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Supporting young women affected by breast cancer

BCNA News 23 Oct 2018

This year it’s estimated that 18,235 Australians will be diagnosed with breast cancer – that’s 50 people each day. Some of these women will be under the age of 40 and have a unique set of problems, including a slower diagnosis, fertility issues and difficulty finding support.

This Christmas, help us to support young women diagnosed with breast cancer.

By making a donation this Christmas, you will be making a difference to the lives of young women and all Australians diagnosed.


Harder to be diagnosed – Keira, 31

Keira was 31 with a young family when she first presented with symptoms.

I had not long finished breastfeeding my son when I noticed my breast was painful and had a hard spot. Initially, I thought it must be something to do with a blocked milk duct, but my family suggested I get it checked out.

The GP said not to worry, but I wanted to get more checks, including an ultrasound and a biopsy. These were inconclusive and my GP said to come back in 12 months. I really wanted to know what it was so I insisted on having more tests, including a core biopsy and mammogram. I had to push at every point for further investigations because of my age and the fact that I had just finished breastfeeding.

When the GP told me I had breast cancer, I was absolutely devastated.

Looking back on my experience, I definitely needed to be taken seriously as a young woman with breast symptoms. I hate to think what would have happened had I listened to my GP’s advice.

Freezing eggs – Christy, 35

Christy was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 35, single and had no children.

Breast cancer has had a massive impact on my life, as it would to anyone who is diagnosed.

I am 35, single and have no children. Being 35 and already concerned about fertility because of my age, breast cancer threw a spanner in the works for me. Dealing with infertility as a possibility was a massive struggle.

I think it's easier to decide not to have children because you haven't met someone than to have that decision taken away from you due to infertility after treatment. I was able to do one course of IVF and freeze seven eggs.

Fertility is one of the many things I struggle with since being diagnosed. Also being single, I wonder if I will ever meet that person and whether surviving cancer and the possibility of not being able to conceive naturally is going to be seen as baggage.

Lack of support – Emma, 22

In 2009, Emma was the youngest person in Australia to be diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of just 22.

At my first chemo session, I walked into the ward with my family by my side to find a room full of chairs filled with elderly patients having chemo – a very scary sight. I was always the youngest in the room and they were all where they were meant to be ... I was not.

During my chemotherapy, I contracted a life-threatening infection on my port line. I was hospitalised and placed in a shared room with elderly patients. This experience opened my eyes to the lack of resources and facilities available to young adult cancer patients.


Please make a generous tax-deductible donation to Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) to help ensure all Australians are supported through their breast cancer experience.

How your donation can help:

  • $15,000 will help us connect young women together through support groups across the country and online within BCNA’s online network.
  • $25,000 will allow us to provide highly informative expert presentations at our young women’s conference and record them so they are available free of charge to all women across the country.
  • $125,000 will allow us to continuously lobby the government to provide better services for all Australians affected by breast cancer, in particular to make fertility options available and affordable to all young women who need them.