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Facing Breast Cancer Together

Facing Breast Cancer Together

For twenty-somethings Roberta Levy-Schwartz, Joy Simha and Lanita Moss, breast cancer wasn't even on their radar. Yet each woman was diagnosed before her 35th birthday. Levy-Schwartz, Simha and Moss quickly learned that resources designed specifically for young women with breast cancer were few and far between.

Inspired by their own experiences dealing with breast cancer at a young age, and motivated by the lack of resources available to young women, in 1998 they co-founded Young Survival Coalition (YSC), the first organization focused exclusively on the unique issues faced by young women diagnosed with breast cancer.

"We love that customers can come in to our stores to get fitted for a bra and walk out not only with something that makes them feel good personally, but also with a positive feeling of having supported a wonderful organization."
–Margaret Myers,
Nordstrom

A diagnosis with unique challenges
With an estimated 250,000 women currently living in the United States who were diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 40 or younger, and approximately 13,000 more that will be diagnosed this year, the impact of the disease on this group is more significant than many realize. (Pictured above are nine breast cancer survivors showing the ages at which they were diagnosed.)

For women facing the disease at a young age, the challenges are unique. The cancer is often more aggressive and biologically different than the types that typically appear in older women. They also deal with issues that may not impact their older counterparts as significantly, such as higher mortality rates, fertility issues and the possibility and ramifications of early menopause. In addition, since breast cancer rates are lower for this population, there are few research studies dedicated to learning more about cancer in younger populations.

"A breast cancer diagnosis can feel isolating, especially for a young woman," said Jennifer Merschdorf, chief executive officer of YSC and a young survivor herself. "We believe that by providing a woman with connections to other young survivors and the tools she needs to better understand breast cancer and her options, she will feel supported and empowered to take control of her treatment and her health."

YSC has focused its efforts on serving as a community of support for young women with breast cancer; educating and raising awareness that young women can and do get breast cancer and advocating for more studies for this overlooked population. Whether connecting recently diagnosed women with other survivors through its online community and nationwide Face 2 Face networks; fundraising to provide YSC's free educational programs and resources for women, caregivers and medical professionals; or through annual YSC Tour de Pink bike rides, YSC is constantly working to ensure young women facing breast cancer feel supported, empowered and hopeful.

We Heart a Great Fit
When Nordstrom heard about the tremendous work of YSC, we knew that we wanted to be a part of the good work that it is doing to help breast cancer survivors. We named YSC as the 2013 beneficiary organization associated with our We Heart a Great Fit (formerly known as Nordstrom Fits America) events. Held twice each year, these bra-fitting events take place at every Nordstrom store across the country. For every bra purchased from participating lingerie brands during the event, $2 is donated to YSC. Our April 2013 event was a great success, with 30,066 bras being sold, resulting in a $60,132 donation to YSC. We hope to build on this momentum with our fall 2013 We Heart a Great Fit event, taking place in all Nordstrom stores on Friday, October 25, and Saturday, October 26.

"We're proud to be able to support YSC through our We Heart a Great Fit events," said Margaret Myers, Accessories general merchandise manager at Nordstrom. "Many of our customers and employees have been touched by breast cancer and many have benefitted from the valuable support, resources and hope that YSC provides. We love that customers can come in to our stores to get fitted for a bra and walk out not only with something that makes them feel good personally, but also with a positive feeling of having supported a wonderful organization."

Visit the YSC website to learn about the many ways you can get involved and support this important cause.

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