At 26, young Victorian Central Highlands mum Grace Bailey never considered she was a risk of breast cancer.
And when she found a long tendon-like mass under her arm after losing weight, it didn't even occur to her that it could be dangerous because the stories she had heard about breast cancer involved women finding a round marble-like lump.
Sadly for Ms Bailey, her age did not protect her from developing breast cancer and what she felt under her arm has turned out to be a triple negative breast cancer tumour - the most aggressive form of the disease.
Her first chemotherapy treatment started Monday.
I just urge everyone to check themselves really, regardless of age or gender, and if they do find a lump to not be embarrassed. I know it's awkward to go show your chest, or get a pap smear, but maybe if I had got myself checked earlier I wouldn't have to go through so much.Grace Bailey
Although still coming to terms with her diagnosis, Ms Bailey wanted to stress to other young women, and people of all ages, that they should check their breasts and bodies regularly and act quickly if they notice any changes.
Fewer than one per cent of all breast cancers diagnosed in Australia are in women in their 20s, with just 83 cases in women aged 21 to 29 last year.
"I never checked my breasts until now, and now that I know what I'm looking for I've told all the girls at work," Ms Bailey said.
"What it felt like was not what you think a lump would feel like. You think you'll feel a round marble-like thing, but this is like a long skinny tendon. How do I know what cancer feels like anyway?"
Ms Bailey had recently lost weight and about three months ago noticed what she thought was a muscle or tendon under her armpit, close to her breast but dismissed it as something that had emerged because of the weight loss.
About a month later she showed partner Chris, who was more suspect of the mass and urged her to go to the doctor who referred her for further tests.
"I still had no idea what it could be. Cancer was not even in my mind. No one my age gets cancer," she said.
Since receiving the diagnosis she has had a battery of tests and had a port, an access point for the chemotherapy drugs, put in ahead of her treatment starting this week.
Have you put off seeing your doctor during the #COVID19 lockdown? Doctors are concerned that fewer people are getting care when they need it. If something’s not feeling right, please see your GP #DontDelay#cancercareneverstops@CancerVic@RACGP@CancerAustralia@EasternMelbPHNpic.twitter.com/V85fbaMP7U— VCCC (@VicCompCancerCr) September 24, 2020
"I'm incredibly anxious but I guess excited to get the ball rolling. I just want to get it over and done with."
There will be four weeks of fortnightly chemotherapy, then 12 weeks of weekly chemo before surgery. Depending on how the tumour responds to chemotherapy will determine what type of surgery and whether further treatment is needed.
"I still don't feel like I have cancer, which is the hardest thing. All these people give me a hug or look at me sad, say I feel sorry for you, but I feel guilty because I don't feel like I'm sick so it's hard to get my head around it, but i I guess after chemo starts it will make sense."
She has been open with her colleagues at Specsavers and her friends in the hope her story can convince them, and others, to check their bodies and act if they find anything abnormal.
"They are just in shock ... and more aware that it can happen to anyone which is what I really want people to know.
"It's a crap thing to have to have, but if I can get some education and awareness it makes me feel good, like it's achieved something.
"I just urge everyone to check themselves really, regardless of age or gender, and if they do find a lump to not be embarrassed. I know it's awkward to go show your chest, or get a pap smear, but maybe if I had got myself checked earlier I wouldn't have to go through so much."
While she is too young to fully understand, Ms Bailey's daughter Billie, 19 months, knows mum is not well and she needs to be gentle around her.
To put this stat into perspective, that's over 76,000 Australians who would lose a mother, daughter, sister or wife through the next 10 years. That's why our mission of Zero Deaths from breast cancer by 2030 is more important than ever. Join us on our journey. #ZeroBy2030#BCAMpic.twitter.com/l5mHwBN6Ej— NBCF Australia (@NBCFAus) October 19, 2020
Family and friends have rallied around the young family offering support and helping raise funds for the difficult months ahead. Because Ms Bailey will be unable to work, and with her partner Chris an apprentice vinyl layer, the money is being raised to help with the day to day costs of living, medication, hospital bills, counselling and anything else they need.
"With the run we'll pretty much tally up all the kilometres at the end of the day to show Grace she is not going through this journey by herself ... to show a lot of people care about her and are there to help her through this journey."
As a big brother, Mr Bailey said his sister's diagnosis came as a complete shock.
IN OTHER NEWS:
"We didn't know what it was to start with. I thought it won't be breast cancer, it will be something else. She can overreact, exaggerate, but when she came out and said it was breast cancer it was a shock.
"I went through a bit of grief, upset about the whole thing, denial, anger at the world but we are coming together and being more proactive about it now.
"You just don't think at our age it's going to happen. You think you're bulletproof until you realise we are all mortal and things can happen to anyone."