Cancer is a very different experience for women who are diagnosed in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. Although this population of women experiences many of the same issues and concerns as older women, there are sensitive and private aspects that are unique to this age population, such as:
- Fertility loss
- Medically or surgically induced (early) menopause
- Breast Cancer diagnosis during pregnancy
Other aspects may include:
- Talking about cancer with younger children
- Feelings of isolation in your peer group
- Loss of breasts and its implication on body image and sexuality
- Loss of or diminished sexual functioning
- Managing career and cancer
- Dating after cancer diagnosis
- Effects of a cancer diagnosis on a relationship/marriage
Fertility loss is a sensitive topic for younger women with cancer because you may lose your ability to reproduce or conceive a child as a result of specific cancer treatments. It is important that you speak with your physician about all of your options prior to beginning your treatment if you wish to have a child after the treatment ends. Depending on your specific treatments, your oncologist may recommend egg harvesting, or freezing your embryos. Make sure to also explore financial arrangements as these procedures may or may not be covered by your medical insurance.
Medically or surgically Induced (Early) Menopause
Some cancer treatments (hormone suppression, surgery) will abruptly send the younger woman into menopause at a much-earlier age than normal. As a result, not only will her fertility be affected, but she will also experience the typical menopausal hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. This sudden leap can have a traumatic impact on the younger woman and we urge that you discuss both these outcomes and future management with your oncologist ahead of time.
Breast Cancer Diagnosis During Pregnancy
Although being diagnosed with breast cancer during pregnancy is uncommon, it is believed that more such cases will occur now that women opt to have children later in life because the risk of breast cancer goes up as the woman gets older.
Diagnosed while expecting challenges the ability to walk the delicate line between devastation and the anticipation of a new life. This balance can be very scary, resulting in feelings of anger, guilt, and fear for the life of the unborn child. Discuss your feeling with your physician who will then guide you safely through treatment, including a referral to counseling.
Remember: these are normal feelings and worries and we urge you to reach out for help as soon as possible. Our expert team will support you through your cancer experience by teaching you coping skills, and by working with your own strengths to get you through this most difficult time.