Most people only see their health care providers once or twice a year, so it’s important to monitor your own body for any lumps, bumps, or changes.
Still, many women either forego doing their monthly at-home breast exams or do them ineffectually. After beating breast cancer herself, Jessica Baladad is on a mission to change that.
Jessica was in college when she discovered a lump in her breast by accident. It turned out to be a benign fibroadenoma, but it inspired Jessica to be vigilant about performing self-exams every month from there on out.
Ten years later, she decided to skip her monthly exam because she had a doctor’s appointment coming up. But at the appointment, her practitioner missed something. It wasn’t until Jessica resumed her regularly-scheduled exams that she felt a lump in her left breast.
It turned out to be cancer. If she had relied on the doctor’s visit alone, it could have been another year before the disease was detected!
As with all cancers, breast cancer is most treatable when it’s caught early. Still, Jessica was terrified as she began treatments. She wound up spending the next three years of her life undergoing major surgeries and other therapies to ultimately beat the disease.
“I went through 16 rounds of chemo, a double mastectomy, 24 rounds of radiation, a hysterectomy,” she explained. “And then back in February, I had a 10-hour flap reconstruction where they took fat tissue and blood vessels from my abdomen and place them in my chest to recreate my body. And I have one more surgery to go.”
While Jessica healed, her mind turned to ways to prevent other women from going through the same ordeal. She came up with an idea for a website app to help women remember to do their exams and ensure they do them properly.
“I’m not an app developer. I’m just like a passionate advocate,” she said. “Women aren’t learning how to do these [breast exams].”
Jessica’s app is called Feel For Your Life. It allows women to track and monitor their monthly exams and set reminders to do them, and it will eventually enable them to communicate with their physicians via telehealth connections.
She hopes the app will help remove the stigma of discussing breast health. After all, if it weren’t for self-exams, Jessica might not be alive today.
At the end of the day, we’re all responsible for our own health. Jessica is making it easier for women to take control of their well-being. What an inspiring way to take her power back and empower others in the process!
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