The American Cancer Society’s Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2011-2012 estimates that in 2011, 288,130 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Of this, an estimated 13,110 will be under the age of 40.
Young women with breast cancer face many different obstacles than those who are diagnosed at an older age. Many are single and “just starting out” in life, and many have young families or wish to start a family someday. They may be juggling school or a career (or both!) as well as all that goes with living and maintaining a busy life.
For these women, a breast cancer diagnosis can be particularly devastating and finding a friend who can truly understand what they’re going through may be hard. The good news is that they have a friend in a non-profit group, the Young Survival Coalition (YSC), who is there specifically to support and care for young women with and surviving breast cancer.
In 2009, I met Courtney Bugler, the energetic, full-of-life, take-no-prisoners executive director of the Atlanta affiliate of YSC. In the time since that first meeting, Amoena and YSC have nurtured a relationship with both the local Atlanta chapter (which happens to be in our backyard) as well as the national organization by supporting them in many ways, including the Tour de Pink, Girls Nights Out and the annual C4YW (Conference for Young Women). In fact, we have so much fun together that we like to think of the ladies of YSC as our BFFs.
Founded in 1998 by three young survivors diagnosed before the age of 35, YSC has grown into a strong and supportive network that provides resources, connections and outreach for young women so they can feel empowered and hopeful about the future–and isn’t that what it’s all about?
Shared experiences can go a long way when young women support each other through a tough breast cancer diagnosis and journey. YSC creates programs based on these experiences, helping women navigate the road to wellness.
Courtney’s experience is no exception. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 28, she found herself newly married and living in her dream home with plans to start a family. Life had other plans and now her experience is helping other young survivors.
Are you a young survivor? If so, what obstacles did you face and how have you found a friend through your journey?