Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer in women, as reported by ABC News, and the American Cancer Society estimates that each year there are 182, 460 new cases of breast cancer in females.
This cancer does more than attack a woman's breast tissue; it attacks the very heart of her femininity. The lucky survivors are very often left with depression, weight gain, a decrease in physical activity, and even infertility.
Of course each woman is grateful to have won the battle, but it doesn't mean she hasn't lost something else.
It seems that the backlash of cancer treatment takes a harsher toll the younger a woman is when she is diagnosed with breast cancer.
Nicole Vasquez is one woman who fought the battle at the young age of 34. Now is remission, she says of the whole experience that “I didn’t realize the impact at first, Within two weeks, I went from being able to plan my life to having no control. It really hit me.”
Nicole struggled with self-confidence issues and the loss of her usual active hobbies. Nicole said “I had been physically active in sports, running and playing soccer and I had to quit all that, I had a medi-port sticking out of my chest that I had to cover up. Suddenly, here I was trying to go out and meet people and I was very self-conscious. … I didn’t have a boyfriend and now I would be bald. And after the chemo, I really looked sick. Self-image is a really big deal."
Then depression hit. Not during the cancer fight, but when the aftermath of her battle with cancer settled in around her.
One study done by the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California-Los Angeles found that younger women survivors faced more depression because of associated fertility problems.
Though Nicole is now in a relationship, she wonders if she will ever be able to have children.
After all she's been through physically, emotionally, and psychologically Nicole's advice to other breast cancer survivors is "to stay positive and stay strong. We hear such negative information [about cancer], but you can only fight one battle at a time. We are so engulfed in our disease that we forget we have to live our lives every day.”
And Nicole is certainly not alone in her post-cancer battle. A study at The Susan G. Komen Foundation found that 87% of cancer survivors reported at least one physical, emotional, or social issue as moderate to severe.
ABC News reports that breast cancer survival rates have improved drastically in the past couple of decades, but apparently surviving is only the start of a long uphill battle.
To learn more about breast cancer and the struggles involved speak to an oncologists near you.
The information on this site is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed medical practitioner. If you are experiencing a serious medical condition call your local emergency services or your doctor.