“We can recover together,” Two strangers become fast friends after cancer surgery

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Cancer is a devastating diagnosis, but, if you’re lucky, you’ll find some blessings along the way.

Two Oklahoma women recently found friendship in the fight against cancer.

Folk artist, Camille Harp-Young is living the dream on stage, but off-stage she has been waging a private battle with breast cancer.

She has a strong family history on both sides of her family.

Harp-Young found out last year she has the so-called breast cancer gene BRCA-1.

“When I turned 40 I went straight for a mammogram and genetic testing because my mom was diagnosed at 46,” said Harp-Young.

Her first mammogram was clear.

Months later, MRI showed non-invasive ductal breast cancer.

Camille had her ovaries removed and then scheduled a double mastectomy.

Jessie Yancy was only 38 years old when she found an irregularity in her left breast.

Her first mammogram confirmed she had invasive ductal breast cancer.

“I was diagnosed after finding a dent, a contour change, in my left breast that I had ignored,” said Yancy.

Camille and Jessie both chose double mastectomy and reconstruction using their own tissue from the lower abdomen to rebuild their breasts.

“Take my breasts,” Yancy said. “I’m ok with that. But I want to wake up and be here for my children.”

Both of them prepared for surgery by leaning on a good friend for moral support.

The same good friend, as it turns out, introduced Camille and Jessie the night before surgery.

Camille and Jessie discovered not only were they having the same procedure, but they were scheduled on the same day, at the same hospital, with the same team of surgeons.

Then, on the day of surgery at Integris Lakeside Women’s Hospital, Jessie received a friendly text from Camille’s husband.

“He said my wife told me about you, and I want to make sure you’re ok, and I want to let you know Camille is ok,” remembered Yancy. “And then he texted, ‘We’re in room 17.’ Well I’m in room 16. How fun is this?”

Bosom buddies, side-by-side, on the hardest day of their lives.

“It was so nice to have someone to go through that process with,” Yancy said.

“We can be anxious together, and we can recover together,” said Harp-Young.

The two new friends are all smiles three days after surgery.

Camille and Jessie are both cancer-free now, and they are sharing the kinds of things only a survivor sister would understand.

“My whole Pinterest page is tattoos,” joked Yancy. “Oh. I know a tattooist for nipples,” laughed Harp-Young.

The women have decided they will face tattoos and treatment together.

The American Cancer Society recommends annual screening mammograms at age 40. Mammograms are the best tool for early detection of breast cancer.

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