Chrissy Turner (10) lives with her parents, Troy and Annette, and her older sister, Brianna, in Utah, United States of America.
When Troy and Annette heard their youngest daughter had breast cancer, naturally they were in complete shock. “Secretory breast carcinoma is so rare and is only seen in 1 in 1 000 000 adult women…she was only eight…there are no words to describe how we felt,” Annette says.
Even though both Troy and Annette are cancer survivors themselves, doctors said there was no link between Chrissy’s cancer and theirs.
Annette had cervical cancer in 2000 and underwent a cone biopsy. Troy was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2008. He underwent eight months of chemotherapy along with several surgeries to biopsy lymph nodes.
When Annette took Chrissy to a paediatrician to examine the hard lump under Chrissy’s right nipple, the paediatrician avoided sending her for a scan. “She immediately wanted to prescribe antibiotics even though Chrissy had no signs of infection. I called and set up an ultrasound myself,” Annette explains.
Even though Chrissy was only eight, Annette says she understood her illness. “Chrissy is an incredibly bright girl and has been taught about cancer frequently since both myself and my husband have battled it,” says Annette.
The Turners alerted Chrissy’s teacher and the school counsellors told her fellow students.
Young Chrissy underwent a single mastectomy at Huntsman Cancer Institute. Due to her not have developed breasts yet, the team of surgeons removed the nipple and as much breast tissue as they could. Chrissy then recovered at Primary Children’s Hospital.
Reconstruction will likely occur when Chrissy is 15 or 16, depending on when she feels ready. A tissue expander will be inserted to create space in her chest cavity. Then roughly when she is around 18, an implant will take the place of the tissue expander.
Normal 10-year-old girl
Today Chrissy is just a normal 10-year-old girl, who wants to be a dragon trainer when she is older (her favourite TV show is Dragons Race to the Edge). “She is doing incredibly well and truly loves life! She enjoys school and her friends,” Annette says.
The 10-year-old finished Grade 5 on 1st June this year and is happy to be alive. “I was very scared when I found out I was sick and never want anyone else to get what I had. My friends were so nice to me – they all made cards and some even brought by gifts. My teacher sent class videos to me every day,” Chrissy recalls.
Though her sister’s support was the most special. “She spent a lot of time with me making me laugh and would help me with things I needed, and cuddled with me a lot!”
To find out more about Chrissy’s journey, like her Facebook page Chrissy’s Alliance.
What we know about secretory breast carcinoma
Itís a rare, invasive type of breast cancer which accounts for <0,1% of all cases of invasive breast cancer. It was initially termed juvenile breast carcinoma in 1966, as seven cases were reported which occurred exclusively in young children with an average age of nine years. Subsequent studies have reported secretory carcinoma in adults. Thus, the disease was re-termed secretory breast carcinoma, based on the histopathological characteristics of the tumor. Helen Joseph Hospital Breast Care Clinic saw a case like this; the eight-year-old girl had a mastectomy and reconstruction.
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