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Interview 23

Age at interview: 45
Age at diagnosis: 44
Brief Outline: Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000. Underwent a mastectomy and was given chemotherapy and Tamoxifen.

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Explains that she expected the news of her diagnosis and treated the illness as a minor...

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Explains that she expected the news of her diagnosis and treated the illness as a minor...

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I wasn't surprised.

I did say to the surgeon' "That's exactly what I expected you to say. Now what are we going to do?" I don't think at the time I actually realised how severe cancer can be, not having had any close relatives suffer from cancer or you know anybody.

But as you go through the treatment so you learn more. But I mean I never cried, never cried about it or, I'm too matter of fact I think for that. I just sort of thought' "Well, you've got it girl. Let's just get on with it. "Let's get this sorted, get the next 12 months over with and then get back on with your life," really.

You just have to get on with it. You haven't got any option. It's happened but there's no point in asking why because nobody knows the answer to that. So you've got to just go through it and get on with it.
 
 

Describes the tests she had to diagnose her cancer.

Describes the tests she had to diagnose her cancer.

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First I found a lump in my left breast.

And for two weeks I ummed and ahhed and was very undecided as to whether this was a lump or whether it was something I was imagining. But I'd got a week off work coming up so I decided to go to the doctor's. And the doctor referred me to the hospital. And within a fortnight I was at the hospital having a biopsy and a scan.

Yes, I had a needle biopsy which involved the consultant putting a needle into the lump and taking a sample from the tissue. And I had a mammogram which is a little bit uncomfortable but not really painful. And I had an ultrasound scan. So I had those three tests done on the same day within about an hour or so.

And it was a needle biopsy? It was a needle biopsy.And then you had an ultrasound scan as well? Yes, yes.Can you say a little bit about that?

That's just a case of they pop the, a little bit of jelly onto your boob and run the camera over where the lump is, and try to get a picture of what's inside there.
 
 

Explains that her husband was supportive and she is pleased with the appearance of her scar.

Explains that her husband was supportive and she is pleased with the appearance of her scar.

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When we came out of the hospital, my husband said' "Have you got any idea which operation you want to go for?" And I said' "I'm going for a full mastectomy." And his answer was' "I'm pleased to hear that." So he was totally in agreement with me, which was absolutely ideal.

What does the incision look like now, the scar now?

Brilliant, brilliant, it's very neat, very tidy, it's white and you just get used to it really. It's not ugly, it's a nice tidy job.

And do you mind looking at it?

No, not at all.

Do you mind your husband looking at it?

No not at all, no, no. When I first I had it done yes, I did feel deformed. And I think possibly some of that was because I'd had the infection. But when you're feeling better, then things are not so bad. So now that all the treatment is behind me, no I don't mind the scar.
 
 

Explains why she enjoyed her hospital experience.

Explains why she enjoyed her hospital experience.

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So there was myself and another lady having it done that evening and we got to be quite friendly. We used to go wandering all over the hospital and I must admit, this sounds awful, but I really enjoyed my time in hospital.

I had, this lady and myself, we became friends and we had a good time. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We used to have cream cakes at midnight.

And one night we went down to the ground floor where they've got a machine that does chips and beef burgers, and we had that.

I mean it wasn't very nice but it was a little bit of an adventure for us I suppose. And I was fine, absolutely fine in the hospital.
 
 

Explains why she decided to have a mastectomy rather than a lumpectomy.

Explains why she decided to have a mastectomy rather than a lumpectomy.

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I decided to have a full mastectomy because I wanted to give myself the best possible chance. So that was to get rid of all the breast tissue which meant that if there was, if there wasn't any breast tissue there, there wasn't much of a chance that anything could grow back.

And possibly also avoid radiotherapy by having the full mastectomy. And I did actually avoid radiotherapy, so that was good.

And I did have those ten days or so to think about it, and not once during that time did I waiver from that decision. If I was going to be deformed then it was a case of "well let's be properly deformed, not do half a job".

And I did think to myself that it would be so much easier to fit a prosthesis onto the flat chest wall, as opposed to trying to fiddle around with bits and pieces, trying to get round half a boob type of thing.

So that was, you know, another consideration.
 
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