My name is Amanda. I am 36 years old, and I am a breast cancer survivor.

I found my lump in October 2021. My husband and I had just moved into our first house in late August, and had been looking forward to a new chapter after a very tough time. Both of our mothers had been diagnosed with breast cancer earlier that same year, and the fear and worry that our families dealt with was still with us. I had been dealing with significant fatigue around that same time, but had chalked it up to the various stressors of the last few months.

So when I found the lump, I thought: there’s no way that I could have cancer, too. Not after everything else we’d been through. Not while my mom was still in her own treatment. Because of everything that had happened to our families, when I was diagnosed, I felt like I was headed into a fight with one arm tied behind my back.

The feeling I remember most after diagnosis was loneliness. The materials I received from my cancer center all had pictures of smiling older women on them. My peers were focusing on career changes, having children, buying houses. I didn’t fit in in either space. When my breast center gave me information about Gilda’s Club, I jumped at the chance to connect.

I started by attending the Breast Cancer and Young Adult support groups. These were immensely helpful for being around other people who understood. I attended Write to Heal, the monthly writing group, and when Gilda’s started offering in-person programming in the summer of 2022, I decided to drop by a fabric art class out on the patio.

That art class was a tipping point for me. I was at one of my lowest points since my diagnosis. I was dealing with crippling anxiety and insomnia, on top of a rough recovery from a second surgery. But that class lit a spark of creativity I was able to nurture and grow. I was able to start building the version of myself and my life that I needed most. That class also planted the seed of a very wonderful friendship with another Gilda’s member – another gift.

A vision board collage that Amanda created at Gilda's Club
A vision board collage that Amanda created at Gilda’s Club

Gilda’s gave me the tools and resources to process the rollercoaster of emotions I’ve been on since I heard I had cancer in November 2021. Gilda’s helped me reconnect with writing and art, two things that had been important to me when I was younger, but that I thought I had lost along the way in life. Now, I have an art studio in my basement and a laptop filled with poems. I have friends who understand. I have all of this because of Gilda’s, and continue to gain more with every program I participate in.

As a young cancer survivor, Gilda’s was and is the only place where I don’t feel like the odd person out. Gilda’s has helped me when I’ve felt my most unmoored. It’s the only place I really feel understood as a whole person. They’ve supported me at every stage of my healing, and the life I have now is infinitely richer and more fulfilling because of what Gilda’s has given me. I was not expecting to be able to say that after all that’s happened, but it’s true. I’ve gained more than I ever thought possible from Gilda’s.


  1. 1
    Mary M. Gundlach on September 1, 2023

    Well Said! Proud of You! It’sThat Word, Cancer; it can change your whole outlook in life but others don’t want to relate to your Illness! It’s your gain of bravery; you own it! Fair; no way! Why? So Young? You Will Prevail! God Bless You!

    1. 2
      Amanda on October 8, 2023

      Thank you for the kind words, Mary!

  2. 3
    Francis Tomaszewski on September 4, 2023

    I am my first year of recovery since my large intestine was made shorter.
    So you know I’m a huge fan of Gilda’s
    Now my sister has breast cancer
    She is 63 and with great spirits
    Live every day like it was you first

    Never give up…don’t ever give up
    “Jimmy V ESPN ”
    God bless…

    1. 4
      Amanda on October 8, 2023

      Thank you for the kind words, Francis! My best to your sister and to you.

  3. 5
    Brittany on September 29, 2023

    I’m endlessly proud of your bravery. I am so glad that through this darkness you have found light and found people to support you and understand you. You’re always my role model, big sister!

    1. 6
      Amanda on October 8, 2023

      Gilda’s is just that amazing 🙂 Thank you for reading this and for your support!

  4. 7
    Alyssa on September 29, 2023

    I’ve always been so inspired by you and continue to be. You’re my idol! ♥️

    1. 8
      Amanda on October 8, 2023

      Thank you for reading this and for your support! <3

  5. 9
    Greta C on October 31, 2023

    Amanda, although I would never wish cancer on anybody, meeting you and some of the other women at Gilda’s has made such a difference for me! Thank you for sharing your s about being a young person with cancer. It is indeed a different dimension being under 40 when you receive your diagnosis. I believe the future holds all the best for you and your husband. Much love to you!

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