Amidst the sea of pink ribbons and the collective efforts to raise awareness about breast cancer this October, many stories remind us that this disease knows no age boundaries.
Kiana Brown is a courageous 25-year-old mother and wife from Baytown who is now facing a diagnosis that challenges the common perception of who may get the disease. Her journey underscores the importance of early detection and listening to your body.
“My journey started in October of last year. I had a little pain in my right breast. I saw my OBGYN, who sent me for an ultrasound. The results were normal. In June, I noticed a lump in the same area, but thought it might just be hormonal,” explained Brown. “My husband encouraged me to go back to the doctor.”
Brown’s OBGYN decided she needed a mammogram, which she had done at the Breast Care Center at Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital in early August.
“At that appointment, I had an ultrasound and mammogram. Then, Dr. Benveniste wanted me to have a biopsy that afternoon. At that point, I knew something was wrong,” said Brown.
Dr. Ana Benveniste is the breast radiologist at Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital. “I always add patients to same-day biopsies when I have a serious concern for malignancy,” she explained.
Dr. Benveniste’s concern was valid. Brown was diagnosed with triple-positive breast cancer, which represents less than ten percent of all breast cancers.
The thought of a breast cancer diagnosis was baffling to Brown. “I have no family history, I work out four to five days a week, I just had my daughter two years ago… how could this be breast cancer?”
The chances of breast cancer at Brown’s age are small. Less than five percent of all breast cancers occur between the ages of 20 and 30.
But for Brown, that statistic is her reality, and she is determined to win her fight. “I am young; there is so much I want to do with my life. I want to see my little girl grow up,” Brown exclaimed.
Now, she is adding chemotherapy to her busy schedule of working full-time, attending college full-time, and caring for her daughter with the help of her husband.
“I graduate from college in mid-December, then finish chemo at the end of December,” said Brown. She acknowledges that this will be a long journey. “I will have a mastectomy on my right breast. They will also check my left. Radiation is possible. They must also determine if any lymph nodes are involved. And I will likely be on a hormone blocker for the next five to ten years.”
But Brown says she’s ready for the fight and has some advice for young women.
“You have to listen to your body. You have to advocate for yourself, speak up and be heard. No matter their age, every woman should do self-exams, and if you notice a change, make that appointment with your doctor,” said Brown.
Dr. Benveniste says awareness is key. “Always check your breasts; watch for palpable lumps, discoloration of the skin, nipple discharge or nipple inversion. If you experience any of those or have concerns, call your OBGYN or primary care physician.”
For more information about breast cancer, visit houstonmethodist.org/cancer/breast-cancer. You can also call the Breast Care Center at Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital at 346.292.7465.