Dorothy - Interview 30

Age at interview: 74
Age at diagnosis: 62
Brief Outline: Dorothy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998. She received surgery, radiotherapy and hormone treatment. She thinks that cancer is always a bit in the back of her mind. She has done lots of fundraising for cancer charities since her diagnosis.
Background: Dorothy is married and is a retired nurse. She has two sons. Ethnic Background: White British.

More about me...

Dorothy was diagnosed with breast cancer 12 years ago. She received surgery, radiotherapy and went on a hormone drug trial. She now has an underactive thyroid, which she thinks is an after effect of having had radiotherapy. She thinks that nowadays her GP is more worried about her cholesterol and glucose readings than her past cancer. 
Whenever something happens, or she gets a symptom, she sometimes wonders if the cancer has come back or spread to somewhere else in her body. It’s not over worrying, but it does cross her mind. Dorothy can still get quite emotional when she reads about other people having cancer because it brings back all of the old feelings around her experience. 
Dorothy finds it helpful to help other people going through cancer. She does a lot of volunteering and fund raising for Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity. She tried a support group, but found it difficult as they were all going through cancer and being negative. She thinks that the whole experience was hard on her husband as he didn’t get the same support, and can feel helpless throughout the whole experience. 
Her advice to other people going through cancer is to stay strong and believe in yourself. 



Whenever Dorothy experiences symptoms she worries that her breast cancer has returned or spread...

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Whenever Dorothy experiences symptoms she worries that her breast cancer has returned or spread...

If I get something funny happening to me then the first thing I think about, “Is it back?” And you know so many people that it has come back on, so that there isn’t something you can sort of lean on. I have been back to the hospital once because I thought something was amiss but I was all cleared. But that was so important to be able to go back and say, “I don’t know. Is it?”, and have them take you seriously and go through it all again was something that was really, really valuable. And also everybody else says, “Well, you wouldn’t have the energy you’ve got if, you know, if there was something happening”. That doesn’t help at three o’clock in the morning, and it’s those sort of times that it sort of hits hard. 
What one’s concerned about is not so much is that the breast cancer should be back but that it’s travelled somewhere else. And it can make mountains out of molehills. I mean this sore ankle I had, you know, this, that they decided in the end was phlebitis, you know. I thought I’d got bone cancer before I went in for surgery for that, not seriously so, but, you know, it crosses your mind. It might not have crossed my mind if I’d never had breast cancer, but it’s hard to separate one thing from the other. 
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