Nadia B

Nadia B
Age at interview
56

Nadia (B) works as real estate client manager. She is married and has two grown children.

Nadia (B) received her diagnosis in 2014. Nadia (B) first felt the lump when she checked her breasts while watching TV. The lump didn’t hurt, but it did feel hard. She called her doctor the next day and when he was not available she decided to go the emergency that same evening. She was referred for an ultrasound the next day and then had a biopsy the day after that. The radiologist told her not to worry and that it would be fine. Nadia (B) was however soon after called by her family doctor to come in for an appointment during which he told her that she had breast cancer. Nadia (B) had a lumpectomy within 11 days after the diagnosis. The results from the lumpectomy were good; her margins were clear, the cancer had not spread and only one lymph node had been removed.  Because of her specific breast cancer Nadia (B) was treated with chemotherapy, radiation and hormone therapy. Nadia (B) later learned, from her surgeon, that the lump was present in her mammography of 2012 but it hadn’t grown. It had probably gone unnoticed because of her dense breasts and the small size of the tumor. Nadia’s (B) first oncologist spent only 5 minutes with her after she had been seen by a resident. She didn’t like this kind of approach and was uncomfortable when the oncologist had to correct the resident’s recommendation for the proposed medication. Nadia’s (B) niece, who was an excellent support throughout her treatment, found another oncologist. This oncologist took her time with patients, listened well and had a good bed side manner – things that are very important to Nadia (B). Overall, she found that the staff at this hospital was kind and more interested in the patient – there seemed to be a different sort of culture. She feels grateful for the health care system in this country and appreciates the fact that she’s able to undergo treatment.

Nadia (B) had just started a new job at the time she was diagnosed. Her boss was very supportive, granted her sick leave, and then asked her to take her time and make sure she is better before she returned back to work. Nadia (B) did however feel ready to go back to work when her radiation treatments started, just to have some distraction from her illness. She is very proud that she has been able to work throughout this period.

Nadia (B) has received wonderful support from her family as well as her community and friends; her husband assumed new roles in the household in caring for her. Throughout her treatment and recovery, which was a scary time for her, she had a daily routine of prayer and meditation which gave her a lot of strength. She also made changes to her diet and continues to have booster juices every day.

Time since diagnosis
0 -1 year
Phase of treatment
Remission

Videoclips

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I was very fortunate with the chemo because a lot of people said there’s a lot of side-effects. So mostly, first of all, I didn’t feel too much nausea. It was there constantly but because I used to sleep so much it didn’t affect me as much and because I took my pills so much on time. Consistently, 6 o’clock in the morning, 6 o’clock in the evening that really helped me. So I was very consistent with my medication. Once chemo was done, I got some... they say your nails turn black. Very, very little because (name) was very good with me, they would give me a tub of ice and I put my fingers through there and it would just help me. So at the end of the chemo there was hardly any stuff. I saw some of the people who came for radiation, there was one lady who had black all over and I asked her I said “Why are your nails all black?” She said “Well that’s the hospital I go to and they’re putting ice here instead of” and I said “why would they do that?” She says everyone of us has all our nails have turned black. I was shocked so I was very fortunate, I went to (name hospital) they looked after me, they told me to put them. So that was one of the, one of the side-effects. The other side-effect was on the, I think, on my last chemo after my last, after a week or so my legs really swelled up. She said "That’s one of the side-effects."  And I had a tooth infection, so it’s very important that you always visit a dentist before you go through this and after. So I had a tooth infection and had to extract my tooth actually because it was so bad.

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I’m a very spiritual person so during the time that this whole thing happened, it was very scary. I just prayed a lot. I meditated a lot, gave me a lot of strength. There was a real miracle that I felt that happened to me during surgery. Two days before my surgery I wanted to see my previous doctor. She had been our doctor for almost 30 years, Dr. (name) and she was a wonderful doctor. She looked after my kids, she literally, she would touch my kids and they would get well just like that. She was an excellent doctor. I told my husband, I said "I really need to talk to her, I’m not comfortable with our new family doctor." And he says "Where are we going to find her." But then I heard that she had gone into surgery. So then so I said "You know what, now I’m just going to leave it in the hands of God whatever’s going to happen will happen." So on the day of the surgery I’m sitting over there and I’m saying to God, I said "Please Allah help me, give me a sign where I know that you are right near me." All of a sudden my husband is telling me there’s Dr. (name) right there.

