Experts agree that mammograms are the best screening test for women at average risk for breast cancer. But they don’t all agree on the age at which a woman should start or whether she should be screened every year or every two years. The youngest recommended age for annual mammograms is currently 40 years old.
But what about women diagnosed younger? Meet Delia, a young designer and wife recently diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 28.
“This is my new journey. This is where I’m at now. I was just doing a weekly exam before a shower, and I had a strange feeling in my left breast. I felt like there were three lumps, almost like a string of pearls, starting at my chest wall area.
I got a phone call from the pathologist who did the biopsy and she just said “we’re really sorry to inform you but we have a positive result both for your breast tumor lump and your lymph node.”
It felt surreal, like fifteen seconds before my brain could even come up with words to respond.”
Delia was diagnosed with Stage 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Stage 3 cancer means the breast cancer has extended beyond the immediate region of the tumor and may have invaded nearby lymph nodes and muscles, but has not spread to distant organs. In Delia’s case, the cancer was contained to her left breast and a lymph node.
After extensive genetic testing, Delia was grateful to learn that she was not positive for any known genetic mutations for breast cancer.
“Just sometimes we have those anomalies. And it happened to me.”
Delia underwent 16 treatments over 20 weeks, followed by surgery and radiation, and was placed on a hormone blocker for 5 years. Although Delia was interested in a more holistic approach, her oncologist recommended the more aggressive approach due to her age.
Also because of her young age, Delia went through fertility preservation as part of her cancer treatment.
“Because I am so young, I felt like there was an extra urgency [by medical providers] to get me treated and to get this taken care of. And what’s the most aggressive treatment we can do?”
“I think initially I went to that place of “why is this happening to me?” Most women get diagnosed later in life. But then I had these spiritual experiences, and I’ve had an abundance of miracles, and an abundance of love and support, that I’ve had a more positive attitude. It makes me want to bring awareness and tell younger women: Hey! Go get checked!”
“I’m not grateful to have cancer. But I am grateful to have experienced things for a reason, and hopefully, I can help other people.”