Fill Out Your Profile to share more about you. Learn more...

My wife is scared...help

Married_to_a_Fighter
Married_to_a_Fighter Member Posts: 1
edited January 2018 in Just Diagnosed

So I haven’t seen too many men post on here, so I hope that I am not intruding.

Here is the story: My Wife got a clean mammogram in August, but in September she felt “something”’that didn’t seem right. She didn’t think too much about it until she felt it again in October. She had an ultrasound that showed “something”, and she went to her breast doctor. The doctor examined her, and said she actually felt two lumps. She said she was positive one was a cyst, and one wasn’t just tissue. She did a biopsy of the “tissue” and it actually came back positive for cancer. A follow up MRI showed there were a total of 3 leasions (1.2 cm, 2.0 cm, 2.4 cm) all in the right breast with no signs of spreading to the lymph nodes. Her breast doctor is recommending a visit with an oncologist asap. The result of the biopsy shows that she tested positive for HER2. Apparently, because of this, she will need chemo, followed by a mastectomy, With follow ups after.

UNderstandably so, my wife has gone into panic mode. Her biggest fear is that the cancer cells have already spread through her blood, and she’s not going to be around for our two childreb

We have a second opinion at The Univeristy of Penn, this Wednesday and hope to see an oncologist as well.

What Can I tell my wife to help her through this most difficult time? Any advice is appreciated.


Pat

Comments

  • Georgia1
    Georgia1 Member Posts: 188
    edited January 2018

    Good morning and of course you are welcome here! For many of us our spouses have been our most important source of support and I appreciate your efforts to help your wife.

    First of all, encourage her to share her feelings since she's probably going me afraid, angry and sad all at once. Getting this kind of news is very hard. Second, from what you have posted it sounds like you are getting great care. And with no lymph node involvement her prognosis is very good - she is likely to be around to enjoy your children for many, many years to come. So you can reassure her there.

    I'm sure others will chime in later today but I am thinking good thoughts for you both.

  • elainetherese
    elainetherese Member Posts: 1,625
    edited January 2018

    Hi!

    I was also diagnosed with HER2+ cancer, which can be scary. About 25% of breast cancer patients test positive for an overexpression of the protein HER2, which encourages the cancer cells to divide and divide and divide. That's why HER2+ breast cancer is typically Grade 2 or Grade 3 and is considered aggressive. About half of the breast cancer patients who test positive for an overexpression of HER2 also have cancer that is fed by hormones (ER+/PR+). Hence, triple positive BC patients typically get BOTH targeted therapy for the overexpression of HER2 (Herceptin and Perjeta [if tumor is bigger than 2 cm]) and hormonal therapy (Tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor) to starve the body of the estrogen that has been contributing to the development of cancer cells.

    In the past, testing positive for an overexpression of HER2 was a bad thing. Only 40% of BC patients who had HER2+ cancer were still alive, five years after diagnosis. However, with the development of targeted therapy (Herceptin and now Perjeta), the survival rates of BC patients who are HER2+ are about the same as for other BC patients. That is to say that over 90% of HER2+ cancer patients who were diagnosed at Stages I and 2 are still alive after five years, and that over 75% of HER2+ cancer patients who were diagnosed at Stage III are still alive after five years.

    The big difference between the HER2+ and HER2- crowds is the length of active treatment. For example, I had five months of chemo (AC + THP) then surgery, and then a year of Herceptin after that. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

    Your wife could request a PET scan if she is concerned about whether the cancer has spread beyond the breast area. I had one before chemo, and it showed that my cancer was localized.

    I know that a breast cancer diagnosis can lead to all sorts of negative thoughts and fears that death is approaching. However, breast cancer is very treatable, as compared to many other cancers. (My uncle has Stage II pancreatic cancer; statistics show that 50% of patients with his cancer are still alive after five years.)

    ((Hugs)) to you and your wife.

  • DATNY
    DATNY Member Posts: 53
    edited January 2018

    I don't think there is not much to say right now to make her feel truly better. She's going through a phase almost every one of us here did. Although it is hard to believe this now, the mental state does improve significantly once the treatment begins. The treatment sounds scarry at first, but hundreds of thousands of women went through it fine and with good outcome, so there are pretty good chances she will too. Unfortunately, there is no way to say for sure right now what will happen in the future. But, if she takes a look at roll calls for Her2+ women, she can see there is hope, including for those with metastasis found at diagnosis. Below is a link to a roll call for hormone negative, Her2 positive women:

    https://community.breastcancer.org/forum/80/topics/767013?page=53#post_5115797

  • pupmom
    pupmom Member Posts: 1,032
    edited January 2018

    The beginning is always the most scary part of this "journey." Once you get surgery scheduled and decide what other treatment she needs, you will both feel better. Also, you will not know about nodes until after surgery. I was told that every scan indicated my nodes were clear. Then, it was found I had two with micromets during surgery. That was devastating news to my husband and I, because we had been erroneously reassured I wouldn't have positive nodes. BUT, the good news is that I am doing great six years after diagnosis! You can both get through this with flying colors!

  • LisaAlissa
    LisaAlissa Member Posts: 34
    edited January 2018

    Hi Pat (and Pat's wife!),

    So sorry you're having to deal with this...definitely see a medical oncologist before surgery. Often neoadjevent chemo (before surgery chemo) is recomended now. Since the lesions are still there, they will be able to see if it's the "right" chemo for her by the response of the lesions. A good response will mean a smaller surgery will become possible. All good things.

    As you will no doubt have noted (or will soon, if not yet), trying to look too far ahead in this nasty "journey" just doesn't work. There are too many branching possibilities at each step. So just deal with the things presented today. What you can worry about, is whether there is "anything else" which should be presented today...and that's what second opinions are for.

    Please come back and tell us how your wife is doing...and maybe have her join here too! It can be very, very helpful to be able to vent at "the strangers on the internet" instead of your nearest and dearest. For example, I wanted to be kind to those supporting me, but sometimes I needed to blow up--and strangers like us are a better target than the people in the room.

    From what you've said (and what I've read from others with a similar DX), I fully expect to hear that your wife is doing well!

    Best wishes,

    LisaAlissa

  • beach2beach
    beach2beach Member Posts: 245
    edited January 2018

    Sorry you find yourself here in regards to your wife. It is an overwhelming diagnosis and your head spins. I cried the whole weekend and was in a daze. Biggest concern was my not wanting to leave my kids. The not knowing the specifics is hard, leaves you hanging until someone lays out a plan with you and you feel like you can take some control back. It is great that they see no node involvement, even if they did it does not mean a less survival rate. It just can change the course of treatment.

    Did her pathology on her biopsy indicate what type of breast cancer and the hormonal status ER,PR ?

  • Silbar
    Silbar Member Posts: 8
    edited January 2018

    Everyone so far have made great responses so I don't have much to add. I will say that your support will be HUGE in helping her through this. Be supportive of things she wants to do that will help to take her mind off of this for even moments at a time...movie nights, going out to dinner, working on home projects, etc. The biggest thing that you can do is to allow her to have and share her feelings. Understandably she is afraid of the unknown but she needs to be able to voice her feelings. Be her best advocate. Right now she feels like she doesn't have any control of things but once she gets a "plan of attack" she will have less anxiety. Good luck and please keep us posted.