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Topic: Confused and worried

Forum: Alternative Medicine —

This forum is a safe, judgement-free place to discuss Alternative medicine. Alternative medicine refers to treatments that are used INSTEAD of standard, evidence-based treatment. Breastcancer.org does NOT recommend or endorse alternative medicine.

Posted on: Apr 24, 2021 08:09PM

Venusrising wrote:

Hello everyone!

I am new here and so happy to learn about this site. My 86 yr. old mom (she will be turning 87 tomorrow) has recently been diagnosed with BC. This was a major blow to our entire family, especially since she says she feels just fine (except when she is reminded of this), remains very active and no where in our family history has this ever happened. Anyway, she underwent a lumpectomy and thank goodness she is healing very nicely. However, her pathology results also threw us all a curve since it differed from her initial biopsy report. Originally, she was told surgery and hormonal therapy based on the biopsy, but now her doctor has recommended Radiation (5 days a week for 4 weeks) as well.

I am so worried about my mom submitting to Radiation and also concerned about the hormone therapy, especially at her age. With her baby, baby soft and delicate skin, I am sure she will feel the burning effects fairly early. But I am mostly concerned about loss of appetite (she is already very petite) and any nausea and / or vomiting, as she has never experienced that in her entire life ! Being a pretty avid reader about alternative therapies, I came across some information about H202 IV injections. Apparently, this form of therapy has been successfully utilized in Mexico and Europe for years. I also learned a bit about bio-energy healing. Has anyone ever tried any of these therapies, or heard about them?

Can someone please share some alternative therapies that have been found useful or successful?

Also, can someone please share their experience with radiation and hormonal therapy if they have tried them?

Thank you so much. I hope I have posted this correctly and within the rules of the forum.

Venus Smile

Dx 2/28/2021, IDC, Left, 2cm, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery Lumpectomy: Left
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Apr 24, 2021 08:38PM Beesie wrote:

Venus,

Treatment for the elderly often differs from treatment given to younger women. My mother was diagnosed at 80 and her only treatment was a lumpectomy plus a re-excision surgery (a second smaller lumpectomy) to increase the size of the surgical margins. Her doctors discussed both radiation and anti-hormone therapy, but with a favorable diagnosis, they were completely on board when she opted to pass on both treatments. She's 96 now - no recurrence or new breast problems.

What is your mother's diagnosis? That's critical to the treatment decision.


Dx 9/15/2005 Right, 7cm+, DCIS-Mi, Stage IA, Gr 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- ** Dx 01/16/2019 Left, 8mm, IDC, Stage IA, Gr 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- (FISH) ** Surgery 11/30/2005 MX Right, 03/06/2019 MX Left ** Hormonal Therapy 05/2019 Letrozole
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Apr 24, 2021 09:11PM typhoon wrote:

Venus, I'm so sorry for your mother's diagnosis, and hope she is healing well from her surgery. If, after you get all your questions answered by the oncologist, your mother decides she wants to pursue the course of action recommended by her oncologist (radiation and AI), an additional avenue for exploration would be to see if her oncologist works with, or can refer your mother to, any Homeopathic/Naturopathic doctors. My oncologist works in a practice which takes a holistic approach to cancer treatment, and she offered to refer me to a Naturopathic doctor to discuss management of side effects from the AI that I'm taking. So far, my side effects are minimal, so I haven't pursued this option. The Naturopathic doctor can also provide natural treatments for managing side effects from radiation and chemo as well.

Best wishes to your mother as she goes through this decision-making process, and to you as her supporter.

Hormonal Therapy 1/15/2020 Arimidex (anastrozole) Dx 10/23/2020, DCIS/IDC, Both breasts, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 12/9/2020 Lymph node removal: Left, Right, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant
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Apr 24, 2021 11:46PM AliceBastable wrote:

My mother had breast cancer at age 85 and had six weeks of radiation with no problems. I have extremely fair skin that sunburns easily and I had no problem with six weeks of radiation either. I got a little bit of pink on my collarbone, and I think if there are no micromets, that area isn't as heavily zapped.

Endometrial cancer 2010, basal cell multiples, breast cancer 2018, kidney cancer 2018. Boring. Dx 5/2018, ILC/IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 1/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 7/10/2018 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 8/7/2018 Radiation Therapy 10/28/2018 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Apr 25, 2021 02:00AM Venusrising wrote:

Thank you ladies for your valuable feedback. We so appreciate it! Beesie, in answer to your question, my mom's dx is INVASIVE DUCTAL CARCINOMA, grade III. Again, any alternative treatments that anyone has tried and found favorable would be helpful for us to learn.

