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Superfit gym manager diagnosed with breast cancer at 24 warns that she didn’t have a single warning sign

At 24, Paige Crossingham looked exactly like a picture of health.

The manager of an F45 fitness studio on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland trained alongside her clients every day and spent the weekend swimming in the ocean and hiking the challenging trails of her home state with her friends and partner.

So when she felt a small, hard bump in her right breast while undressing for bed on Saturday, December 2, 2019, she made an appointment with her doctor to rule out something sinister, but was not too concerned. Neither did her doctor.

Multiple tests and five weeks later on Wednesday, January 8, 2020, she received the devastating news that stage two triple negative breast cancer was growing in her breast four months before her 25th birthday.

Ms. Crossingham told Daily Mail Australia that she feels “very, very lucky” that she noticed the lump because she was “as fit as she ever was” and was not experiencing symptoms commonly associated with the disease, such as pain, fatigue, or leaking breasts,

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At the age of 24, gym manager Paige Crossingham in Queensland looked completely out. She is pictured on December 15, 2019.

At the age of 24, gym manager Paige Crossingham in Queensland looked completely out. She is pictured on December 15, 2019.

But five weeks after discovering a lump in her right breast on December 2 while getting ready to go to bed, she was diagnosed with fast-growing, stage two triple negative breast cancer. Mrs. Crossingham is pictured here on March 22, 2020.

But five weeks after discovering a lump in her right breast on December 2 as she was getting ready to go to bed, she was diagnosed with fast-growing, stage two triple negative breast cancer. Mrs. Crossingham is pictured here on March 22, 2020.

But five weeks after discovering a lump in her right breast on December 2 while getting ready to go to bed, she was diagnosed with fast-growing, stage two triple negative breast cancer. Mrs. Crossingham is pictured here on March 22, 2020.

“I felt completely normal. I had no fatigue, no pain, no illness, “she said.

Ms Crossingham was always vigilant about her health and saw a doctor on Monday, December 4, who thought it would probably be a cyst, but sent her an ultrasound to be sure.

When the scan revealed a ‘suspicious’ mass, doctors performed a series of tests before a biopsy finally confirmed that the lump was triple negative breast cancer.

“Being fit and healthy, exercising daily, eating healthily, being a non-smoker, being young and not having a family history, I just couldn’t understand how it happened to me,” she said.

Crossingham was diagnosed on the day of her mother and partner Nick’s birthday.

“Every appointment they said ‘you’re so young, we’re just checking to see if everything is going well'” “.” It will be fine “was the most common phrase I heard from everyone I encountered,” she said.

“Looking back, even I didn’t expect it to be what it was. I didn’t think it could be cancer. ‘

Ms. Crossingham was diagnosed on Wednesday, January 8, 2020 - the day of the birthday of her mother and partner Nick. She and Nick are pictured together on December 31, 2019, just over a week before her diagnosis.

Ms. Crossingham was diagnosed on Wednesday, January 8, 2020 - the day of the birthday of her mother and partner Nick. She and Nick are pictured together on December 31, 2019, just over a week before her diagnosis.

Ms. Crossingham was diagnosed on Wednesday, January 8, 2020 – the day of the birthday of her mother and partner Nick. She and Nick are pictured together on December 31, 2019, just over a week before her diagnosis.

Triple negative breast cancer is a fast-growing form of breast cancer that is responsible for about 15 percent of breast cancers worldwide.

Annually, approximately 18,000 Australian women are diagnosed with breast cancer, of whom 2,700 have triple negative breast cancer.

It is different from other forms of breast cancer in that it does not have the three receptors normally found in breast cells – estrogen, progesterone and HER2 – which makes typical cancer treatments ineffective.

I didn’t think it could be cancer … I couldn’t believe it happened to me.

People with estrogen or progesterone receptor positive breast cancer are usually treated with tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor, while people with HER2 positive breast cancer use a drug called Herceptin.

Triple negative breast cancer generally responds well to chemotherapy followed by removal of one breast followed by radiotherapy or both breasts without further treatment.

The early symptoms experienced by most triple patients with negative breast cancer are rare and easy to miss, making them difficult to recognize and often leading to a delayed diagnosis.

The only warning signs that most people experience are a small, hard bump in the chest and occasionally tender breasts, or an inward turning nipple that only occurs in some cases.

If detected early, the chances of successful treatment and long-term survival are excellent, as long as the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body.

