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Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Teen Voice

Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Cancer Survivor - A Role Model for Young Jewish Woman
A role model for young Jewish women.

-- DocJess

Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz discovered a breast lump through a self-exam, two months after her first mammogram at 40. Although the cancer was detected at an early stage, she also learned that as an Ashkenazi Jew of Eastern European descent, she was at greater risk of carrying a gene mutation that makes Ashkenazi Jews predisposed to breast cancer and recurrence. She tested positive for this BRCA2 gene mutation, prompting her to have both breasts removed.

She was also at higher risk of ovarian cancer and had her ovaries removed -- the day after Election Day. Her final surgery was in December, almost a year after her diagnosis.

Because the cancer was caught so early, she didn't need chemotherapy or radiation but will take the cancer drug tamoxifen for five years.

In total, she had seven surgeries over the past year. And think back, she was never out of the public eye. Whether or not you agree with her politics (and personally, I don't always agree with her) this sort of courage, stamina and dedication is remarkable.

We applaud the Congresswoman for going public with her story, and hope that it will encourage women to undertake self-exams on a regular basis. While the mortality rate for breast cancer has been falling, that decrease is mostly in older women. Younger women will skip exams because "I'm too young, it can't happen to me", and often their doctors will discount things for the age reason. Breast cancer is often more virulent and aggressive in younger women.

So if you're a woman: check. If you love a woman: your wife, significant other, mother, sister, daughter, friend - remind her, too. Early detection leads to the highest rate of cure.

To view previous editions of "Teen Voice", please click here.

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