So I, we both run to her and she says "Oh how are you doing?" She knew my kids she knew them by their names and she was very, very close to both my children. And she says "How are the munchkins?" I said "Everybody’s fine." She said Nadia I’ve heard about you and I’m going to be in your surgery. So that was a miracle and I knew God had answered my prayers. So she held my hand and she told me "Don’t worry Dr. (name) is an excellent surgeon. You will not have a problem at all, at all, at all." So during the whole situation that I’ve been through it’s been as though somebody’s been there looking after me step by step all the way.

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So my niece she, was as I told you, she’s a smart girl. She got me through this thing and I would talk to her for hours. She would send me links. She would say "You know Nadia look at these links read about it make sure you know when you go to the doctor what they’re talking about so be prepared before you go there". And my husband was there too. My mind was going crazy, I was so scared with this whole thing that some of the information wouldn’t even go through my head but my husband had a file and he had all information in there. He knew exactly what medication they would be giving me during chemo and he knew exactly what the side-effects were. So he was my support system and so was my niece. And then she sent me some links and then as I got better and I started reading a lot. And you know, one of the things they’re saying is that exercise and diet are the key things too but I did all that even before cancer.

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First thing yeah is check yourself regularly. Do not trust the health system because you have to be proactive for yourself. It’s very important and second of all just regular mammograms. Go for it, don’t delay on it, it’s important and your diet and your exercise and your consistency. And basically, you can learn a lot on the Internet and if you have any questions call them but use the good sites, the good sites which are available. And your shakes, I personally think I would give everybody advice. What I ate and what gave me strength is my juice every morning and that’s what really helped me and your vegetables and there’s a lot on the Internet what is good for you and what is not good for you.

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What I have found is that I used to look out for others rather than myself. My mother was sick, my father was sick, I used to run around for the doctors’ appointments and my kids. I ran after everything. The house, everything had to be proper. I realized that that’s not life, now I’m going to look out for myself. And I will, I would look out for my body, my mind and that’s what I think is more important. I have to become a little selfish now. That’s what’s changed about me, right. And I’ve felt that sometimes I kept a lot of things built in.

Interviewer: So you’ve felt you can release more of that?

I can release now. I can say I don’t like this thing. I can tell my husband "Can you do this for me?" I don’t feel so bad because I know he works long hours too and before I had tried to do everything myself. And now I say it if I don’t want to cook. When my son comes home "Just go get something, order out." I don’t feel so guilty anymore. So what, that’s what I feel has changed in my life.

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I found radiation was tough and I am so proud of myself that I started working right away and my boss says I could come back part-time because during the chemo time I got very depressed. It was during the Christmas time and it got me very depressed and I couldn’t I told my husband I can’t stay at home during radiation. So my husband says “Okay so if you feel like it why don’t you go to work part-time?” And so I asked my boss, my boss says “Yeah sure whatever hours you want to come in for 2 hours, 3 hours you pick your time.” So I told him “I’d come between 9 and 2.” And he said that was fine. So it and you know what it made me feel great because you know what I got control of my life. I got into a routine I dressed up I put on a lipstick I wanted to look good and I felt good. And you know what I was busy so I wouldn’t think about my sickness so and it gave me confidence, right. I went to work everybody was pleasant there and  then I would leave at 2 and I booked my appointments for my radiation between 2:30 and 3:30 so and the hospital is so close to my work it was four minutes. So I would go there do my radiation and come home. 

Interviewer: It was quick in and out. Was it everyday?

It was every single day, every single day and some days you know the machine wouldn’t work and there were some off days but most of them they were very good. And then I would just come home and take a little nap then I’d be fine and I’m ready to go to work and I did it for a whole month. And everybody told me after the second week radiation you will not be able to go to work but I did it and I am very proud of myself.

