BIG Breast International Group
We will find a cure for breast cancer through global research and collaboration.

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.

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