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Teen Girl Develops Breast Cancer at 14, Inspires Community

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You might not think that breast cancer can strike the very young, but that isn't the case. This made it even harder for 14-year-old Ashley Roby to come to terms with the lump that she had found in her breast in the shower one day. She kept the secret for months, assuming that the lump would resolve itself, but when it started to grow she still didn't say anything. After undergoing a double masectomy in February, she is now speaking out about breast cancer and the fact that it can affect the very young, too.

Ashley's breast cancer as a rare form known as a phyllodes tumor, or a fast-growing version of the disease. It accounts for 1% of all malignancies. The pediatric oncologist who treated Ashley said that hers is the first case of breast cancer in a teenager that he has seen in his three years at Monroe Carell Jr. Hospital at Vanderbilt University. He also noted that only 5% of breast cancer cases are seen in women under the age of 40. Ashley kept the lump a secret for three months before she decided to tell her mom because it started to move and rotate. Soon after, Ashley underwent a lumpectomy and doctors still assured them that it was unlikely to be cancer. Unfortunately, doctors were wrong and Ashley's mother received the call that she never wanted to get–Ashley's lump was malignant. Thankfully, Ashley did not have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation, but there were large medical bills for her lumpectomy and the lost time at work for her mother.

By a miracle, Ashley's mother was approached by Sherry Whitaker, the founder of Sherry's Run, a small non-profit that gives financial assistance to cancer patients. Thanks to the aid of the foundation, Ashley's mother was able to hold onto the house and take time off of work to be with her daughter. Ashley is scheduled for reconstructive surgery on Monday and doctors will also remove additional tissue to prevent the cancer from coming back. Ashley is determined to participate in Sherry's Run 5k three weeks after her implant surgery, which is the primary funding source for the non-profit that helped her and her mom.