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Young Breast Cancer Survivor Becomes Advocate and Primary Care Provider Post-Treatment
Diagnosed at 26, Nicole Seagriff was the fourth member in her family to receive a breast cancer diagnosis
This blog post was written by Nicole Seagriff, member of the board of directors of The Pink Agenda.
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. In my family, the statistic is four out of five women by the age of 50. I became number four at the age of 26.
I credit my early stage diagnosis to BRCA mutation testing. After starting a residency program as a primary care provider with a focus on preventive medicine, I recognized my family’s history of breast cancer was consistent with a BRCA mutation. I knew I would encourage my patients to utilize genetic testing, so I decided to take a little bit of my own advice and be proactive about my health.
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month four years ago, my mom and I both tested positive for a BRCA2 mutation. Nine months later, to the shock of my family and high-risk oncologist, I was diagnosed with stage 1A breast cancer. Understanding my high lifetime chance of reoccurrence, I opted for a bilateral mastectomy by the same breast surgeon as my mom. Our mastectomies were 10 years and five days apart.
There is never a good time for breast cancer. Each age represents its own challenges and struggles as a person tries to maintain their life while fighting a serious disease. For me a mastectomy meant never being able to experience breastfeeding. It meant that while my friends were breaking up with their boyfriends, I was breaking up with my oncologist. But it also meant that I changed the legacy of my aunt and grandmother who caught their cancer too late. It now means I get to spend many healthy years to come contributing to changing what it means to have breast cancer. I feel so blessed each and everyday to have this experience behind me and to have my health even though I chose to remove my breasts.
Most things in life have silver linings. When it comes to those positive experiences that come during or after a struggle with breast cancer, I call them pink linings. One of those pink linings was joining a group called The Pink Agenda which focuses on raising awareness and money for breast cancer research.
I attended my first Pink Agenda meeting two days after my last surgery and was instantly met with an amazingly supportive group of young professionals. Their support and friendship was instrumental in my healing process and each member constantly impresses me with their dedication to end this disease.
We do this by “raising hell” through organizing fundraisers such as our annual gala and our marathon team. This money supports two BCRF researchers annually. We also partnered with Fab-U-Wish, founded by Giuliana Rancic, which allows young women with breast cancer to experience a wish during or after their treatment. A fellow young survivor and I founded The Pink Agenda Speaker Series and travel to colleges through out the country as well as organizations such as NBC to share our stories and spread knowledge about breast cancer in an empowering way.
Thanks to the promise of research and the amazing support of the BCRF researchers I look forward to the potential brightest pink lining of them all: the possibility in which my family history stops at four out of five women with breast cancer.