With no family history of breast cancer and youth and health on her side, Melissa Histon-Browning never thought to check her breasts.
Husband Craig found a lump by chance.
Following tests, just to be sure, the cancer diagnosis at age 35 was an absolute shock.
‘‘I just never expected that that would happen to me,’’ Ms Histon-Browning said.
She is one of a growing number of young Hunter women diagnosed with breast cancer that have banded together in a support group, Hunter Soiree.
Ms Histon-Browning had surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatment and takes medication.
Now 36, she is living a healthy, happy life with her husband and their four children at Tingira Heights.
Ms Histon-Browning found she was not alone as a young breast cancer sufferer.
She said the Hunter Soiree was aimed at women aged under 45, given that most breast cancer public education was aimed at women over 50.
‘‘The general consensus is that breast cancer happens to women that are 50-plus,’’ she said.
‘‘I’m amazed at the number of women in their 30s and early 40s that have breast cancer.’’
Concerns for young sufferers included fertility, early-onset of menopause, and treatment and recovery while raising a family.
‘‘The soiree is a fabulous place for younger women to get together to be able to talk and support [each other over] issues younger women face.’’
The group meets once a month at Cardiff and various locations.
Ms Histon-Browning said that because free screening for breast cancer did not start until women reached age 50, young people had to take the responsibility themselves.
‘‘Make sure you check your breasts,’’ she said.
‘‘I never in a million years thought this would happen to me.’’
– Jacqui Jones