“Dear Ms. Johnson, your recent breast imaging appears to show no signs of cancer.”

This was the beginning of a letter that my sister received after her doctor found a lump in her breast that she hadn’t found on her own.

She sent an email to everyone in my family before she got the results back, informing us of the lump and asking us to say prayers for her.

Of all the women born in the United States today, 12.4 percent of them will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives, according to cancer.gov.

But it isn’t always “bad luck.”

“A woman’s chance of developing breast cancer increases if her mother, sister and/or daughter have been diagnosed with the disease, especially if they were diagnosed before age 50,” according to cancer.gov.

In the email, she told us of how the lump was the size of a marble. My heart sank as I sat at a desk, reading the email while waiting for a class to start.

“What’s going to happen? Is there anything I can do for her? Is she OK?” These questions, among others, immediately raced through my mind.

My sister is very aware of her body. She does regular checks on herself, but even she missed it.

“But when she showed me the lump and asked if it was normal, I couldn’t feel it,” she said in her email. “I thought what I felt was what I’ve always felt. It wasn’t until she isolated the lump for me that I could feel it.”

Once the test came back negative, she sent another email to let us all know the good news, thank us for our prayers, and plead with the ladies in our family to get our regular breast checks.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; let this month be a new start in your life. Why do we, as humans, need something bad to be our “kick in the pants?” Ladies, I ask you to get your regular breast exams — it is never too early to start. And men, I ask you to encourage the ladies in your life to get their exams.

This experience with my sister hit my family hard. We had a hard time sleeping, it consumed our thoughts, and my grades began to suffer. We are so thankful for the results we got, but what if this story hadn’t ended the way it did? She could have easily gotten a letter that said, “Dear Ms. Johnson, Your recent breast imaging appears to show cancer.” What would that have done to my family, to her husband and her two children? Would that have affected the way that people see my beautiful sister?

We can’t lose sight of things we know now when life is good.

Ladies, if something like breast cancer happens to you, whether now or later, I plead with you to remember: You are still a woman, you are still a divine daughter of God, you are still beautiful. Men, if you know a woman who is affected by this, please don’t think of her any different than a beautiful daughter of God. Our bodies are gifts from God, but we do need to take care of them. Getting yearly exams is a great way to start.

This experience taught me a lot. In addition to the importance of yearly exams, I learned more fully of God’s love, the importance of family and the power of prayer.

But please remember this: Your families and friends love you.

Because of that, let’s do all we can to prevent cancer so those people can continue to have us to love.