One in thousands: 25-year-old Wauwatosa woman battles stage 3 breast cancer
WAUWATOSA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The American Cancer Society says the risk of developing breast cancer in your 20’s is extremely rare—actually less than an eighth of a percent.
One 25-year-old Wauwatosa woman was left shocked after she was diagnosed with aggressive stage 3 breast cancer last month—she had no family history of it either.
“It’s a call no one thinks they’re gonna get at 25,” said Taylor Keaton, diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.
Taylor was always on the forefront when it came to helping others who are battling cancer. In fact, she’s donated her own hair to cancer patients—six times.
“Started in middle school and then my last time donating was in college,” said Taylor.
But it didn’t stop there. In college she became an ambassador for Love Your Melon, who donates knitted hats to children fighting cancer.
“I got to dress up as a superhero and go into the hospitals and see the kids' smiles on their faces,” said Taylor.
“She’ll never ask for a single thing from anybody but always will give the shirt off her back,” said Brianna Keaton, sister of Taylor.
It’s no surprise Taylor’s career path has led her to become a research coordinator for the Cancer Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
“Pursuing cancer and oncology in my career really stemmed from doing Locks for Love, doing Love Your Melon,” said Taylor.
And while she’s devoted her life to spreading awareness and helping others fight cancer, she never thought today she’d be on the other side. She remembers the call on Jan. 12.
“At 8:20 a.m. I got the call that changed my life,” said Taylor.
“I didn’t understand why it was her and I even asked her like - why you? - like why is this happening,” said Brianna.
Taylor’s heart sank hearing the news because she knew she was an anomaly. One in thousands.
“When it shows up this young in anyone under 40 really – if it shows up under 40 it’s gonna be an aggressive type of cancer and it needs to be treated immediately,” said Taylor.
“To have a case like Taylor's where we have no genetic mutation, no family history and develop a cancer at the age of 25—so this is very rare—it does not happen very often,” said Surgical Oncologist Dr. Caitlin Patten at Medical College of Wisconsin.
It all started when Taylor felt a lump while she was changing after work.
Her mom had a history of non-cancerous breast cysts, so Taylor’s doctor thought it may just be a cyst.
“She’s like it’s probably a cyst, probably nothing to be too concerned about with your age—no family history—but let’s just do the ultrasound,” said Taylor.
That ultrasound turned into a mammogram, then biopsy.
After three biopsies, it was determined Taylor had stage 3 breast cancer and it was aggressive. The cancer had already spread to her lymph nodes.
“This cancer they said could’ve been in me for a year, just growing, and I had no idea until it became invasive and actually formed the lump,” said Taylor.
“I was scared I was gonna lose my best friend and my baby sister,” said Brianna. “But with her strength, honestly, she helped me.”
Taylor is undergoing intensive chemotherapy and will be for the next four months before surgery. But she wants her voice to be heard.
“The standard of care is women at 40 start doing the mammograms, but to me, I think it should honestly be earlier,” said Taylor. “It’s so hard to see breast cancer in young women because of how dense the tissue is.”
“The only person that’s gonna advocate for you is you, and you just need to be empowered that if things aren’t feeling right and it’s not feeling right in your body that you go get the help you need,” said Dr. Patten.
And with no family history, her genetic cancer or BRCA testing wouldn’t be covered by most insurance companies.
“Like I had no family history,” said Taylor. “I think every woman's insurance should cover that BRCA test from anyone from puberty on, I mean it could save so many.”
With a long road ahead of her, Taylor’s got a strong support system.
Her father, brother and boyfriend all shaved their heads the same day she did—February 9th.
“I don’t have a strong connection with my current hair,” said Taylor. “Not to say that it’s s still not gonna be very traumatic when my hair does start falling out from the chemotherapy, so I want to be proactive with it.”
And on Sunday she was surprised with $3,000 for her medical bills after her best friend nominated her to an organization called ‘This Time Tomorrow.'
“It just really goes to show that like Wauwatosa and just the community I grew up in is such a tight-knit community and everyone cares, everyone reached out,” said Taylor.
Through it all, Taylor isn’t letting cancer stop her from living her dreams.
She wants to go to grad school for clinical psychology so she can make sure others who are battling cancer can keep a healthy mind.
“Just being able to incorporate the mental health aspect to that is so intriguing,” said Taylor. “I mean I see a therapist now since being diagnosed and it’s significantly helpful.”
“There’s no way in her mind that she’s not beating this,” said Brianna.
To help with Taylor’s growing medical bills, CLICK HERE.