3 years since diagnosis
Age at interview: 48
Shelley (48 years old) is an educator and now works as a director for the Ministry of Education. Shelley has two young adult daughters and a son.
Shelley received her diagnosis in 2012 and will soon complete surgery to reconstruct both breasts. Shelley first suspected something was wrong when, as a trained Reiki master, she was helping a friend with Reiki treatment. Shelley and her friend both had a burning sensation during these treatments. Shelley in her right breast, and her friend on her back and side. Her friend decided to have a check-up and was eventually diagnosed with breast cancer. Shelley discussed her symptoms with her doctor it was decided that she would have a mammography as well. The mammography showed a little something and Shelley was asked to return in about 3-6 months. After 3 months Shelley decided that she had enough sleepless nights and got a second mammogram done. The next day she was called in to see the doctor who told her it was cancer and that she needed further testing. Yet, based on the results of the biopsy, she was told that the lump was benign. This good news did not reassure Shelley as she continued to feel an itch or a burn in her right breast and asked for more testing. Her doctor agreed to do an MRI and this confirmed that it was indeed breast cancer. Shelley choose to undergo a double mastectomy and immediate reconstruction through a DIEP flap. Even though she encountered problems with the reconstruction, she still encouraged women with breast cancer to choose the approach that they feel is best for them. It has been about three years since she told her teenage children about the diagnosis. Her children recently told her that it was ‘awesome’ that they had been encouraged to share the news with friends and family and to not have to keep it as a family secret. This is one of the reasons why Shelley wanted to share her story as she believes in the importance of sharing information and learning from others.
- Alternative and complementary therapies – ShelleyShelley describes different complementary treatments and how they have helped her.
- Chemotherapy – ShelleyIt scared Shelley to experience the loss of words; she feared having cancer in her brain.
- Relating to health care professionals – ShelleyShelley notes that compassion and empathy can make a big difference in the cancer journey.
- Positive effects on self – Shelley (2)Similarly, Shelley discovered that other family members were capable of doing housework and that taking better care of herself was actually better for everyone.
- Positive effects on self – ShelleyOnce Shelley opened up about her needs, so many people wanted to help that she and her family set up a blog in order to keep everyone in touch.
- Challenging emotions – ShelleyIt was difficult for Shelley to express certain worries or insecurities.
- Understanding the diagnosis – ShelleyEven though stage 3 scares Shelley but she also feels that there is too much emphasis on numbers. Shelley does the best she can so that she won't have any regrets.
- Testing and diagnosis – Shelley (2)It was difficult for Shelley's family to wait for the diagnosis. It took time to get answers.
- Testing and diagnosis – ShelleyShelley asked for another test when her test came back benign.
- First symptoms – ShelleyShelley and a friend both felt a burning sensation when she was doing Reiki on her friend.