Your story about your young daughter reminds us to not only look at the risk factors for breast cancer, but listen to our own bodies. Breast cancer does not discriminate. Whatever the age, family history, etc. anyone can get this disease. Your daughter sounds like a fighter! What a wonderful example for your whole family.
I never dreamed, in my worst nightmares, that I nor my family would face breast cancer. Then, last summer (2008) my oldest daughter, then 25, told me she had found a lump in one of her breasts. She, of course, told her gynocologist, who said not to worry; she was young, no family history of breast cancer, and she was healthy, had weaned her 1 1/2 year old son recently, and had no risk-factors to be concerned about. Her Dr. told her to "just keep an eye on it" and not worry. Fortunately, my daughter, Ashley, changed doctors within the next month. Her new doctor didn't take the lump, tiny, smaller than a pea, lightly, and sent her directly to the breast center at a local hospital. Ashley called me, concerned, because they did a mammogram and wouldn't let her leave without a biopsy. We both thought they were just being overly precautious.
The breast center called her with the biopsy results when she was at home, alone with her son. She called me immediately, and, of course, the connection was breaking up. I prayed the tears I heard were tears of relief, but all I heard was "its cancer mom". I prayed for the 'not' in there, but it was true. Ashley is the strongest woman I know. She took the bull by the horns, researched, and came up with a game plan. I still couldn't breathe days later when we were walking with her husband and son one evening. She told me, "Mom, this is not a time to be sad. We have to play the hand we have been dealt and win all the chips on the table." I reminded her that, even at 25, she is my baby and I should be allowed to hurt for her. I still hurt for her; however, I revel in her strength.
Ashley's bilateral mastectomy was difficult for me and the rest of our family. When the surgeon told us that the cancer had spread to her sentinal lymph node, her husband and I were desparate to go talk with her; however, the hospital rules said we couldn't. As soon as we were allowed to see her, we ran into the recovery area, expecting to find her devistated. She was smiling, chewing on ice, and happy! Fortunately, the cancer had spread no farther, as we learned days later.
Chemo, shaving her hair (she was awesome, wouldn't even wear her wig or bandanas unless it was cold) then radiation have been very hard on her and me helping her through it. She was put into chemical menopause and will be there for another 4 years. It is so eerie to have your daughter having more menopausal symptoms than I do; I'm 50, she's 26...
Ashely has an awesome husband and even more fantastic son! He looks at a pink ribbon and says "Breast cancer....get out!!" Ashley developed lymphodemia and is dealing with that the way I've come to expect. I truly admire her and anyone else who is dealing with this disease.
As Ashley says.. "They are your boobs.. feel them" Monthly self-breast exams saved her life; but she knows how to fight like a girl!!