Survivor seeks to encourage others

Published 9:10 pm Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A 36-year-old Suffolk breast cancer survivor will attend a Florida conference for young breast cancer survivors later this week.

Natalie Skinner noticed a lump last spring but figured it would just go away, even though her mother had breast cancer 16 years ago.

Skinner

Skinner

“I was 35,” she said. “I was too young for this stuff.”

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Or so she thought. While Skinner was at her teenage daughter’s physical with her, her daughter suggested she get the lump looked at while she was there.

“From there, we were scheduling appointments for a mammogram and ultrasound,” Skinner said. She was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in April, right before she turned 36.

She started treatment locally but became frustrated that the treatment seemed to be standard for every patient, no matter what kind of cancer they had or their other circumstances.

She ended up going to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, where she had a double mastectomy and radiation.

“It’s definitely been a long battle,” she said, adding that her husband and two children were a great support system. “2013 was not the best year for me, but I definitely learned a lot. I feel like I’m still learning a lot about cancer.”

Currently, more than 250,000 women in the United States have been diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 or younger, according to the Young Survival Coalition. Skinner said she wanted to attend the Conference for Young Women so she can encourage others who have been diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age. The conference will be hosted by Living Beyond Breast Cancer and Young Survival Coalition.

“There’s a need for younger women to be educated,” Skinner said. “We don’t hear a lot about cancer affecting younger women. I can help others who really don’t have a clue, like I was in the beginning. I want to learn as much information as I can.”