There are over a quarter of a million women living in the United States today who were diagnosed with breast cancer before their 41st birthday. This is a lot of young women who have heard the words, “You have breast cancer,” way before they ever thought they could get it. However, when you consider ALL cancers according to Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) data put out by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), it is estimated that more than 1.6 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in one year, and of that awful total, 9.2% will be under the age of 44. Meaning around 150,000 young adults and kids will be diagnosed with cancer in one year! This just plain sucks!
The point is, while YSC is a very special community just for women who are (or were) diagnosed with breast cancer before their 41st birthday, a larger young adult cancer community exists and we all work together to support each other as we learn to live with cancer.
While the challenges that come with facing a breast cancer diagnosis might be different, the issues around nutrition, careers, insurance and fertility are felt by all young adults no matter what type of cancer they are diagnosed with.
As a young survivor myself, I’ve learned a great deal from this larger young adult cancer community, since being diagnosed two years ago. I consider myself a part of the Stupid Cancer family and have learned so much from this amazing group of young survivors across the country. I attended the OMG! Cancer Summit for Young Adults this past spring in Las Vegas and was reminded how much we all have in common as we struggle to find our “new normal.”
For those of you who live on the East Coast, Stupid Cancer is hosting OMG2012/east, a smaller, one-day conference in New York City on September 15. It’s free for all young survivors but space is limited, so if you are interested in taking an active role in our larger young adult oncology community, this is a wonderful way to be reminded that you are not alone (which we all need every once in a while!). There are a lot of us out there striving to survive with style, determination, strength and even a sense of humor.
If you are planning to attend the OMG2012/east, please shoot me an email with your mailing address, so we can send you a YSC pin to wear so you can represent all the young women with breast cancer in our community!
YSC is about ensuring that all young women diagnosed with breast cancer are empowered, educated, and supported throughout every phase of their experience. I believe that in order to do this properly, I have a responsibility to encourage everyone that wishes to be a part of the overall young adult cancer community to do so.
We are all in this together, as we try each and every day to define and navigate our “new normal.”