Young Women Can and Do Get Breast Cancer: Fight For Early Detection in Younger Women.
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First, my aunt
Forgotten Fighters was born more than 20 years ago on the evening my aunt passed away from breast cancer. Only in her late 30’s, she found a lump – but was told she was too young to have breast cancer. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer and lost her battle two years later, leaving two young children without their mother. I made a promise to her that I would get involved with a cause, fighting to lower the breast cancer screening age and pushing for early detection measures in young women.
And then me
I had reason to become even more passionate about my promise when I too was diagnosed with breast cancer at just 33. Since my aunt was not blood-related, I too had no family history of the disease. While lying on the biopsy table, I looked up at the diagnostic radiologist and said, “I am going to fight this screening age recommendation!”
It’s time to fight for change! About this same time, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that women should be regularly screened for breast cancer starting at age of 40. Diagnosed at just 33, this was already far too late for me. Then, incredibly, during my initial year of treatment, the recommendations took a giant step backwards when they pushed out the recommended screening age from 40 to 50. This only strengthened my determination to make good on my promise to my aunt and fight for early detection for young women who, like me, were literally fighting for our lives. As I fought my way through chemotherapy and radiation treatments, as well as several surgeries, the Forgotten Fighters initiative gave me the drive I needed to keep going on even the hardest days.
Women in their 20’s and 30’s are being diagnosed with breast cancer every day
Breast cancer is not limited to those who have a family history, high body weight, lower activity level, consume more alcohol, or smoke. It can attack any woman, young or old, at any age. According to the Young Survival Coalition, more then 12,000 women under 40 will be diagnosed in 2016, and of that 12,000 only 15% will have a family history of Breast Cancer. But what is really scary is that this overlooked group—younger women in their 20’s and 30’s—are typically diagnosed with much more aggressive and further advanced forms of breast cancer. It is astonishing that the U.S. Government does not recommend any type of screening in young women. Even more, it suggests that younger woman should not even preform self-breast exams. This entirely contradicts the long-held suggestion that early detection saves lives.
If it’s large enough to be felt, it already may be too late
When a tumor is found during an annual screening—mammogram or ultrasound—it’s often caught long before it has grown to a size that can be felt. Unfortunately, women under the age of 50, especially those under 40, must rely on themselves to find a lump. We must show the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force that although we may be the smallest categories of women diagnosed with breast cancer, we still represent lives that could be saved. In the absence of Government-guided support, young women need to be our own breast advocates. We need to forget about the guidelines and get to know our bodies, check ourselves often, and push our medical team to do the same.
Please join us in the fight to change the recommendation to a much earlier age and give younger women a fighting chance against breast cancer. Don't just do it for us, do it because it could someday be your daughter, your grand daughter, your mother, or your wife who is diagnosed.
Please take a few moments to watch the video below, SIGN THE PETITION, like and share the Forgotten Fighters Facebook page, use the hashtag #ReverseTheRecommendation, and of course help me make this grassroots campaign go viral, by passing this message along to everyone you know.
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