Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. About 1 in 7 women are diagnosed with this disease during their lifetime. A Life in a Day has created a unique immersive experience of what it is like to live with breast cancer for 24 hours. All experiences are based on the stories of real patients.
On Sunday, June 4, 2023, the world celebrates National Cancer Survivors Day. A Life in a Day would like to honour those who live with cancer for their courage and invincibility.
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A Life in a Day interviewed cancer survivors all around the world to create an immersive experience for those working in any area of healthcare within multiple therapy areas. By going through an experience most of the participants share that their mindset was completely changed: their empathy and understanding of patients were measurably increased.
Real cancer survivors shared with the A Life in a Day team their stories of overcoming the disease and difficulties they faced after recovery.
Lifestyle After Cancer
Cancer’s impact on life after recovery is very challenging. Patients shared that many things had changed after treatment: from daily routines to relationships with a partner, friends and family.
We set out to create an immersive experience and help people to better understand what life with breast cancer is. We thought before that it would be about diagnoses and treatment with recovery. What we didn’t realize was the challenges faced by the patient after overcoming cancer, – said Mark Doyle, founder of ALIAD.
A Life in a Day talked to 35-year-old Jo, a breast cancer survivor. She shared her personal story of how her life changed after she overcame the disease.
Social & Emotional Impacts of Cancer
Jo learned of her diagnosis at the age of 28 and told us how the disease and treatment affected her life.
You know what, it is not the same you. You change as a person, but you are still the same person. You do not think the same, you do not do things the same. Anxiety, fear level, everything is heightened and that does not go away, – Jo said.
Jo admitted that the disease caught her unexpectedly. She thought about easily returning back to a normal life after recovery.
“It does not work like that at all. That is the one thing that changes the most. So, it is not just physical, it is mental, it is emotional, and how you see the world, which is completely different. I suppose it is such a huge thing to go through”, – she added.
Jo shares her personal story on how cancer affected her life:
How Cancer Affects Family Life
Jo told us in an exclusive interview that breast cancer had impacted her family life, especially her parents. One of their biggest fears is the cancer returning. She recalls that during the pandemic how her mother and father insisted on her getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
“I did not want to have the COVID-19 jab, I just did not want to have it, but my parents begged me to do it. They begged me because it was the fear of something, like some underlying issue because cancer would affect me. In my life before cancer not getting jabs would have been fine. No, it is things like that and when you see how scared they are. I did it for my parents,” – shared Jo.
She added that she was adjusting her way of living, especially to make her family more secure.
Cancer and Intimate Relationships: Why Communication is Important
Jo confessed that breast cancer affected intimacy and emotional connection with her husband.
“Appearance is a massive thing. If you do not see yourself attractive, you do not feel attractive. So, you do not feel that emotional connection to your partner because you just don’t feel sexy or anything. So, if I am completely honest now, it had a massive effect on the sexual relationship that was between me and my husband”, – said Jo.
She added that sometimes it is especially important to ask for help. Jo explained if she could go back and change one of those things, it would be to explain to her husband more about what was really going on with her body and why it put a distance between them.
Breast Cancer, Friends and Social Life
Jo shared with us that she does not have as many friends as she used to have before she learned of her diagnosis.
I do not have as many friends now as I did before. I lost a lot of people on the way. I have continued to lose people. I have had a lot of people leave my life. You must surround yourself with good supportive people and not just the ones that are just going to be like, yes, if you call me, I will be there. You need to know that they are going to be there, – she added.
You are battling with yourself every single day."
Jo’s friend recommended trying an experiment – to send a message to five closest friends at midnight saying that she is struggling and needs someone to talk to.
“And if none of them reply, then none of them are worth your time. Be very careful who you allowed to come on that journey with, because I don’t have hardly any of the people, that were there at the start to date now,” – Jo added.
We would like to thank our heroine for having the courage to tell her story.
In the research published on ACS Journals
says that the 5-year relative survival rate for all cancers combined has increased from 49% for diagnoses during the mid-1970s to 68% for diagnoses during 2012 through 2018.
Authors added that current survival is highest for cancers of the thyroid (98%), prostate (97%), testis (95%) and for melanoma (94%), and lowest for cancers of the pancreas (12%), liver and esophagus (21%).
“Screening influences the interpretation of survival improvements for breast and prostate cancers because of lead-time bias and the detection of indolent cancers,72 which is likely also a factor for thyroid and other cancers that can be detected incidentally through imaging”, – states the research.
What is A Life in a Day? A Life in a Day is a unique, immersive experience lasting up to 24 hours. Participants go about their lives as normal… but for the duration they experience what it is like to live with a specific disease or condition.
All our experiences are built around real patient experiences. And, supported by our three components, we deliver a unique immersive learning simulation that helps life science professionals deliver on their patient centricity promise.