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While focusing on school, working part-time, and modeling, it’s sometimes hard to fit in other activities that I would love to do, like volunteering for example. However, I’ve gotten to work with some great charitable projects with modeling that work to support or raise money for great causes. A few years ago, I was sent to the Bahamas to shoot for a fun swimsuit calendar for CampusGirlsUSA, profits going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Also, right before I left for America’s Next Top Model, I shot for a swimsuit line in support of breast cancer victims called Belafigure. Little did I know that these two projects (with babes in bikinis supporting breast cancer research and victims) would somewhat pertain to a future personal experience of my own. 

During the summer last year, after a spontaneous decision to get a disclosed part of my body pierced at the beach (lol), I found a small, hard, but moveable lump in my left breast. I was caught completely off guard, concerned and confused as to why I never felt it before. And when I felt my right breast, there was yet another lump (though smaller than the first one I had found in my left breast).

[pagebreak] I called a couple of my friends and even let them cop a feel in hopes that they weren’t feeling the same thing I was feeling. I had hoped I made it up all in my head. I was nervous, but I promised my mother I wouldn’t stress until we finally saw a doctor.

The day after my 20th birthday, I saw a doctor and without really telling me what it was, he advised I immediately get it removed – the next day. I burst in to tears in the middle of the doctor’s office. It was absolutely surreal. I had tried to make myself believe that these nickel size lumps in each of my breasts were nothing, but they were something.

The doctor had said it could have been a number of things. Possibly cysts or perhaps fibroids, benign tumors which were common growths in girls my age. But all that kept ringing in my head was cancer, breast cancer. I immediately thought the worst and I cried for days on end (having endless marathons of Sex & the City by myself lol). Wanting to be alone, I wallowed in my bad news, overthinking everything and the possibilities of just what these tumors actually meant for me. I was incredibly dramatic, but I really thought that maybe, my life would soon be over at the age of 20.

I went for second and third opinions, and I finally had a biopsy where they took pieces of the tumor out of each breast for testing. They were said to be fibroids, benign tumors in each of my breasts; one abnormally shaped and much bigger than the other.

Apparently, I had nothing to worry about because it is a common thing, but as a young girl with something so foreign to her in her own body, a tumor, I was still worried. But since it wasn’t considered threatening at that time, as the doctor’s advised me, I decided to wait 6 months before surgery and continued to self check myself in between visits. After six months, I felt less energized and weak. It could have been the mental stress I was putting myself through, but physically, the lumps had each doubled in size.

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