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Interview 37

Age at interview: 57
Age at diagnosis: 52
Brief Outline: Ovarian cancer diagnosed in 1998 following breathing and bladder problems, weight gain and bloating, and changed bowel habits. Treated by surgical removal of both ovaries and abdominal fluid, chemotherapy, then hysterectomy and further chemotherapy.
Background: Retired special needs coordinator teacher; married; 2 adult children.

More about me...

 

She was glad to be alone when given the bad news.

She was glad to be alone when given the bad news.

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I was too ignorant really to think anything about it. I just know it was a very long corridor that I walked from where the surgeon was to where I had to get in the car and drive home. But I am glad I was by myself because I am a person who can cope with my own emotions better than having to try and cope with somebody else's at the same time.  

You know, it must be difficult for people who take others and get bad news. People deal with it in different ways. I mean, now I am amazed that there was so little [information], that's why I got involved with Ovacome and started taking information into hospitals. 

And in the Midlands we have brilliant... it covers about a tenth of the country, and all [of] the consultants, the oncologists, the specialist oncology nurses, they all meet together three times a year and I am invited as a patient representative, you know, and that is wonderful that you are there on the inside, you know. Trusted to talk to the people and say what you think without being critical, but just to be involved. Just to be involved, yes.

 

The Macmillan nurse helped her communicate with her mother.

The Macmillan nurse helped her communicate with her mother.

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Yes, but it was very difficult with my mother. My mother was ninety and she believed that primary cancers can be cured, secondary cancers kill, and because it was advanced then I had a problem on my hands, and I didn't say anything that day or the next, but then large bouquets of flowers arrived so I had to break it to her that they were coming for a reason. 

So that is how I got through to talk to my mother, which was very difficult because obviously she would have been the one who would rather have had it than me, but I had a lot of help from my Macmillan Nurse because mum found it difficult to say things to me, so the Macmillan service was brilliant because I could talk to her about what mum could say to me or encourage mum to say things to me rather than just look at me as though I was sort of, not really a freak but, you know, just being lost for words, finding the right words. 

So Macmillan was brilliant, absolutely brilliant, and they still are. I still have the same nurse looking after me.

 

She decided to follow a special diet after reading a book on the subject.

She decided to follow a special diet after reading a book on the subject.

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Over the period of five years I've looked at Reiki and reflexology, but the other area which I picked up on after about twelve months was the area of diet. I heard about a person called Patrick Holford and he has done a lot of research to back up this work on diet and cancer and what affects it and what doesn't affect it. 

So I went on a day seminar with him and was extremely inspired and tried as far as possible, again taking on board another theory which is that you should eat according to your blood group, so if you take your blood group along with the different kinds of diet and then try things for yourself, things that will suit you and make you feel good... So we got Patrick Holford.

So did you do that?

Did I do that? Yes. Oh yes I think... that's what I was going to say is that it's the ones that... I'm actually a hunter gatherer because I am an O positive group, and therefore it isn't really wrong full stop to have meat but I am very careful where I have my meat from and make sure that I know the source of  where it's come from or make sure that it's organic. 

So as far as it's possible organic food is top of the list. If you can't get organic then you can get other things and wash them carefully and what have you, but if you can use organic foods you do and I try to do without a lot of wheat or dairy. 

So therefore instead of having milk I've had soya and soya products which have got just as much calcium in as milk has and okay beef is dairy but if I really feel like a piece of steak then I'll have a piece of steak because my body is telling me something so that's how I handle it, without feeling guilty, because I think a lot of people feel guilty about them giving themselves the cancer by what they are putting in their body.

 

She was admitted to a ward for several days so that a morphine dose schedule could be worked out...

She was admitted to a ward for several days so that a morphine dose schedule could be worked out...

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Since I've celebrated my five year anniversary, it seems to have been a milestone and since then people have been coming to visit me more. The GP has started coming to the house just to call in to see how I am because she is concerned about the stage that I have reached, and the Macmillan nurses and the oncologist, they are all concerned about the stage I have reached as well. In fact a few days ago I had to go onto the ward. I was captured by the oncologist. She wouldn't let me go home because I was in denial about the pain that I was in. And so I was taken on the ward for several days and I've started on a regime of morphine. 

So with this regime of morphine comes a lot of mental pictures because people immediately think 'right, you're on morphine you must be getting nearer to the end', I mean, although it's just being used as a pain control it's obvious from the nurses reaction that that's how they are treating me. But the only way I can treat it is by saying 'okay I'll let the morphine do the job that it's got to do, but my job is different, my job is trying to leave memories for the rest of the family'.

 

People sent her cards, flowers and good wishes, and paid her compliments, which made her feel...

People sent her cards, flowers and good wishes, and paid her compliments, which made her feel...

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So have you had lots of support from friends and relatives and colleagues?

Oh, absolutely brilliant. The other room is similar to this one and people sent me cards and flowers and goodness knows what, and they would all go up on the window. This was the first time, and there were over two hundred cards all over the room and I wouldn't take them down until I was in remission. So I had all this power and all the energy and all the love coming to me. 

So, I mean, I have been so well blessed by friends and relatives and neighbours and people, when you've got cancer they are honest with you, they tell you what they think about you. They tell you what you have been like during your lifetime, what they have admired you for, what silly things you have done, you know, everything comes out. It's sort of... it's all in the general arena. 

People, you know, it's not like, people can live and die and never be told how wonderful they are. You have cancer and people come out with all kinds of things, which is good. It makes you feel good about yourself.

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