“I was laying in bed with my boyfriend when I found a small almond-shaped lump in my breast in late 2018. I remember immediately crying and freaking out. I called my mom (I was away at college) and she told me it was likely a cyst because she was cystic. It calmed me down for a bit but I had the lump checked by my doctor when I returned home.”
Drew, diagnosed at 21
“I was completely shocked when I was told the lump I found in my left breast was cancer. I had no family history and had always been healthy. I exercised and ate well- I didn’t know how this could be happening. Fortunately, I was surrounded with an amazing support system, without whom I don’t know how I would have made it through. After 16 chemo treatments, I spent three weeks trying to regain some strength and then went in for a double mastectomy. It was scary and overwhelming but with guidance from some amazing women I met at a Cancer Support Community, I felt as prepared as I could and I was ready to get the cancer out!”
Erinn, diagnosed at 30
“I lost two of my favorite women in my life to Breast Cancer as well. My grandmother and my kids’ grandmother both were STRONG women that exemplified STRENGTH, COURAGE, and HOPE! Through my journey of chemotherapy, surgery (double mastectomy), and radiation I saw them (my grandmother & mother in love) in me and were able to exemplify their STRENGTH which helped me through tough times.”
Tyra, diagnosed at 29
“Since my diagnosis, I have found a warrior within myself that I didn’t even know existed. I have received support and kind words from people from all over. If there is anything that is keeping me positive and strong, it is the continued support that my community has offered me. From this support, it has given me the courage to be transparent about my diagnosis and be able to share my story with women like you! Transparency is more healing than I could have ever imagined.”
Sydney, diagnosed at 23
My name is Erinn, Tyra, Sydney, Oliviya, Bree and Drew, and this is our breast cancer survivor story. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 30…29, 28, 26, 23 and even as young as 21! I always thought breast cancer was an over 40 disease…or even an over 60 disease. But I’m young, I’m strong, and my future is bright. I have learnt not to take anything for granted and that life is short. Today, I get to inspire other breast cancer patients to fight like hell…
Quotes by Oliviya and Bree
All stories used in this article belong to Young Survival Coalition
Approximately a total of 330,000 women in the US and 55,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. According to Breast Cancer Now the lives of 11,500 breast cancer patients are lost in a year making it one of the most common causes of cancer deaths in the whole of UK. There are plenty of reasons that can cause breast cancer including your lifestyle to your inheritance. Ultimately, women above 45 are at a higher risk by 80% of being diagnosed with breast cancer. However, there are ways to reduce exposure to breast cancer including living a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight and minimizing your alcohol intake.
As explained by the Black Women’s Health Imperative (BHWI) – black women are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with a fatal breast cancer also known as “metastatic” breast cancer, where the cancer rapidly spreads to other areas of the body including the brain, the lungs, the liver and the bones. Additionally, this often occurs at a younger age than white women. There are many factors that puts a black woman at a higher risk, but one of the main ones is socioeconoenomic differences. BHWI confirms that African American women in particular are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer due to a delay in their diagnosis and treatment.
A study by Tina K. Sacks demonstrates that a group of middle-class black women have explained that they are often not heard by their doctors, which led to their hesitation in getting in touch with their healthcare providers and following up their treatments. When in a vulnerable position as such, it is crucial to find the right healthcare provider that values and listens to its patients. According to The National Breast Cancer Foundation, there are multiple factors to take into consideration when finding the right specialist including:
Are they treating their patients and concerns with respect?
What are their treatment goals?
Are they explaining things in a clear and coherent way?
We are motivated to spread the message of doing a self-examination through the “viral lemon photo” to detect any symptoms in the unfortunate case of developing breast cancer.
Image Source: KnowYourLemons
If in doubt, you can ask for more information via the following mainly UK based organizations, which will also offer support regarding mastectomy wear and hereditary breast cancer among other questions you may have. Additionally, some of these organizations also provide medical and financial support.
*Provides breast cancer support and information*
Helpline: 0808 800 6000
Text phone: 18001 0808 800 6000
Office: Chester House
1–3 Brixton Road
London SW9 6DE
Phone: 0345 077 1893
*Provides support and information regarding hereditary breast cancer*
Phone: 01629 813000
*Provides free support, information, counselling and therapy*
*Provides practical, medical and financial support*
Text phone: 18001 0808 808 00 00
*Provides support for women who have had an early menopause*
Source: Breast Cancer UK