JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Benivia Forester was only 35 when she found out she had breast cancer.
She didn't hide it. She showed off her bald head.
"And the more I did that, the more women would come up to me and say, 'I'm a survivor, too,' and many of them were younger than I was. They were in their mid to late 20s," Forester said.
She met so many young women fighting breast cancer that she started a support group for young patients called A Different Type Of Courage, or ADTOC, to help women like her, mothers, daughters, women still climbing the corporate ladder.
Forester is not at all surprised by a new study recently released by the Journal of the American Medical Association that shows that over the last three decades, the incidence of advanced breast cancer may have increased slightly in women who are between 25 and 39 years old.
Doctors will tell you breast cancer in younger women is a double-edged sword. First of all, it does tend to be more aggressive and compounding.
It can be a scary combination, but the medical director of the Breast Health Center at Shands Jacksonville Medical Center says don't be afraid.
"Fear paralyzes patients, and that takes the ability to try to really understand what to do next," Dr. Shahla Masood said.
She said the study is too small to change the way doctors screen for breast cancer in younger patients.
"Because of this finding, however, it's a good piece of information for women to become more alert," Masood said.
She said it's also a reminder to be vigilant like Forester in understanding that breast cancer can affect anyone.
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