Breast Cancer in women

Penny - Interview 52

Female
Age at interview: 47
Age at diagnosis: 37

Brief outline: Penny was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, aged 37. She had a mastectomy, radiotherapy, tamoxifen and Arimidex. She also had her ovaries removed and has been clear of cancer for ten years.

Background: Penny is a married training development manager. Ethnic background/nationality: White British.

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Penny was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, aged 37, after finding a lump. She had a mastectomy shortly after diagnosis and further surgery to remove her ovaries. Penny said ‘As an extra precaution, because of it being oestrogen positive, they wanted to remove my ovaries as well. So straight away I just said, “Yes, just do whatever.” Now I was in a fortunate position. We don’t have children but we had already made our minds up that we weren’t having any children. So to lose my ovaries wasn’t a big thing, which I appreciate it would be to many people.’ Penny was also prescribed tamoxifen for five years and given radiotherapy.
 
Having her ovaries removed led Penny to have an early menopause, including hot flushes. She said it was difficult to tell whether she was having menopausal symptoms or whether these were side effects from taking tamoxifen. After five years on tamoxifen, Penny was prescribed Arimidex. At the time of interview, she had been taking Arimidex for almost five years and would find out at her next follow-up appointment whether she would be staying on or stopping it.  
 
Penny chose not to have breast reconstruction as she did not want a long operation and recovery. She was also unsure how happy she would be with the results. She wears a prosthesis and is happy with the range of mastectomy wear now available. She said that, compared to ten years ago, there is a lot more and better mastectomy wear than when she had her surgery.
 
Since recovery, Penny has been involved in a lot of breast cancer awareness raising, including fashion shows and photographs for a magazine about breast cancer.
 
Penny has re-evaluated her life since having breast cancer and, having worked very long hours for some time, now wanted to spend more time on the things she enjoyed. This included further study and saxophone lessons.

Penny praised the support she’d received from her breast care nurse, her husband and family.

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