Columbus, OH,
19:00 PM

Young Breast Cancer Survivor Spreads Awareness

Each year, around 12,000 individuals under the age of 40 are diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States. Among those affected is Bailey Mast, whose story serves as a reminder that early detection can save lives. 

Mast's journey with breast cancer began in July of 2021 at age of 23 when she received a life-altering diagnosis of invasive ductal carcinoma. As a neonatal intensive care unit nurse, Mast was no stranger to the complexities of healthcare, but the news of her own diagnosis came with a new set of challenges when she learned she was pregnant with her son, Gatlin. 

"My initial thought, even as a nurse, was I either have to choose between carrying out the pregnancy or fighting my cancer," Mast shared with anchor Tracy Townsend of 10TV.

With the guidance of Deepa Halaharvi, DO, OhioHealth cancer surgeon and a breast cancer survivor herself, Mast found hope. 

"Deepa Halaharvi was the first person that we called, and she informed me that you can do treatment,” Mast said. “And luckily I caught my cancer very early.”

Screening guidelines recommend mammograms beginning at age 40. However, for young women in their 20s and 30s, screening is just as important, given the rising trend of breast cancer diagnoses in this age group.

Frequent screenings are crucial for many types of early onset cancers including colorectal and thyroid cancers.

“Early stage diagnosis leads to good prognosis,” Dr. Halaharvi said. “That is the message today. Be aware of your family history, know your breasts, know your breast density. Talk to your doctor, see if you're a candidate for cancer risk assessment which starts at age 25.”

Mast underwent a unilateral mastectomy and other surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy with careful monitoring of her son, who was her source of hope throughout the journey. Gatlin was born healthy in February of 2022. 

"I was definitely just worried about his health the entire time like, you know, trusting my care team that he's going to be okay and just trusting the power of prayer and that I was going to make it through too,” Mast said. “And he was the reason that I think I fought so hard. I can't imagine the journey without him now.”

Mast is now determined to make sure others facing similar challenges can take charge of their health. She advocates for proactive self-care and urges young women to trust their instincts.

To learn more about OhioHealth’s breast cancer care, click here.

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