CHAMPAIGN — Champaign mom Becky Anderson always ate healthy and figured she had her health under control.
She even passed on mammograms, thinking they might do her more harm than good.
"I never would have expected myself to get breast cancer," she said.
But she did: Stage 2, diagnosed in November 2011.
Anderson found two lumps in her right breast, and a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy confirmed it was cancer, she said.
Because of some uncertainty about something seen on her left breast, she said, she opted for a double mastectomy.
Anderson, 46, of Champaign, said the C-U Young Survival Coalition has helped her through her cancer experience.
Her husband, Loren, found the group, she said.
"My husband was calling around, what should we do, and someone pointed us in that direction," she recalls. "He got in touch with one of the members, and we really quickly went to one of the meetings that night."
The Young Survival Coalition is intended to support young women going through breast cancer and their families. The Champaign-Urbana affiliate, organized in 2009, meets the last Tuesday evening of each month at Jupiters at the Crossing restaurant in Champaign and organizes events and programs for young women with breast cancer and their partners.
Anderson said her whole family, including her two children, went to that first meeting, and the group has been a source of ongoing camaraderie and support for her and her family.
"You have a sounding board really, is what it comes down to, somebody who gets it. Not everybody experiences it the same way, but it's good to hear their experience," she said.
Plus, Anderson adds, her husband has also found support from other survivor partners.
The coalition will hold its annual young women's breast cancer symposium, You Are Not Alone, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 3 at Parkland College, Room D244, Champaign.
Registration costs $10, including lunch, and is open to anyone of any age with an interest in breast cancer — patients, survivors, caregivers, family members, health care providers and others, says symposium co-chairwoman Jennifer Smith.
It will include nutritional and motivational speaker Jim Painter and a day of day of activities focused on young women facing breast cancer, with the line up including sessions on genetic counseling, talking with your children, living with metastatic disease, and wigs and prosthesis. Plus, there will be a question and answer session with oncologists and times for yoga and Hawaiian Hula.
Registration closes Oct. 24.
To register online: http://www.youngsurvival.org/champaignurbana