Age at interview

Aliza (75 years old) is single. She is retired and has worked as a teacher.

Aliza received her diagnosis in 2011. A lump was detected during a routine mammography; Aliza had not noticed the lump herself before. She found that things moved very quickly for her diagnosis, but the waiting for the surgery was a bit longer. Aliza felt fortunate that she didn’t need to be treated with chemotherapy or radiation. As a family caregiver, she had seen what cancer and chemotherapy treatment can do to a person and she was very relieved to learn that she didn’t need to undergo chemotherapy herself. She did, however, need to take hormone therapy for five years; Aliza calls the hormones ‘the magic pill’ as she is relieved that her treatment exists out of hormones alone. Aliza had to switch medications three or four times though before she found the right pill as she started to have headaches from the first two pills she took. Together with her oncologist, she tested pills until she found the right one for her. Aliza describes herself as an ‘auto-doctor’ as she informs herself a lot through the web. She doesn’t tend to ask questions directly to her doctors when she doesn’t understand something, but rather looks for additional information on the web when back at home. Aliza has also received great support from her sister and brother-in-law who both work in the medical field. They help her find information but also call her daily to make sure she is well. She has not told many friends about her diagnosis as she feels better if people don’t speak about her illness. Aliza tries to maintain a normal life and if she has negative thoughts about her illness, especially during the night, she tries to not panic or imagine all kind of negative scenarios. When she experiences any unusual pains or symptoms, one of the first things that comes to her mind is that it might be a recurrence, but she tries to stop that thinking. If she is really worried, she discusses her concerns with her oncologist.

Time since diagnosis
2 - 5 years
Phase of treatment


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I wanted like… not ignore, but like it didn’t exist… Continue to live because… I was afraid that it would take over or unduly… I tried not to panic, not to become hysterical, and mainly, that it didn’t take over, that it didn’t control me, that I do not become only this. It is part of life but it’s not life.

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But I have… my brother-in-law, they are doctors. My sister is a psychiatrist and my brother-in-law is a pediatrician. But usually when I had an information, a question, they were asking their colleagues or…

Interviewer: Ah yes, could you tell me how it went when you told them the news about your diagnosis?

Well with a lot of concerns. So they had… since they followed me a lot, all the time, all the time, all the time, people didn’t speak about anything else anymore when this happened. It was as if all this was the center of attention.

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But probably the advice, it is exactly the advice I gave to myself, to try to have a life as normal as possible, that the sickness doesn’t take control over me. In any case, roughly speaking, but since I can give a little more advice… More concrete, more…

But mainly regarding activities, if I see that a person or the person tells me that she stopped doing whatever, I will propose to her a good movie at the cinema, read a good book, go to conferences, go to Jean-Coutu to find a friend (quote from a local pharmacy).

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Interviewer: Did you change your diet after your diagnosis?

It’s been many years that I am… because I followed the… because I was obese and I followed the Weight Watchers diet. That’s about it. This is what I eat.

But now since it is less appealing, like for restaurant, things like that, since there are all kinds of things like… I feel less like it. And now my life has a certain effect; you can say that it’s a big change.

Interviewer: So you don’t feel like eating or eat less?

Not that I don’t feel like eating, but for the restaurant and like I was eating before. Since the cancer, it’s difficult for me to vary, what I eat is boring. So I am trying to… But this, it sounds almost like very  intellectual, I am trying to have a discipline to be able to have fun but… I think the fun side is very affected.

Good meals,… I don’t drink anymore. It doesn’t appeal to me anymore, not that I drank a lot. May be like a glass of wine like anybody else. I think it has affected the whole perception of fun.