Indy woman diagnosed with breast cancer in her 30s

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INDIANAPOLIS – People across central Indiana are putting a spotlight on breast cancer including one woman sharing her personal story.

Ivy McConnell-Stubbs led the local Komen Foundation’s Pink Fashion Show in early October, however, the day before the show, she was getting chemotherapy.

It has been 1 year since Ivy found out she has cancer. She tells FOX59’s Beairshelle Edmé that diagnosis, no matter what, is shocking, but especially when you're in your 30s.

Ivy is a newlywed chasing happily ever after with her husband, Chris. Getting down the aisle wasn't a fairytale. Just the month before the bride-to-be lost her mom to ovarian cancer.

“You just don`t know if you don`t go through it,” Ivy said.

Nearly a month after her wedding, IU doctors diagnosed Ivy with HER2-positive breast cancer, one of the most aggressive forms.

“The moment the radiologist looked at my cells she said, 'Oh, it`s cancerous!’,” Ivy said.

Photo provided by Ivy McConnell-Stubbs

A biopsy confirmed it was breast cancer. Her mom fought that too.

“I was more stunned and in shock more than anything,” Ivy said.

The national cancer institute says women have a less than 1 percent chance of getting breast cancer in their 30s.

“Ivy is also African American and she also has a genetic mutation and a gene called BRACA,” Dr. Tarah Ballinger, a IU breast oncologist said. “Both of those things increase the likelihood of developing breast cancer at a younger age.”

That's what Doctor Ballinger had to explain to Ivy. Typically, women under 40 make up 5 percent of all breast cancer cases, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

“I think it's a common misconception both among young women, but also sometimes among physicians that the likelihood of getting breast cancer is so small that surely that can't be what this is,” Dr. Ballinger said.

Ivy's husband had that misconception too.

“My grandmother she passed of breast cancer, but she was older. She was in her 60’s,” Chris Stubbs said. “She was fighting it and lost her life. I didn`t know it was a thing for younger women.”

While the couple fights Ivy's cancer together, chemotherapy has brought a new set of challenges.

Photo provided by Ivy McConnell-Stubbs

“The chemo was breaking my body down from the inside out,” Ivy said. “It took one chemo session-- just one and all of the sudden it was coming out bit by bit.”

Hair loss isn't ivy's only chemo side effect.

“Chemo and some of the pills we use can really affect ovarian function. It can either delay fertility or result in infertility overall,” Dr. Ballinger said.

Because of how advanced and aggressive Ivy's cancer is, she couldn't get IVF before starting chemo.

“I wasn`t even thinking about my life. I was thinking how can I be a mother, how can I continue knowing that I have cancer at this age and part of my life,” Ivy said.

Doctors have taken the measures they can to protect her ovaries, but the couple won't know if that worked until she's in remission. Even with the uncertainty, the Stubbs say their faith gives them hope.

“Sometimes it was like okay get out the bed Ivy... Let's get out and walk around just because I am so young I don`t want to have this cancer beat me, I want to beat the cancer,” Ivy said.

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