Meet the Survivor: Tonnie
On the "Finely Tuned Radiotherapy" trial
Could you tell us about yourself?
My name is Tonnie, I am 63 years old, married and the mother of 2 grown sons (ages 38 and 33). My older son is autistic. I work in a supermarket in the city of Arnhem in the Netherlands.
How did you feel when you learned about your breast cancer diagnosis?
In the Netherlands, there is a program called the ‘’volksonderzoek’’ and all women older than 50 are invited to have a mammography screening every 2 years. I went for my test in May 2012. A few days later, I got a phone call and was asked to come back. When I went back, they told me that they identified something suspicious that could lead to cancer and that I would have to make an appointment with a doctor.
Within two weeks, I went to see the doctor and I learned that I had breast cancer of a very early stage. I could not believe it – I was so surprised. I remember being in my garden and asking myself: how can it be?
What treatment did you receive for your DCIS?
My doctors advised a breast conserving surgery followed by radiotherapy. They also proposed that I could enter the DCIS clinical trial, aiming to develop better treatments for patients with early stage breast cancer. I had my operation, and directly after healing from surgery, I started radiotherapy. I received 33 sessions of radiotherapy during my participation in the trial. Fortunately, the hospital is only 10 km away from my home and I went daily by bike (except on weekends) in order to maintain my physical condition.
How did your DCIS treatment impact your life?
Although it was tough, I could manage the daily radiotherapy since my autistic son only comes home on the weekends. After finishing 33 sessions of radiotherapy, I felt relieved, but I still felt tired for a long period of time. My radiotherapy ended on the 18th of September 2012 and I could go on holidays as planned to Zeeland.
Today, I look at life in a much more relaxed way. I am able to keep life’s events in perspective. The only exception is my health. I still feel a constant fear each time I have a health problem or even when I have to go for a breast health check.
What motivated you to participate in the “Finely Tuned Radiotherapy” study?
I was motivated to take part in this clinical trial by my hope that we can better understand this stage of breast cancer and give a better chance of a cure to other women.