This is Lorna R.'s, who was diagnosed with Her2+ breast cancer at the age of 21 but who had no family history of breast or ovarian cancer, story:
I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 21. I honestly never ever thought it would happen to me. Breast cancer is a cancer I consider women in their late 50s+ get.
I remember during the process of diagnosis that my consultant and doctor kept on repeating only 2 people your age a year are diagnosed with this. I had no signs at all other then a lump which I thought was a cyst due to my age, I until after months it didn't disappear. I didn't feel ill. I felt normal. I remember staring at the scan looking at this beast of a mass and my consultant saying if this was a 50 year old+ breast I would be saying this is breast cancer. But he wouldn't commit to it. But that's when I knew.
After being diagnosed with the breast cancer, I had all the scans which was a scary experience as it was. I was told that it was secondary breast cancer. The cancer had spread from my breast to my lymph nodes and a vertebra. Due to the cancer being secondary my oncologist wanted to start my treatment as soon as possible and look to have surgery at a later date. I was given two weeks from diagnosis to inquire about egg harvesting, etc., as chemo effects your reproductive system. I was told I had no time for this. So I'm there 21 with cancer and being told after treatment I may never have my own children. But I couldn't just sit and feel woe is me - I had to stay positive. I took every day as I could, and I was lucky to have the support from my family, boyfriend and friends to help me stay positive.
The hardest thing I found was the change in appearance I felt unsexy and attractive. I also felt that I was looked at and treated differently when all I wanted to act as a normal 21/22 year old. I ended up doing exactly what I wanted to do. I didn't let cancer weigh me down. I didn't let chemo mess up anything I had planned. I lived life as full as I could and be as positive as I could.
Luckily for me chemo shrank the tumour to a pea size so they considered surgery. So I had a breast margin and lymph node clearance. I then had radio therapy. I was told at the beginning the cancer in the vertebra would never go away and that they can maintain it like diabetes. Yet after chemo, it wasn't showing onmri or bone scan. Now they are saying it may never have been there in the first place, that it was so slight, but they can't test it now as it's not there. So I have to accept that it's a maybe and love like it is there. I have been told I will be on maintenance drugs for the rest of my life due to it being in the vertebra. But hey, I'm alive
Yes, it's hard having cancer so young. Yes, it changes everything. But cancer isn't easy at any age. Cancer doesn't care about age. Yes cancer changed everything in my life, but I wouldn't change anything about it. I've met some of the strongest people I'll ever know in my life. I have the strongest relationship with my family and boyfriend. I have a whole new life perspective. The only message I want to say is, just because you're young doesn't mean you're exempt from cancer. Cancer cares not for age, gender or race so never ignore anything, it's always worth checking.