I was diagnosed with stage III ER+/PR+ breast cancer at age of 26 and at that time I was unaware that a woman my age could receive a breast cancer diagnosis. I was under the impression that breast cancer was an older woman’s disease. I definitely didn’t think you could get breast cancer before age 40, because 40 is all you ever hear in relation to breast cancer and mammograms. I felt alone and confused. I had questions! Lots of them! How could I have breast cancer? Will this little lump in my left breast kill me? Who will take care of my daughter? Will my daughter have breast cancer? What about my mom? I don’t have a family history of breast cancer. I had never seen a young African American woman on commercials, billboards or talked about in the media, so how could this be?
I went through the bulk of my breast cancer treatment without any help from support groups, resources, social media or the cancer community. While undergoing treatment I saw first hand the void in services for young women. It was heartbreaking. Young women often have many questions, fears and concerns that aren’t touched on in support groups of older women. I wasn’t aware of any groups that catered to the needs of young women and I often thought of creating one, but I had no idea where to start. I felt that young women my age were being ignored by the cancer community until a couple years later, when I met two women who invited me into a group that focused on young women with breast cancer.