A-Z

Mike C - Interview 26

Age at interview: 70
Age at diagnosis: 66
Brief Outline: Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. He had a mastectomy, followed by 18 sessions of chemotherapy, followed by radiotherapy. His skin got burnt towards the end of the radiotherapy and he got an MRSA infection whilst in hospital which has caused him some trouble since. He later was treated with tamoxifen.
Background: Mike is a semi-retired quantity surveyor. He is married and has 2 adult children. Ethnic background' White British (English).

More about me...

 Mike first noticed a lump whilst showering. It felt like a boil but didn’t hurt. He only went to see the doctor when it caused him pain when he was walking up a steep hill whilst on holiday. He didn’t tell his wife initially that he was going to see the doctor about the lump because she had had breast cancer in the past and he didn’t want to worry her. Although he knew that men could get breast cancer, it never occurred to him that he might have breast cancer. It was only when his GP referred him for further tests that he realised that it could be something more serious than a cyst and told his wife. 

Mike didn’t tell his children about his diagnosis until after his mastectomy because he didn’t want them to worry. He told a few close friends about his diagnosis and asked them to keep it quiet because he didn’t want any fuss made. 
Mike hates going to hospital, even to visit people. His brother spent 3 years of his childhood in hospital and he visited him twice a week. Then both his parents were admitted to the same hospital and he had to visit them all on separate wards. He is well known in his family for his aversion to hospital.
His skin got burnt towards the end of his radiotherapy; the burn looked like a scald. He later got an MRSA infection whilst he was in hospital. This infection has flared up twice since, and he has to be very careful if he cuts himself. The first time it flared up he got a high temperature and it became very swollen. The district nurses came in and gave him very good care.
His attitude to the cancer has been to try and ignore it and be positive. He doesn’t believe that it is something that will kill him, and the people that he has known who have recovered from cancer are the ones who have been positive.
 
 

Mike C suffered a severe burn as a result of radiotherapy and subsequently picked up an MRSA...

Text only
Read below

Mike C suffered a severe burn as a result of radiotherapy and subsequently picked up an MRSA...

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

And, that was the problem I got burnt with the, that’s what caused the infection to start with because it opened it, and the, the radiotherapy burnt it quite badly.

 
And did that start immediately, that you started on the radiotherapy or did that kind of build up as…?
 
No towards the end of it and so it was, that was why it was, you know the first bout of it was the summer, basically yeah, it was the end of the… I’d finished the treatment when I had the first bout, the infection, about that. Obviously I’d had the infection when I was in hospital and things and stuff, and they dressed it and everything. But the recur…, the first recurrence was July/August 2009. ‘Cos I remember we were supposed to be going out to lunch ironically with the head of the, the doctor was one of the guests, that one, that house there was the old head doctor, but he’s retired and this lady has taken over and she was going to be a guest at this lunch and I’d had to cry off.. before I went, I’d had to cry off I didn’t have, because I was running round trying to get dressings and things for this, well – what do they call it?... These em, out of hours hospital things, so.
 
NHS 24 or … NHS Direct or...
 
It wasn’t NHS 24 it was a funny name.
 
Yeah, yeah.
 
And they’ve lost the contract now, somebody else has got it now apparently. But so, anyway, to cut again a long story short – that was when it recurred in that July after, at the end of the radiotherapy, which again, I didn’t have any side effect from radiotherapy and I’d taken, taken [name] and she’d not many either, she got a bit tired, but it was just the infection that was it, from the burning, because they did burn it quite badly.
 
And could they see that that burn was building up as they were, as they were doing it or…?
 
No, no.
 
No.
 
No I don’t think so, no, no, it was a sort of, well [name] saw it better than I did, wasn’t it… it was a sort of third degree burn almost, wasn’t it, you couldn’t.
 

Mike C had first-hand experience of breast cancer through his wife's illness, and knew that men...

Text only
Read below

Mike C had first-hand experience of breast cancer through his wife's illness, and knew that men...

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Up to that point had you been aware of the fact that, I mean obviously you’d been aware of breast cancer from your wife’s experience, but had you been aware that men could have breast cancer?
 
I had read they could yeah. I read they could yeah. It’s one in sixty or something is it?
 
I’m not sure the exact figures, I know there’s about three or four hundred men a year in the UK who are diagnosed so…
 
Yeah, yeah.
 
‘Cos some of the men we’ve spoken to weren’t aware that they could have breast cancer.
 
Oh no I did know yeah.
 
When I was feeling it [lump] every morning when I was in the shower, it never occurred to me that I had cancer certainly, it was only when it hurt that I realised it might be something a bit more serious. But I still didn’t think it was cancer until I saw the GP, and he had me rushed to [name of] Hospital you know in about five or six days I’m thinking ‘oh here we go’. But, it didn’t occur to me, I wasn’t, I knew men could get breast cancer, it never occurred to me for one moment that I’d got it, until I was told I’d got it. Well until I went to the GP.
 
Yeah, why do you think that was? Do you think that’s how we all are in…?
 
Why do I think that was? – I don’t know, I don’t know, I, guess it never occurred to me that it could be cancer. I, I remember thinking – I’m going to see a doctor about this lump some time - but then I was going on holiday and I was working and left it another couple of weeks, and then when it hurt I then went pretty soon after I got back, but, it just never occurred to me that it would be cancer. 
 

Mike C had had to let some people know that he had been ill when he went into hospital, but he...

Text only
Read below

Mike C had had to let some people know that he had been ill when he went into hospital, but he...

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

I was just asking about, you were just saying sort of chosen not to tell many...

 
Oh yeah as I say, I had to take leave of absence from the rotary club, so I mean obviously they knew, I didn’t.
 
Because they, they depute somebody to check how you are, “Don’t make any fuss about it please, just say I’m ill and I can’t…” It sort of half got out I think so. But again, by not making a fuss, people just say “you alright now” and I say “yes” and that’s it.
 
Yeah, and that’s how… you just feel much more comfortable with dealing with it that way.
 
I don’t want any, I don’t want any fuss made whatsoever.
 
Yeah.
 
I mean I can’t, I just don’t, as simple as that, and the same as down the pub, because the landlord is also a member of this rotary club, so he knew that I’d just quietly said to, you know the, two or three very good friends, I’ve known 30 years, you know, “don’t make a fuss please, just, don’t tell everybody, just if people ask you, you can tell ‘em, but just don’t, generally keep it quiet.” And then as I say most people don’t know.
 

Mike C thought it could be embarrassing to tell people that you had what many people assume to be...

Text only
Read below

Mike C thought it could be embarrassing to tell people that you had what many people assume to be...

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

One of the things we’ve been asking people is how they feel about, I mean some of the men that I’ve spoken to have been, you know, have wanted to tell us – probably, that they’ve got breast cancer, I think partly ‘cos they’ve been conscious of the fact that it’s perhaps not a very well known disease and some of them have had issues about what it should be called, you know, should it be called male breast cancer, should it be called just breast cancer or chest cancer or whatever…?

Yeah I can understand, well I just dismissed it, but I can understand. Yeah, I think it would be better from a bloke’s point of view, a male point of view, if it was called chest cancer, I think that, that yeah. It’s a bit embarrassing obviously to say you’ve got what basically, everybody assumes is a female disorder. So yeah I think chest cancer would be a lot better.

Previous Page
Next Page