Interview with Breast Cancer Survivor: Jamie
In honour of breast cancer awareness month, we had the chance to interview breast cancer survivor Jamie. We first met Jamie when she found us while looking for a custom bra. After getting to know her and her journey we wanted to share her experiences to raise awareness on the emotional impact that comes with the diagnosis.
To gain some insight on Jamies health history, cancer was relevant on both her paternal and maternal side of the family. Her aunt lost her battle at 39, and her grandmother lost her right breast at the age of 40 and her left breast at the age of 42. Jamie came across her lump at age 37. She does not remember what she was doing when she made the discovery, but she downplayed the finding. “I don’t recall what I was doing when I found it but I do remember feeling it, thinking it was strange but then telling myself it was nothing. The lump was just below my right armpit along the top part of my breast.” A few months later she decided to check to see if her lump was still apparent, and it was. This prompted her to make an appointment with her doctor.
We then asked Jamie what happened after she was diagnosed. After her ultrasound she was referred to a breast clinic for further testing. She remembers feeling emotionally numb during this process. Jamie expressed that her whole life flashed before her eyes “I couldn’t stop thinking about my children…. Have I taught them enough? Do I have enough money to leave them? Them finishing school, starting their adult lives, getting married, children…… None of which I will see, and more importantly I will not be able to support them through. I literally planned for my death every 6 months. I call this…. the mind fuck! .”
After two mammograms and an MRI, she had a lumpectomy, removing the malignant tumor. Following the lumpectomy, ongoing monitoring was required, which included an appointment and test every 6 months for the rest of Jamie’s life, alternating between MRIs and mammograms.
Jamies goes on to explain that the next steps included genetic testing. Due to her family history Jamie was advised she would be a great candidate. Jamie shared her thoughts about the test “For some reason I was convinced that the test would come back negative, I assume this was my denial stage of this process. I remember reading the results, seeing the positive, and thinking it was a typo or I was just reading it wrong.” Follow the results Jamie met with a genetics counsellor who suggested she take Tamoxifen- which is chemo in pill form for the next 5 years. Jamie discussed this recommended treatment with her oncologist, who then said she was also a good candidate for a mastectomy.
We were curious to know which treatment route Jamie took, and how she felt making the decision. Jamie explained she took both recommendations home and started her research, which brought on a whirlwind of emotions. Jamie expressed “To pull myself together I continued to remind myself that this was my choice, something many don’t have or get. I even took it as far as saying “I am getting a free boob job” and joking that I will never wear a bra again.” After weighing her options, Jamie choose to under go a bilateral mastectomy.
We then asked Jamie how she felt in her body post surgery. She responded “I was about 8 months post-surgery and still not feeling at all “normal”, I felt empty, almost un-human if that makes sense…” The surgery took a toll on her self - esteem and confidence. Jamie was at a loss on how to feel human again.
During a follow-up appointment her doctor recommended that Jamie get a bra to help with shaping. He suggested a “specialty bra place” that his daughter went too. Jamie promptly booked an appointment in hopes of restoring her self - esteem.
This is when we got the pleasure of meeting Jamie in person. We asked Jamie how her experience with Rubies Bras made her feel. She expressed “I can't find the words to express the way I felt the moment you helped me put the bra on and do it up…. A rush of emotions flooded in, it took all my might not to cry. For the first time in months… I FELT HUMAN! I absolutely LOVE my bras and actually now brag about how nice and comfortable they are. I truly cannot thank you enough… for the time you spent with me and didn’t rush me, making the process “normal”, and for your kind words/compassion. You are a wonderful person doing wonderful things.” We are so honoured to be apart of Jamie’s breast cancer journey. Being able to make her feel human again warms our hearts to another level.
Here are the pictures of the bras we made for Jamie.
In the final minutes of Jamies interview, we wanted to know if she had any advice for others going through this unsettling time. Jamie left us with this “A very smart lady once told me to start each morning with one foot on the floor, and I do love the saying “Fight like a girl”! There is no right or wrong with any decision throughout this process, it’s something no one should ever have to go through. I do recommend doing whatever is best for you, not because of someone else's experiences or because someone said one way is better than the other… do what is best for you!"
We want to thank Jamie for her sharing us her raw experience with us all. We hope by sharing Jamie’s story, we can encourage more women to take care of their breasts and book their mammograms. Being proactive in your breast health can make all the difference in your odds of defeating the fight against breast cancer.
- Celine, Rubies Bras