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Charlie after treatment

Connecting with people my age gave me hope

Charlie was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33. She took part in our course for younger women with breast cancer and co-created a podcast to show young women they aren’t alone.

Can you tell us about your diagnosis?

16 June 2023 is a day I’ll never forget. It was when my life took a sharp turn at the age of 33.

In May 2023, I discovered a lump while taking a shower. And that set off a series of events I never hoped to face. Initially, I brushed it off as a cyst and waited a month before seeking medical attention. I was then fast-tracked to the breast clinic for tests.

The moment the doctor inserted a metal clip, I felt the weight of my fears settle in. The diagnosis came as a heavy blow. I had grade 3 invasive triple-negative breast cancer.

Charlie before treatment
Charlie before treatment

What was your treatment like?

The doctors scheduled a whopping 16 rounds of chemo, but this proved too toxic for my body to handle. After several rounds, I couldn’t go any further.

As complications piled up, I was regularly admitted to the hospital. I had suspected internal bleeding and dangerously elevated liver levels. To top it all off, I then had sepsis.

Among the chaos, I also tested positive for mutations in my BRCA1 genes, which puts me at a higher risk of developing cancer.

Chemo was cruel but it did its job. On 20 December 2023, I had a double mastectomy. And this January, I received the news that I was cancer free. It was a victory hard-fought and well-deserved if I do say so myself.

How are you doing now?

Currently, I don’t need any further treatment. I just need a check-up every 6 months to make sure I’m well. With my treatment behind me, I can now look forward to my future.

Despite the horrendous toll that chemo took on me, I found great solace in the online community and Younger Women Together, where I could speak to women going through something similar.

Charlie during treatment
Charlie during treatment

How did our Younger Women Together event impact you?

Connecting with people my age gave me strength, understanding and hope. Without the online community, I don’t know where my mental health would have ended up.

Breast Cancer Now’s Younger Women Together event made me feel more understood than at any other point in my journey. I was surrounded by women my age facing similar situations and fears, and even sharing the same hair loss. For the first time in over 8 months, I didn't feel out of place.

I found tremendous support and even made some friends for life.

How have you supported other young women?

I connected with Sarah, my close friend and podcast co-host to create ‘The Perky Pair – Breast Cancer Unfiltered Podcast’. We aim to bring the young community together and remind people that they’re not alone in this fight. A few people at the Younger Women Together event even recognised me from our podcast.

Do you have any advice for younger women?

My main advice is to advocate for yourself and don’t delay getting checked out. I consider myself lucky that after waiting over a month, my cancer hadn't spread to my lymph nodes. But if I had waited any longer, it could have been a different story.

I also wish I had pushed the genetics team further and insisted on testing before my diagnosis. Believe in your gut because you know your body better than anyone else.

Services for younger women

Younger Women Together

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