Buddy Check 7: Breast cancer increasing in young women - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Buddy Check 7: Breast cancer increasing in young women

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

More young women are learning they have breast cancer.  A recent study published in the Journal of American Medicine found a small increase in all breast cancer cases among younger women, with the most significant spike in advanced breast cancer cases, which have tripled in the past 30 years.  Experts aren't sure what's causing more young women, under 40, to get breast cancer, but it's definitely a good reminder to be diligent about cancer screenings.

Chris Hermansen is just 44, and is fighting an aggressive case of breast cancer.  But before getting diagnosed, Hermansen admits she'd fallen behind on both self exams and regular mammograms.

"I work in an OB/GYN office, and we happen to have a couple people with breast cancer, and I thought maybe it'd been a little bit since I'd had my last mammogram, so I kind of looked that information up and it'd been two-and-a-half years," Hermansen said.

So she got a mammogram.  The test uncovered some problem spots.  Biopsies confirmed a diagnosis of bilateral breast cancer.

"Lots of crying for the first week, but decided that it's something that we have to fight," said Hermansen.

She's now wrapped up chemo, and will have surgery later this month.

Dr. Neil McMahon is a Covenant Clinic Surgeon, specializing in breast surgeries.  He says Hermansen's case, and the spike in younger patients with breast cancer, are important reminders for women to do self exams, and after 40—regular mammograms.

"It's really important for us to encourage women, and young women, to be involved, to take control of their own health, meaning they should do more self awareness, more self breast exams, keep aware of what their breast should feel like, and if there's a change," said Dr. McMahon.

There's yet another reason to screen regularly, too.  While the recent study found more cases of cancer in young women, it did not find an increase in deaths. 

"The treatment has become more effective, however, the earlier you catch it, the better the treatment is," said Dr. McMahon.

It's a lesson Chris Hermansen found out the hard way, and is now passing on to her daughters, which is especially important since she learned she has the breast cancer gene.

"I'm hoping to do all this so they'll never have to.  If they carry the gene, they can have surgery before they'll ever get to this point in their life," Hermansen said.

And on this 7th of the month, we'd like to remind you to keep up to date with self exams and mammograms.  Early detection is the key to saving lives.

Support groups are a great resource to help patients fighting cancer.

The Beyond Pink TEAM is hosting a "Meet, Mingle and Learn" event Tuesday, April 16, 2013 from 4:30-7p.m.  Our topic will be "The 'Art' of Telling Your Story". Beyond Pink TEAM members will lead others through an activity that shows how sharing your cancer journey is as important to others as it is to you.

The event is free and open to women living with any cancer diagnosis.  It is scheduled for Tuesday, April 16 at the Unitarian Universalist Society, 3912 Cedar Heights Drive, Cedar Falls.  Activities are planned from 4:30 to 7 p.m., but participants can come and go as their schedules allow. There will be refreshments available courtesy of Panera Bakery Cafe.

The schedule for the evening is:

4:30-5p.m.    Registration, Refreshments, and Sharing

5-6 p.m.        Small Group Table Discussions

6-6:45 p.m.  The "Art" of Sharing Your Story

6:45-7 p.m.   Wrap-up and Evaluations

For more information about the "Meet, Mingle and Learn" Cancer Survivor Event for Young Women call Gabbi DeWitt at 319-292-2225 or Dee Hughes at 319-235-3179; or go to the Beyond Pink TEAM website at www.cedarvalleybreastcancer.org. 

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