October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, and R&B singer and model Cassie is raising awareness about the disease that plagued both her mother and grandmother.
As a teenager growing up in Connecticut, Cassie had hopes of landing a record deal and making it big in the modeling world. By the time she was 16, she had already belonged to a modeling agency and appeared in Seventeen magazine. While a senior in high school and gearing up to leave her small town for the Big Apple, she had to deal with the devastating news that her mother could die from breast cancer. “It was shocking, nobody expected it,” she explained. “It was tough.”
Cassie was scared the disease was hereditary; after all, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer twice – the first time being when Cassie was only 7 – and her grandmother had also battled the disease. “I gave myself an examination and I thought that I had a lump. I went and got it checked and it turned out to be nothing.” In addition to being checked, the singer also got genetic testing to make sure she didn’t carry the gene for breast cancer. Luckily, she doesn’t.
Now Cassie is using her celebrity to raise awareness about the disease. She educates women about the importance of self-examination and mammograms, a low-dose X-ray of the breast that accurately diagnoses 90 percent of breast cancer cases. “I encourage everybody to get checked, because you never know,” said Cassie.
Compared to their White counterparts, African-American women are more likely to die from breast cancer and are diagnosed at a significantly later stage of the disease, according to the American Journal of Public Health.
Early detection is key when dealing with breast cancer, but in cities like Chicago, African-American women have a 62 percent higher rate of death from breast cancer than White women.
Cassie admits she didn’t get checked until she felt something in her own body. Now her mission is to make sure women know that they shouldn’t be afraid to get checked and can live long, productive lives if the cancer is detected early. Her mother and grandmother are living proof that with early detection you can live a healthy life.
Don't Miss Heart of the City, Sunday on BET!