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Kyle Richards Urges Women to Get Mammograms and Do Self-Exams 18 Years After Losing Her Mom to Breast Cancer (Exclusive)

Kyle Richards is turning the pain of losing her mother to breast cancer into an opportunity to urge other women to take preventive measures to avoid the same fate.

Related: Celebrities Reveal What Got Them Through Their Breast Cancer Battles

The 51-year-old Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star’s mother, Kathleen Richards, died in 2002 after being diagnosed with the disease. Eighteen years later, Kyle partnered with her longtime breast surgeon, Dr. Heather Richardson, during Breast Cancer Awareness month for Annual Mammogram Day at the Bedford Breast Center on Saturday, October 24.

Kyle Richards Urges to Get Mammograms, Do Self-Exams After Mom’s Cancer Death
Kyle Richards at Bravo’s Party For ‘The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills’ Season 9 on February 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Broadimage/Shutterstock

“I lost my mom to breast cancer 18 years ago. So, it’s really important to me to use my platform and my voice and get out there and remind women to get their mammograms and do a self-exam every single month, because you really can save your life,” she told Us Weekly exclusively on Thursday, October 22. “When I think about the fact that my mom did not have a mammogram for five years because she was afraid, it tortures me, you know? So, I don’t want other women to suffer like that or their loved ones to suffer too.”

Related: Sharon Osbourne, Ewan McGregor and More Stars Who Battled Cancer

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, one in eight American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. This year alone, more than 42,000 women in the United States are estimated to die from the disease.

Kyle Richards Urges Get Mammograms Do Self-Exams After Moms Cancer Death
Kathleen Richards. Courtesy Kyle Richards/Instagram

If the cancer is detected early and is in the localized stage, the five-year relative survival rate is at 99 percent. Doctors urge at-home self-tests, mammograms and clinical breast exams.

The longtime Bravo personality admitted that she “used to get anxiety” doing preventive testing because of her mother’s battle, but she’s “better about it now.” Yet, she understands “part of the fear” for many women who avoid testing is finding something awry or the “pain” of the examination.

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By raising awareness to early detection testing, Kyle hopes to create “more of an open dialogue” on the matter. “I have four daughters and, you know, I should be talking about that. … I’m talking about that, because we’re seeing breast cancer in younger and younger women these days,” the reality star said, adding that she “absolutely” speaks with her eldest daughter, 31-year-old Farrah, about preventive measures “all the time.”

For Bedford Breast Center’s Annual Mammogram Day, the Dr. Susan Love Foundation nominated deserving women to receive a free mammogram. Kyle, herself, frequents the Beverly Hills facility for her own examinations.

“I’m very proud to partner with Bedford Breast Center. I’ve been going there for years and myself,” she explained. “I think that, you know, you’ve got to find someplace that you’re comfortable with, because I used to be so afraid to go because I’d go into the hospital. It was scary and intimidating to me. So, find someplace that you’re really comfortable with and you feel safe, and then it won’t be as intimidating to go.”

With reporting by Christina Garibaldi

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