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Interview 02

Age at interview: 57
Age at diagnosis: 54
Brief Outline: Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998. Had a lumpectomy and was given chemotherapy, radiotherapy and Tamoxifen.

More about me...

 

Comments on the increased risk of developing breast cancer if other family members have had it.

Comments on the increased risk of developing breast cancer if other family members have had it.

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I would like to know why we all get breast cancer, you know. I think we all go through, when we're diagnosed, you go through just about everything as to the reasons why.

I have talked to the genetics department about whether in fact my daughter and my sister's two daughters are sort of, may well get breast tumours, and both of my sister and myself it was post-menopausal, so it wasn't, it wasn't sort of earlier than that.

But evidently last, the year previously to when I spoke to them, they said that if there had been 3 members in the family that had had a breast tumour then they would've deemed us to be an at-risk category. But because of budget cuts they now had to increase it to four, which I thought was quite interesting (laughs).

So all I can do about the girls in the family is that they should be checked regularly and I think I'd probably tell the whole world that they should be, all the women in the world that I meet that' "Have you examined your breasts? Do make sure that you do. "I do on a regular basis. And go for breast screening when it comes along as well."
 
 

Describes switching off from the news of her diagnosis.

Describes switching off from the news of her diagnosis.

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It was a very strange experience.

I felt as though I was sitting in the corner by the window, it was rather like an out of body experience, and when I came back, you know, I came back to reality, I kept trying to put myself back in the seat I was in but I kept going back to the window again.

I think everybody thought I was taking it very well, I was very controlled. And fortunately I had a friend with me again because at that point I switched off completely.

I heard, I've always heard that people seeing a doctor can switch off from bad news, I actually didn't realise I'd done it but I'd had one sentence came out of him and I completely blanked.
 
 

Explains that she now works part time to enable her to do more of the things she enjoys.

Explains that she now works part time to enable her to do more of the things she enjoys.

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I felt great relief that I'd got through it and I wanted to get on with my life and I wanted to do all the things that I'd planned to do.

I had, my lifetime dream was to go to Peru and Bolivia which I was going to do the previous year and had to cancel.

And my goal was that, this was January when I finished, that I was going to go and do this in September, and I was going to get fit, and I was going to go and so I did.

And I've been and I've done that (laughs) in fact. So that was a wonderful experience and I've done lots of things since.

I think the one thing I have done is I stopped working full time and I'm now working in a job share so that I have more time for me, so I can go out and meet friends and do the things I want to because it makes you look at the world and your life in a different way.

 

Discusses the break up of her marriage under the strain of her illness.

Discusses the break up of her marriage under the strain of her illness.

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Then I had a month off when I finished chemotherapy, before I started radiotherapy.

And, I suppose at that point, I knew, at that point, that my husband emotionally had left me, at the end of the chemotherapy. It puts relationships through quite a lot of strain. I didn't really understand that then. I know a lot, lot more about that now. I think particularly, I think men do find it difficult. Maybe we as women do so much and are there as this sort of, maybe a mother figure a lot of the time.

But he, he found it so difficult and from that moment, before I started radiotherapy, he wasn't there for me, which was very traumatising at the time. And I knew he was depressed and I knew he wasn't coping but he wouldn't, he wouldn't go and see anybody. So that, that was, that's been a huge hurdle to get over. And I think I'm just coming out of the black tunnel now.
 
 

Comments that she gained weight as a result of taking tamoxifen.

Comments that she gained weight as a result of taking tamoxifen.

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So you were taking that throughout all the chemotherapy and radiotherapy as well?

I took it, I've taken it all the way through and I'm still taking and it's now, gosh it's nearly, it's 2 years since I finished my treatment now. And I'm still taking it and I've only missed it one night, which I think is quite good (laughs). So yes I take that.

How do you feel about taking that every day for a long, indefinite time period, perhaps?

I don't mind at all. I've read up, read quite a bit about. I think it's, I think it is invaluable. I think it's one of the drugs that is proved to be doing some good, so I'm happy. I mean it does make me a little bit into blob woman. It does put on some weight but, you know, again it's a small price to pay, to be, to be alive and to do all the things I want to do now.
 
 

Describes the sleeve she wears for her lymphoedema.

Describes the sleeve she wears for her lymphoedema.

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I actually didn't know that you can actually, you can have your surgery and you can have a perfectly normal arm that's not swelling at all and it can come anything even to 20 years it can appear.

Mine came last year and I have got a sleeve I wear at the gym and when I'm gardening and doing housework but I don't wear it at any other times.

And if my arm is a little bit bigger I think I've got the confidence now to say well I've got a bigger arm on one side, who's going to notice?

If they do, if people do notice it, you know, it can be difficult sometimes for clothes, if I put on a jacket and suddenly find it's a little tighter on that arm.
 
 

Discusses her feelings while attending for radiotherapy.

Discusses her feelings while attending for radiotherapy.

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I went through radiotherapy, that was, that I found more difficult than chemotherapy. And I think it was the fact that for every day, every day in the week, Monday to Friday, I had to go through a door that said 'radiotherapy'.

I had to sit with quite a lot of different people, some looking very ill, some looking very well. A lot of people that wanted to talk. There was no counselling available there and people wanted to talk, there were so many that had problems.

And you have to undress every day to have, to have your radiotherapy and eventually after the first week you get used to it but I, I found that difficult. I think it was, I was facing my diagnosis every day and perhaps I hadn't before. I was treated very sensitively, very caringly, I was always covered up on the breast that wasn't having the treatment.
 
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