14-Year-Old's Breast Cancer Diagnosis Is a Wake-Up Call for Moms

Ashley Roby

Mamas, prepare to grab your daughters and hug them tight. One of the patients in the oncology department at Vanderbilt University Medical Center is still in high school. In fact, Ashley Roby was only 14 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.


I read that, and my heart just did that swan dive you read about in books. I can't even count how many times I've stood in the shower, one hand over my head, the other doing that same self-exam. I have never once wondered, "Gee, should I be doing this to my daughter too?" Have you?

So what are the chances that our daughters could get cancer? A study done by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine looked at a national registry to find all females aged 19 and younger who were diagnosed with malignant breast tumors between 1973 and 2004. They only found 75. Over 31 years.

Poor Ashley is a statistic, and not a good one. The good news is the 15-year-old is now clear of cancer -- although this poor kid had to go through a bilateral mastectomy (and during the ordeal, her boyfriend, also just a kid, died!). She's preparing for breast reconstruction, and she does normal teenage things these days like playing basketball on her high school team in Tennessee.

And her story should get moms to pay a little more attention to their daughters.

Among the things I learned while researching Ashley's case? A number of doctors actually suggest teaching your young daughter the breast self exam. It's not necessarily to catch cancers but to get girls comfortable with their bodies, what's normal, what isn't. Starting when she gets her period seems to be the consensus, and considering what happened to this poor girl, it certainly can't hurt.

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