YouTuber Tess Christine is opening up about her breast cancer diagnosis at age 30.
The New York City–based beauty and lifestyle vlogger, who gave birth to her first child Theo last year, shared that she had gone dark on the video sharing site for more than a month after receiving the diagnosis, but is now ready to talk about her journey.
In her new YouTube video about the situation, which she titled “Life Update, Breast Cancer,” the new mom explained, “I feel like I could have maybe kept you guys in the dark about it, but I also felt this overwhelming sense of responsibility to bring awareness to this because of the way it happened, and because I have a very large female audience on all of my social media, and I feel like it is important to tell you my story, and where I’m at.”
Christine went on to explain that she first suspected something was wrong when she felt pain while breastfeeding Theo. Initially, she thought it was a blocked milk duct in her left breast, but found that the problem persisted even when she did was not producing milk. She sought out a doctor who believed she may have a harmless cyst; however, when she went for further testing, learned that it was a malignant tumor.
“I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma,” she continued. “After that it felt like a blur, but I knew I had to move quickly after I was diagnosed. I had doctors calling me non-stop. I went in and got an MRI, and there were additional findings, which made my heart stop. They thought they found something in the lymph nodes, and they saw something in my right breast.”
Fortunately, Christine shared that both were “benign.”
“My right breast is fine, and it had not spread into my lymph nodes, which was so great to hear, because it was probably the first good news that I had gotten in a couple of weeks,” she explained.
While it was only necessary to have a single mastectomy, of her left breast, Christine chose to have a double mastectomy to prevent anything cropping up with her right breast, and also to be uniform, as she opted to have reconstruction surgery with implants.
While the next potential step in her recovery — which could include chemotherapy — has yet to be determined, the vlogger teared up as she shared how grateful she is that her cancer is “curable.”
“I’m just so grateful for my doctors, and people who take their time to learn and study this stuff and help people and save lives,” Christine shared. “This experience has been so humbling for me in so many ways, and it happened all so quickly. I think what helped me get through all of this in the past month is the support of my family, my friends, and my amazing husband, and Theo. I’m so thankful he’s healthy. I really focused on that when I was getting all my calls and all my results. I was like, ‘I’m so happy it’s not him.’ My heart goes out to mothers who are going through this with their children. I felt like I could handle this, but I felt like if it was Theo, I would trade places with him.”
According to Cleveland Clinic, about 5% of breast cancer occurs in women under 40. Typically this cancer can be more aggressive than breast cancer in older patients. Though not always the case, younger breast cancer patients are often more likely to have genetic mutations that cause cancer. For these high-risk women, it is recommended to begin regularly having mammograms at 25, rather than at 40.
In addition to telling her story on YouTube, Christine also took to her Instagram account to share her gratitude with her more than 716,000 followers.
“I feel incredibly lucky with a super team of radiologists, surgeons and oncologists that are helping me survive this,” she wrote alongside a series of photos which included pics from her time in the hospital. “Not to mention the support from my incredible family and friends who have gone above and beyond making me feel loved. This wasn’t something that felt natural bringing to social media as it is probably one of the most personal topics I’ll ever share with you but I felt that raising awareness to the majority of women that follow me is so important. In doing so, I also hope that if you or a loved one is going through something similar, you feel less alone. This year has been the hardest yet but whatever is next for me, I’m ready.”
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