2 years since diagnosis
Age at interview: 37
Malika (37 years old) is married and has two young children who are three and eight years old. She worked as an administrative agent but is now on sick leave.
Malika received her diagnosis in 2013. Malika’s mother had been diagnosed and treated with breast cancer 12 years ago, but had a recurrence in 2012. Another member of Malika’s family, her cousin, had recently died from breast cancer. Malika returned to her home country last year to be with her mother who was dying. While she was still away and following her mother’s death, Malika noticed a pain in her left breast and she immediately went for testing when she returned to Canada. Malika was told by the doctor that she only had a cyst after undergoing an ultrasound and mammography. Malika, who was still breastfeeding her youngest child, didn’t trust the results and requested a second opinion. This second doctor immediately suspected that this was not just a cyst and took a biopsy from the lump. The results indicated breast cancer, but in Malika’s right breast and not in her left as she initially suspected. It was difficult for Malika to receive this diagnosis so soon after the loss of her mother. This has also been the reason that Malika decided not to tell her close family right away as she didn’t want to hurt them even more. She did eventually tell her children and her son seems to be ok with the news while her daughter is still too young to really understand what is happening. After the diagnosis, Malika experienced the long waiting times for a test. Malika decided to do the tests under private care to speed up the process. She then underwent chemotherapy followed by a double mastectomy. She now knows that she has a genetic type of breast cancer and wished that she would have known before so that she could have taken preventive measures. Malika decided to share her story as she wants to encourage women, who have close family members with breast cancer, to go for testing for genetic breast cancer.
- Reconstruction surgery – MalikaMalika wanted to decide later on whether or not to have reconstruction so that she could focus on her survival for now.
- Messages to others – MalikaEven though positive thinking is good, Malika also thinks it is normal to think about things like dying and recurrence.
- Relating to health care professionals – MalikaAfter her mammography, Malika asked for a second opinion as she didn't trust the results, there the cancer was detected.
- Coping strategies – MalikaMalika reminded friends and family members that constantly urging a woman with breast cancer to have a positive attitude could actually be unhelpful.
- Perspectives on treatment pathways – MalikaUnable to wait, Malika decided to pay for tests in the private sector.
- Understanding the diagnosis – MalikaThe timing of her diagnosis was difficult as Malika had just lost her mother to advanced breast cancer.
- Testing and diagnosis – MalikaMalika decided to ask for a second opinion she did not feel ready to accept the first results.