Deb was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 37 years old and a busy young mom and a community activist living in Utah. Her initial attitude was, “I don’t have time for breast cancer.” Cheryl, a family physician, and married mom of three, including a newborn, was ever mindful of the clock as she cared for her patients and her family. Tiffany, a marketing executive who rarely used her vacation time, had just started a new job. Amanda, pursuing a master’s degree and climbing the career ladder while planning and scheduling her three children’s lives, was always on the go. Megan, a physical therapist, found her lump the day she became engaged. Each woman was blindsided by her breast cancer diagnosis.
Yet, each one ultimately discovered new ways of being that helped them shift gears and transform themselves, leaving them feeling better and more in control. Tiffany says, “Right now, I feel like I’m the most Zen that I’ve ever been in my life. I have a lightness to me, and I've actually had people come to me, and they tell me they feel it.”
These women, Deb, Cheryl, Tiffany, Amanda, and Meghan want to share their experiences with you in LBBC’s new and limited podcast series, Can and Did: Conversations with young women about breast cancer. Each episode features one of the women as she tells her story about the impact of breast cancer and what they did to steer a path forward. They are motivated by the desire to let you know that you CAN find your way forward because they DID. Jean Sachs, LBBC’s CEO, was impressed by the way each participant found resources and strategies to cope with their treatment and transform themselves, so she joins each in a brief discussion towards the end of the episode.
Breast cancer is relatively uncommon in young women. In the United States, about 9% of all breast cancer cases occur in women under 45 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its impact can differ greatly from that of older women in many ways, not least of which is the potential impact on body image and fertility. A breast cancer diagnosis can be especially devastating for young women who may still be building careers, starting families, dating, or pursuing higher education. Treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiation, can also have a significant impact on their emotional well-being and quality of life. Yet, when young women go to the cancer center, they often feel alone. Everyone else is older.
When they were diagnosed, most of the podcast's participants were starting families, and they were all in different stages of building their careers. These women tell it like it is: a breast cancer diagnosis is frightening, and treatment is hard. So is navigating fertility decisions, career/professional issues, financial costs, and mental health conditions. And asking for help? Yet another challenge for independent women like Cheryl, who says, “My acceptance of help definitely wasn’t easy, and I think it was just something that had to happen because I was really at a place where I had no other option but to receive help from others.”
Finding solace and support in connecting with others who have gone through similar experiences is a common thread throughout these episodes. When Amanda went to her first LBBC Conference on Metastatic Breast Cancer, she said, “And that’s when it helped flip the switch for me. It helped me think there is going to be life after stage IV . . . . And that’s when I started metamorphosing and just becoming a newer version of myself.”
We'll drop five episodes, released weekly until April 30, 2023. You can hear a new story here at LBBC.org/podcasts or on SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify. When you're finished listening, we welcome your feedback on our new limited series podcast.
Can and Did: Conversations with young women about breast cancer was supported by the Grant or Cooperative Agreement Number 1 NU58DP006672, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services.
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