Gaye (57 years old) is married and has four grown children. She is working as a coordinator in the agriculture sector for the government.
Gaye received her diagnosis in 2009 and is now in her fifth year of taking Tamoxifen. Long before her illness, when her third child was born, Gaye describes having an out of body experience feeling that she was near death. She therefore feels that she has had the chance to live an additional 30+ years as a sort of special gift. This is one of the reasons why having breast cancer at this stage in her life doesn’t upset Gaye too much. On top of that, Gaye feels that she has been lucky to have lived a life full with experiences and opportunities and therefore feels that it is better that she was the one to develop breast cancer, rather than a young child or young mother. Gaye has the capacity to find a lot of humor and laughter in her experiences as a breast cancer patient and feels that this is an important aspect of healing and a way of living with the illness. Despite this, Gaye experienced challenges during her treatments. Gaye lost her taste sensation following her chemotherapy and she would love to get this back. Gaye has seen three doctors so far to ask them to prescribe marijuana for her as she noticed that this helps bring her taste back. She has been unsuccessful so far. Gaye strongly disapproved of the approach taken by the first surgeon she saw who proposed to do a double mastectomy immediately. She understood his reasoning, such that she could develop cancer in the other breast, and that this was a good opportunity to redo both breasts at the same time because her breasts would get ‘more saggy’ anyway while ageing. Gaye told the surgeon that she wasn’t that vain and found another surgeon. Gaye feels worried that health care professionals may affect patients’ decision-making through such information that causes fear. Gaye would like to let women know that as breast cancer survivors they should feel elated that they have come this far and that it is great to still be alive and to be able to tell your story.