By Lauren Le Vine, REDBOOK.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and while it's safe to assume most Americans are "aware" of breast cancer, many of the disease's realities only enter into our lives when someone we know is diagnosed. And while Angelina Jolie revealed that she had undergone a preventative double mastectomy earlier this year-and even described the many steps involved in the procedure in The New York Times-it's hard to truly grasp everything that goes into treatment decisions. That's why we were so inspired by these two unique ways in which both cancer patients and doctors used social media to help spread the type of awareness this month should really be about.
Related: The Most Honest, Intimate Breast Cancer Stories You'll Hear This Year
Yesterday, PRMA Plastic Surgery and Methodist Healthcare in San Antonio live-tweeted Melissa Ray, a mother of two from Arizona, undergoing a preventative mastectomy similar to Angelina Jolie's. Every step of the operation was photographed and shared on Twitter, and while the photos are graphic, the hospital told MySanAntonio.com that they hope the tweets will "raise awareness about availability of testing for the breast cancer gene and educate women about their options." Ray is currently in good condition, and her doctors commended her, saying "It was very brave of her and can prove helpful to other women who are trying to make a decision."
Related: What Breast Cancer Doctors Tell Their Friends
On Sunday, Emily Helck posted this time-lapse video of her year of breast cancer treatments on her blog, and it quickly gained national attention. Helck was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer when she was 28, and she decided take a photo of herself every week to track her medical progress. The one-minute video she posted speeds through a year of treatment during which Helck underwent a double mastectomy, reconstruction, chemotherapy, and radiation. She told NJ.com that she hopes her visual chronicle will prove helpful to people who may feel daunted and uninformed when someone they know is diagnosed.
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