My Sister Died of Breast Cancer: A Case Study
Although it is five years since Yvonne’s sister Rosemary died from breast cancer at the age of 37, she is still obviously upset as she starts to talk about it. “Rosie was my younger sister and we got on really well as adults, although we hated each other as teenagers. She was always the extrovert one, going to parties, getting loads of boyfriends, having a great time but I would often just stay at home and read. I was boring by comparison!” remembers Yvonne.
Still, Yvonne was the first of the sisters to get married, at the age of 24. “We quickly had two boys and Rosie was a great aunty. Surprisingly, she didn’t marry Ian until quite late – she was nearly 30. I guess she was just having too much fun...” says Yvonne.
Rosie Finds a LumpOnly six months after her wedding, Rosie felt a lump in her left breast but wasn’t really that worried. She and Ian were trying for a baby and she thought it might be an early sign of pregnancy. But three months later, having had three periods, the lump was still there. “I advised her to get it checked out – it was probably only a cyst and there was no point worrying,” says Yvonne. But the lump turned out to be more sinister than any of the family had thought. “I couldn’t believe it when the doctors confirmed that it was cancer – Rosie was only 31 at the time and was just starting out with everything to look forward to.”
Treatment is ToughRosie unfortunately had a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer and it was growing very fast. She was advised to have a mastectomy with a breast reconstruction and to have follow up radiotherapy and chemotherapy. “Rosie changed in those few months. She lost all of her spark and the treatments were very hard. She lost all her hair because of the chemotherapy and instead of the young glamorous sister I was used to, she became almost middle aged a frumpy,” remembers Yvonne.
After nine months of surgery and treatment came the cruellest blow of all. “Because the tumour was very sensitive to oestrogen, Rosie was advised to have her ovaries removed and to take an aromatase inhibitor to lower her body levels of oestrogen to practically zero.” However the doctors were confident that Rosie had a good chance of surviving and possibly being completely cured and they recommended that some of her eggs be frozen to be used in IVF treatment later on.