Monday, March 21, 2011

too young for cancer!

Don't get me wrong: there's nobody out there for whom cancer is ideal, but as I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm only 33 and there's something I think that's even more tragic about cancer as it strikes someone in the throes of youth; the prime of life, etc. etc.

My paternal grandmother died of breast cancer in her sixties. My aunt (also on my dad's side) is currently fighting cancer and has just turned seventy. This was the extent of my familial exposure to breast cancer. I'm half the age of these remarkable women.

On the day of my biopsies, I sat in a waiting room cordoned off from loved ones and reserved exclusively for my fellow patients. A handful of women populated this sanitized, generic space. Each of us wearing a uniform of our own pants and footwear topped off with a high-fashion hospital gown. (Hopefully you can all sense the sarcasm dripping from that statement.)

I will commend the engineer of the aforementioned hospital gown as having the foresight to at least provide us patients with dual hanging strings with which one could fasten the hospital gown for maximum strategic coverage. Thank God for small favors. ;)

I sat there in relative calm. Really. I'm somewhat renowned for being highly-intuitive, a gift I credit my mother for instilling in me. I knew I had cancer. I knew it months ago. It's that trademarked intuition that brought me into the Intermountain Breast Center at a highly-opportune time. I'll explain all of that in my next post. Stay tuned. ;)

I use that winky guy a lot. Just a little epiphany. Moving on.

As I studied the women surrounding me, you know what terrified me? I was NOT the youngest woman there. In fact, I would later find out there were two women there younger than me.

I HATE that!

So here are some alarming statistics I've learned:

* 15% of ALL cancers strike people in the 15-39 year old age range

* Of the 190,000 breast cancer cases diagnosed in 2009, 18,600 of these were found in women under 45

* In comparison to older women, young women will generally experience more aggressive forms of breast cancer and suffer a higher mortality rate.

* Emerging evidence suggests that breast cancer in older women is biologically variant from that of younger women. As the younger demographic is grossly underrepresented, this differing experience of cancer in younger women thus remains somewhat unexplored.

There are even more sad and surprising truths about breast cancer occurrences in younger women on the YSC page http://www.youngsurvival.org/breast-cancer-in-young-women/learn/statistics-and-disparities/

In short, ALL women have intuition. We know ourselves, our hearts and our bodies. (As I stated, I'll go into further detail about how my trusting my instincts ensured that I found my cancer very early in my next post. It's a good story ;)) We need to be confident in our knowledge of our bodies and their intricacies and use that to assure that we're able to maintain our health as long as possible. That's what I'm learning, anyway. And if any of you are half as stubborn as me--and here's hoping you are--you won't ignore those little nagging thoughts that something might be off. :)

(There. That little guy was just smiling not winking. See how I keep y'all guessing. I'm so unpredictable ;))

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