As a celebration of International Breast Cancer Day, this October 19th, we have reproduced an interview published in Cugat.cat and El Cugatenc to our colleague Carme Roca, who three years ago suffered in first person this disease. Carme is a fighter and an example for hundreds of women who everyday fight breast cancer, which affects one in 8 women. From the SC Trade Center we want to support her fight.
At what point do you find out you have cancer?
I went for a check-up because I noticed a lump in my breast. I left with the biopsy done and although they did not tell me, I could see it coming. I arrived home devastated. Afterwards I had to undergo many tests. On February 23rd I got the result, although I took it for granted that I had breast cancer. On March 8th I started chemotherapy. Between one day and the next many things came to my mind: I thought I was dying and started thinking about legal issues. The hardest part has been telling my children. Each one perceives the problem in a different way because they are different. Fortunately, life at home has been able to continue more or less as before my diagnosis.
How did you explain it to your family, was it very difficult?
Yes, because emotionally I was not in a condition to tell them without crying. First, we told my eldest daughter and she took it with big sadness. With her we explained it to the little one and we tried to avoid using the word cancer, but when we explained the disease, both realized it was cancer.
And at work, how was it?
Very well. They knew before because when I went for the check-up, I had to stay more hours than expected and when I said I had cancer, I felt very sheltered by the management and by my colleagues. In fact, they bet on me, hiring me after the substitution I was doing. I don’t think it is the same in all companies.
Cancer is often associated with death, was it your case?
It is unavoidable, but at the same time you also realize that there are many people who have survived. The oncologist also gives you percentages of life expectancy and treatments, a circumstance that you do not know if your body will withstand. Death was very present during the first days because I thought I had a long time to live and, suddenly, I saw death very close to me. Until I switched up and told myself: “ I’m not going to die, I have a lot of things left to do and I have to put it aside. I cannot live thinking about death.” Now I value routines more than before. For example, it is very important for me to leave the house every morning, take my son to school and go to work. Until cancer touches you closely, it is not taken into account and, therefore, it is difficult to get involved.
During the whole process you came across with barriers, inconveniences that make you think that everything will be very complicated. For example, the issue of sick leave. There are many people with a significant illness, who cannot go working and have to be on sick leave.
To keep working and continue with a certain level of activity and keep on doing my day-to-day life, was the best possible for me. In fact, when you get diagnosed with cancer, you do not feel sick you start to feel bad as your treatment progresses. The treatment is what makes you feel sick.
I am the opinion, we have other aspects that have to be reconsidered, for instance the system of work should be more flexible, it should allow us to reduce hours…
Another important evidence to remark is the lack of professionals when you start looking for treatments. If you have lymph nodes removed (in my case), you are more likely to develop lymphedema. The lack of specialists is another critical situation, if you find a specialist there are not enough, like edema specialists, or specialists for oncology physiotherapist.
On the other side, there are many therapies that are being tested and proved, but there is no way to get to them, because they are not offered. In the end we only have the possibility of accessing them privately.
Your colleagues at the SC Trade Center thank you for the example you have set for us during this difficult journey. Your strength and courage are inspiring and a constant reminder of human resilience.