Chemotherapy can save years of life, but for some breast cancer survivors, the prospect of losing hair during the treatment can lead to mixed emotions. Hair is a big part of what makes many women feel beautiful, an important part of our feminine identity, so it’s only natural to feel sad when it’s gone. Even so, survivors who feel that they should do everything they can to stay healthy for their families and loved ones may feel guilty for mourning the loss of their hair. Breast cancer survivor Allison Prendergast faced this conundrum as she began her treatment.
SurviveDAT & Gulf States Young Breast Cancer Survivor Network Project Coordinator
As this year draws to a close, we here at SurviveDAT have been looking back and thinking of all the young women whose paths have crossed with ours. As they have shared their stories with us, you can see in their words and hear in their voices their determination to beat this thing invading their bodies. We are thankful to be able to be a part of their journey, and hopefully making it easier to bear.
This month, we here at the Gulf States Young Breast Cancer Survivor Network want to acknowledge the people who love, support and take care of the women we are trying to help. Breast cancer doesn’t just take its toll on the young woman, it also can exact a heavy price on those around her. As Marc Heyison, founder of “Men Against Breast Cancer” says “Breast cancer devastates the entire family.” So here are some tips and resources for men, family members and caretakers helping young women fight breast cancer.
Young women facing breast cancer often feel alone, and can face issues that older women dealing with breast cancer never have to, ranging from dating and intimacy concerns to decisions about how to preserve fertility options before starting cancer treatment.
When Hoda found a lump in her breast in 2006 and went in for a biopsy, it was Karen who was by her side. Hoda was going through a rough divorce at the time and had no family nearby, so Karen wanted to be sure Hoda would not go through that process alone.
"Hi sweetie, I have something very important to tell you." Although I was only 8 years old, I could tell that my mother’s kind tone was only a gentle precursor for what she was about to say. She gazed at me with a sincere face and tears in her eyes as she explained to me that she had been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. She said that our lives would be quite different for a while. My mother, at the time, was 38 years old.
Women should know only 5-10% of breast cancers are considered “familial” or resulting from inherited genes. Yet they should also know having a family history of breast cancer is one of the strongest predictors of breast cancer.
It will not come as a surprise to anyone reading this that smoking is bad for health – in big important ways and in some less life-threatening, but undesirable ways. As someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, I sincerely hope that if you are a nonsmoker your commitment to not smoke will be reinforced by what you read here and if you are a smoker that you will seize the opportunity to prevent adverse health effects by battling and beating cigarette addiction.
4770 South I-10 Service Road, Suite 201, Metairie, LA 70001, (504) 454-2165
While the incidence of breast cancer increases with age, there are still many womendiagnosed in their prime reproductive years with 11% of women being 45 years of age or younger. One out of three of these women will have early stage cancer that can be successfully treated (70% survival at 10 years from diagnosis). Many of these women will not have started or completed their families, reflecting the growing tendency of women to delay childbearing until after age 30. Since the 1990s, the number of first time mothers older than age 30 has increased to over 21%.
Director, Louisiana Cancer Prevention and Control Programs
I remember very vividly when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. My mother was in her fifties and me and my siblings were all grown, starting our careers and family. I remember all those emotions; wanting to do something to make it better, but not knowing what to do. And my father seemed nearly paralyzed with fear and a sense of helplessness.