Rachel Zegler is urging her fans to perform a specific health check.
On Saturday, Sept. 24, the West Side Story star shared a black-and-white photo of her body on her Instagram Stories, specifically drawing attention to a scar on the side of her breast. The scar was the product of a breast cancer scare that the actor endured two years ago at age 19.
In the now-expired post captured by JustJared, 21-year-old Zegler wrote, “two years ago I found a lump in my breast and went through what was undoubtedly the scariest week of my life.”
“No OB/GYN was taking new patients due to the backlog of the pandemic,” she continued, “but I was fortunate to have the care of my pediatrician who prescribed me an ultrasound, which led to an outpatient biopsy procedure. Thankfully it was benign.”
Zegler used the story to encourage everyone to check their breasts often for similar, irregular lumps. “And now the scar serves as a reminder to check my breasts regularly for any irregular growth – the fibroadenoma in my left breast is a common occurrence but nevertheless extremely scary to find. Early detection saves lives!!! Check your titty meat :),” she wrote.
The actor’s advice is important — especially if breast cancer runs in your family. According to the nonprofit Breastcancer.org, “if a person with breasts has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, their risk of developing the disease nearly doubles.” But don’t worry yet — it should be noted that family history does not automatically equal a diagnosis.
People of Color are also encouraged to begin testing earlier, as many existing screening guidelines do not account for racial disparities. Further, Black women experience 41% higher rates of death as compared to white women. Early detection is key, as the 5-year survival rate for localized breast cancer is 99%.
This isn’t the first time the actor has spoken openly about her health; in 2018, Zegler tweeted about her anxiety and depression. “Hello. My name is Rachel. I suffer from anxiety and depression, and occasionally feel depersonalized/disassociated from reality. I am a work in progress. I am finding the common ground between me and my mind. And that's enough. But please, ask if I'm okay. #EndTheStigma,” her tweet said.
She continues to tweet encouraging messages to her fans about normalizing mental health conversations.