Thanks again!SillyHeart

Dx 2/28/2021, IDC, Left, 2cm, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery Lumpectomy: Left
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Apr 25, 2021 04:14AM AliceBastable wrote:

Alternative treatments to radiation? No. It's not a DIY project. A patient can refuse radiation, but there isn't a lay substitute. Is your mother in good shape for her age mentally and physically, apart from this diagnosis? Then she needs to be the one to decide how she wants to be treated.

Endometrial cancer 2010, basal cell multiples, breast cancer 2018, kidney cancer 2018. Boring. Dx 5/2018, ILC/IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 1/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 7/10/2018 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 8/7/2018 Radiation Therapy 10/28/2018 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Apr 25, 2021 07:21AM - edited Apr 25, 2021 07:22AM by abigailj

Hi Venusrising - My stepmom had radiation for 4 weeks, 3 days per week rather than 5 days per week, following a unilateral mastectomy at 89. She has fine, thin skin that's the norm for that age but had nothing beyond pink/light sunburn type of irritation. She said staying in the position/arm placement was uncomfortable but was doable. She's 92 now, taking Armidex, and doing pretty well No residual issues from the rads

Hope your mom will consider doing the rads as well.

Dx 1/2020, ILC/IDC, Both breasts, 2cm, Stage IB, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 6/23/2020 Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap, SIEA flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap, SIEA flap
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Apr 25, 2021 10:26AM Beesie wrote:

Venus, IDC grade 3 is part of the diagnosis but that's too generalized / high level. To determine the treatment plan and the amount of benefit from rads and anti-hormone therapy, other important factors are:

- the size and focality of the tumor (one area of cancer or more than one, how widely spread out?)

- the size of the surgical margins (was the cancer within the breast tissue that was removed surrounded by a large area of non-cancerous tissue, or did the cancer come right up to the edge of the removed tissue?)

- whether there is nodal involvement

- the ER and PR status (and percent strength of ER and PR, if ER+ and PR+)

- whether the cancer is HER2+ (I'm assuming not, since it appears that chemo is not being recommended)

- the Oncotype or Mammaprint score (usually but not always done for ER+ / HER2- cancers).

Does your mother have a copy of her biopsy and surgery pathology reports, and the imaging reports? This is important information that she needs to make her treatment decisions. Is your mother just dealing with a surgeon at this time, or has she seen a Medical Oncologist? Beyond surgery, the treatment plan should be managed by the MO. Surgeons operate; MOs do the rest.

My advice is to take a step back to review the situation. You've jumped to alternative treatments without understanding why the traditional treatments have been recommended and how much risk your mother faces and how much benefit your mother will get from these traditional treatments. As other posters have pointed out, many older patients tolerate these treatments well. But before your mother makes any decision on whether or not to go ahead with either rads and/or anti-hormone therapy, and before you start thinking about alternative treatments, at the age of 87 what your mother really needs to understand is the amount of risk she faces - both local recurrence risk and metastatic recurrence risk - and the amount of risk reduction she will get from rads and anti-hormone therapy. Rads is given to reduce the risk of a localized (in the breast area) recurrence. If she had a large grade 3 tumor and narrow surgical margins, her risk might be very high, in which case the benefit of rads would be significant and to my understanding there are no alternative treatments that can address this. But if her tumor was small and the surgical margins were large, her risk might be quite small, in which case the benefit of rads would be even smaller. Anti-hormone therapy reduces the risk of both a localized recurrence and a distant/metastatic recurrence. Your mother's risk of a metastatic recurrence depends on many elements within the pathology - her MO is the doctor she should talk to about this. Here again, if her risk is relatively low, and considering that mets may take many years to develop, there might be little risk reduction benefit from taking anti-hormone therapy. But if based on the pathology of her cancer, her risk is very high, then the benefit will obviously be greater and your mother might decide to try anti-hormone therapy (she can always try them to see how well she tolerates these meds).

Is your mother making her own decisions, or has she asked for input from you (or the family in general) or are you actively involved with her care (attending appointments with her)?


Dx 9/15/2005 Right, 7cm+, DCIS-Mi, Stage IA, Gr 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- ** Dx 01/16/2019 Left, 8mm, IDC, Stage IA, Gr 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- (FISH) ** Surgery 11/30/2005 MX Right, 03/06/2019 MX Left ** Hormonal Therapy 05/2019 Letrozole
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Apr 25, 2021 12:38PM Salamandra wrote:

When I was getting radiation I made buddies with a woman in her mid-eighties. She had refused hormonal treatment but the docs insisted on radiation and she went along with it. She was also petite and quite thin. I think her fatigue was worse than mine but she was basically fine.

