10 years since diagnosis
Age at interview: 70
Lorna (70 years old) has worked as a residence manager and is married. She has one grown child who lives in another province.
Lorna received her diagnosis in 2005 and has since had a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. She chose not to have reconstruction as she did not want any further surgery. For several years, Lorna had been recommended to do follow-ups after her routine mammograms as they kept on seeing things. But one day, in November, she felt a lump herself, and went to see the doctor. She feels very lucky that she was then treated very rapidly. She saw the surgeon for a biopsy and the test results were positive for breast cancer. Two days later she had her surgery. Lorna had already undergone a lumpectomy in her other breast before and no cancer was found at that time. However, with this recent finding, she preferred to have a double mastectomy as she didn’t want to worry about the risk of breast cancer anymore. Throughout her treatment and care, Lorna was surrounded by a great network of healthcare professionals as well as her friends and church community. Lorna, for example, was brought home after chemotherapy by volunteers working at the cancer centre and she also had support to learn how to do her make-up during treatment. After 5 years of follow-up in the cancer clinic she was told that there wasn’t really a need any more for her to continue the follow-up. She felt relieved to know she was OK but sad to leave the support she was receiving through the cancer clinic. Lorna still has massages once in a while to help reduce the lymphedema although she usually has sore ribs and painful muscle contractions as a side effect from the treatments. Lorna has been cancer free for almost 10 years now and she worries sometimes about recurrence, but mostly it is not on her mind.
- Radiation therapy -Lorna (B)Lorna describes the radiation therapy process and her side effects.
- Messages to others -Lorna (B)Lorna has appreciated people coming to visit and speaking about other things.
- Perspectives on treatment pathways -Lorna (B)Lorna’s surgeon had left extra skin on her chest with the assumption she wanted a reconstruction.
- Follow-up care and the risk of recurrence -Lorna (B)Lorna thought about the possibility of recurrence when she had sinus troubles.
- Troubling long-term effects of treatment -Lorna (B)In some cases, this sense of permanent change was associated with persistent physical symptoms as Lorna explains.