Claire was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease when she was 16 and 22, and more recently with colorectal surgery 6 years ago. She received surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy for her Hodgkin’s disease, and surgery for bowel cancer.
Claire was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease firstly when she was 16, and secondly when she was 22. She also had bowel cancer 6 years ago, which may have been caused by the radiation therapy for Hodgkin’s disease when she was younger. Nowadays, she feels as healthy as anyone else her age. Although she knows that having had cancer is in her mind, it doesn’t rule her life and she doesn’t mind talking about it.
Her recent bowel cancer was treated with surgery, which removed part of her stomach. This has affected what she can eat, as some foods upset her stomach and she can get reflux. Her spleen was removed as a treatment for Hodgkin’s disease which means she still has to be careful to avoid infection or viruses that are in the general community. She has to take penicillin every day. Sometimes, her scar tissue from the operation she had for bowel cancer aches or gets painful which sometimes makes her worry that her cancer might be recurring.
Having had cancer has led to some positives in her life. Claire feels that she has a very relaxed outlook on life which means she doesn’t get too stressed or anxious. She thinks that being positive really helped her through each cancer diagnosis, even though it was sometimes difficult to stay positive, especially when feeling very poorly.
She is currently working as a marketing manager, and has been in the company for 10-15 years. Her employers were supportive about her taking as much time off as she needed to recover. The second time she had Hodgkin’s disease she was passed over for a promotion because her employers thought that as a result of having had cancer, she might not be able to deal with the pressure. She was disappointed as she felt fit and capable of doing the job, and subsequently, the following year, left her position.
She’s not sure if the term cancer survivor is appropriate, because sometimes whether you survive or not isn’t always to do with your own ability to get through it, it can also be down to the kind of care that you have received.
Her message to other people with cancer is to try and stay relaxed and not get too stressed. Her advice is to do the things that make you feel good and try and do things that make you feel positive.