'No one is too young, no one is too fit': At 23, Bald Ballerina fights advanced breast cancer

'No one is too young, no one is too fit': At 23, Bald Ballerina fights advanced breast cancer

Source: NBC's Today Show

A dancer since the age of 4, Maggie Kudirka knows the grit, discipline and focus required to become a professional ballerina. Now the same drive that kept her dancing may be what keeps her alive: at 23 years old, Maggie, who trains and performs at the prestigious Joffrey Ballet School, was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. “I want to make people aware that breast cancer can strike anyone, at any age. No one is immune, no one is too young, no one is too fit,” she says. Breast cancer is rare in younger women — fewer than five percent of all breast cancers diagnosed in the U.S. occur in women under 40. But a 2013 study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that while it’s a relatively small number, metastatic breast cancer tripled among women younger than 40 between 1976 and 2006. Dr. Abby Rosenberg, an oncologist and medical leader of Seattle Children’s Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program, says self-advocacy is especially important in young adult patients because they less likely to see a doctor regularly, and they have the lowest rates of medical insurance. "These are people who are generally supposed to be healthy and most of the time a lump in the breast isn't a big deal. But, cancer does happen in young adults and when it does, we need to figure out how to take care of them, from a medical and developmental life standpoint," Rosenberg says.

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