Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States, and even though most breast cancer occurs among older women, it can develop at any age. About 9% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are under the age of 45.

Diagnosing breast cancer in younger women can be more difficult, both because their breast tissue is generally denser than that of older women and because they don’t typically undergo routine screening, since mammograms are not generally recommended for women under 40 years old.

Those who are diagnosed with breast cancer go through changes in their body and lifestyle, and they may have questions and concerns that can are hard for them to talk about with their doctor, family, and friends. Sarah Barber, RN, breast cancer nurse navigator at Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Greater Lansing, wants to help break these barriers by kicking off the Survivorship Series, which includes four different events on topics that are often less talked about.   

“The topics discussed in the series are very specific to the challenges that younger women face after a breast cancer diagnosis, and they are often issues that can be uncomfortable for women to talk about with their providers,” said Barber. “The goal of the series is not only to provide education, but to create a supportive environment where women can meet other women their age who are going through a similar experience.”

The four topics include:

Hot and Bothered: Coping With Early Menopause

Stay Alert: Managing Long-Term Side Effects of Breast Cancer

Let’s Talk About Sex and Breast Cancer

Self-Care After Breast Cancer

Barber was selected by Living Beyond Breast Cancer, a nonprofit organization that provides support and education to communities about breast cancer, to participate in its leadership training, where she was certified to present the Survivorship series here in Lansing.

“My hope is to help women understand that this is a safe environment to talk about these issues, and to empower them to ask questions and get to know others going through the same thing,” said Barber.

The series will be hosted every other Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., starting August 2, 2022. If you are under the age of 45, diagnosed with breast cancer, and interested in participating in these free sessions, click here to register.

All of McLaren Greater Lansing’s Healthwise events are free to the public. To learn more about other upcoming events, click here.