As students whizzed through final exams and prepared for winter break last December, Kezhal Shah-Hosseini received life-changing news.
At 22 years old, the senior journalism major found out she had cancer.
“It wasn’t a great feeling, especially at this age,” she said. “I’m supposed to be going out with my friends. I’m supposed to be graduating from college.”
A lump that appeared on the right side of her stomach was first diagnosed as fibroids, but upon further examining, CAT scans confirmed ovarian cancer.
Hosseini is one of many young adults affected by cancer, which the second leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds. Nationally, about 10,000 young adults are diagnosed each year.
“I think oftentimes college students come to college and they are focused on education, on this new opportunity in their life, this new time in their life and they feel like they are invincible,” Suzy Lockwood, director of TCU’s Oncology Education and Research Center, said. “Surely nothing like this could happen.”
Lack of awareness among students sparked Lockwood to bring 15-40 Connection to campus.
15-40 Connection is an organization designed to empower “individuals with knowledge that will save and improve lives through early cancer detection,” according to the organization’s website.
Hosseini was not a member of the club while she was undergoing treatment, but she said she is glad it is raising awareness about cancer in young adults.
For now, 15-40 is focused on expanding beyond students in science disciplines. The club is currently working with Housing and Residence Life to display self-check shower cards in all residence halls.
“The sooner you find your cancer, if you do have cancer, the sooner you spot it, the faster you can get the treatment, the better chance you have of not having a recurrence, and the better chance you have at surviving,” she said.
As of March, Hosseini is cancer-free.
She said she is anxious to return to school, graduate and continue working toward becoming a television host and anchor.