|Sepia Owens-Villas, 39: Two-Year Breast Cancer Survivor|
What I learned: Only I can take charge of my health
"After eight rounds of chemotherapy, I met with a breast surgeon to discuss options to remove the tumor in my breast. I had read all about my diagnosis and spoken with some of my influential contacts, so I went in armed with information. When the doctor recommended a lumpectomy, I might have gone along with it had I not learned that, in my case, a mastectomy could lower my chances for recurrence.
"Because of my health care background, I knew how to make decisions that were right for me. But not everyone has that knowledge or access. So, after completing breast cancer treatment, I co-founded a nonprofit called First Things First. Our workshops include teaching women what to expect from a gynecological exam so that if a test is omitted, they know to ask for it. I also encourage them to tell their M.D. if they notice something suspicious. If I hadn't brought the lump I found to my doctor's attention, she might not have discovered it. No one knows your body better than you do, so speaking up is crucial."