Young Survival Coalition Brings Together Young Patients With Breast Cancer
BY Jennifer Merschdorf, YSC CEO
PUBLISHED February 24, 2016
When I first heard “You have breast cancer” at age 36, I had no idea that nearly 13,000 women ages 40 and under are diagnosed with it every year. Like me, they often feel scared and isolated facing a disease usually associated with older women. Young Survival Coalition (YSC) is out to change that.
YSC works to support, educate and empower these women from diagnosis, through treatment and beyond. Finding other young women who “get it” is so important. YSC offers three easy ways to connect: online, in your community or over the phone. Being an empowered advocate for your own health is also key. YSC provides free educational resources like our navigators, with helpful information for every phase of treatment and survivorship. We tapped the collective wisdom of the young women we support to offer their best advice for others who are newly diagnosed. Here are a few words of encouragement and guidance:
“You are not alone. If you don’t have family and friends, you have other survivors who would love to help you.” - Sonnetta, diagnosed at 38
“There is no right way to do cancer. Never compare your journey to someone else’s. Cancer does not have to define you. You can define it. You can be in charge of your own health and destiny.” - Edwidge, diagnosed at 35
“Be your own advocate. Do research and know your treatment plan. Ask for test results. Also, be kind to yourself—you are fighting the hardest battle of your life. You’re allowed to think this is unfair.” - Whitney, diagnosed at 27
“YSC really connected me and helped me understand the process of fertility preservation. Luckily, I was able to use the embryos we preserved, and I had twin daughters a year ago.” - Jodi, diagnosed at 30
“Get a second opinion, or maybe even a third or fourth opinion, so you feel comfortable with [your] choices going forward. Make sure you do something for yourself every day. Go out for a walk. Or go to a dance class. Get a massage. Eat good, healthy food. If you need chemo, don’t eat your favorite foods during treatment, because you won’t want to eat them for a long time afterward.” - Elizabeth, diagnosed at 30
“Now that you have cancer, you can do whatever you want. Be silly. Be ridiculous. Say all the things you wanted to say. I ended up doing a doctor’s office dance party. I invited all of my friends to take me to chemo, so chemo became something I looked forward to.” - Aniela, diagnosed at 31
To see more from women who know what it’s like to face breast cancer at a young age, head over to youngsurvival.org and check out our Survivor Stories, or sign up for one of our great programs. Also check out our conference page for more information about our Regional Symposia and the national YSC Summit, the largest conference for young women affected by breast cancer, as well as co-survivors and healthcare providers who work with young survivors.
Whatever you need, YSC is here to support you on your journey.