Isla (47 years old) is married and has two teenage children. She has a PhD degree.
Isla received her diagnosis in 2013. Isla had seen her doctor after noticing a lump and was advised to have an ultrasound. Isla gave it a low priority as there were more pressing health issues in the family. But, about 8 months later Isla noticed a distinct difference in her breast and decided to do the follow up. Isla could tell that the technician wasn’t very happy and was a bit more worried when she was asked to have a mammogram as well before leaving. Isla was contacted by her doctor the next day and he urged her to come and see him as soon as possible. Isla had planned to leave that day with her daughter for a family weekend but decided to see him on the way out of town, even though she initially told him that she didn’t have time. The doctor told her that it was likely cancer and referred her for immediate treatment. The referral from her doctor for treatment was within the private health care system. This meant that Isla had to pay for the surgery herself and then because her medical oncologist also joined the private system midway through her treatment, she had to start paying him as well. Isla said “When I began with him my RAMQ card worked and when I now go to him my VISA card works”. Even though she jokes about the situation Isla also expressed great concern about the unequal access to care as well as the vulnerability issues when an oncologist joins a private system midway the patient’s treatment. Nonetheless, the private care was fast and good and this was most important to Isla who wanted to be treated as fast as possible. Isla found the treatments very manageable; she didn’t have too many side effects and was able to continue certain activities. Isla did take some sick leave during the treatment but has now returned to work. Isla was offered a new position just before she was diagnosed but she decided to remain in her former position where she has more flexibility to be able manage her follow-up care.