7-year-old Chilean Maura Muñoz’s story has shocked the world. Doctors diagnosed the Quillota-based child with breast cancer, making it a “1 in 400 million” case. Her mother, Patricia Muñoz, explains no one “ever told her this could happen,” as the family braces for the next steps. At this point, Muñoz says Maura suffered metastasis to her lymph nodes, and also underwent a mastectomy last December.

Maura’s diagnosis is heartbreaking— and deeply rare

Maura Muñoz’s case is devastating and is a severe anomaly. Pediatric oncologist Francisco Barriga told La Nación that “the majority of women with breast cancer are diagnosed between 50 and 60 years old. Younger than that, it’s less frequent.” But a 7-year-old? It’s deeply, startlingly rare.

Meanwhile, president of the Chilean association for cancer patients Felipe Tagle said “there’s no other case in the world that’s similar” to Maura’s. He recalls one 10-year-old girl from the United States who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. “That was a 1 in 200 million case, and Maura’s case could be 1 in 400 million.”

Maura’s mother, Patricia Muñoz, sat down with Primer Impacto to talk about the first signals her daughter had breast cancer, and everything they’ve been through since. Muñoz recalled giving her daughter a bath two years ago, when she was five years old. “I bathed her, and when I was putting lotion on her, I noticed a lump under her nipple.”

Maura’s mother knew “something was wrong”

She remembers “knowing that something was wrong,” because “as a woman, and mother, you know that’s not normal in a little girl.” Even worse, she immediately had a feeling it was cancerous.

La Nación reports that Muñoz took Maura to see a doctor in Quillota, who did various tests on her daughter. They noticed the pathology was not normal, and could grow more. Still, she says they “never told her” this could happen.

Muñoz told Univision that her child began to show other symptoms: the nipple changed color, bled, had discharge, and grew.

One year later, in September 2022, Muñoz found out her daughter had breast cancer. After that, they studied Maura’s lymph nodes, where they found metastasis. By December, the parents authorized Maura to undergo a mastectomy.

Today, her mother is sad and angry about Maura being “mutilated”

The mastectomy has deeply impacted Maura’s mother, who explains: “My daughter is mutilated… that’s my sadness, my anger, because of a bureaucratic system that sometimes leaves out diseases that need urgency.”

Muñoz says this, because as Primer Impacto explained, the family has dealt with health insurance issues since the very beginning. Why? “The health insurance doesn’t contemplate a minor in the breast cancer spectrum… and only covers treatments from 16 years old” and up.

Heartbreakingly, La Nación also reports that the family suffered delays in diagnosis for similar reasons.

Today, Muñoz describes “pain” when she thinks about Maura’s mastectomy. “The only thing [Maura] tells me when I take her to the oncologist is she doesn’t want to lose her hair, but she doesn’t understand the part of not having her breast.”

Experts explain that there is no precedent for Maura’s condition at her age, so the next steps are an unknown, difficult process. That being said, as reported by Univision, Maura will undergo chemotherapy.

Her mother Muñoz explains how she felt “imprisoned” and “lost” because she knew “no one” would listen. She asks God, “Why Maura?”

She fears something even worse happening every day, or a worse diagnosis. Still, all Maura wishes for is “to go back to school” to see all her friends. Moreover, her mother is still “hopeful” Maura will be cured.