Tina

Tina
Age at interview
66

Tina (66 years old), is married and has 5 adult children. She was on CPP disability for other reasons when she was diagnosed.

Tina was diagnosed in 2012 and is currently in remission. She found a lump in her breast and initially thought it was a fibrous cyst as she had had them before. She stopped drinking coffee to see if the lump would disappear. After two months Tina decided to see a doctor. She was then sent for a mammography, ultrasound and biopsy. Tina knew deep inside it would be breast cancer and did not feel upset when the doctor gave her the diagnosis. After intensive discussion with the surgeon, she decided that she would rather have a double mastectomy and radiotherapy. Tina declined the proposed chemotherapy as she did not think she would be able to undergo and tolerate the therapy given her own health status. Tina also tried hormones for two months but stopped as she was feeling too ill. The oncologist stopped seeing her at that point as her formal treatment had ended. It was suggested that she continue the mammography but she had difficulty understanding the purpose of a mammography after a double mastectomy, where there was hardly any skin left to screen. Tina is now monitored regularly by her surgeon. Tina explained how she was accepting of the diagnosis straight from the beginning and how she feels it is important that everybody makes her own personal decisions with regards to the proposed treatments.

Time since diagnosis
2 - 5 years
Phase of treatment
Remission

Videoclips

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Well when I first suspected something was wrong was after a 2-month period where I had thought it was fibrous cysts in the breast because I used to have those quite a bit. And one time, I went to a surgeon and he suggested coming off coffee because the coffee was causing the fibrous cysts. And once I came off coffee they were gone. But this time, after 2 months, they didn’t go away. So I knew something else was going on and it was so prominent because it was right beside the nipple and it was a hard, big hard lump. So then I decided I better go to the doctor and see what’s going on.

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The process was fine because I knew what I had to do for me. I find that some of them are very, very pushy that you need to do this, this, and this and this and it leaves you with nowhere to go for yourself. Like I find that, I just found that they weren’t leaving an opening for me to decide for myself. I thought it was pretty crazy for them to not allow me to decide what I wanted for my body. Like it’s my body and I said “Well this is what I’m going to do”, I mean they talked, and talked, and talked and tried to convince me and it was just no, no it does not feel right for me. Intuitively I went with my intuition and with how I was feeling about it, not the pressure from the doctors to get me to do what they thought was best for me.

It’s tremendous pressure and people don’t understand that they can, it’s their choice no matter what anybody, any of the doctors says, it’s still your choice. It’s your body, it’s your decision, when it comes right down to it and that’s, I was very, very strong in that and it was the same with the double mastectomy. Like "Are you sure you want to do this? Do you want to have the breast removed there’s nothing wrong with the other breast." And I said "Yes, I’ve made that decision and I want them both off."

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Back before the surgery I talked a lot with my surgeon and I decided at that time, that I was going to have both breasts removed. She said “Well why?” And I said “I just have a sense I want the other one off too because I don’t want to go through all this again.” That was fine, so after the surgery, and after the information came back from the where they sent it away to have it be tested, they found out that I also had breast cancer in the left breast which they didn’t know anything about because it didn’t show up.

But it was a slow growing cancer and it was totally different than the one in the right breast.

It’s your body, it’s your decision when it comes right down to it, that’s, I was very, very strong in that and it was the same with the double mastectomy. “Are you sure you want to do this? Do you want to have the breast removed there’s nothing wrong with the other breast.” And I said “Yes I’ve made that decision and I want them both off.” Now I’m glad I did because nobody knew about the second cancer that was in the other breast.

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When I was telling my family, there was only two children that we didn’t tell. They were the two youngest girls. I chose not to tell one in particular because she gets upset over everything, the littlest thing, she panics over. So we chose not to tell her in particular. And we didn’t tell the other one because they’re both the same age, and they still don’t know. But if I had told this one in particular, she would have been panicking all the time, checking her breasts all the time, saying that she got to go to the doctor because she might have this and this. So we decided not to tell her in particular. We probably will tell her within the next year because I think she suspects something because she had said "Does so and so have cancer?" Not me but one of the other people. Of course, I said "Well you would have to talk to her about that." Because it wasn’t my right to tell her. I can tell her about myself but I can’t tell her about somebody else because that’s up to her to tell her, but we will tell her eventually. But it was very hard being around her because you weren’t able to talk about anything if she was in the room. Even now, when she comes to stay with me, I have to make sure I have the prosthesis on because I wouldn’t want her to get upset. It feels like I’m hiding something which I am hiding something from her, but I feel at the same time it was the right decision not to tell her then. But she’s more mature now, so I’m hoping that when we do tell her that she’ll be okay with it.