This Woman Was Diagnosed with Breast Cancer at Age 35. Here’s What She Learned

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Reshma Gopaldas received her first mammogram at age 35 — and she’s never regretted it. “Every woman in my family has had breast cancer,” she tells CircleAround. “Breast cancer completely changed our lives, collectively and individually.” In 2014, Gopaldas, too, was diagnosed, but thankfully, it was caught early enough. And with the help of her doctors and physical therapist, they’ve been able to manage it. The steps they took were integral in her healing process. 

As the vice president of video at SHE Media, she’s passionate about spreading awareness for early breast cancer detection, and even created video content about early detection. CircleAround asked her for a few key points others can keep in mind when it comes to breast cancer prevention and treatment.

Information Is Power

“Don’t freak out. When you get diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the information thrown at you,” Gopaldas tells CircleAround. “And at the same time, you’re going to have to make major decisions that impact your life.”

Gopaldas recommends getting your friends and family to help you get all the information you need about your condition. Keeping informed about breast cancer is a full-time job and you’ll need help figuring out how it manifests, what the signs are, and how it affects life post-diagnosis.

The people in your life may also be quick to offer their own suggestions and advice. While this may come from a place of care and concern, the unsolicited input can sometimes feel more like a burden. You can appreciate their concern, but Gopaldas recommends taking your time, referring to your doctor’s advice and resources, and doing what makes you feel comfortable.

It’s also important to keep the positive statistics in mind, as well. Breast cancer is life-threatening, but according to the American Breast Cancer Foundation, progress is being made every day: 

  • 62 percent of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at a localized stage. The five-year survival rate is 99 percent.

  • In the U.S., there are over 3.5 million breast cancer survivors.

  • Since 1990, death rates from breast cancer have been declining.  

Make Your Health a Priority

Once you are armed with the information you need, you’ll feel better about discussing your health with your doctor. The important thing, however, is to ensure you’re seeing your doctor on a regular basis.

“My cousin’s breast cancer was triple-negative, the most aggressive type,” Gopaldas explains. “When she was diagnosed, they caught it at stage one. The doctors said if they had discovered it a year later, it most likely would have been stage four.”

The American Cancer Society recommends getting your first mammogram between ages 40 and 45, but if breast cancer runs in your family, it doesn’t hurt to get screened earlier. “Getting a mammogram isn’t super comfortable,” Gopaldas tells CircleAround. “But you know what’s more uncomfortable? Getting cancer.” 

Tap into Your Support System

There are your best friends, and then there are your breast friends. When Gopaldas was diagnosed, she was unsure about what came next, but the wealth of support she received from friends and family made her feel better, and more importantly, less alone.

Bringing someone to the doctor with you isn’t just so you have someone to chat with in the waiting room — it’s also a smart health decision. Gopaldas recommends finding health advocates within your personal networks, who can be your second set of ears, and a shoulder to cry on if needed. 

“After your doctor says the word ‘cancer,’ it’s hard to focus on the rest of the conversation,” she states. “Having a close friend or family member in the room can be helpful, for taking notes, or just to hold your hand, ensuring you have everything you need to move on to the next step.”

Gopaldas is six years cancer-free today, and stronger than ever. She celebrates her MRI screenings with friends and family each year and is grateful for the medical care she’s received since first being diagnosed. Through early screening detection, education and awareness, and your personal network, breast cancer can often be beaten.

Tags: Cancer

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Written By

Katka Lapelosová

Katka is a writer from New York City, currently living in Belgrade, Serbia. See Full Bio

CircleAround will make financial distributions to benefit current Girl Scouts: the next generation of trailblazers who will CircleAround after us. So CircleAround for inspiration, and CircleAround the leaders of tomorrow. CircleAround is owned by One GS Media, a subsidiary of Girl Scouts of the USA.

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