PUBLISHED ON: 25 May 2020

Grandmother-of-six, Ruth, has been diagnosed with primary breast cancer three times. She had just completed hospital treatment for her most recent breast cancer diagnosis when she was diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Ruth holding one of her baby grandchildren

I had all the symptoms 

I started feeling slightly unwell one day, and when I woke up the next day I felt really ill. I had all the symptoms: pain in my chest, a high temperature and I was coughing. 

I stayed at home for as long as possible. My GP gave me painkillers but when my symptoms worsened in the second week, I phoned 111 and was advised to go to hospital. 

My husband drove me there. I stayed in the back seat to try to keep my distance from him and we both had scarves covering our nose and mouth. When we got there, we had to tell them we had arrived and they asked me to come inside alone. My husband was not allowed into the hospital.  

They decided to keep me in overnight because my oxygen levels were fluctuating. The staff were excellent – they were so kind and kept checking my breathing. 

I was a high-risk patient 

The first couple of weeks with coronavirus, I thought I wasn’t going to make it. I thought, I am going to die of this. I found it harder than breast cancer. 

I was a high-risk patient from day one because of my low immune system due to my treatment. I have had breast cancer three times, and over the years have had two mastectomies, two reconstructions, a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. My most recent diagnosis was in 2018. 

When I think back on all the times I have been diagnosed with breast cancer and now getting through this virus, I feel very fortunate. I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 and it’s now 2020 and I’m still fighting through it all. 

I am thankful I survived 

It’s been a very difficult past few weeks and I feel so thankful that I made it, especially when I think of all the people who have died from this virus. I’m also thankful to Breast Cancer Now. Whenever I had questions, they were always there. The Helpline is invaluable – it’s amazing being able to talk to specialist nurses so easily. 

Now, I’m just looking forward to things returning to normal so I can see my grandchildren again. 

 

For more information on coronavirus and how it may affect you, please refer to the One Cancer Voice guidelines.

Coronavirus guidelines