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Interview 34

Age at interview: 67
Age at diagnosis: 49
Brief Outline: Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1983, underwent a mastectomy.

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Explains that she had a mastectomy 18 years ago, and this was her only treatment.

Explains that she had a mastectomy 18 years ago, and this was her only treatment.

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The doctor was extremely good in explaining what was going to be done. How I'd have a mastectomy. And I said I was going on holiday the following week, could I leave it until after the holiday and he said' "Oh no, you must go into hospital tomorrow." So in actual fact I went in the next day. I also had the operation the day after.

And I think it was, it was definitely less than a fortnight from finding the lump to having it removed. So it was very good. I was then worried that it had gone into the lymph nodes. I don't know why but I always thought if it's gone into the lymph nodes, that's it. And it was four days before they checked up on that and said no it hadn't spread.

Which I must admit I felt then, up to then I felt very much as though it was a death sentence. But knowing it hadn't gone into the lymph nodes I felt a lot better about it.

And I didn't have to, at that time (because this all happened when I was 49, which was actually 18 years ago now) and I didn't have any treatment afterwards.

I was actually in hospital for ten days, they kept me in for ten days which is much longer than you would be in hospital nowadays.

But when I came out I had, I was teaching at the time and I had, it came up to the summer holidays fairly soon after that so that I had really nearly three months with no work 

And then I did go back to work in the September. And I had no after effects at all. I really kept very fit indeed. 
 
 

Explains why she would prefer not to have to be responsible for making treatment choices.

Explains why she would prefer not to have to be responsible for making treatment choices.

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They didn't have lumpectomies so it wasn't so popular at that time.

And I know I was recommended a book to read afterwards on breast cancer and it said if you're told you're going to have a mastectomy ask for a second opinion.

I found that amusing as I'd already had mine when I read this. But I didn't think of asking for any other treatment or anything. I just took it that doctor would know, or the surgeon would know best, and I never sort of knew that there were different treatments. But I did find out, we had a talk from the breast surgeon and they sort of divided the breast up into sections and mine was right near the nipple. And apparently that area they prefer to do a mastectomy anyway rather than just a lumpectomy.

So I was quite relieved about that. I thought' "Oh well, I did have the right treatment then," you know. And I was grateful because really it's a case of a gift of life more than anything. So I'd never ever think that a surgeon was giving me the wrong treatment.

I think it's difficult for people nowadays if they're asked which sort of treatment they like because it's quite a responsibility. And often people, although the surgeon explains, I think it's often people feel they'd rather just be told what the surgeon would like to do.

Apparently nowadays that is the choice, well it is in our breast clinics - that they can have a choice of just whether they want the whole breast off, whether they want a lumpectomy, or whether they'd like to leave it to the surgeon to think what he'd like best.

And I'm sure I would leave it to the surgeon for what he thought was best if I had choices like that.
 
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