While the prevalence of women’s breast cancer varies significantly by race/ethnicity, an earlier age-onset of breast cancer incidence, specifically among Asian and Asian American women, have warranted more research and public outreach for early screenings and mammograms, and education on the risk factors.
In this episode, we follow the personal journey of one young cancer survivor and advocate, Jeannie Karkowski, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 30. In the face of stigmas and struggles with her bi-cultural identity, she discovered the power of her own voice, as well as a support network that has helped her to heal and contribute to the community.
About Jeannie Aejin Choi Karwowski
Jeannie was born in South Korea and moved to the US with her family as a teenager. She married the love of her life at the age of 28. She was later diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 30 as she was planning to have her first child. She endured many treatments (chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation) for nearly two years. Jeannie is now on long-term hormone therapies and looking forward to leading a healthy and happy life.
Jeannie actively participates in support groups for breast cancer, such as Living Beyond Breast Cancer and Lay Breast Health Advisors of Dana Farber Cancer Institute, to help promote young women’s health in her community.
She recently completed the Project LEAD Breast Cancer Advocacy Training Program of the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) and participated as a rider for the first time in Tour de Pink East, hosted by the Young Survival Coalition. Nationally, she plans to continue participating in NBCC’s lobby day for breast cancer public policy advocacy and research panel reviews for the cure. In her spare time, she plays the piano and enjoys outdoor activities with her husband. With her degree in Biomedical engineering, Jeannie hopes to go back to school to find cures for breast cancer, serve cancer patients with love and compassion, and provide evidence-based guides and resources for patients and caregivers.