Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 2.51.27 PMEach year more than 24,000 women under the age of 45 are diagnosed with breast cancer. Fewer than 5 percent of all breast cancers occur in women age 35 and under.

While breast cancer is a harrowing diagnosis at any age, it presents particular challenges in young women. Breast cancer and its treatment can lead to fertility issues. Young children may be present in the family. Dating after diagnosis can be difficult. Often young women who are diagnosed are at critical points in their careers.

Knowing all this, Megan Schanie founded the Young Survivors network shortly after she, then a 31-year-old mother of two young daughters, was diagnosed with breast cancer. The Young Survivors hosts regular get-togethers for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 45. These events are free and often include a survivor’s whole family. The program also provides care packages to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.

An annual auction serves as the primary fundraiser for Young Survivors.

In an email, Schanie writes, “The money raised that night will be utilized to fund all of our monthly events and other activities including sending a survivor to the national conference, cancer research donations, etc. We are a very unique group in that way and this event allows us to do many additional activities outside of a traditional support group.”

Unlike so many other cancer charities, money raised by and donated to the Young Survivors network stays local. Every penny benefits local women diagnosed with breast cancer.

This year’s event is Friday, Feb. 20, from 6-10 p.m. at the Frazier History Museum. Tickets are $15 at the door and include hors d’oeuvres and entertainment.

Author’s note: I volunteer at this event every year and was once a member of the network.

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