ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and a St. Augustine mother knows firsthand that cancer can strike at any age.
Samantha Taylor, 32, is a wife and mother of two. She's also now the face of breast cancer.
She was stunned when she was diagnosed with breast cancer just a month after having her second child, Miller. Taylor had struggled to get pregnant with her son and went through three rounds of in vitro fertilization.
What started out as having a doctor check a little spot on her left breast became one of her worst fears especially just four weeks after giving birth.
"Even with that diagnosis and where this has led me, I get emotional thinking about this, but I just feel so lucky and blessed that not everyone gets this diagnosis. They (may) get (told,) "You're (in) stage 4 (cancer) and there is nothing we can do for you.'"
Taylor was diagnosed with stage 2 cancer and underwent a double mastectomy. She will begin chemotherapy, immunotherapy and infusion treatments Monday. She had planned to breastfeed her son for the first year of his life but is now just thankful to be alive.
"The fact that they can help me fight this terrible disease, and I'll still be able to watch the kids grow up, I feel so lucky. I really do," Taylor said.
She is using her diagnosis to urge other women to be proactive because although she's only 32 years old, she's not the only woman this young with the disease.
In fact, every year, more than 1,000 women under the age of 40 years old die of breast cancer.
But when breast cancer is detected early, as it was in Taylor's case during a self-exam, the five-year relative survival rate is 100%.
"They told me, 'If you let this go on too long then it (can) get to the point where there is only so much they can do,'" Taylor said.
Now, she's doing all she can to spread her message to other women to be proactive and also keep things as normal as possible for her children.
"Mackenzie has really been a rock star. You know, you can't really explain to your 4-year-old child what's going on, but she knows something is a little off," Taylor said. "We've tried to explain to her, 'Mommy had some boo-boos and the doctors are taking care of those,' and she has really been so understanding and just a trooper and helping with the baby."
Taylor said her cancer is not genetic but is hormone-driven.
She said that’s why you should never ignore anything out of the ordinary, even if you have no family history.