Ms. Crossingham was “as fit as she ever was” and did not initially suspect she might have cancer

She believes that breast exams should be available to the immediate family of anyone diagnosed with cancer, regardless of age. She is in the picture with her mother and sister on February 28, 2020.

She believes that breast exams should be available to the immediate family of anyone diagnosed with cancer, regardless of age. She is in the picture with her mother and sister on February 28, 2020.

She believes that breast exams should be available to the immediate family of anyone diagnosed with cancer, regardless of age. She is in the picture with her mother and sister on February 28, 2020.

Triple negative breast cancer explained

Triple negative breast cancer is a type of breast cancer that does not have the three receptors usually found on breast cells – estrogen, progesterone and HER2. About 15 percent of breast cancers worldwide are three-fold negative.

Annually, approximately 18,000 Australian women are diagnosed with breast cancer, of whom 2,700 have triple negative breast cancer.

Anyone can get triple negative breast cancer, but pre-menopausal women – under the age of 40 – have a higher rate of the disease than older women.

Treatment for triple negative breast cancer differs from other cancer treatments in that it lacks these three receptors. People with estrogen and / or progesterone receptor positive breast cancer are usually treated with tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor, while people with HER2 positive breast cancer usually use a drug called Herceptin.

None of these are effective against triple negative breast cancer.

Triple negative breast cancer generally responds well to chemotherapy. Five years after diagnosis, the risk of recurrence of the disease in people with triple negative breast cancer is no greater than in people with other types of breast cancer.

In the long run, over 10 years or more, recurrence is less likely in triple negative breast cancer.

Treatment usually includes surgery – either lumpectomy or mastectomy – radiotherapy, if a lumpectomy is performed, and chemotherapy.

Source: Breast Cancer Network Australia

Ms. Crossingham started chemotherapy treatment four weeks after her diagnosis on Monday, February 10.

Before doing this, she underwent IVF to increase her chances of becoming a mother in the future. The process was successful, but she still hopes to conceive naturally, so she never needs the removed eggs.

Awaiting the loss of her hair as she battled the disease, Ms. Crossingham took matters into her own hands, defiantly shaving the silk, honey-colored locks flowing under her breast.

“Losing my hair was probably the biggest hurdle I initially faced. I’ve always had long blonde hair and I just couldn’t imagine myself without it, ”she said.

But after speaking to her nurse, she was adamant to bring a razor to her head before her hair fell out on its own.

“She told me that having cancer takes away much of the control you had over your life. She encouraged me to take back some of that control by getting rid of it myself.

“I couldn’t let cancer take it away from me. The thought of losing it was worse than actually doing it. I rock the ‘egg’ look nowadays! ‘ she laughed.

In anticipation of losing her hair as she battled the disease, Ms. Crossingham took matters into her own hands and defiantly shaved the silk, honey-colored locks flowing under her breast. She is pictured with a colleague after shaving her head on March 14, 2020.

Awaiting the loss of her hair as she battled the disease, Ms. Crossingham took matters into her own hands and defiantly shaved the silk, honey-colored locks flowing under her breast. She is pictured with a colleague after shaving her head on March 14, 2020.

Awaiting the loss of her hair as she battled the disease, Ms. Crossingham took matters into her own hands and defiantly shaved the silk, honey-colored locks flowing under her breast. She is pictured with a colleague after shaving her head on March 14, 2020.

What is a Lumpectomy?

A lumpectomy is the surgical removal of a small area or “lump” of breast tissue, usually in the treatment of a malignant tumor or breast cancer.

Ms. Crossingham has nine weeks of chemo left before she has to choose between a lumpectomy – a partial removal of breast tissue – followed by radiotherapy, or a double mastectomy that would remove both of her breasts and eliminate the need for further treatment.

“I never want to go through this again if mastectomy gives me the best chance of avoiding cancer for the rest of my life, then I’m going to do that,” she said.

Ms. Crossingham started out as an avid writer a blog to share her experiences and support other young women like her on their cancer travels.

She believes that breast screening should be available to the immediate family of anyone diagnosed with cancer, regardless of age, and hopes that more awareness campaigns will be funded by the government, which she says is all too often lacking in Australia.

“Everyone said to me, ‘It’s going to be okay’ because even they couldn’t believe a 24-year-old could have cancer, but the fact is they can and need more support. Breast cancer makes no distinction, “she said.

She plans to build a support group where young people can share their journey and support each other in an often overwhelmingly lonely time.

For breast cancer support, call Breast Cancer Network Australia at 1800 500 258 or visit the website at www.bcna.org.au.

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