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Being around other young women was priceless

After getting diagnosed at 32, Rachel was in shock and felt isolated. She found our support group, Younger Women Together, and it showed her she wasn’t alone.

Can you tell us about your diagnosis? 

I found a lump in June 2022 but I didn’t tell anyone about it at first. It was my way of not having to worry about it. 

A few weeks later, I went in for a biopsy and found out I had stage 1, grade 3 invasive ductal carcinoma. It was a complete shock because I’d always been into health and fitness, and breast cancer wasn’t in my family.  

How did it feel to get diagnosed at 32? 

You probably won’t know anyone your age going through it too. And you won't understand how and why this happened to you. You feel like you've joined a club you didn’t ask to be part of.

In July 2022, I saw the women in the waiting room - all over 50 and waiting for their routine mammograms. So it never crossed my mind I was about to get a diagnosis. When I was going through my treatment, I felt unbelievably isolated. And being on the same wards as cancer patients double my age only amplified this. It felt like another rude reminder that you aren't meant to be diagnosed this young.

And I think the hardest thing was knowing I'd have to take tamoxifen for 10 years. It’s something I’m still struggling to accept. It stops the cancer from returning but it has very unpleasant side effects - it can cause early onset menopause, affecting your fertility, bone health, mental health and relationships. 

Rachel at the hospital
Rachel during her treatment

Did you find any younger women that you could connect with? 

After I did some research, I saw that Breast Cancer Now has a group called Younger Women Together. It holds events for young women with a breast cancer diagnosis. 

A week later, I was in a room with about 20 young women. They were at all different stages of treatment, including some like me, with everything still in front of them. 

I was finally having conversations and getting my questions answered. It was the first time I’d felt understood and not like an alien in my own body. Being around those young women, nurses and volunteers was truly priceless. 

If it hadn’t been for Breast Cancer Now’s events, I’m not sure I could have handled my treatment.  

Rachel after her race
Rachel after the Royal Parks Half Marathon

Where are you now? 

It’s been 1 year since my breast cancer diagnosis. I can run again, and that’s helped me regain a sense of control over my body. After my operation, I couldn’t even walk around my local park. 

In October 2023, I ran the Royal Parks Half Marathon for Breast Cancer Now. I did it in the hope that one day, research will find something new and women can stop taking hormone treatment. Taking part in the run was like therapy for me, and I was so proud that I hadn’t let the diagnosis stop me. 

What would you say to other young women with a diagnosis? 

Support is out there for younger women. You can find social media groups, events, and support groups like Younger Women Together.  

And you’ll develop a better understanding of yourself - you'll realise how strong and resilient you are.  

 

Get support and meet women like you

If you’re age 20 to 45 and you’ve had a breast cancer diagnosis, you’re not alone. You can meet women like you and get the answers you need, with Younger Women Together. 

Younger Women Together

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