2 years since diagnosis
Age at interview: 35
Melissa (35 years old) is married and works in a governmental agency and has a son who is twelve years old.
Melissa was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2013. Melissa first felt the lump a couple of months before when she was reaching up high to put the dishes away. Breast cancer seems to run in Melissa’s family as her mother, 2 aunts and her cousin have all been diagnosed with breast cancer. This was one of the reasons why Melissa decided to inform a friend about her lump who is a radiologist and not her direct family as she didn’t want to concern them. This friend was by her side while she went through the initial testing. Melissa told her husband after she had an MRI and decided to tell her parents when they came over for a visit; she felt that she was able to support her parents through this period! It wasn’t easy for Melissa to decide whether she wanted chemotherapy or not. Her two aunts had died of their cancer following their chemotherapy whereas her mother did not have chemotherapy and yet was still healthy. In the end, Melissa did choose to undergo chemotherapy because she decided she would rather do the treatment now while she was still young and strong rather than at a later stage. Melissa’s family doctor called her personally to tell her to make sure to find out what chemotherapy means with regards to her fertility. Melissa can’t recall at all if the cancer team brought it up to her as well even though it is such an important aspect in her life. Visualisation, Reiki and some other complementary treatments have helped Melissa cope with the illness. At the same time she believes strongly in the positive contribution of the use of humour and having an optimistic attitude.
- Alternative and complementary therapies – MelissaMelissa's naturopath advised her to follow the medical treatment and naturopathy as a complement to the treatment.
- Follow-up care and the risk of recurrence – MelissaMelissa would have appreciated a more structured plan for moving forward.
- How it affects family and friends – MelissaUsing some humor helped Melissa to tell people for the first time that she had breast cancer.
- Coping strategies – Melissa (2)Melissa offered a reminder that sometimes you need to let go of that expectation and look after yourself.
- Coping strategies – MelissaMelissa explained how she used visualization when undergoing chemotherapy.
- Sexuality, femininity and intimacy – MelissaMelissa described the difficulties she and her husband encountered and explained how they worked through them.
- Preserving fertility – MelissaMelissa had not yet decided whether she wanted more children, having the decision taken away from her was traumatic.
- Relating to health care professionals – MelissaMelissa talks about how involvement in even the smallest choices can make a big difference.
- Radiation therapy – MelissaMelissa found it hard to be motivated for her daily radiation sessions.
- Radiothérapie – MelissaMelissa trouvait difficile d’être motivée pour ses sessions quotidiennes de radiothérapie.