When you think of breast cancer, you think of older women, don't you? Moms. Grandmas. Favorite aunts. So why would a national panel of health experts invite a teenage girl all the way to Washington, D.C. to talk about the fight against breast cancer?
Because high school senior Jazmin Branch is one incredible teen. Not just because she's a member of the National Honor Society and valedictorian at her Illinois high school. But because when she saw breast cancer steal the life out of her beloved grandmother in just six months, the teenage Branch decided to start researching breast and cervical cancer screenings, homing in on the troubling difference in testing rates for Hispanic and African American women.
Yeah, you read that right. While most teenage girls are thinking SATs and prom time, feeling uncomfortable about doing breast exams in the shower and looking at the OB/GYN and screaming, "You want to put that metal thing ... WHERE exactly?" Jazmin Branch was looking at breast lumps and cervical mucus smears. Branch told the Chicago Sun-Times:
It just seemed like with those things happening simultaneously. I was called to do this. I thought more into what it was and how I could change it. I wanted to make a difference.
She isn't the first to look at the issues of race in terms of breast cancer; the CDC shows Hispanic women and American Indian/Alaska Native in particular lag behind women of other races in terms of getting screened. But as a teenager of color working with the American Cancer Society, Branch is making headway on what bars minority women from adequate breast cancer screening.
With kids like this, we can stop thinking about breast cancer in terms of older ladies and start thinking about the future ... the kids who could be the ones to unlock the cure.
Is this the most inspiring teen of the week?
Image via mel_rowling/Flickr