This is the only life you get, so live it now. That’s wisdom from my mother and former governor of Texas Ann Richards. She took risks every day and remains a daily inspiration to me in my work and life. So, when young women ask me for advice, my answer is the same: Say “yes” to whatever new opportunities come your way.

Screen yourself

In order to take advantage of life’s opportunities, women need to take care of ourselves. Too often, we put off or skip the critical preventive health screenings that can make a huge difference for our lives.

In fact, a survey last year found that most women do not actually know when or how often they should get screened for breast and cervical cancer. The survey also showed that many women aren’t getting screened often enough — especially women of color — and that many are unaware that, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, preventive cancer screenings are required to be covered by insurance without a copay.

"All women should have periodic wellness visits to protect their health — whether you’re straight, bi or lesbian."

Planned Parenthood knows firsthand how important cancer screenings are. We want all women to understand the latest recommendations when it comes to regular well-woman visits, Pap tests, the HPV vaccine and breast exams. Especially if something feels out of the ordinary — lumps, swelling or pain — talk to your provider right away. It might be less serious than you imagine, but you should have it checked out.

Specific concerns

All women should have periodic wellness visits to protect their health — whether you’re straight, bi or lesbian. Regular checkups can keep you healthy by detecting problems before they become serious. They’re also an opportunity for you to ask your provider any questions you have. If you use birth control, they’re a chance to make sure you’re using the method that’s best for you. You can also check in about any cancer screenings or STI tests you may need. And for women living in the South, especially the Gulf Coast region, you can ask for information on the Zika virus.

Call your health care provider to schedule a wellness visit and any necessary screenings — and encourage your sisters, daughters, mothers and friends to do the same. Take charge of your health so you can say yes to life’s next opportunity.