While new cases of breast cancer are more common in older women, roughly 250,000 women under the age of 40 are also diagnosed. Awareness continues to help educate younger women about cancer and even ways they can preserve their fertility and third-party reproduction if diagnosed.
Breast Cancer In Younger Women
There is a difference between breast cancer in younger women versus women over 50 years of age. By understanding this, people can be more compassionate when it comes to how the disease can impact a younger woman’s life.
While each patient is different, a woman in her reproductive years may experience the following:
- An onset of early menopause due to cancer treatments
- Infertility issues following cancer treatments
- Requiring guidance on a future pregnancy
A woman in her twenties and thirties may already be raising her children. A diagnosis of cancer can be traumatizing so it’s essential she receives ongoing support.
A Young Breast Cancer Patient Speaks Out
In an October publication of Glamour Magazine, Ashlee Hunt, 31, of Ohio shared what she went through after her breast cancer diagnosis. When she was 21, Hunt felt a lump while shaving under her armpits.
Being proactive, she had an ultrasound. Her results revealed a benign fibroadenoma.
Over time, the lump in her armpit swelled to the size of a golf ball, she said. She wanted it surgically removed.
It wasn’t a fibroid – it was stage IIA invasive ductal carcinoma.
“I didn’t know anyone who had ever had cancer: friends, families, friends, relatives. This was completely new to me,” Hunt said in her interview. “I remember thinking to myself, I don’t know how I’m going to do this. But I’ve found I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was.”
Five years after her initial diagnosis, the breast cancer returned. Hunt underwent surgery and is on cancer suppressing hormonal therapy for ten years.
Motherhood For Hunt Via Surrogacy
A gestational surrogate for Hunt is delivering her baby this fall. It’s a baby boy. It’s important for younger women to remember that motherhood is possible after cancer.
Each breast cancer survivor’s medical case is different. With that said, a woman in her reproductive years is encouraged to think about her future fertility plans.
Some may freeze their eggs. Others in a committed relationship with a male partner may freeze embryos.
While some can carry their baby, others may be advised to have a surrogate carry in the event they are on a five year or longer regimen of cancer-suppressing oral medication.
A Message From Hunt
Hunt is now a breast cancer advocate for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. It’s all about empowering a woman to stay diligent about their health and to have their voices heard.
“I thought, ‘Doctors aren’t sending me for more tests, so it can’t be that big of a concern.’ But you know what’s going on in your body,” she said.