Not too young for breast cancer

Around 12,000 women younger than 40 are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer each year. ghd tells us more in its new campaign.


Haircare giant ghd has partnered with breast cancer charities globally for 15 years and raised over $19 million with their annual October campaigns. To celebrate their 16th year, they are raising awareness that breast cancer affects women of all ages, along with the importance of self-checking.

11 incredible women diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 35 wanted to share their inspiring stories for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Here, we feature the words of Shevelle and Toral, who discuss their journey to taking control and not being defined by breast cancer.

As women, we effortlessly check our hair everyday but not our boobs - it’s time to take control now!

Shevelle Copeland-Kelly

Shevelle Copeland-Kelly

Diagnosed at 28

Tell us about the moment you first discovered there was a problem?

I first discovered there was an issue the last weekend in June 2019, just before a girl’s trip to Dubai. I was lying on my friend’s bed complaining about feeling fatigued and sleepy all the time. I then had my arm in a really awkward position and subconsciously stroked underneath my breast where I found the pea size lump. At that moment I never thought it would be cancer I just assumed it was cyst or something. However, I couldn’t let my mind rest and called my GP on the Monday who then told me to come in for examination on Tuesday. I was then referred to the hospital where a biopsy was done and within a week I was told the dreadful news that I had breast cancer.

Did you ever think that breast cancer could affect you? If not, why?

Breast cancer was not something I really thought about. My grandma had passed away 18 months prior of breast cancer but I still didn’t believe my situation would be that. I had never met anyone my age with cancer and the media makes you believe you have to be of a certain age to get it. So I just did not think at 28 years old that would be me. I never really paid any attention to cancer because I just thought you either had to be of the older generation or really young.

Have you learned anything surprising about yourself in this process?

I have realised I am braver than I thought. I am much more confident than I believed, I have found a new passion in spreading awareness for such a dangerous disease. I initially wanted to keep this situation to myself as I felt a sense of embarrassment about my situation, but after being involved in a few projects I realised the world needs more people of different ages and ethnicities to spread informative information. What’s the one thing you would say to young women out there who are not currently doing regular self-checks?

Take a moment to feel your body, early detection is the key to survival. Once a month in the shower or whilst watching TV anywhere possible really. Whilst we can’t prevent it we can definitely manage it. So if something doesn’t feel right go and speak to your GP.

Toral Shah

Toral Shah

Diagnosed at 28

Tell us who you are, your age and a little bit about your story?

I’m a nutritionist and founder of The Urban Kitchen. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 29 while studying for an MSc in Nutritional Medicine, specialising in cancer.

A few years after my mum had been diagnosed and treated for the same disease. “My whole world was falling down around me and my plans were way laid whilst I came to terms with what was happening to me”

Tell us about the moment you first noticed a symptom of breast cancer?

It was during my studies I found a lump in my breast. It was breast cancer, which was an incredible shock. It made no sense, I was under thirty, committed to a healthy lifestyle and I was even training for a triathlon. I felt too young to lose a breast.

How have you used your experience for the better?

The more we can educate the public and health professionals, the more we can share the pool of our resources and knowledge, Campaigns like this will help people to have an earlier diagnosis by checking their breasts and make positive lifestyle changes to help prevent all forms of cancer.

How important is self checking?

Doctors put my early diagnosis down to my own self-examination. I’m sad to say though, that in September 2018, I was diagnosed with a recurrence of my original breast cancer. I found this by knowing my body and checking both breasts thoroughly every month.

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