Joanne (44 years old) lives with her partner in one of the Atlantic provinces. She works full time as a manager and in her free time she is active as a gymnastics coach.
Joanne was diagnosed in 2009 and has been on hormone therapy for four years following surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Joanne found the lump herself but was not worried in the beginning as her doctor thought it was related to an earlier ectopic pregnancy. She didn’t follow-up for a while and just wished for the lump to be gone, but met with a friend one night who was concerned about a lump in her own breast, making her more aware of the seriousness of the lump. Encouraged by her husband, she decided to go for another screening. Initially she was diagnosed with a stage 2 breast cancer but later it was found that the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. More testing showed some unidentified spots on her liver, which meant that the breast cancer could have metastasized. Unfortunately the health care professionals could not tell if the spots on the liver were cancer until after her mastectomy, and other treatments had finished. It turned out that the spots on her liver were harmless. Joanne also decided that she would have a hysterectomy given that her cancer was oestrogen positive. At the moment she is looking forward to stopping the hormone treatment to see if certain symptoms such as tingling in hands and feet, brittle nails and teeth, loss of taste and joint pain will disappear. During her treatment she organized a ‘Joanne’s Journey’ show using gymnastics and humour to show people’s different responses towards breast cancer vs mental illness (her son had recently been diagnosed with a mental illness). She has also been a member of an advisory committee to improve breast cancer care in her province.