Last October, I was a healthy, 35-year-old mom with three kids under the age of 7 and no family history of cancer. Breast cancer was the last thing on my mind. Then my husband was transferred to Dubai, and my OB/GYN suggested I get a mammogram “as a baseline” before we headed overseas.
That mammogram saved my life.
In February 2012, I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. I’ve battled through six months of fatigue, balding chemotherapy and a double mastectomy. Now my cancer is gone and I’m undergoing radiation to make sure it doesn’t come back. I’ll have reconstructive surgery in the spring.
This year, October - National Breast Cancer Awareness Month - is different. For me, it’s about bringing awareness to a disease that is sometimes ignored by young women. Talking about our breasts is uncomfortable. But this is about survival.
One in 8 U.S. women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. Young women (like me) don’t know we are at risk. It’s true that less than 7 percent of all breast cancer cases occur in women younger than 40. However, breast cancer can strike at any age, and breast cancer is the most common cause of death in women aged 35 to 54. The number of young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer is on the rise and doctors don’t know why.
What can you do? Lauren, a 1997 Duke graduate and Alumni Ambassador for the Duke Cancer Institute, offers more tips and information in her full post at DukeHealth.org.
Duke Medicine, Go Ask Mom's sponsor, offers health tips and information every Tuesday.