Support for young women
Being diagnosed with breast cancer as a young woman can be an especially tough and sometimes lonely experience. It’s more unusual for women under 40 to get breast cancer, but it does happen. However, there are fewer people your own age to discuss your experience with and you may feel more isolated and less able to make use of support groups.
If you are diagnosed at a young age, the shock may be greater and you may feel a greater sense of “why me?” Sometimes women who are diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age have a more aggressive form of the disease so you may feel unsure of your ability to fight it and scared of what the future may hold.
Your concerns may be different from those of older women who get breast cancer. On these pages you'll find information on some of the common issues that young women grapple with when they are diagnosed with breast cancer.
Some of these issues, include:
- Effects of hormone treatment
- Body image
- Dating and relationships
- Financial and career issues
- Access to support for younger women
You may experience some of these or none of these. Remember everyone is different and some issues will be more relevant for you than for others.
As a young woman with breast cancer you may find the traditional support groups do not meet your needs. You may find yourself talking with women much older than yourself who do not relate to the issues you’re concerned about.
It can also be isolating talking with your own peer group who have no concept of what you are going through. Their concerns may seem trivial and unimportant to you.
You can always seek help and advice from a professional counsellor and this may be a good way to discuss your concerns with someone neutral and objective. Remember also, that although women in support groups may be older they are likely to have experienced the same kinds of treatment regimes so can relate to the physical and mental stresses of treatment.
If you’d like to get in touch with other young women with breast cancer, why not try posting on our breast cancer forum that we set up with the Cancer Society, CancerChat NZ, or alternatively you can contact us and we’ll try and put you in touch with other young women with breast cancer in your area. One of our member groups, Shocking Pink, is a Christchurch-based group set up to support young women with breast cancer. To contact them please email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another BCAC member group, Breast Cancer Support, also has a young women's group that meets regularly in Auckland. For more information visit their website here or email them at email@example.com or call them on 0800 273 222.
BCAC member group Aotearoa NZ Breast Cancer Community is an online community for New Zealand women of all ages with breast cancer to connect and share information and support. Visit their website here and their Facebook page here. Anyone with a breast cancer diagnosis (at any time) is welcome to join their private Facebook group, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
You might also like to check out these websites and groups that offer advice and information for young women with breast cancer.
- www.youngsurvival.org – an American site specifically for young women with breast cancer
- www.wildfirecommunity.org - Wildfire magazine and writing community for young women - online group based in America - check out their brochure here
- http://community.breastcancer.org/forum/27 - a forum specifically for young women on this American site
- www.fertilehope.org - American site for those with cancer concerned about fertility
In addition to the information above, you might also like to check out our other support pages on living with breast cancer and life after breast cancer, which have helpful tips and advice on coping with the emotional and physical challenges of breast cancer.