Coping with Breast Cancer as a Young Adult

Young women and breast cancer HangoutYoung women with breast cancer face many unique emotional challenges: They may be in college, dating, starting a career, raising a family, or trying to start one.

“Cancer disrupts many aspects of young adulthood such as family planning, careers, relationships, sexuality, and sexual health,” said Karen Fasciano, PsyD, clinical psychologist and director of Dana-Farber’s Young Adult Program, who recently joined four young women in different stages of breast cancer treatment to discuss their experiences.

During a Google+ Hangout, Heidi Floyd, Nadia Tase, Danielle Ameden, and Beverly McKee, MSW, LCSW, shared with viewers the challenges they faced, ways they found support for themselves and loved ones during treatment, how breast cancer changed their worldviews, and advice for others in similar situations.

“For me, one of the biggest challenges was the loss of innocence,” said McKee, addressing a challenge many young adults with cancer face. “Cognitively we know we’re not going to live forever, but you don’t put any thought into planning the future until all of a sudden you’re faced with mortality.”

All four women emphasized the importance of having a strong support network during treatment, which may include family, friends, partners, or mental health professionals.

“I don’t know if I could’ve done it by myself,” said Ameden, who was diagnosed when she was 29. “[My fiancée and I] actually got engaged during my chemo treatment. Even when I was bald and scarred and sick, he still wanted to marry me.”

Watch the full Hangout below: