Samantha Cosentino, 23, recently walked into a bicycle shop in her hometown of Chico, with her head hairless from chemotherapy treatments. A clerk asked about her shaved head: "What did you do, lose a bet?" in a glass-half-full sort of way.
To the clerk, Cosentino looked healthy and radiant. But this twenty-something is battling stage 4 breast cancer and is preparing for radiation and another round of chemo at Stanford Hospital.
Last year, Cosentino inspired a leadership class at Marsh Junior High in Chico with her battle with breast cancer, She had told a local newspaper that, at first, doctors refused to take her and her tennis-ball-sized tumor seriously. She pressed forward and finally found a doctor who understood that even young adults can be vulnerable to cancer.
A group of girls from the class went on to organize a fundraiser to help Cosentino pay medical bills. Just last Saturday, they raised about $1,600, said their teacher, Lisa Reynolds."The girls are all walking on cloud nine with the great feeling of helping someone in need," Reynolds said.
Cosentino, who had chemo before surgery and is now starting a round of radiation with a year of chemotherapy to follow, "is a little interview shy at this point," Reynolds said.
But for an idea of what she's going through, see this video from The New York Times about the paper's "Life, Interrupted" columnist, another twenty-something bravely facing the disease and writing about it.
VIDEO: This New York Times video shows Life, Interrupted columnist Suleika Jaouad as she reflects on how cancer affects young adults.