Brittney Beadle’s Battle: A Northeast PA Teen’s Fight with Breast Cancer

Be a HERO

Breast cancer does not discriminate against age, gender, race or social class. But, teenagers– able-bodied, lively, social and smiling– don’t usually come to mind when envisioning breast cancer patients. Brittney Beadle, an 18-year-old resident of Taylor, is living with stage-four breast cancer. In February Beadle noticed an unusual lump in her right breast. An ultrasound and mammogram were immediately set up to further investigate the mass, but the doctor assured Beadle that she didn’t need to worry because, “18-year-olds don’t get breast
cancer.”

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Beadle returned to school and work but couldn’t shake her concern. By May, the mass had grown very large. She knew that something had to be wrong, and scheduled a second ultrasound. That test determined the mass had grown and additional masses had developed. The doctors performed a biopsy, which confirmed Beadle’s worry– she had breast cancer. Beadle underwent a double mastectomy. Shortly after, she was given news that her cancer was stage four, meaning it had spread to her liver and bones.

Today, she endures chemotherapy every three weeks. She receives three medications, Taxotere, Herceptin and Perjeta, through a port inserted during surgery. She takes an additional medication called Tamoxifen twice a day and also gets a shot of Xgeva once a month to keep her bones strong. She looks to meditation and Reiki practices to ensure her mental and emotional well-being.

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Beadle admits her entire life has changed since her breast cancer diagnosis. During high school, she tackled an impressive 40-hour work-week in addition to preparing for her graduation from Riverside High School. Now, she is unable to work. She had hoped to attend college in Florida, but has decided to put that goal on hold for the time being and attend Keystone College this fall.

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Breast cancer even dictates how much time Beadle spends outdoors in the sun and what workouts her body can and cannot handle. Though it’s been difficult, she notes that some of the changes she’s experienced have been positive. “My whole perspective on life has changed. I look at everyday as a gift. I’m very grateful for all the small things such as just getting to look up at the moon at night,” she says. Beadle’s diagnosis has even altered her plans for the future. She decided to study biology in college and hopes to attend medical school
further down the road. She says that she’d someday like to research cancer.

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Brittney has some sound advice for women of all ages. “It is very important to check yourself often; not only older women, but young ladies as well. You’re never too young to start checking yourself because young people can – and do get breast cancer. I’m living proof. Early detection is most definitely the key. If you ever feel anything that is not right in your breast, do not be scared to tell someone and get it checked out. It is very important and do not let your doctor ever blow you off because of your age.”

Her hopes for the future include clear scans, a peaceful life, more research and treatment options – particularly in the area of stage-four cancer – and ultimately a cure. Beadle will walk proudly in this year’s Race for the Cure with family and friends by her side.

–Monika Loefflad