I just returned from YSC Summit, the only national conference for young women and their co-survivors, in Atlanta. Hosted by Young Survival Coalition, YSC Summit inspires and connects young women facing breast cancer. Why the focus on young women? According to the organization and what I also know personally to be true, the emotional and medical concerns of young breast cancer survivors are often different than those of women over age 40.
More than 250,000 women in the US were diagnosed with breast cancer before their 41st birthday. Approximately 13,000 young women will be diagnosed this year alone. This event not only brings young women with breast cancer together but it features “TED Talk”-style general sessions with inspirational speakers, educational and psychosocial workshops and wellness activities addressing the unique issues that young women with breast cancer face.
This year’s YSC Summit speakers included sex and intimacy experts Sabitha Pillai-Friedman, PhD, and Barbara Musser. The medical updates session were led by: Pat Steeg, Deputy Chief of the Women’s Malignancies Branch in the Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute; Dr. Nikhil Wagle of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Dr. Kimberly Curseen of the Emory University Winship Cancer Center. Conference workshops focused on topics such as dating, family planning, parenting, re-inventing yourself after breast cancer, communication practices, healthy lifestyle changes and coping strategies.
I was especially excited to meet several young women from Fort Worth, TX at this year’s event, since we have recently launched the Fort Worth Young Survival Coalition F2F Network. Each time I’ve attended a YSC conference, I’ve connected with so many inspirational and amazing young breast cancer survivors. This year was no different. I caught up with survivor sisters from past conferences, met up with fellow LBBC Young Advocates, connected with TNBC survivors at the TNBC Foundation booth and instantly bonded with young women new to the “sisterhood.”
This conference is one of the few places where young women with breast cancer can network with others that simply get what it’s like to face breast cancer at a younger age. Between conference sessions and after the day’s events, we have time to sit and engage in deep discussions about life with/after breast cancer. And of course, we spend time not chatting about breast cancer at all – because with this group, there are some things that you don’t even have to say. After conference hours is always a fun time to let loose too! This year, it was karoake.
Being a 5-year survivor, I still benefit from attending this event, as there are always new developments to learn about and new resources to share. This year, I learned about the organization, Fighting Pretty, founded by a young breast cancer survivor, that helps women battling cancer feel strong, beautiful, pretty and confident. I was also thrilled to learn that AnaOno Intimates will soon launch a new mastectomy bra line with pockets for prosthesis and I met the founder of Hulabelle, a new mastectomy swimsuit line.
While breast cancer in young women accounts for a small percentage of breast cancer cases, the impact of the disease is significant. YSC was the first organization to focus exclusively on the unique issues young women with breast cancer face. Learn more about Breast Cancer in Young Women.