Two moms, two devastating diagnoses. When I
was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was in the midst of running my child to
football and baseball and karate, and I was a full-time working mom. My husband
and I were planning to have a second child very soon. We had bought a
a four-bedroom house six months prior to my diagnosis and were ready to fill up
those rooms and that all had to be put on hold.
Amy Bowen and Megan Crunkleton were both busy working moms when they were
diagnosed with breast cancer. For Megan, just 33 at the time, breastfeeding and
her sister’s previous diagnosis raised a red flag.
I had my son in December 2015 and my sister, who’s 10 years older than I am,
was diagnosed with breast cancer January 2016. So kind of fast forward a little
bit, I was nursing my son, he was almost a year and a half and I felt a lump.
Unlike Megan, Amy had no family history of the disease. I was diagnosed at 44 and
I do not have any family history whatsoever; none. Breast cancer is a
frightening diagnosis at any age, but it’s more common in older women and so I
think when a young woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, the initial reaction
is just that much more shocking. There’s a sense that the body has betrayed them
and that they have no control over any of this because one doesn’t. Dr. Yvonne
Ottaviano, chief of medical oncology at MedStar Franklin Square Hospital and
director of breast oncology, says for younger women wanting to start or expand
their families, fertility issues are enormous.
She says doctors are now taking a step back from rushing treatments, offering
patients fertility preservation options. Sometimes doctors kind of that’s not our
first thought. Our first focus is well I’ve got to get this cancer out of you
or get it get you on the road to treatment. I’ve learned over the years,
and we actually we have it in our policy and our procedures and our policies, that
we must address fertility issues in a man at any age and offer them sperm
banking and a woman under the age of 45. Dr. Ottaviano says she loves to
keep track of her post-chemo babies, and so far she has six.
I get baby pictures. I love to have them come to appointments. And, you know, that’s
part of why I do this is because I want to see life go on. She’s seen in her
practice six babies after chemo and we’re hoping to give her baby number
seven, once I get cleared in about a year or so. Now, fewer than 5 percent of women diagnosed
with breast cancer in the U.S. are younger than 40. Rates begin to increase
after the age of 40 and really at the highest peak for women in the age of 70
and up. Median age diagnosis for breast cancer per woman in the U.S. is