Breast cancer at age 32

Archive, Month, October

It’s never too early for women to consider their breast health.

Nichole was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in April of 2021.

She was just 32 years old, a full eight years before the American Cancer Society recommends beginning regular mammogram screenings at age 40.

“You can choose to let it destroy you,” she said, “or you can take it head on.”

During a self-examination, she found a small, “pea-sized” lump in her breast.

Visiting with her doctor, it was recommended that they monitor the lump before taking action, mainly based on her youthfulness. But at her six-month follow up, the lump had continued to grow.

Following additional testing, her diagnosis was confirmed.

Nicole is among the just 5 percent of breast cancer patients diagnosed before age 40. The rare — but not unheard of — cases can occur because the breast tissue in younger women can be denser than the tissue found in older women. And it is often a more aggressive form of cancer.

This proved true for Nichole — she was initially diagnosed at stage 3.

“It must have been the right timing,” she said.

Acting quickly but thoroughly and thoughtfully, a care plan was developed and put into action.

She underwent a double mastectomy from McLaren Macomb breast surgeons Dr. Stephen Cahill and Dr. Ashley Harnden, which was followed by eight rounds of chemotherapy at the Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Macomb under the treatment of oncologist Dr. Rana Bilbeisi.

Says Nichole:

For months and months, I dreaded every chemo, every hormone injection, every oncologist visit, every scan. However, once I completed my treatment and joined the support group, I remember feeling a sense of "home" upon arriving at the facility.

No longer did I dread showing up to this particular place that could be very much so triggering and traumatic. But upon arrival I now feel a sense of overwhelming gratitude and happiness.

This is because this facility, the doctors, nurses and entire medical staff all played a role, an assist in saving my life.

Cancer takes a lot from you, but I feel like I’ve gained a lot as well.

Following her chemotherapy treatments, Nichole was discharged with a clean bill of health and committed herself to advocacy — spreading her message that it is never too early for women to consider their breast health.

“The diagnose is a calling to share my experience and help as many people as I can,” she says.


McLaren Macomb Breast Centers

Early detection is key. Keep to your regular mammogram schedule. Make an appointment online at a McLaren Macomb Breast Center.

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Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Macomb

Learn more about the NCI-designated level of cancer care provided in Macomb County.

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