Gaetanne’s breast cancer journey



“Pour moi, et je sais que cest pas la même chose pour tout le monde, mais pour moi, ça était très positif. Avant que j’aie été diagnostiquée, j’étais partie à dire, puis je vois tellement de gens autour de moi qui le font, « Hé bé comme je suis pas trop sot, je peux peut-être retourner aux études, parce que jai peut-être pas le temps, j’ai peut-être pas l’argent. » Il y a toujours des raisons pour pas faire certaines choses. Moi, j’ai décidé de vraiment être l’opposée de ça. Alors, quand il y a des jours où je me dis, « Ah, je suis pas sûre si je vais pouvoir faire ça. » Je me dis, « Non, je vais être capable de faire ça. C’est vraiment ça que je veux faire. Je vais y arriver.”

“J’ai été diagnostiquée avec le cancer du sein il y a quinze ans déjà en 1995. J’avais 33 ans à lépoque. on a tout simplement enlevé la masse et puis jai eu des traitements de radiothérapie. ”

Related videos

Gaetanne’s clips can be found in the following themes:

Sorry, no related videos can be found.

English transcript

Interview transcript: Gaetanne

Gaétanne lives and works on Winnipeg. She is married and has 3 dogs.

Type of cancer: breast cancer
Age at diagnosis: 33
Year of diagnosis: 1995, recurrence 1997
Treatment: lumpectomy, mastectomy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, reconstruction

My name is Gaétanne. I was diagnosed with breast cancer 15 years ago. It was 1995, and I was 33 years old. They just removed the lump, and I underwent radiation treatments. Because I was so young at the time, they thought I would be ok, that there was no need for further treatment. But, two years later, I found another lump in the same breast. My doctor suggested that I have a mastectomy, which I had a hard time with. In your mid-30s, your body image is so very important. And I really wasn’t ready to go through that. But then, one day, I realized that there were still so many wonderful things that I wanted to do with my life. I knew that if I wanted to go on with my life, I had to go ahead and have a mastectomy, and then chemotherapy… It was a very difficult time, but it was a preventive measure and I’m glad I took it, since I’ve had 17 amazing years that… I’m so glad to be alive, and to be doing the things I want to do.

Family history

My eldest sister was diagnosed when she was about 25. She was the first to be diagnosed. About 10 years later, my other sister was diagnosed. Then it was me. Out of six girls, three of us were diagnosed with breast cancer. But there have been other types of cancer in my family. Half of my family has been diagnosed with some form of cancer at one time or another. But only my sister has died of it.

Living with the gene

When I ask my sisters—my other two sisters who have not been diagnosed—how they are feeling, they say they are living their lives to the fullest. They’re not the type of people who will go get tested to see if they have the gene or not. They prefer not knowing and just living their lives to the fullest. And I can’t say I blame them, because I would probably do the same. I think that knowing that you have the gene, that cancer will develop at some point, would be very stressful.

The power of friendship

I always thought I would wake up one morning and really not like what I saw in the mirror. But I went to the bathroom one day and my robe fell to the floor, so I had no choice but to look at myself. I found myself so beautiful that I said, my god, you’d think it was something much more difficult to go through than it really was. I think what helped me is that I had a lot of friends, that my true friends were there for me when I went through it all. They were there when I woke up after my surgery. They were there when I got back home, because at the time I was single. They were there to mow the lawn, and do everything else while I was recovering. It helped a lot. My friends seemed to really understand what I was going through, and they were there for me, 100%. It wasn’t something that was easy to share, but because I am an open person, I didn’t want to hide what I was feeling. I told myself I was strong, that I was going to get through it, to take it a day at a time. I think it’s very important to take things a day at a time.

Working through it

I had my mastectomy and my reconstruction, and I wasn’t even thinking about chemotherapy treatments because I thought it would stress me out. There’s the financial aspect as well, and you find yourself wondering if you can do it. You know, when you’re single you want to be sure that you can make ends meet. In the end, I continued working during my treatments. And I don’t think the people who didn’t know what I was going through noticed any difference. I’d get up in the morning, and I’d be a bit tired from the treatments. It’s hard to describe. You constantly have a metallic taste in your mouth. So, I’d take a couple of days off, the days I had treatments, maybe two days, and then I’d go back to work. It helped a lot, because when I was there, I felt normal.

Wig shopping

At some point, I realized I would have to get a wig, because I knew I might lose my hair. In the end, the treatments were mild enough that I didn’t lose it, but my friends had said they would come with me, and I said, “You know what? This is something that I think I’d rather do alone, because if I really don’t like the way I look, I don’t want anyone to see me.” So one day, I went wig shopping, and I started to think, “Wouldn’t it be awful if…” And then I tried to inject a bit of humour into the situation, some fun. I had a good laugh, and it ended up being a positive experience because I managed to keep my sense of humour.

How it changed me

I know it’s not the same for everyone, but for me it was very positive. Before being diagnosed, I would say—and I see other people around me doing the same—”Well, since I’m smart enough, I could go back to school, but I don’t have the time or the money.” There will always be reasons to not do certain things. I decided to take the opposite stance. So, on days when I’m thinking, “Hmm, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do that,” I say to myself, “No, I can do it. It’s something I really want to do, so I’ll find a way.”

