Carly Mahady was diagnosed with breast cancer at 24, mere weeks before her next birthday. But she’s not letting the diagnosis stop her from pushing forward.
An Ireland native, Mahady is a retail assistant and social media influencer, and she’s using her platform to spread awareness that young people can get breast cancer. She’s also started a petition to the Ireland government to lower the age of eligibility for free BreastCheck screenings. Currently, these screening are only meant for women who are over 50 years old.
Mahady first discovered a hard lump in her breast when she was 16. She went to the doctor, and they assured her there was nothing to worry about. She was too young. She either had a blocked milk duct or naturally lumpy breasts.
Mahady believed them. As the years passed, she ignored any signs and symptoms that could have pointed to breast cancer. After all, she was too young.
When she was 24, Mahady began experiencing sharp, shooting pain in her right breast.
‘I wasn’t unwell. I wasn’t fatigued. Other than the lumps and the occasional pain, there was no indicator that I had any type of illness,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
Still, she went to the doctor, and after some pushing, they performed an ultrasound.
She was diagnosed with a rare type of breast cancer called secretory carcinoma. This type of breast cancer makes up less than 0.01% of breast cancers worldwide. Research about it is scarce, but it is typically only seen in very young patients.
Three weeks after her diagnosis, Mahady had a single mastectomy with immediate reconstruction.
After the surgery, her doctors told Mahady that the cancer had actually already spread to her lymph nodes — which meant she would also need chemo and radiation. She then underwent IVF to preserve some of her eggs, in case she wanted to have children in the future.
Mahady chopped off her long red hair prior to chemo, in preparation of losing it anyway. She donated 21 inches to Irish Cancer Society’s Rapunzel Foundation, which make wigs for children with cancer.
“At 24, I never thought it could be a possibility for me to have breast cancer. I want to urge people to see a doctor if you notice any irregularities, and not to fob off pain, especially if you’ve been experiencing it for some time,” she told Daily Mail.
“Respect yourself enough to look after yourself, because if you leave it too long like I did you could miss something major and lower your chance of solving the problem.”
She told The Sun: “I really want to make young men and women aware that they’re not in the clear just because of their age. That was the reason why I ignored signs for so long.”
C. Dixon likes to read, sing, eat, drink, write, and other verbs. She enjoys cavorting around the country to visit loved ones and experience new places, but especially likes to be at home with her husband, son, and dog.