Christy Redfern was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer a few years ago and went into survival mode. There was the first round of treatment and then a year later she had a reoccurrence.
"It was one of those things that rocked my world. I had two children," Redfern said.
She is finally doing okay now after receiving care at UNC Health.
Redfern said she is backing US Prevention Task Force's new draft guidance for breast cancer screenings, which would drop the age from 50 to 40, but Redfern feels the age hasn't been lower enough.
"Seeing that 40 is great, we're making improvements, but again - I was 35 when diagnosed, Redfern tells ABC11.
Meg Kornegay was also 35 when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of stage two cancer.
The Wake County educator was forced to have a tough conversation with her kindergartener.
"We explained chemo to him as I got to take this medicine that's going to give me superpowers and is going to make me better," said Kornegay.
There's been evidence in recent years of significant racial disparities, with black women being more likely to get aggressive cancer at younger and 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than White women.
"Black women, in general, are diagnosed later, which means we are dying more because we're diagnosed at a later stage and we aren't able to get those lifesaving treatments in time. Why not lower the age if it means you can save someone's life," said Kornegay.
Medical experts say there are risks to screening too early or often. One possibility is false positives.
"There are these potential harms, but there's a great benefit and the benefit for screening at a young age is early detection and improved survival," said
Dr. Maggie DiNome is the Chief of Breast Surgery in the Department of Surgery at Duke University School of Medicine.
"I do feel like we're seeing more women in the twenties and thirties, and those women don't necessarily get screened early because we don't start screening until women are 40, so we are seeing younger women and I don't know why," said DiNome.
There are a few options for screening. Mammograms are still the golden standard, but ultrasounds and MRIs can also be important tools.
Both Kornegay and Redfern discovered their cancer through a self-examination.
They each have a lot to be thankful for right now. This week, the women are celebrating their respective anniversaries of being cancer free and implore others to get tested early.
"A lot of women get a lot of pushback," said Redfern.
"I am hopeful the more out stories get out there. The more women will make the appointments, keep the appointments and push for their own care," said Kornegay.
Other details about the guidance:
Background context on breast cancer: