JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Breast cancer is now the leading cause of cancer death among Black women, according to a new report from the American Cancer Society.
It’s a harrowing statistic that one Jacksonville woman is trying to spread awareness about as she fights through her fourth diagnosis.
“I was 22 at the time," breast cancer patient Jessica Florence said. "So, I just felt like my life was going to crash and burn."
When she found a lump in her right breast during college, Florence didn’t think breast cancer was possible at her age.
Now, she has had to learn to live with the disease.
“I went from being cured to stage 4 metastatic breast cancer," she explained in a video compilation she created for social media.
At 28, Florence is battling a fourth diagnosis.
“It went from my brain to my spine. And now, back to my brain," she said.
All this, after Florence says she saw three different physicians before she was initially diagnosed.
"They all told me, you’re too young to have breast cancer," Florence explained in the video compilation.
Dr. Sabrina Sahni, an oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Florida, says younger women may not consider themselves to be at high risk, but the reality is breast cancers are diagnosed at all ages.
“African American women under the age of 35 are actually two times more likely to develop breast cancer than their Caucasian counterparts," Sahni said. "Unfortunately, they're also more likely to have more aggressive disease, and at three times the higher rate of mortality. So, it really is a huge discrepancy in our care.“
She says women, regardless of their age or ethnicity, should be proactive about their breast health and seek care when they feel something different.
While going through the ups and downs with the disease, Florence has taken her story to social media.
“I had a hard time finding what breast cancer looked like for Black women. And so, I took it amongst myself and took my journey," she explained. "And, I was very vulnerable. I showed all of my surgeries, all of my scars. I shared everything."
She hopes her posts educate other young Black women, and inspire those going through breast cancer.
“Stay positive. Stay vibrant," Florence said.