Young Women Can and Do Get Breast Cancer
Michelle’s story Age at Diagnosis: 30
My husband and I were trying to conceive our second child because we wanted our two-year-old son to have a sibling. I just turned 30 and scheduled an appointment with my OB/GYN for a checkup and to discuss getting pregnant again. Prior to seeing my OB/GYN, I did a self breast exam and found a lump in my right breast. The night before my appointment, I started to think about questions I might want to ask.
At the doctor’s office, I was still focused on having another child but had another issue to address now. My doctor thought it was likely nothing, but an ultra sound and a mammogram were ordered just to be on the safe side. The ultra sound found a two centimeter tumor; I got the call at work. I underwent a lumpectomy to determine the full diagnosis, which subsequently revealed stage two breast cancer.
Knowing my husband and I wanted more children, my doctor immediately had me consult a fertility specialist to review all of our options. We choose to freeze embryos and then waited until I completed treatment to try to have more biological children.
Four years after learning I had breast cancer and undergoing a bilateral (double) mastectomy with reconstruction, chemotherapy, ovarian suppression and Tamoxifen, I discontinued Tamoxifen. For me, the decision was very personal, as all treatment decisions are. The Tamoxifen was causing painful cysts, and I wanted to start trying to get pregnant.
My first period came, and I expected it to arrive and depart without fanfare. Instead, my first period came, and I got pregnant. For all of the care that we took to harvest my eggs and freeze embryos, I had gotten pregnant the old fashioned way.
Since we did conceive the quote/unquote “natural” way, we know have another dilemma. What do we do with the embryos we preserved? I have many feelings about this, and I’m grateful we went through the process, but now we grapple with how we handle the big question. I am learning about all the options, which are they can be donated to:
- the center that harvested them;
- a couple in need;
- research, with a hope of finding a cure for this disease;
- or they can be left to thaw and become unviable.
This is a question I know many women grapple with.