Health Team

Young breast cancer survivor stresses importance of early detection

Posted June 12, 2014
Updated June 13, 2014

— For most women, breast cancer screening isn’t recommended until 40 years of age. However, the disease can occur at much younger ages.

At the age of 19, Samantha Callich received an early diagnosis thanks to her awareness of breast cancer.

Six years ago, while living in Florida, Callich had been getting hormone treatments for endometriosis. An often painful disorder, endometriosis causes tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus to grow outside of it.

“The hormones worked well for me,” Callich said. “Then about seven months into the hormone therapy, I started developing breast tumors.”

She found the tumors through a self-breast exam. Callich’s doctors knew tumors were a risk of hormone therapy, but felt that given her age, they were probably not cancerous.

“When it started growing in size, that’s when I was pressuring my doctors saying, ‘I think this is something more serious,’” Callich said.

A needle biopsy showed cancer.

“I went from being not so worried, thinking this was probably nothing, to, ‘You have to have major surgery in a week and lose basically most of your right breast, and you’re 19,’” Callich said.

Now 25, Callich and her dog, Killian, have been through a lot together.

As a walking companion and pet, Killian filled a great need.

“He’s been my bedside companion, and through all my surgery recoveries he was by my side,” Callich said.

After breast re-construction, and a few years of physical and psychological healing, Callich was ready to turn it all into a positive experience.

“Here I was finding a tumor on myself – diagnosing myself – and going to seek treatment,” Callich said. “I think that early detection – I mean that’s what saves lives, because if you aren’t doing those and if I had ignored it, like ‘this is probably nothing whatever,’ I don’t know where I would be.”



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  • f224c240 Jun 13, 2014

    Sadly, most women and breast cancer survivors are misguided in their view about the value of mammography as a result of the repeated misleading and false marketing messages and statements by the cancer industry about the screening test (read thru this: ). The fact that these women are unaware that mammograms do not significantly reduce mortality from breast cancer, but cause great harm, is a clear sign of the success of the mammogram hype.

  • sunshine1040 Jun 13, 2014

    If cancer free means there are no active cancer cells in your body then none of us are cancer free.because most if not all of us have cancer cells but thankfully they will not develope into tumors but please women do self exams and get mamagrams and hopefully you can be cured and not just go into remission

  • carrboroyouth Jun 13, 2014

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    What tests are you referring to? BRCA gene testing? Mammograms? Please elaborate. You cannot detect cancer before it exists.

  • bill0 Jun 13, 2014

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    Huh? Breast cancer most definitely has testing procedures to detect cancer before you can feel it with your hands. That is what people/doctors mean when they talk about "early detection". It's a pretty hotly debated topic whether it actually does much/any good to try to test and intervene at those early stages.

  • Chris Chappell Jun 13, 2014
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    Rick Simpson oil/Pheonix tears !!! Look it up :)

  • Rod Runner Jun 13, 2014
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    I'm not sure the kind of "early detection" that you are referring to exists for all kinds of cancer. "Early detection" generally means to people that you found the cancer before it spread from its original tissue and so we can remove it and you'll be cancer free.

    There is going to be some kind of physical showing of breast cancer, even if it isn't big lumps. An MRI will show it early, but it still has to be there to be detected. And you're not going to be given an MRI just because you want to try to detect it early.

    All other early detection tests I see for different types of cancer basically detect a physical problem that will only show itself if you already have the cancer.

    You can't detect cancer before you have it.

  • busyb97 Jun 13, 2014

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    AGREED- 100%! And this girl's own doctors telling her it was to be expected, but she's young, so it can't be cancer. I'm sorry. That is pathetic on their part.

    It's too bad she had to push it- but thankfully she did! Or she wouldn't be around to see her 25th birthday. Shame on those doctors for basically blowing her off.

  • bill0 Jun 13, 2014

    "“I think that early detection – I mean that’s what saves lives,"

    What this woman did was very smart, but it isn't "early detection". Early detection is finding the cancer before it presents physical signs - eg big lumps you can feel.

  • Anita Woody Jun 13, 2014

    You have to be vigilant with your doctors. I have a friend who felt something when she was in her 20s. Doctor said it was only because she had a baby. Months later, doctor said same thing. Different doctor - "you're too young for it to be anything other than a cyst." A year later she finds out she has stage 4 breast cancer. A lot of the problem is doctors think they know more than women who know their own body and they refuse to check.