CLINTON -- From the moment the surgeon walked through the door, Jamie Abshire's life would be forever changed.
The wife and mother of two was concerned about a lump in her breast that wouldn't go away. A biopsy confirmed her worst fears. The lump was cancer, and Abshire was told it was feeding off her hormones. She was diagnosed with HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) breast cancer. HER2 is a gene that can play a role in the development of breast cancer, according to breastcancer.org.
At the age of 30, Abshire didn't think breast cancer would be among her list of concerns. Instead, she thought she would be busy raising her two children, ages 6 and 9.
She had also returned to college to earn a degree in the health care field and was working on starting an archery club for youths.
Three years ago, Abshire said, she discovered two lumps in her breast that were deemed fibrocystic, a condition that causes the breasts to feel lumpy, bumpy and painful.
"The last few months, I noticed that one of the lumps wasn't shrinking after my cycle as it usually did. I went to the doctor, who immediately sent me for another ultrasound and got me an appointment with a surgeon, who was booked out for a month, the next day," Abshire said.
"That's when our world changed. From the moment she walked in the door, she suspected from the size, shape and ultrasound that this was cancer."
Abshire was told she needed chemotherapy to shrink the tumor. She argued against it but relented when she was told she would die if she didn't have the treatment.
When the five-month chemotherapy treatments are over, Abshire will have a bilateral mastectomy followed by daily radiation for six weeks. However, this is all pending the approval of her insurance company, which Abshire said is calling this a pre-existing condition.
"This is very frustrating to me, and my family feels like my life is in the hands of money," she said.
"The doctors say I need this treatment now. When you're young and diagnosed with breast cancer, it is very aggressive and fast growing. I don't have time to wait on insurance companies. I have two young children who need their mom."
Breast cancer in young women is uncommon, although not unheard of. Between the ages of 30 and 39, a woman's risk is 1 in 233, said Dr. Catherine Babcook, medical director of the Breast Imaging Center of Excellence at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden.
"The youngest woman I have diagnosed with breast cancer was 17," Babcook said. "Although it is uncommon in younger women, it can happen to anyone."
Dr. Robert Harris, a radiation oncologist at Ogden Regional Medical Center, said a woman's lifetime risk is about one in eight.
Harris and Babcook both recommend mammogram screenings begin at the age of 40 -- unless there's a strong family history, such as a mother or sister with breast cancer before the onset of menopause -- in which case, a woman should begin screening sooner.
"No one else in my family has breast cancer," Abshire said. "And I just got the results back from the genetic testing, and I don't carry that gene. The doctors just don't know why I got it.
"Breast cancer is not often diagnosed in younger women, but it's very possible to get it when you're young. The doctors said you would think this would be better than getting it when you are older because you are younger and stronger, but they said it is just the opposite. It's worse because it's so aggressive."
Abshire urges all women to press for an answer if they are concerned about a lump.
"If I could do it all over again, I would have demanded a biopsy the first time to be sure if it was cancer at that time," she said.
"Biopsies are scary and can be painful, but it could also save your life."
A benefit yard sale for Jamie Abshire will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot of Clinton Elementary School, 1101 W. 1800 North. Funds will help pay for cancer treatments. You can also follow her progress on Facebook: search Jamie's fight against breast cancer.