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Christine - Interview 29

Age at interview: 61
Age at diagnosis: 42
Brief Outline: Christine was diagnosed with breast cancer 18 years ago when she was 42. She received chemotherapy, radiotherapy to her breast and to her ovaries (which led to an early menopause), a mastectomy and tamoxifen. Cancer is no longer a part of her life.
Background: Christine is married with two children. She is retired. Ethnic Background: White British.

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Christine was diagnosed with breast cancer 18 years ago when she was only 42. She received chemotherapy and radiotherapy to her breast and ovaries to stop oestrogen production. Due to the radiotherapy, she went through an early menopause which was one of the hardest parts of the whole experience. She went on an acupuncture trial to help her with worrying, panic and fretting due to early menopause, which she found quite good as it made her feel quite chilled. She also went on a tamoxifen trial, and she stayed on the pills a bit longer than usual.
 
Christine also had a mastectomy, which was not discussed with her before her breast operation. Because she had a mastectomy she finds it difficult to find nice clothes that will fit her, however, she can get three pockets put in things a year for free to adjust her clothes for her prosthesis. She didn’t have breast reconstruction as she didn’t feel it was necessary, and she didn’t have the time to go for another operation. 
 
Had two small children when she was diagnosed, who were both in school when she was diagnosed. Christine joined a breast cancer support group after her treatments, but felt that she outgrew it and stopped going. She did find that it served its purpose at the time she felt like going. She didn’t really worry, and still doesn’t worry about her cancer which she thinks helped her through. Cancer is not a part of her life anymore. 
 
 

After having a mastectomy for breast cancer Christine finds it difficult to obtain suitable...

After having a mastectomy for breast cancer Christine finds it difficult to obtain suitable...

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I think mainly, it’s being feminine. There are no clothes, you can’t wear v-necks, too low v-necks, and you can’t wear this and you can’t wear that, because you haven’t got a boob, and either I could have had breast reconstruction but, as neither my husband or my children ever seemed to be bothered about what I looked like, I never bothered to go for it. So that was the end of that really. So I didn’t bother about that but I could have done. But even today I find the clothes a problem, and swimwear, and there’s no point in looking in fashion magazines because none of them are ever going to be any good for you, unless you’ve had reconstruction, and then there’s the scarring, because you’ve been, on my side I can see the scar underneath my arm. 

 

Christine attended a local breast cancer support group for a while after her treatment; it was...

Christine attended a local breast cancer support group for a while after her treatment; it was...

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I did, after I had all my treatments, join a breast cancer support group at [local Hospital] and I used to go down there with other ladies, and they used to have, you know, treatment people come, you know, Alexander technique. I can’t remember what the little flower things are, different flowers and reflexology and things like that. So that was good and, as I say, everybody was together. But it was also quite depressing in that some of them didn’t, who went to that group, did die, so it was depressing from, you know, but you can’t just live with survivors all your life, can you, if you see what I mean. You have to meet the ones who don’t survive as well so, yeah, but that, yeah, well, that helped at the time and then I sort of felt I outgrew it really, in a way.
 
So when did you stop going to that?
 
I can’t remember how long I went to it, quite a while. I got friendly with a lady and we used to go together. But no, I probably, you know, the children took most of my time really, and the ice skating and things like that, because we were going on cross countries, doing that, so it took up a lot of our time.
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