Health Team

Breast cancer patient, 28, looks to inform and inspire

Posted June 11, 2015 5:31 p.m. EDT
Updated June 12, 2015 9:35 a.m. EDT

— Breast cancer runs in Monisha Yowell's family.

The 28-year-old watched her grandmother struggle and eventually die from breast cancer at age 88, and about two years ago, Yowell's mother, Sylvia Morrison was diagnosed at age 48.

But in November, Yowell came face to face with the disease after she felt a large lump on her breast.

"Because my mother and grandmother had it, I knew it was a possibility, but not at 28," she said.

A mammogram, followed by an MRI and a biopsy, confirmed Yowell had a triple negative tumor - a fast growing type.

"I put the phone down and I just cried because I did not want my daughter to have to endure what I endured," Morrison said.

Yowell saw Duke breast cancer surgeon Dr. Lisa Tolnitch about treatment options and surgical decisions.

"To lose your hair and then your breast, it is a lot to think about. But at the same if it meant me having to lose my breast and be here, then that was the best decision," Yowell said.

The mother of two young boys, she created a blog about her breast cancer journey to inform family and friends and inspire women who face the same ordeal.

Yowell chose a mastectomy of the left breast with the tumor and a preventative mastectomy of the right breast. Now, she is going through breast reconstruction surgeries.

Despite the surgery, Dr. Tolnitch says, Yowell's type of cancer has a tendency to return.

"I hope she will do well, but we will have to watch her very, very carefully," Dr. Tolnitch said.

Both Yowell and Morrison are determined to raise awareness among other women - to know their family's history, to conduct self breast exams and to know your own body.

"And don't ever think, 'Oh, I am too young, this can't happen to me.' Just realize, it can happen," Yowell said.