Former “Survivor” contestant Jennifer Lyon died on Tuesday night. Breast cancer. She was 37.
And this is exactly why I can work myself into a tizzy about the disease: because very young and otherwise healthy women die from it, and since I’ve had it, and there’s a chance it will come back, it’s pretty hard to not get all worked up about it. Mostly, I have hope, though, and I’m pretty sure I will survive for the long haul. I figure if I have more hope than worry, then life will be a whole lot more fun.
More about Jennifer: According to PEOPLE.com, the reality TV star, who placed fourth on “Survivor: Palau” in 2005 and passed away in her home in Oregon, was first diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer a few months after her “Survivor” season ended. She had a modified, radical bilateral mastectomy, then chemotherapy, then she took Tamoxifen. (Tamoxifen is a drug used to prevent recurrence for those who qualify for it. I don’t.)
Jennifer apparently found something suspicious in her right breast in the summer of 2004, but she chalked it up to scar tissue related to breast implants, and she let it go — for a long time.
Don’t do that, people! Don’t let anything go — if you find something, find a doctor. Right away. Then demand a mammogram, an ultrasound, an MRI — just don’t self-diagnose. The results can be tragic.
If you can remember just one thing about breast cancer, make it this: if caught early, this disease can be stopped. It doesn’t have to grow and spread and take over other organs. Small tumors can be removed, your body can be treated, and you can survive. Really, you can. So check your breasts (forget those who tell you self-exams are unnecessary and mammograms can wait) and report anything — anything — that just doesn’t feel right.