Facebook can be absolutely addicting. At times it’s too addicting — when I’m not living in the moment that is in front of me. However, I do try to be attentive to the ones around me. The other night after everyone finished at the dinner table and was going in their opposite directions, I picked up my phone and started scrolling. I came across a post that spoke to me, “Please take the time to read, so that you, my friends and family stand strong when you know something’s not right with yourself or one of your children’s health.” It’s hard to ignore that voice in your head that says this is one link you need to read.
I clicked on the link and knew in an instant it was time to sit down. This young girl, a year younger than my daughter, is in for the fight of her life. She has juvenile breast cancer, diagnosed at the age of eight. I knew breast cancer can strike at any age, but this caused instant tears and put me into a funky mood all night long.
Childhood breast cancer is rare. So rare, that there really is not much information online about it. I could tell you that young girls are starting puberty at an earlier age. The earlier you get your period, the higher your risk of breast cancer is later in life. I could tell you that their exposure to endocrine disruptors – such as BPA products – can alter the body’s hormonal responses. I could tell you that chemical exposures like pesticides can cause cancer in young children. However, what makes one child more susceptible to breast cancer than another is not known.
As with many stories, I inserted my life into their hardships. What would I do if this were to happen to my family? How would I feel if my preteen daughter was diagnosed this early with a cancer that is more prevalent in women over the age of forty? My daughter already struggles with the knowledge that breast cancer may be in her future, and at a younger age than when I was diagnosed; should I teach her now to check her breasts?
As a cancer survivor myself, one with a strong family history, I know to keep the breast cancer conversation open with my daughter. She’s at the age where puberty will not be far away. Her body will start to make changes. She’ll wonder what she can do to keep herself healthy, especially with her current feelings on breast cancer. My husband and I will keep feeding her foods from the outer aisles of the grocery store as much as possible. If there are concerns with her breasts (like there has been with swollen lymph nodes) then we’ll address those in a calm and timely manner. We’ll keep her informed on our latest genetic testing. No matter what, we’ll love her unconditionally, taking the extra steps needed to keep her safe.
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