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Currently, in the United States alone, nearly 250,000 women under age 40 are living with breast cancer. This year, approximately 11,000 women under age 40 will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and close to 1,300 will die. For women in their twenties and thirties, being diagnosed with breast cancer is a vastly different experience than for their older counterparts.

Despite their increasing numbers, young women with breast cancer often find themselves alone and with little information relevant to their age group. Most medical research has been done on post-menopausal women with breast cancer; most books on the subject are directed at middle-aged women, and support groups are often made up of retirees and grandmothers. Younger breast cancer survivors also tend to have less emotional and logistical support than older women. A 24-year-old college graduate can't relate to “telling the grandchildren,” just as that grandmother can't easily relate to the dating dilemmas of a struggling 28-year-old broker.

Consider:

I'm Too Young To Have Breast Cancer! explores the emotional experiences of women ages forty and younger facing diagnosis, treatment, and life after the disease. Here are the stories of sixteen of young women from all over the country, in urban, suburban, and rural settings. Some have a life partner, others live alone; some have children, others do not. They come from a wide range of ethnic and religious backgrounds. And they represent a range of socioeconomic levels, from factory worker to Wall Street analyst.

I'm Too Young considers how breast cancer affects young women's lives: their career goals, health insurance coverage, career changes, education, and shifting work/life priorities. It shows us women dating during treatment and after, coming to terms with their altered bodies and sexuality, and making decisions about breast reconstruction. It tells the stories of a young mother explaining her diagnosis and treatment to her young daughter, a woman deciding whether to risk becoming pregnant after fighting the disease, and one determining whether to have her daughter tested for the breast cancer gene. And it looks at women struggling to gain strength from their religions in the face of spiritual crisis.

Through the gift of shared experiences, freelance writer Beth Leibson-Hawkins offers comfort and companionship, and brings hope to a younger generation of breast cancer survivors.

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