The Young Survivors

The more bras I sell, the more I realize what a large population of women have breast cancer under 40. As a young woman myself, it is so hard to see my peers diagnosed with something that society taught me was supposed to be plaguing our mothers. Growing up we always heard people say that when we 'get older' we were going to have to get mammograms and pay attention for breast cancer. We saw older woman like our great aunts and grandmothers diagnosed. We thought "I will worry about that later".

Yet women under 40 are diagnosed with breast cancer everyday. Women who haven't gotten married, haven't had children, some who haven't even graduated college. Cancer for this demographic poses so many different challenges than cancer for older women does. Challenges like...early menopause or fertility issues. Like...how to pay for medical bills on a 'just out of college' income. Like...how to explain to the guy who might propose that you have had a double mastectomy. No one addresses these things in the doctor's office waiting room literature.

There is a wonderful organization called the Young Survival Coalition (YSC) that was started for this very reason. All three founders were diagnosed before 35. They, too, found there was little information geared towards young women. In 1998, those three women changed that. Their site is full of great facts, events and testimonials.

So the next time a pamphlet or a commercial presents information about breast cancer, pay attention. Because if you are over the age of 15 it DOES apply to you.

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