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BT - Interview 15

Age at interview: 65
Age at diagnosis: 64
Brief Outline: Was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. Did not require any further treatment following mastectomy other than tamoxifen.
Background: BT is a self-employed debt collector. He is married and has 2 adult children. Ethnic background' White British (English).

More about me...

 BT found a lump in his breast whilst showering one day. He was unsure what it was and immediately showed it to his wife who thought it better to get it checked out by the doctor and he saw him the next day. 

 
He was shocked and unprepared when he received his diagnosis and was on his own when he was told. He had to phone his wife and tell her because he did not want to return home unexpectedly. By the time he had returned his wife had phoned their children and they all met at home to discuss what to do. A few days later a breast care nurse visited them at home and answered any questions they had and discussed the genetic risk to the rest of the family. He also received some male specific information. 
 
He decided to be open with everyone because he felt keeping secrets could lead to more problems than being honest. As a keen rugby player throughout his life he continued as an active member of a club and had no problems showing his scar in the communal showers and talking to other members about his cancer. Most of his friends and associates were very supportive although some people made hurtful comments about being diagnosed with a woman’s disease. 
 
He found the clinic environment embarrassing, sitting amongst the women, particularly when he was having his biopsy and sitting in a pink gown. However, he had a very supportive family and close friends who kept him busy, and did not feel he needed any further support. He enjoyed escaping to his caravan to relax. He still works part-time to keep his brain active although he thinks that once he had been given the ‘all clear’ from the hospital he may retire. 
 
 

BT explains that the mammogram is uncomfortable but not painful.

BT explains that the mammogram is uncomfortable but not painful.

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 They did one-

 
A mammogram?
 
[Laughing, mispronouncing word] Mammo- they did that. And then yeah, then they said “oh we’ll take a sample”.
 
Right.
 
I think I had to go back a week later for them to take a sample.
 
Right.
 
And then, a week later after that to get the result.
 
And how did you find the mammogram?
 
Strange. But, interesting because obviously all the- technicians and what not, all the nurses, they’re all female that are doing it. And, I mean the first time they did it I said, “Oh you’re going to struggle here”, and she looked at me and she said, “Your breast is bigger than some of the women!” [Laughs] So I said, “Oh all right then”. So she said, “We won’t have any problems”. But I found it difficult, you know, you put your- hand behind you and you push, get on and push. One way or another, so that you- then you squash it all up and it’s-
 
Is it painful?
 
It’s not painful it’s-. Nah, it’s not painful, it’s just uncomfortable but not painful. And it don’t take long, it’s very, very quick.
 
Okay. And then you had the biopsy the same day?
 
No, as I say, I went back a week later.
 
Oh you went back-. Right okay. For that?
 
And I think it were a week after that, then they sent for me again and said we’ve got some bad news.
 
When I- when they did the biopsy and I went, I expected them just to say “oh fine, everything’s okay-“
 
Did you know at that point that cancer was a possibility?
 
Oh yes.
 
You did know.
 
Oh yeah.
 
But you just didn’t think it’d be-
 
Oh no, no, no, no. It’s- no you don’t. I suppose some people might have, but I didn’t. I just thought it were- it’s just one of those things that’ll go away. I mean even when they did tests- they did mammogram and then they did tests you know they have this machine, and they push and shove, and then they go round, there’s been many a time and they looking at the screen, and they said, “Oh there’s a lump, oh that’s all right”. And there were one time, we were having a laugh about it, cause she says, “Oh you’ve got a couple of lumps on this side”. She said, “Let’s have a look at them”, oh she says, “Oh that one’s all right. Oh that’s great”, so I said, “What’s that”, and she said, “Cause I’ve just shifted that right over your breast”. [Laughs] She said, “It’s down the bottom but it’s gone to the top now”. She says … “So we won’t worry about there”. So, you know, but that sort of thing you get, the sort of, all the time trying to relax you and, brilliant.
 

BT felt embarrassed whilst he was waiting in a hospital gown for his biopsy.

BT felt embarrassed whilst he was waiting in a hospital gown for his biopsy.

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 And I went to [name of hospital] for a biopsy, and that were embarrassing.

 
Was it?
 
That were very embarrassing. Well you can imagine that you’re sat there in a dressing gown, in the waiting room, full of women and they’re all looking at you and thinking, what’s he doing here? [Laughs] So that, that, you know, I mean that’s one drawback I’ve got when you go for the thing, you’re sat with women. I’ve… Obviously when you go for check-ups, there’s husbands with them and what not, so they don’t know really. But when they call you they know that it’s you. But that’s a little bit embarrassing 
 

BT said he had never been as frightened as when he got in to his car just after receiving his...

BT said he had never been as frightened as when he got in to his car just after receiving his...

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 What happened is that they diagnosed it, and then [name of the surgeon] brought in a Macmillan nurse and he said “from now on she’s in charge, she’ll take you through everything and do everything”.

So, she talked me through it then she said, “Do you understand?” I’m being blasé and you know, I said, “Yes I understand it”. She says, “You don’t”. I said, “Oh yes I do”. She says, “You don’t”. She said, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do”, she says “next Tuesday” - this was on the Friday. She says, “Next Tuesday I’ll come up to your house. If you can get your family together and we’ll go through it. And if you’ve looked at the back of that breast cancer thing, there are questions. She says, “Write down”, she said “when you get home”, she said “peace and quiet, write down any questions you’ve got and I’ll try my best to answer them“. “Okay” I said, fair enough. So we arranged that. I walked out to car and that’s when it hit. Oh! And I’ve never been as frightened. I’ve had some injuries and that, but I’ll never been as frightened. And the first reaction is, I’m going to die. I mean the big C, it terrify- well as I say, it hit me about an hour later. And I actually sat in the car, I was- I went to hospital and then I were going to go to work. I actually sat in the car for about three quarters an hour, I daren’t move, I were just a wreck. And then I decided well I aren’t going to go to work and, better come home. So I thought, well I’d better ring home first because if I just pull up, there’ll be panic set in. So I rung home, explained the situation then came home.
 

