It's estimated more than 140,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year; 40,000 will die from it.
Those statistics from the National Cancer Institute are daunting, but early detection can make all the difference.
Just ask Janet Auel.
"I'm a huge advocate for self-breast exams,” she told WSBT News. “I'm living proof."
Janet is a dietitian at Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center. She knows how important it is to be your own health advocate.
In November 2002 Janet found a lump in her breast. A nurse practitioner told her not to worry about it, but three months later Janet was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“My instant reaction when my surgeon called me was, ‘I'm going to die,’” she said.
Donna Ancil is a pediatric nurse and was 39 when she was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. She says if she had waited for her annual mammogram she probably wouldn’t be here today.
Donna found hers by doing her self-exam in front of a mirror.
"It wouldn't have been one that I would have found on my own had I not looked in the mirror,” she said. “I raised my arms up and as I raised my arms up I found a dimple in my right breast."
That dimple turned out to be cancer. Her monthly check saved her life.
The key is looking for changes from month to month and checking more than just your breast.
"All over your chest wall, into your arm, underneath your arms — yes definitely — your breast tissue goes all the way up to your clavicle and all the way down, further down," Janet explained.
Both Janet and Donna had lumpectomies and are cancer free right now. They both work at Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center.
They found each other in a support group and say they are part of a sisterhood.