The sky is the limit

While I was going through my chemotherapy treatments, I had a lot of time to think. And I remember having a treatment on December 24. I had plans to go and see friends and all that. As it turned out, I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone at home… It gave me lots of time to think about what I liked and didn’t like about my life. It was then that I began to realize that I can do anything I want to because, you know, spending Christmas all alone is hard. In January, I decided to go back to school. It was then that I swore I wouldn’t let things get in my way and stop me from doing what I want to do. And, as I said before, every morning I wake up and say to myself, “It’s just like Christmas, because there are so many possibilities. The sky is the limit.”

End of transcript

Transcription française

Interview transcript: Gaetanne

Gaétanne lives and works on Winnipeg. She is married and has 3 dogs.

Type of cancer: breast cancer
Age at diagnosis: 33
Year of diagnosis: 1995, recurrence 1997
Treatment: lumpectomy, mastectomy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, reconstruction

My name is Gaétanne. I was diagnosed with breast cancer 15 years ago. It was 1995, and I was 33 years old. They just removed the lump, and I underwent radiation treatments. Because I was so young at the time, they thought I would be ok, that there was no need for further treatment. But, two years later, I found another lump in the same breast. My doctor suggested that I have a mastectomy, which I had a hard time with. In your mid-30s, your body image is so very important. And I really wasn’t ready to go through that. But then, one day, I realized that there were still so many wonderful things that I wanted to do with my life. I knew that if I wanted to go on with my life, I had to go ahead and have a mastectomy, and then chemotherapy… It was a very difficult time, but it was a preventive measure and I’m glad I took it, since I’ve had 17 amazing years that… I’m so glad to be alive, and to be doing the things I want to do.

Family history

My eldest sister was diagnosed when she was about 25. She was the first to be diagnosed. About 10 years later, my other sister was diagnosed. Then it was me. Out of six girls, three of us were diagnosed with breast cancer. But there have been other types of cancer in my family. Half of my family has been diagnosed with some form of cancer at one time or another. But only my sister has died of it.

Living with the gene

When I ask my sisters—my other two sisters who have not been diagnosed—how they are feeling, they say they are living their lives to the fullest. They’re not the type of people who will go get tested to see if they have the gene or not. They prefer not knowing and just living their lives to the fullest. And I can’t say I blame them, because I would probably do the same. I think that knowing that you have the gene, that cancer will develop at some point, would be very stressful.

The power of friendship

I always thought I would wake up one morning and really not like what I saw in the mirror. But I went to the bathroom one day and my robe fell to the floor, so I had no choice but to look at myself. I found myself so beautiful that I said, my god, you’d think it was something much more difficult to go through than it really was. I think what helped me is that I had a lot of friends, that my true friends were there for me when I went through it all. They were there when I woke up after my surgery. They were there when I got back home, because at the time I was single. They were there to mow the lawn, and do everything else while I was recovering. It helped a lot. My friends seemed to really understand what I was going through, and they were there for me, 100%. It wasn’t something that was easy to share, but because I am an open person, I didn’t want to hide what I was feeling. I told myself I was strong, that I was going to get through it, to take it a day at a time. I think it’s very important to take things a day at a time.

Working through it

I had my mastectomy and my reconstruction, and I wasn’t even thinking about chemotherapy treatments because I thought it would stress me out. There’s the financial aspect as well, and you find yourself wondering if you can do it. You know, when you’re single you want to be sure that you can make ends meet. In the end, I continued working during my treatments. And I don’t think the people who didn’t know what I was going through noticed any difference. I’d get up in the morning, and I’d be a bit tired from the treatments. It’s hard to describe. You constantly have a metallic taste in your mouth. So, I’d take a couple of days off, the days I had treatments, maybe two days, and then I’d go back to work. It helped a lot, because when I was there, I felt normal.

Wig shopping

At some point, I realized I would have to get a wig, because I knew I might lose my hair. In the end, the treatments were mild enough that I didn’t lose it, but my friends had said they would come with me, and I said, “You know what? This is something that I think I’d rather do alone, because if I really don’t like the way I look, I don’t want anyone to see me.” So one day, I went wig shopping, and I started to think, “Wouldn’t it be awful if…” And then I tried to inject a bit of humour into the situation, some fun. I had a good laugh, and it ended up being a positive experience because I managed to keep my sense of humour.

How it changed me

I know it’s not the same for everyone, but for me it was very positive. Before being diagnosed, I would say—and I see other people around me doing the same—”Well, since I’m smart enough, I could go back to school, but I don’t have the time or the money.” There will always be reasons to not do certain things. I decided to take the opposite stance. So, on days when I’m thinking, “Hmm, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do that,” I say to myself, “No, I can do it. It’s something I really want to do, so I’ll find a way.”

The sky is the limit

While I was going through my chemotherapy treatments, I had a lot of time to think. And I remember having a treatment on December 24. I had plans to go and see friends and all that. As it turned out, I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone at home… It gave me lots of time to think about what I liked and didn’t like about my life. It was then that I began to realize that I can do anything I want to because, you know, spending Christmas all alone is hard. In January, I decided to go back to school. It was then that I swore I wouldn’t let things get in my way and stop me from doing what I want to do. And, as I said before, every morning I wake up and say to myself, “It’s just like Christmas, because there are so many possibilities. The sky is the limit.”

End of transcript

Dernière mise à jour : 31 octobre 2011