My name is Jessica Lee Palmer.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 30 years old. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was snowshoeing on top of a mountain with a gorgeous view of the city below. I felt on top of the world. That was, until I received an ironically timed phone call with the results of my biopsy: I had breast cancer.
I had so many emotions all at once and was overwhelmed with new information. How could I have breast cancer at such a young age? What did the diagnosis mean? What was I supposed to do next? I endeavored to answer these questions through my own research; however, I quickly learned how meaningful the support of others was.
I developed a great rapport with my surgical oncologist almost immediately. During my first office visit she went through my diagnosis in meticulous detail and took the time to draw diagrams of my treatment options. From that point forward she guided me through my treatment program, which included a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy and endocrine therapy.
I have also been fortunate to have the support of friends and family. Many of them have been affected by cancer in their own lives. A few had already experienced the unique challenges of being diagnosed at a young age. They knew exactly how I was feeling when none of it made sense to me yet. They had answers to the questions I didn’t know to ask. And, most importantly, each of them showed me a lot of love.
Although I consider myself very lucky to have such a strong support system, there is a lot to be said about the stigma that people are too young to have breast cancer. It was one of my first thoughts upon hearing my diagnoses and I still encounter it far too often. This stigma has a lot of consequences. Too many young adults are either unaware of or do not have access to early detection screenings. Frequently, I found healthcare professionals did not have answers to many of my questions because research specific to the demographic was lacking. This stigma burdens young adults who are already facing societal pressures to excel in their careers, to become financially successful, and to start families.
I simply could not have anticipated the positive impact breast cancer would have on my life. Throughout my journey I have developed tremendous bonds with other fighters and survivors and I have seen how instrumental each individual is in educating the community. Bringing awareness, resources and support to those whose lives are affected by breast cancer, especially to young adults, has become a passion of mine.
Type of Breast Cancer: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (ER+, PR+ & Her2-)
Year of Diagnosis: 2018
Relationship with Komen: Fundraiser & Participant of More Than Pink Walk