12 years since diagnosis

Phase of treatment: Recurring breast cancer
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.


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