One in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Breast cancer most frequently develops in women aged 65 to 74, but five percent of breast cancer cases develop in women in their thirties, twenties and even late teens. Ivanhoe shows us there are some unique challenges for these young women.
Roshni Kamta graduated from Rutgers University and had started a new life in New York City when she discovered a lump in her breast. At first, she shrugged it off.
“I didn’t think anything of it because of my age,” Roshni said. She was just 22. But then … “A couple more weeks went by, towards the end of April, and I found blood in my bra.” Commented Roshni.
Roshni says she had a tough time finding a doctor who would see her quickly -- since breast cancer is rare in a woman her age, but she was persistent.
Roshni stated, “I knew what was going on in my body.”
After a mammogram, a needle biopsy confirmed Roshni’s suspicions. She found breast cancer specialist Hanna Irie.
Hanna Irie, MD, PhD, Breast Oncologist, at Dubin Breast Center Mount Sinai said, “She’s definitely one of the youngest. The youngest patient I have treated was 19 years old.”
Doctor Irie says it’s important that young women not ignore changes in the shape or contour of their breasts or unusual discharge. There are also other considerations for young patients.
Roshni commented, “My doctor didn’t want me to have any complications with my life beyond, you know, the months of treatments.”
Roshni made the decision to harvest and freeze her eggs so she could have a family in the future.
Roshni says she was not prepared mentally or emotionally. Chemo would dramatically change her looks.
Roshni told Ivanhoe, “I’ve always had hair, I’m Indian. You know, it’s known for us to, like, care for our hair and our hair becomes our identity, basically.”
She changed her locks in stages. A salon in New York cut her hair to her shoulders, then to her chin, and finally, shaved her head.
“I’ve always wanted purple hair. Purple is my favorite color.” Roshni explained. Then, she purchased a collection of wigs so she could change her looks to suit her mood.
Now 26, Roshni’s hair has grown back, and after surgery and 33 rounds of radiation, her cancer is in remission.
Doctor Irie says, “Her prognosis is excellent.”
And she’s on a mission to remind other young women to pay attention to their health.
Roshni suggests, “Check your body and, you know, do your self-breast exams. And if there’s something wrong, tell your doctor.”
Doctor Irie says Roshni had triple-negative breast cancer, which is often more common in younger women. One of the lessons Roshni learned during her cancer journey is that insurance would not pick up the cost of egg harvesting, so she found a non-profit organization, The Chick Mission, that covered the cost: www-dot-thechickmission.org.