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Well, what I felt was the difference… I saw a big difference with… now I have Dr. (name) she’s a researcher, she’s a surgeon and she’s an oncologist but what a down to earth lady. She gives me hugs when I leave her office, she tells me “Everything is going to be okay. You don’t need to worry.” And so bedside manners were really important. The guy at (name) Hospital he wasn’t very…I felt he just spent 5 minutes with me and when you’re going through this, this cancer, it’s so devastating when you hear about cancer, it’s sort of… you’re whole life falls apart and you’re scared. And you want somebody, you wanted somebody, you want somebody to be right there with you telling you that look you’re going to go through this you’re going to be okay this is your treatment. I didn’t know this is the medication you’re going to be getting and that’s what he told me and that’s what we’re going to do. No explanation what are the side-effects, they give you just lots of flyers and they give you all that information. Pick it up from the website, pick it up from there. But Dr. (name) she asked me about my work. She asked me about my kids. She asked me what kind of work I do. She tried to accommodate coming from (city in ON) she tried to accommodate all the appointments. With Herceptin, with my, I have to get a MUGA scan* (Multi Gated Acquisition Scan) because with Herceptin it can cause, it can affect your heart kind of, so I have to take a MUGA scan every 2 to 3 months. So she made sure my appointments was scheduled on time together with her appointment so that I don’t keep on coming to the hospital all the time. That’s what I really liked about it. All the receptionists always had a smile on their face, welcomed you. They treated you with respect and especially when you’re going through this you need some comfort and that’s what I got from Dr. (name).

* MUGA scan: Scan that creates video imagery of the hearts ventricles to check for abnormalities and to ensure that they are pumping blood properly.

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My husband was a neat freak, so he was scared chemo and stuff like that. Of course, so intimacy goes and it’s just after my radiation. But he’s very kind, very supportive; when I didn’t want him he gave me a lot of space. There were days when he wanted to hold me, I’ll just say I need my space. He was very understanding, very... he would not impose himself on me and he gave me that space. I really appreciate that about him. So he understood what I was going through and stuff like that. It all comes back, I think, I was always worried about that, would it come back. But I think, it does come back, it does and you always hold hands. I think it’s not... sex is not... it doesn’t become that important as much as just being there for each other. You have each other’s company and you hold hands and stuff like that. I know that he is there for me and he’ll cuddle me and he’ll say everything is going to be okay don’t worry about it. We will and he always told me, he says we are in this together, we will be...He always told me, there’s one word he always used with me, it was "In sickness or in health we’re going to be together." I used to feel very obliged, I felt I was imposing if I asked him to do something for me. I felt very uncomfortable but he would do it lovingly and caring and never made me feel that I was imposing on him. He’s been very, very good to me.

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They scheduled my surgery, I think it was August 21st, I remember that really well and it was a very scary feeling. I didn’t know what was in there, but I was very fortunate when the surgeon came out, (he) told my husband that I’m going to be fine, that it hadn’t spread anywhere. It was only 1 cm. It hadn’t gone into my margins and it hadn’t gone into my lymph nodes. They had only removed one lymph node. Then she said it will be the usual radiation and chemo. At that time she didn’t tell me anything but then she scheduled an appointment for me to go in and that’s when she told me that I had HER2*(Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor-2). She said “That it’s a little risky.” She said that “you’ll have to do chemo” because I thought I’d get away with just radiation. So with HER2 I had to do chemo and radiation and I had to do Herceptin for about, I think it was 18 injections, which takes me right into October of this year.

*HER2: A gene present in cells that, in some breast cancer cases has a mutation. This mutation causes the HER2 gene to be overproduced in breast cells, causing cells to be more aggressive. However treatments that target HER2 are very effective.

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They scheduled my surgery, I think it was August 21st, I remember that really well and it was a very scary feeling. I didn’t know what was in there, but I was very fortunate when the surgeon came out, (he) told my husband that I’m going to be fine, that it hadn’t spread anywhere. It was only 1 cm. It hadn’t gone into my margins and it hadn’t gone into my lymph nodes. They had only removed one lymph node. Then she said it will be the usual radiation and chemo. At that time she didn’t tell me anything but then she scheduled an appointment for me to go in and that’s when she told me that I had HER2*(Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor-2). She said “That it’s a little risky.” She said that “you’ll have to do chemo” because I thought I’d get away with just radiation. So with HER2 I had to do chemo and radiation and I had to do Herceptin for about, I think it was 18 injections, which takes me right into October of this year.

*HER2: A gene present in cells that, in some breast cancer cases has a mutation. This mutation causes the HER2 gene to be overproduced in breast cells, causing cells to be more aggressive. However treatments that target HER2 are very effective.