Lorna

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Age at interview
70

Lorna (70 years old) has worked as a residence manager and is married. She has one grown child who lives in another province.

Lorna received her diagnosis in 2005 and has since had a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. She chose not to have reconstruction as she did not want any further surgery. For several years, Lorna had been recommended to do follow-ups after her routine mammograms as they kept on seeing things. But one day, in November, she felt a lump herself, and went to see the doctor. She feels very lucky that she was then treated very rapidly. She saw the surgeon for a biopsy and the test results were positive for breast cancer. Two days later she had her surgery. Lorna had already undergone a lumpectomy in her other breast before and no cancer was found at that time. However, with this recent finding, she preferred to have a double mastectomy as she didn’t want to worry about the risk of breast cancer anymore. Throughout her treatment and care, Lorna was surrounded by a great network of healthcare professionals as well as her friends and church community. Lorna, for example, was brought home after chemotherapy by volunteers working at the cancer centre and she also had support to learn how to do her make-up during treatment. After 5 years of follow-up in the cancer clinic she was told that there wasn’t really a need any more for her to continue the follow-up. She felt relieved to know she was OK but sad to leave the support she was receiving through the cancer clinic. Lorna still has massages once in a while to help reduce the lymphedema although she usually has sore ribs and painful muscle contractions as a side effect from the treatments. Lorna has been cancer free for almost 10 years now and she worries sometimes about recurrence, but mostly it is not on her mind.

Time since diagnosis
6 - 10 years
Phase of treatment
Remission

Text transcripts

I had a really bad cold all winter in my sinuses and I was almost convinced myself that it had to be cancer... because how can you not? Especially when they kept track of you for so close, for so long. I think everybody I’ve talked to, that’s gone through it thinks like that. Right away that’s what it is. And, of course a lot of our friends have cancer in different areas too... so you try not to, you try not to dwell on that my goodness.

I think just to be there, if the person wants to talk fine, if they don’t want to talk that’s fine. Try to keep it light, don’t dwell on things that have. That’s what I appreciated, when they come in and they talk about other things. But it was really funny because say I’m sitting here and I’ve got this, I had bandages back then and I’m sitting here and you’d see them looking... I don’t know, just keep it light, keep it just friendly and light but if the person wants to talk about it then just listen because that means there’s probably something they need to get off their chest… literally… more

Interviewer: When you had the mastectomy did you have your reconstruction straightaway or was it after?

No I didn’t want it. I didn’t want it and it’s funny because the doctor left a lot of tissue thinking that I would so it’s not the prettiest sight, but it doesn’t bother (my husband) any and that’s all that matters, right? Yeah, So this side (of the chest) there’s nothing, this side there’s some tissue.

And he said “Oh, I thought for sure you’d want to have reconstructive surgery.” I said “no way I don’t want to go, I don’t want to be put to sleep again… more

I took my daughter in to see it, the (radiation) machine, I said to her “It looks like Star Wars because it’s all these lights and everything. This big round thing and all these lights”. She walked in and the girl was showing her the machine, and I said, “Yeah and when it starts up it all lights up with all these different lights and everything.” My daughter says to me, “I’ll wait outside mum.” but I was fascinated by it. It’s almost like a CAT scan (Computerized Axial Tomography Scan) but bigger and it goes over like this and back and forth and they have to put little tattoos and then I… more

I guess one of the things you can say is your normal has changed. It’s a new normal now, this big vein here where all that stuff went up was really bad. It’s still bad but that kind of scared me. I thought it looks like it’s going to break. They said it’s a new normal, my arm swells up. I do get really bad cramps in my back and in the front where this is, where the cancer was, so I guess they’ve... I don’t know what they’ve done to the muscles. They’ve obviously cut some of them. Then my arm, this arm is numb here from it. Chemo left me with numbness in one toe on each foot.