12 years since diagnosis
Age at interview: 65
Kathryn (65 years old) has two grown children and two grandchildren. She worked as a teacher for children with special needs.
Kathryn received her diagnosis in 2003. Kathryn always says that her desire to learn French saved her life as she discovered the lump while she was reaching for her study books. Kathryn underwent 4 lumpectomies in one month to get the margins clear. Unfortunately, after having a bone scan, it was found that the cancer had spread to her spine. At that time, the doctors thought she had only another 18 months to live, even though Kathryn only found this out later as nobody told her that in person. During this interview, Kathryn read from her diary around the time of her diagnosis where she had written about her doubts of remaining in her marriage. After receiving her diagnosis of metastasized breast cancer she felt encouraged to stay in the relationship. However, last year she decided that she had to leave her husband as she needed to make lifestyle changes to help her fight the disease. Kathryn has now lived with metastasized breast cancer for 12 years and has a lot of experience in managing her own health care. Kathryn learned very soon after her diagnosis that she is responsible for her own care and this means that she has to take certain decisions on her own and that not all professionals take her needs seriously as a terminal cancer patient. She has found an oncologist in Boston that she meets on a regular basis to complement the care she receives from health professionals in Canada.
Kathryn feels strongly that she continues to live to be able to give back to society. This is an important motivation for her to continue to attend the metastasized support group as she is considered “hope in a bottle” as a long term survivor. She is also volunteering at a primary school to teach children about pets and their importance. She is grateful for every single day that she is in this world and to be able to enjoy its beauty.
- Reconstruction surgery – KathrynKathryn's new breast was never what she expected. After an encapsulated implant she visited three surgeons before she decided with whom to do the operation.
- Surgery – KathrynWhile being treated for a breast cancer recurrence, Kathryn felt she had placed too much importance on preserving her breast.
- Finding and sharing information – KathrynHaving survived 12 years of metastasized breast cancer, Kathryn has given back to her community to provide other women with hope.
- Relating to health care professionals – KathrynKathryn finds most staff very caring and believes they should have more support.
- Positive effects on self – KathrynKathryn found that she had a renewed appreciation of nature. She shared a story about how others reacted to her enthusiasm.
- Challenging emotions – KathrynIn her diary, Kathryn wrote about her fears and doubts just after her diagnosis.
- Perspectives on treatment pathways – KathrynKathryn realized how attached she was to her breasts and how this might be different for doctors who are mostly concerned about saving your life.
- Work and finances – KathrynTeaching can be very challenging. Kathryn was glad for the time off.
- Recurrent and metastatic (advanced) breast cancer – Kathryn (3)Kathryn has amazed her medical team with her resilience and quality of life.
- Recurrent and metastatic (advanced) breast cancer – Kathryn (2)Kathryn had both recurrent and metastatic cancer. She described the day she found out her cancer had spread to her bones.