Meet Alex - a 47 year old female diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer

Alex is a 47 year white British female who was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer in July 2014 and lives with her husband, foster daughter, two dogs and a cat.  She owns a Victorian semi in the Wirral and is mother to a married son, soon to be married daughter and a four month old granddaughter.

She works as Full time Area Manager in a national social care organisation, she is also a foster carer, a trustee of a local children’s charity, crafter and a foodie.

What’s important to me?

  • To have as much quality time with family and friends as possible, for example at least one date a month with her husband and a few short breaks throughout the year.
  • To use holistic therapies including: acupuncture, reflexology, essential oils & massage.
  • To take as few allopathic medicines as possible.
  • To eat healthily most of the time.
  • Meditate every day as well as partake in art, knitting, baking, cooking, sewing and reading.                                                   
  • To help to empower people & change systems that don’t work.                                                  
  • For the house to be clean, tidy and welcoming.
  • A good work/life balance.               
  • Travel to new places.

Daily living

  • Alex continues to try to be as fit as possible.                                       
  • She has no symptoms at present but questions the occasional discomforts.
  • The most notable change since treatment is the lack of energy or sudden feeling of exhaustion.         
  • Continues to work full time but hopes to change this soon.
  • Struggles to maintain the healthy eating & exercising regime that she knows is vital for good health.

Health conditions, medication and provision

  • History of migraines and slight hypertension. These are managed with acupuncture and occasional painkillers.
  • Mastectomy & full lymph node removal.
  • Chemotherapy – 3 x FEC & 3 x Taxotere.
  • Six admissions to hospital including surgery due to nutrapenia, antibiotics (oral and intravenous antibiotics) prescribed and one blood transfusion.  
  • Regular Reflexology, some massage and acupuncture, juicing, alkaline, mainly vegan diet with some fasting and oil pulling.   
  • Radiotherapy treatment which includes homemade Aloe Vera and essential oils.
  • Tamoxifen prescribed for the next five years.
  • Acupuncture once bi-monthly and a massage.

Resources and assets

  • Alex has a fabulous family. Her husband and children live locally. Her parents and siblings live 50 miles away.
  • She also has great friends. She keeps in contact with those who are far away via social media.
  • Supportive colleagues and employers.
  • Private health care
  • As the main earner, Alex’s salary is important to her and to ensure that her family are comfortable.                                                                                                                                
  • Alex has a very good relationship wither her GP.
  • Acupuncturist from Wirral Holistic Care Service and meditation. 

Concerns and questions

  • While Alex can talk about and plan her ‘fun’eral; she would like a camp affair, with a disco ball, electric milk float and silver angel disco dancers on roller skates, she struggles to think about and talk about death, especially the ‘leaving people behind’ bit.                                                   
  • Alex prefers to stick her head in the sand regarding prognosis and hopes that one day her light will just go out.
  • Alex would like to make some sort of mark on the world. 
  • Alex would like to create some positive memories to leave people with.

Professionals concerns

  • Concerns that Alex’s use of alternative/complimentary treatments will be detrimental to her health.                       
  • Concerns that Alex may shun allopathic medicine which may benefit her clinically.                                                                                   
  • Her passion for a natural approach could cloud her judgement of the allopathic/western approach.