BT felt that the only side effect that he had from tamoxifen was tiredness. He now takes it at...

BT felt that the only side effect that he had from tamoxifen was tiredness. He now takes it at...

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 The only thing it’s doing with me, it’s made me tired. That’s the only downside. Apart from that, I haven’t noticed anything different. As I say, I do know that a lot of people have a lot of problems with tamoxifen. And some, there’s a lot of women, they can’t take it or the side effects are horrendous. Now whether, you know obviously the side effects that the ladies get is totally different from what we would get anyway.

 
Many a time she’ll say to me, “Have you taken your tablet?” cause I forget. So what we do is last thing at night, that’s when I take it. Cause originally I used to take it in the morning, and by afternoon I were absolutely buggered. [Laughs] So now we take it on a night and sleep it through.
 
And has that made it better?
 
Oh yeah, I think so. Cause as I say I still am tired during the day, but it’s made it a lot better-
 
Good.
 
-I think most of the effects of the tablet I probably sleep through. I dream a lot, whether that’s owt to do with the tablets I don’t know. I dream a lot of rubbish.
 
Right. More so than before?
 
Oh yeah, I think so. But that again, I also put that down to age. 
 

BT felt embarrassed when he had to wait for his biopsy in a dressing gown, surrounded by female...

BT felt embarrassed when he had to wait for his biopsy in a dressing gown, surrounded by female...

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 I went to [name of hospital] for a biopsy, and that were embarrassing.

 
Was it?
 
That were very embarrassing. Well you can imagine that you’re sat there in a dressing gown, in the waiting room, full of women and they’re all looking at you and thinking, what’s he doing here? [Laughs] So that, that, you know, I mean that’s one drawback I’ve got when you go for the thing, you’re sat with women. I’ve… Obviously when you go for check-ups, there’s husbands with them and what not, so they don’t know really. But when they call you they know that it’s you. But that’s a little bit embarrassing.
 

BT found that everyone at his group supported each other. They were going through the same...

BT found that everyone at his group supported each other. They were going through the same...

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 Oh yeah. I mean everybody in that group-

 
Men and women.
 
Men and women. Everybody were all supporting one another, and when you were doing your individual things, you know, everybody’ll come out and watching and encourage you and things like that. And that is the beauty of it, is that the people, I suspect not only with breast cancer, but it’s probably the same with all cancers, the people that you come into contact with, have been there, done that, and are going through the same traumas and the same feelings as what you’re going through, and can relate to those feelings. Where, as I say, a lot of people that haven’t had it, obviously sympathise and what not, but you know unless you’ve been there, then obviously it’s a different ball game, you know so-.
 
I mean you talked about the [Breast Cancer Care] fashion show and the camaraderie there, but do you think in the wider sort of breast cancer group that that’s true between men and women, do you think that-?
 
I think between the- yes I think everybody-
 

BT has a big scar but is still happy to do sport and strip off. Rugby people are used to scars....

BT has a big scar but is still happy to do sport and strip off. Rugby people are used to scars....

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 Has it stopped you doing anything I mean would you…?

 
No. No, no it hasn’t stopped me doing owt.
 
I don’t know whether you went swimming anyway, but do you still go and take your top off or- when you’re at the beach do you?
 
Oh aye, I strip off. If I go anywhere I strip off. Oh yeah. And when I were running touch, after a match, obviously it’s a community shower room, so everybody’s in there, and everybody’s buff naked. So you know, it’s just part of it. If anybody asks you just tell them.
 
Right. And did people ask?
 
Well. Yeah, you just got a- “oh what’s that then?” “That’s a good scar” or- “that looks neat”, or something like that. I mean basically, we- rugby people, they’re that used to knocks and bumps and cuts and bruises and broken legs and that, all it is virtually, “that looks nasty” or that- you know, “that looks as though it were painful” and things like that, but they don’t- basically they don’t go into it. It’s just- they just accept that that’s a thing that’s happened and off you go. 
 

BT had been told that he didn’t have a breast, but a chest or ‘pecs’. He had felt that breast...

BT had been told that he didn’t have a breast, but a chest or ‘pecs’. He had felt that breast...

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 When we started the study, we were using the term ‘male breast cancer’ and we came across some people that didn’t like that term. I was just wondering if you have any opinions on it?

 
No, no. Apart, as I say, the only thing you’ve got, is… the feeling of, it shouldn’t really happen to men. That’s the only feeling you’ve got. And the- as I say one of the reactions, probably seen it before is why me? (Dog barking in background) ...people explain, the experts explain it to you then, you know, you start to understand. It is, I mean obviously it’s still a rarity. I mean there’s not that many, so that’s possibly one reason why it’s not aired as much, it could be. I suppose it’s the fear factor really, in a lot of these things.
 
But as a term you don’t mind it so much?
 
No. Well I say I’ve got breast cancer. And I mean I’ve had people say to me, “you don’t have a breast, you’ve got a chest, you’ve got pecs, you don’t have a breast. So what is it?” Basically we’re all the same. 
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