Welcome to Breast Cancer At 30, an online resource about breast cancer and how it affects young women. The site was created by Victoria St. Martin, a journalist who learned of her breast cancer diagnosis in February 2011, just a few months after her 30th birthday. At an age when many women are planning weddings and preparing for the arrivals of newborns, Vickie was selecting a surgeon to perform a double-mastectomy and making arrangements to freeze her eggs in an attempt to perserve her fertility despite the ravages of chemotherapy.
This site was created to provide information for other breast cancer survivors as they deal with the distinct challenges facing those who are diagnosed with the disease in their 30’s and earlier.
Read Vickie’s own account of her journey – and her advice for other young survivors.
Vickie offered her perspective about the benefits of reconstruction in a recent article in USA Today.
Whenever I meet other young women with breast cancer, I’m sad and happy at the same time.
I hate knowing they had to experience this horrible disease but I’m happy it brought us together as sisters.
That feeling was magnified by the hundreds this past weekend at OMG! Cancer Summit for Young Adults in Las Vegas, where around 450 young cancer survivors and supporters networked and discussed, cried and laughed. We learned about how cancer treatments leave us all with lasting effects and how the doctors who care for us try to balance that with the quality of life concerns for people who haven’t had a mid-life crisis yet.
Two years ago today, life, as I knew it, changed forever.
“There’s ductal carcinoma in your left breast,” was first thing the doctor said.
The next words that came out of her mouth were: “It’s breast cancer.”
She said it, I know now, to eliminate any confusion, to clarify the meaning of that scary, clinical word “carcinoma,” to make sure that I didn’t have any doubt about the challenge that lay before me. But at the time the words felt harsh, cold, and hollow – like someone was doing their best to break my heart.
I was 30 years old.
And I just been diagnosed with a disease that nearly everyone told me I was too young to have.
My survivor sister Laura appeared on CNN recently to discuss the future of cancer research funding in the wake of the USADA report on Lance Armstrong and his resignation as chairman of Livestrong.
Laura, who finished treatment earlier this month (Go, Laura!), also writes about the experience over at her great blog, thelymphomaletters.com.
In this piece, my colleague, friend and survivor sister Kathy O’Brien writes in The Star-Ledger about two little-known genetic tests that can help women assess their breast cancer risk.
Kathy and I had discussed one of the tests, the BART test, after I learned that it is not part of the standard BRCA test screening process for someone who doesn’t have a family history of breast cancer.
The BART test typically looks at genetic structures differently than BRCA.
Think of it this way: while BRCA is like a computer spell-checker program that looks for the equivalent of misplaced letters in the genetic code, BART is more like an editor who examines whether or not whole chapters are missing from the book.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month has gotten off to a fast start for Vickie, who’s featured in two online profiles of women who have been diagnosed with the disease.
The Young Survival Coalition began a month-long series of daily profiles of women on its Web site with Vickie’s story.
Vickie is also featured as part of a series on realbeauty.com.
A lot of my survivor sisters who are undergoing chemo ask me how long it’ll take their hair to grow back. Doctors say that the answer varies from woman to woman but after I finished chemo in August, I started taking photos of my hair each week to chart its progress of re-growth. The video above is three months of hair growth condensed into just over a minute – and I hope it inspires those of you who are fighting and serves as a reminder that there is light – and, yes, some hair follicles, too – at the end of the long, dark tunnel that is chemo.
Watch Vickie’s appearance on Fox TV New York where she talks about breast cancer issues with Lisa Gallipoli of Susan G. Komen for the Cure-North Jersey and television host Brenda Blackmon.
“Young Women Can Get Breast Cancer, Too” in the October issue of Inside Jersey
As I pack for my final round of chemotherapy, I wonder how in the world I ended up here. I had always thought that turning 30 would be a milestone, bringing a host of pivotal life changes. And, in a way, I guess it has.
Since hitting 30 late last year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, had a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction, had a few eggs surgically removed to protect them from the poisons used to treat cancer, had a few dozen lymph nodes taken out and, of course, eight rounds of my chemo cocktail.
I still strive to feel like any other woman, even though my hair has yet to grow back. My best friend tells me on a daily basis that I saved my own life.