24-Year-Old Breast Cancer Patient Shares Message: Young Women At Risk, Too

By Naseem S. Miller
Orlando Sentinel

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Of the more than 250,000 women who get breast cancer each year, about 12,000 are under age 40, according to the Young Survival Coalition. Still, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women ages 15 to 39.

Orlando Sentinel

The lump in Alex Whitaker’s breast appeared out of nowhere.

It wasn’t there when she was getting dressed on New Year’s Eve. Two weeks later, it was strangely palpable.

“It’s crazy, ’cause I had my annual exam in October and there was nothing,” Whitaker said on a recent morning while getting her second round of chemotherapy at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute Altamonte.

Whitaker is 24. Her diagnosis puts her in a small group of young women who get breast cancer each year.

“It’s like doctors all say the same thing: you’re the youngest person I’ve ever seen,” Whitaker said. “Like when I went and got my ultrasound, the radiologist came out and she was like, ‘I just wanted to meet you in person, cause you’re the youngest person I’ve ever seen and I couldn’t believe it.'”

Of the more than 250,000 women who get breast cancer each year, about 12,000 are under age 40, according to the Young Survival Coalition. Still, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women ages 15 to 39, said Carol DeSantis, director of breast and gynecological cancer surveillance at the American Cancer Society.

“I don’t think this should be something that worries young women, but it’s important to think of our health and any type of change in your body should be brought to your doctor’s attention,” DeSantis said.

Whitaker has been diagnosed with stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma and is still waiting for the results of her genetic tests. Her tumor shrunk by 70 percent after the first found of chemotherapy.

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