Aggressive breast cancer targets young women, African Americans - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Aggressive breast cancer targeting young women, African Americans

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

At 24 years old,  a UAB student was in the fight of her life. She was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. It's a type African American women are more likely to get, and it's hard to treat.

Triple negative breast cancer not only targets African Americans but also young women. Many cancer treatments often don't cure it.

Chemo did help Britteny Bass Gray conquer triple negative breast cancer. Her story is part of the Scar Project at UAB's Visual Arts Galley.

Inside the gallery are the faces of some of the newest breast cancer warriors scared, scarred and young.

"This is something I've pushed aside as an old woman's disease," said UAB student Brittney Bass Gray.

The women of the Scar Project are under 40, like Jolene. She was diagnosed at 17 and dead at 25.

Gray found a lump at 24.

"You're 24. There's no way you can have it. Everyone told me, 'rest assured, you are fine.' But when I got the phone call, I was shocked," she said.

The diagnosis was triple negative breast cancer.

"Basically, that means there is nothing from your body feeding. With it being like that, there are no target therapies for it," she said.

No medications and chemo doesn't always work,.

Dr. Andres Forero, professor of hematology and oncology at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is a leading researcher on that cancer.

"Of the six types of breast cancer, the one that concerns us a lot is triple negative breast cancer. The reason is although a good percentage of patients do well and respond to chemo, there is still a big percentage who don't do well," explained Dr. Forero. "What we have available is not good enough. We need to have better combinations and new drugs."

Gray is now cancer free and married. But photos of a MRI and her getting pricked in the Scar Project take the couple back to Gray's battle for her life.

"I just cried when I saw it. I can't believe I am so much better now. But looking back on it, it was rough. It's almost something you try to forget about but can't," she said.

The Scar Project is on display until the end of the month.

Of course, Dr. Forero says the best way to tackle cancer is with routine visits to the doctor and breast checks.

 

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