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Taking action: Breast cancer in those under 40

Camarillo+resident%2C+Cheryl+Hayey%2C+creates+hand+painted+stones+for+all+occasions.+She+painted+some+pink+ribbon+stones+for+Breast+Cancer+awareness+month.+Photo+credit%3A+Michelle+De+Leon
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Taking action: Breast cancer in those under 40

Camarillo resident, Cheryl Hayey, creates hand painted stones for all occasions. She painted some pink ribbon stones for Breast Cancer awareness month. Photo credit: Michelle De Leon

Camarillo resident, Cheryl Hayey, creates hand painted stones for all occasions. She painted some pink ribbon stones for Breast Cancer awareness month. Photo credit: Michelle De Leon

Camarillo resident, Cheryl Hayey, creates hand painted stones for all occasions. She painted some pink ribbon stones for Breast Cancer awareness month. Photo credit: Michelle De Leon

Camarillo resident, Cheryl Hayey, creates hand painted stones for all occasions. She painted some pink ribbon stones for Breast Cancer awareness month. Photo credit: Michelle De Leon

By Karina Peterson and Shannon Holst

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National Breast Cancer Awareness Month may be over, but it’s not too late to learn more about the steps you can take to detect cancer in its earliest stages.

Breasts come in all shapes and sizes, and breast cancer affects women (and 10 percent of men!) of all ages. Therefore what might be “normal” for one person, might not be “normal” for another. Self-examination is one way to understand your body and can help you catch something that may not be quite right.

The earlier breast cancer is detected, the better the chances for treatment and survival. Self-examination is a simple way to monitor changes in your body, but it doesn’t replace an annual wellness exam with a doctor or a mammogram.

Political Science major, Sasha Hernandez, 22, thinks back to her grandmother’s fight with the disease and why awareness is so important.

“Breast cancer affects women of all ages, so it’s never too early to get regular check-ups,” said Hernandez. “It’s something that’s not very time consuming, so taking a couple of minutes is a no-brainer.”

Allison Barton, a Health Educator and Registered Nurse at the Moorpark College Health Center, commented on the importance of both women and men frequently doing self-checks, or examinations, of their breasts for a baseline, but it was not a substitution for a medical examination.

“Medical professionals find more lumps than women do on their own,” said Barton. “They’re more effective at finding them and it’s better than discovering it at a late stage.”

Young breast cancer survivors holding their age at diagnosis. Photo credit YSC.

Young breast cancer survivors holding their age at diagnosis. Photo credit: YSC

Information regarding breast cancer and resources for the public are readily available if you know where to look. However, the Young Survival Coalition (YSC) has taken it to a new level. The YSC is an organization and resource for people that focus on the critical issues unique to young women diagnosed with breast cancer. They are celebrating 20 years of offering resources, connections, and fundraising.

YSC shares testimonials of breast cancer survivors on its website. One woman, Jennifer, was diagnosed at age 27. She said there is no other organization like YSC.

“They get what it’s like to be young and to have your entire world turned upside down by a breast cancer diagnosis,” she said. “YSC has educated me so that I can be an advocate for myself and others.”

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in young women ages 15-39, with an estimated 80 percent of these women finding the abnormalities on their own. While there are no effective screening tools readily available for women under 40, it is important for people of all ages to stay aware and proactive.

For more information about how to perform a self-examination or to schedule a breast exam, please call the Student Health Center at (805) 378-1413 or visit their website.

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