Breast cancer posing unique challenges for young womenon October 24, 2012 @ 12:12 pm (Updated: 12:40 pm - 10/24/12 )
"I lost my mother to cancer when I was six. I knew first hand what it was like to grow up without a mother. So when I heard those words you have breast cancer, my first thought was 'I have to be there to raise these children, I want to be there at their graduation. I want to walk them down the aisle,'" Taylor said.
She was diagnosed with Stage three breast cancer and given a 50 percent chance of survival. Taylor threw herself into an aggressive course of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, all while trying to raise her then 4-year-old and 2-year-old. And she turned to a traditional cancer support group, made up mostly women much older than her.
"They were so amazing but they couldn't help me with how I could get my 2-year-old into his car seat after a double mastectomy. They were talking about going to their grand children's basketball games. I really needed that practical advice."
Taylor would soon find that advice and unique support through an organization called the Young Survival Coalition. It's a national non-profit dedicated to helping young women like Taylor get the help they need battling the disease.
"Just 8 percent of all diagnosed cases are women under 45, but our cancers tend to be caught later, and they tend to be more aggressive in nature," Taylor said. "So not only just getting the information our there, but also getting the support and the education and the resources out there, because we are so few so that we're getting people together to help support each other through this diagnosis like no other person can."
The group helped Taylor with coping skills, day-to-day management of fatigue, nausea, insomnia, how to keep her body strong through treatment and recovery. It also helped her deal with issues like breast reconstruction, fertility and sexuality.
"Young women that are pre-menopausal at diagnosis are in a very different time in their life. They are raising young children, building their careers, some are dating."
Taylor is one of the lucky ones. After enduring a year of brutal treatments, her body is currently cancer free and she is living a normal, healthy life.
Taylor credits Young Survival Coalition with not only helping her survive, but thrive and find what she calls her "new normal."
"I'm a very different person," she said. "I switched careers from a teacher to join the non-profit world and join YSC staff and without all of those things I don't think I would be where I am today."
Young Survival Coalition continues growing, with 25 formal affiliates across the country. Taylor now heads the Seattle branch and hopes to extend its reach broader throughout the entire Western U.S.
The stations of Bonneville Seattle, The Seattle Seahawks and Les Schwab Tire Centers are proud to honor Young Survival Coalition as the charity of the month. To make a donation or learn more, click here.
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