Over the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of young women, age 25 to 39, diagnosed with breast cancer.
The diagnosis of breast cancer can be shocking for anyone, but for younger women facing this battle it brings up many questions and concerns that affect the entire family.
Yolanda Jenkins and her wife, Deanna, enjoy playing scrabble with their two daughters. But Yolanda couldn’t find the right words when she received a shocking diagnosis from her doctor.
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“He told me I had breast cancer,” said Yolanda.
At age 31, Yolanda and her family faced an uncertain future.
“My kids were the first thing that came to my head, whether or not I could make it for them,” she said.
“You just don't see someone who is 31 with breast cancer,” said Thomas Samuel, M.D., a breast oncologist at Cleveland Clinic Florida in Fort Lauderdale.
Samuel said only about two percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer are under 40.
“But when women of that age get diagnosed, there are some different issues that we have to address,” explains Dr. Samuel.
One of the main concerns for many is preserving fertility. Treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can have an impact.
“Have the conversation, you know, 'what can I do to preserve my eggs, to preserve my fertility,” Samuel said.
Young moms like Yolanda also struggle with telling their children about their diagnosis.
“Children are incredibly resilient," Samuel said. "So most people are surprised when they do finally have that conversation, how supportive they are.”
Another big concern younger women face is body image.
Yolanda chose to have a bilateral mastectomy to reduce her risk of recurrence.
It’s been a difficult journey, but she’s learned to love herself in the process.
“I feel good and I’m glad I didn't give up,” said Yolanda, who is inspiring breast cancer patients of all ages to never stop fighting.
Yolanda finished her cancer treatment and is doing great.
If you would like to assess your risk of developing breast cancer in your lifetime click here.