It’s my story. Not yours. Mine. All mine.

There are things that I won’t reveal publicly – ever. I won’t admit to my actual jean size. I won’t admit to my exact weight. It will be a cold day in hell when I publicly admit to my real age in newsprint. This breast cancer story is strictly my own. No animals were harmed in the making of this film.

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Fighting Breast Cancer in a Down Economy: A Safety Net Exists in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam

A note from Liz Johnson, Journal News editor:

Our first story in our October series on breast cancer awareness was written by Linda Lombroso and publishes today, Oct. 2, 2011. Rica Mendes, our Battling Breast Cancer blogger, will be leading conversations about different aspects of this story — and using it for other blog posts throughout the week. But after the jump, you’ll find the story in its entirety, should you like to see how it was presented our Sunday Life section in The Journal News.

When Clara Castillo learned she needed a double mastectomy last year, she worried that reconstructive surgery was out of the question. For Silvia Flores, there were always new excuses to delay going to the doctor after she found a lump in her breast.

The reason for both women’s anxiety? Neither had health insurance.

The good news, for both Castillo, right, and Flores — and families across the area facing similar dilemmas — is that there are free and low-cost services available locally for breast-cancer screening, treatment and support, including mammograms, rides to medical appointments and care from specialists affiliated with top hospitals in the Lower Hudson Valley.

After the jump, their stories.

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Meet LoHud’s Battling Breast Cancer Blogger: Rica Mendes of South Salem

A note from Journal News editor Liz Johnson:

You all can already see that Rica Mendes, a single mom from South Salem, will be leading this Battling Breast Cancer blog, and sharing her story all month.

But features writer Linda Lombroso will introduce readers to Rica in print, too, this Sunday. Here’s a sneak peek at Linda’s story — one that I’m sure will help you get to know (and love!) Rica.

Rica is so brave to share her story here with us, and we’re very happy to have her.

Photo by Xavier Mascareñas / The Journal News

The story, after the jump.

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