Diane – Interview 11

Diane was diagnosed with breast cancer and received a lumpectomy, radiotherapy and hormone therapy. She experienced extreme tiredness for a few years after her diagnosis but feels back to normal now. She thinks that her cancer has affected her family just as much as it has affected her.

Diane was diagnosed with cancer after a lengthy diagnosis period as both her GP and hospital doctor could not feel her breast lump. Due to the delays, she was diagnosed on Christmas eve, and decided to tell her daughters after Christmas. She wonders if those delays shaped what happened in the long-term and might have saved some anguish and worry amongst her family in the long-term. Because of these delays around her diagnosis, she is more likely to get a second opinion on any health problems if she is concerned about her care.

She feels that cancer has had a long-term impact on her, and is always at the back of her mind. However, she does think that some of the long-term effects are within her family, who still worry about her and bring up her cancer in conversation. Although her family were quite close before her diagnosis, she feels that her cancer diagnosis and survival might have brought her family even closer together. They are more likely to do things that they may have otherwise put off, for instance, going on holidays.

Diane was offered a mastectomy, but decided to have a lumpectomy instead. She had to wait six months for radiotherapy due to a shortage of radiographers. She sometimes worries that the delay in radiotherapy might come back to haunt her.

One of the main impacts that cancer had on her life was tiredness. She thought that the tiredness may have been due to the hormone therapy and the doctors switched her drugs but with no effect. She had to go part time in her job because she was so tired, and thinks that it took her about two years to get over the constant tiredness.

Diane was stung by a hornet, which swelled and caused lymphoedoma and cellulitis on the side she had the breast cancer and lymph glands removed from. The cancer clinic gave her a lymphoedoma sleeve, which she finds quite effective and sometimes wears if she is doing gardening.

She felt that her hospital follow-up appointments were sometimes quite rushed, and that she didn’t have the chance to talk to the nurses or consultants about how she felt. It would have been helpful if she had been given information on what to expect from then onwards or how to access information.

Her message to other people with cancer is that you can beat it, and just live your life.

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