BAKERSFIELD,Calif. — October kicks off Breast Cancer Awareness month but for many, it’s not a once a year reminder.
It’s a challenge they face every day.
Gabriela Vasquez, a stage three cancer survivor, millennial and mom shares how she became a breast cancer advocate.
"Breast Cancer Awareness is just another day for us, it affects us January through December," Vasquez said.
Vasquez shares her personal experience of being ignored about her concerns regarding breast cancer, due to what she calls a stigma against younger women.
"Breast cancer is seen as cancer that affects pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women, not women in their 20s or 30s," Vasquez said. "Unfortunately, that is not the case statistically speaking 5 percent of women will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the age of 40 and under. In Kern County that percentage is higher."
Vasquez now spends her time educating the community about the importance of women to listen to their bodies. She spreads the word by serving as the young survivor facilitator for women under 40 who are called the young survivor's support group.
"There are a lot of women that are apart of the young survivor support group who have encountered the same obstacles that I had to encounter," Vasquez said. "Where we were turned away or just dismissed because of the fact that we were young."
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation on average every two minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer for women in America.
Vasquez says she was diagnosed at 30 and encourages women to continue to monitor their health, conduct self-exams and to receive a mammogram.
"Even in your 20s and 30s be your own advocate and not always take no for an answer," Vasquez said. "I don’t think doctors do it intentionally it's just not seen as much in younger women ,but doesn’t mean we are free and clear."
Vasquez shares that October is filled with many events and the latest one is coming up this Saturday called Lace'n it Up 5K run. For more information on more breast cancer awareness events be sure to follow this link.