'West Side Story' Star Rachel Zegler Shares Breast Cancer Scare in Hopes Other Teens Prioritize Their Health

For Rachel Zegler, she hopes sharing her story at the start of October Breast Cancer Awareness Month serves as a reminder to check yourself regularly. 

A breast cancer scare is something most teenagers don’t need to add to their plate. But one rising actress now has to worry about it. “West Side Story” star Rachel Zegler revealed she discovered a lump in her breast that was benign. 

"It was terrifying," the 19-year-old said in a video she posted on YouTube. 

“I found a lump in my breast, saw a doctor, got an ultrasound, had a biopsy done, and sat with the worst anxiety of my life... all in the span of twenty-four hours,” the Zegler shared on social media. “Thankfully, I’ve just found out that it is benign, and will be seeing a breast specialist in about a year to make sure it hasn’t grown or developed.”

Zegler, who’s from New Jersey, has been self-isolating at home during the pandemic. On the same week of medical appointments, Zegler learned her feature film debut was being pushed back a year. "West Side Story" will now premiere December 10, 2021 instead of this coming December. 

"This sucks so much but we want everyone to see this movie safely. I am excited to be able to hang out with my friends and promote this movie in a year. Hopefully that is in the realm of possibility for us," she said on YouTube. 

She said due to COVID-19 restrictions, her medical appointment at New Century Imaging in Oradell had to be done alone. 

“I am begging you all to wear your masks— because no terrified nineteen-year-old (or ANYONE, for that matter) should have to go through the things I had to go through last week all alone. But because of the state of the world, that is safety protocol (and it must be respected!)” she wrote on social media.

Developing breast cancer when you’re a teenager is extremely rare, according to Breast Cancer Now. It says it's also uncommon for women in their 20s and 30s. 

Zegler publicly sharing what she went through resonates with model Allyn Rose, who underwent a preventative double mastectomy when she was 26. 

“I think she is incredibly brave to not only be doing those tests, but to be so open about it because it is a terrifying thing,” Rose told Inside Edition Digital. 

Rose lost her mother to breast cancer when she was 16. She wanted to have surgery to make sure she stayed healthy.

“It was, if I'm being honest, a very challenging thing, particularly for somebody who worked in the beauty industry,” Rose explained. “I was a pageant contestant. I was a full-time model, and I essentially had to say to myself, I may never work in this industry ever again, but at the end of the day, my vanity is not what's important. My life is what's important.”

Rose started The Previvor Foundation, an organization for young women considering surgery to learn about their options and to teach women how to do screenings, which she said s the “first line of defense” and should be done once a month. She started the hashtag campaign #selfexamgram along with #feelitonthefirst to raise awareness. “I didn't want to just remind women to do this," she said. "I wanted to teach them how to do it.” 

For Zegler, she hopes sharing her story ahead of the start of October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month serves as a reminder to check yourself regularly. 

“That is how I found the lump in the first place, and how so many people notice irregularities in their breasts,” she said. 

“Urge your pals to do the same. Early detection saves lives.”