One Day PaySM initiative, which allows Aflac to process, approve and pay eligible claims in one day. Watch this video video to see how Aflac’s cancer insurance policy helped policyholder Celia through her breast cancer journey.
Aflac is also helping the fight against breast cancer this October, as they’ve partnered with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) for its second annual “This Duck Wears Pink” campaign. Aflac is selling campaign-related items, like the plush duck, hats and a breast cancer ribbon pin. All net proceeds will go to the AACR to fund research aimed at finding a cure for breast cancer.If you want to help, you can donate and shop for merchandise here. And you really should donate! As women especially, we must help stop the spread of breast cancer and help find a cure. I know I’m fighting back. It won’t bring back Ceylin but it might save another life.
So, donate here. I will donate right now as DMX’s “Where My Dogs At” (Ceylin’s fave) plays in the background.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.