By Ben Sherwood, Intent.com
On May 7th, Hannah Powell-Auslam of La Mirada, Calif. had a mastectomy to remove her left breast, the kind of surgery that takes place around 137 times per day in the US. Some 185,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and around 50,000 will have mastectomies. But Hannah’s story is different.
She’s only 10 years old.
According to her family’s Website – Hannah is a “typical 10 year old girl. She loves to play sports, ride her bike, watch Hannah Montana and just be a kid.”
In March, the fifth-grader at Escalona Elementary School complained about an itchy breast. After her mom noticed a lump, doctors biopsied the tissue, never imagining it would be cancer. The risk for children and adolescent girls is estimated at around 0.1 percent.
“They told me it was not breast cancer, because breast cancer does not happen to children,” Hannah’s mother said in an interview with The San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
But the doctors were wrong. Lab results in April showed that Hannah’s lump was invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), a type that accounts for around 70 percent of breast cancers. Later, doctors determined it was invasive secretory ductal carcinoma, a subtype with a more favorable prognosis.
“I didn’t really know what cancer was,” Hannah told the San Gabriel newspaper. “I just kept crying and couldn’t stop.”
Today, Hannah is recovering from her mastectomy. “She is doing wonderful,” her parents wrote on their Website. “She is in great spirit[s] and barely complaining at all.” Naturally, some days are very tough: Seeing her incision for the first time was upsetting. Hannah also faces more treatments, including chemo and the possibility of additional surgery and radiation because doctors found cancer cells in the sentinel lymph node under her arm. Over all, the prognosis is excellent: The five-year survival rate for younger patients with secretory ductal carcinoma is 100 percent.
“God chose me because he knows I’m a strong girl and I can get through it,” Hannah says.
Hannah’s story reminds us that the doors of The Survivors Club swing open and shut every hour of the day without regard to age, gender, race or geography. Everyone joins, sooner or later. Whether you’re 10 or 90, there’s no escaping adversity.
With each new membership in the Survivors Club, there are lessons to be learned. While Hannah’s case is extremely rare, it reminds us of some of the myths of breast cancer.
Next: 4 Common Myths about Breast Cancer