Chrissy Turner Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The world’s youngest breast cancer survivor has joined forces with Aster DM Healthcare’s # PinkwithAster breast cancer awareness campaign to send a message of inspiration and fearlessness to survivors in the UAE.

Meet Chrissy Turner from Utah, US, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 8 and underwent mastectomy of her right breast tissue to stop the spread of the cancer to the lymph nodes.

In a video message to the women of UAE, Turner, now 11 and in remission, said: “It is important for women to stay strong and know they are not alone.”

Turner’s story can send chills down the spine of the most seasoned breast cancer specialist. Turner first discovered a hard painful lump below her right nipple at the age of 8. Her parents, both cancer survivors - Annette, from cervical cancer survivor and Troy from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma - did not take the complaint lightly and took their daughter for screening.

However, the oncologists were not able to act immediately, but the Turners persevered. Eventually a third oncologist diagnosed Chrissy with Secretory breast carcinoma, which affects one in a million people. Treatment started immediately after that and in 2015, Turner underwent mastectomy.

Annette, her mother, told Alisha Moopen, the CEO of Aster and Medcare Hospitals that Chrissy would undergo breast reconstruction in a couple of years when she is officially a teenager. Turner also said that her daughter was a happy child and was inspiring other women to fight their disease and embrace life. The Turner family has strengthened its bonds through cancer and all four of them, including a 15-year-old daughter Brianna, who never had cancer, enjoy every moment of life.

Chrissy Turner first discovered a hard painful lump below her right nipple at the age of 8. Her parents, both cancer survivors, took her for screening.

Moopen who was inspired by Turner’s amazing resilience and optimism, lauded the tough fight the young girl put up. “When it comes to children, we always look at them fondly as they are the future and the torchbearer of hope for a better tomorrow. Chrissy’s story is incredible. She confronted the painful reality of cancer at the tender age of 8 when she should have been playing with dolls,” said Moopen, adding: “Chrissy fought the battle with cancer with a strong spirit, and is a true inspiration to millions of survivors today.”

On this breast cancer awareness month, Moopen, urges every girl and woman, young and old, to be brave like Turner and not fall prey to the ostrich policy. Stage 1 detection has 100% survival rate, 5-year stage II survival rate has almost 93 per cent. “Let us ensure we keep our eyes open to the disease so that we can fight it from the beginning.”

What is Secretory Breast Carcinoma?

Dr Arun Warrier, consultant medical oncologist at Aster hospital, explained: “Secretory breast carcinoma, also called juvenile carcinoma occurs in the age group of 8-25 years. It is a Triple negative carcinoma. It is a slow growing breast cancer, which is actually more common in younger patients. It is called secretory breast carcinoma because of the abundant secretion of mucin within the tumour. This type of cancer is localised and if detected in time, the prognosis for complete cure is very good.”

It can be treated with surgery and the individual does not require radiology or chemotherapy. The cancer is so rare that there are only a few anecdotal references in medical literature and therefore no definite record of its prevalence, added Dr Warrier.