Younger women generally do not consider themselves to be at risk for breast cancer and young breast cancer survivors face serious challenges including:
• Body image
• Premature menopause
• Raising their children to adulthood
• Fertility and pregnancy after treatment
• Career advancement
One survivor, aged 27, said she always turned to her girlfriends when she needed advice. They helped one another through the challenges of finding jobs, dating fiascos and the laughs and laments of parenting. When she discovered she had breast cancer none of her friends could relate to her feelings and fears. They could not advise her on the toughest of questions because they could not understand what she was going through. This is probably true for you too. Speak to your treatment team if you have any concerns, or find a support group that has some younger members – they will become your new best friends while you are going through your treatment.
In her book, Love and The Apache Syndrome, breast cancer survivor Lella Cullingham says, “The sooner you accept it the sooner you can begin the fight. Once that transition in your life has happened, get yourself an attitude, and that’s what’s going to give you the energy to face each day; only you can decide whether today is going to be a good day, sick or not.”
It is okay to be afraid but please, do not be paralysed by fear. We have just watched the most remarkable sports event – the London 2012 Paralympic Games. These athletes held the world hostage for almost two weeks with their remarkable, amazing and inspiring performances. One of the South African swimmers, Emily Gray, is a cancer survivor, diagnosed at age 11. She celebrated her 21st birthday just one week before the games!
Throughout your journey, surround yourself with positive people. A bad hair day is nothing. Remember to be kind to yourself today and every day.
Written by Rebecca Musi