This simple yet simply terrifying diagnosis can feel like a family curse, a genetic time bomb or a looming death sentence to a woman of any age. But even more so to a mother of young children whose first thought and foremost priority is not about herself. It's about her children-their reaction, their future, their daily lives.
How will she wake them for school each morning while undergoing radiation treatment? How will she be able to tuck them in each night after a draining day of chemotherapy? How will she shower them with attention, if not affection, while battling for her very life?
Such scenarios are more common than ever these days with the rising numbers of younger women diagnosed with breast cancer, according to a new study. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, it shows that advanced breast cancer in women ages 25 to 39 has risen roughly 2 percent each year since 1976. There's no definitive explanation as to why, nor a reversal in sight, experts theorize.
This age demographic is prime time for motherhood, meaning more moms than ever before are forced to juggle this deadly disease with their child-rearing duties.
How do they do it?
Chicago Parent talked with three moms, each diagnosed with breast cancer "at the absolute worst time of our lives," as one of them describes it. They may have lost their hair and their energy, but they never lost their hope, thanks to their children, they say. Here are their stories.