Breast cancer survivor shares journey amid increase in younger women getting cancer diagnosis
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - About 9% of all new cases of breast cancer cases in the U.S. are found in women younger than 45, according to the CDC.
Ursula Johnson was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was just 29 years old. She also had no family history of the disease.
Now, Johnson is a 13-year breast cancer survivor. And although breast cancer usually occurs in women over 45, the country is seeing a slight increase in younger women getting it.
According to the CDC, breast cancer in young women is more likely to be hereditary than breast cancer in older women.
But that wasn’t the case for Johnson.
“It was a shock because I didn’t have a family history of it,” Johnson said. “So it was something new, something scary. But once I was diagnosed, I was sent over to Phoebe Cancer Center. And they began my treatment process. Which I went through chemotherapy. I had a lumpectomy as well as radiation.”
Johnson was able to discover the cancer through self-examination.
She said Phoebe staff took things from there.
“They did a BRCA test to see if I had that mutated gene and I didn’t,” Johnson said. “So they just said that they are seeing it more so now in younger individuals than they did before. They didn’t know why. I didn’t know why. It was just something that happened.”
According to the Susan G. Komen website, most women diagnosed with the disease don’t have a family history of it. In fact, they say only about 15% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a first-degree relative like a mother or sister who also had it.
Johnson is passionate about the alarming number of unlikely patients that she decided to help out.
“Throughout my cancer journey, I also signed up for clinical trials,” she said. “So that was to help research to find out why more women that are younger are getting breast cancer. So if they do have that diagnosis, I would encourage them to sign up for clinical trials to be more involved in the research to know what is actually causing so many to have cancer.”
Johnson said she was able to get through this journey with the help of the staff at Phoebe, along with both her family and church family.
Johnson said she would encourage all women to self-examine themselves regularly and to be their own health advocate, because she said if you don’t, then who will?
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