Radiation prevents local recurrences. In a younger person, the biggest bonus of that is that by extension, it reduces the chance of distant recurrence, which helps with mortality. But in an older person, it has the additional important benefit of reducing the need for another surgery. What I mean is, the reduction of chances for surgery is reduced no matter how old someone is, but in an elderly person, surgery itself can be more dangerous so avoiding it may be of greater benefit.

For some women, hormonal therapy is a breeze. Your mother may try it and it will be a like a sugar pill for her that does its magic. For others, it can be a major negative impact on quality of life. Even if a person eventually finds a drug they can tolerate, it can take up to two years of trial and error. That time may be even more precious at your mother's age. But there is no way for her to know how it will impact her except trying it.

At least if she gets radiation, she gets some extra protection in case the hormonal therapy doesn't work out.

This must be your mother's decision. If it is something that SHE is concerned about, she should talk to her doctors, perhaps get a second opinion from a doctor with a lot of experience with older patients, perhaps see whether she can get connected (via her treatment center, social worker, these boards, or any other organization) with other women her age who have faced this decision.

What I wouldn't do is assume that you know what the impact of radiation or other treatments will be, or pressure your mother in any way. The thought that you might pressure her to forego conventional standard of care treatment in favor of unproven alternate therapies is alarming, to say the least.

Dx at 39. 1.8cm. Oncotype 9. Dx 9/19/2018, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 10/18/2018 Lumpectomy; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Hormonal Therapy 11/1/2018 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy 12/3/2018 Whole-breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy 12/19/2019 Fareston (toremifene)
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Apr 25, 2021 08:40PM Cowgirl13 wrote:

There are shorter radiation protocols - I had about 18 or 19 and it was very easy--I was 63 when I had rads. I'd like to also suggest that you put aside the alternative treatment information for now and hyper-focus on 'why the traditional treatments have been recommended and how much risk your mother faces and how much benefit your mother will get from these traditional treatments (per Beesie).

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the Devil says: 'Oh crap! She's up! Dx 5/28/2009, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Surgery 6/18/2009 Chemotherapy 8/3/2009 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 12/21/2009 Hormonal Therapy 2/23/2010 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Apr 25, 2021 11:59PM Venusrising wrote:

Thank you abigaili for your kind words.

Dx 2/28/2021, IDC, Left, 2cm, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery Lumpectomy: Left
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Apr 26, 2021 12:13AM Venusrising wrote:

Wow, as I read some of the responses I have received, I feel that I must make some clarifications.. As far as being involved in my mothers decision, we are a very close family and rely on one another to help make the best choices. As stated in the Topic line, my mom is confused and worried, as we all are. I just want to make it perfectly clear that although it is HER decision, she expects her family to help her in making this choice. That's what being a caring family does.

I decided to post on this particular forum because to be quite frank, I have little faith in conventional methods here in this country. I feel that there is way too much lobbying from the pharmaceutical industry and because of this, other healthier, safer and possibly easier and even less expensive methods are not allowed. As this is stated as "Alternative", I was under the impression that perhaps others on this forum were of the same opinion, I guess I made a mistake. Regardless, thank you all for your feedback. I will not longer be posting on this site.

Dx 2/28/2021, IDC, Left, 2cm, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery Lumpectomy: Left
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Apr 26, 2021 12:20AM AliceBastable wrote:

Venusrising

I'm sorry that you've decided that input from women who have actually had breast cancer and treatment for it is somehow offensive to you. So, your unfounded belief about the medical profession is more important than your mother receiving the best possible care? That's really disturbing.

Endometrial cancer 2010, basal cell multiples, breast cancer 2018, kidney cancer 2018. Boring. Dx 5/2018, ILC/IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 1/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 7/10/2018 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 8/7/2018 Radiation Therapy 10/28/2018 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Apr 26, 2021 09:43AM Beesie wrote:

Venus,

I don't know if you are still reading here. I hope you are. And I'm sorry that you are upset by the responses you received.

In re-reading your first post, you did not state that your mother is confused and worried; you said that the family is, and you are. You stated your concerns - no one reading your post would have any idea if they are your mother's concerns too. So it is fair to ask, and speaking for myself, I think I asked respectfully. I mentioned in any earlier post that my mother was diagnosed when she was 80. My mother is someone who would be inclined to take a doctor's advice and not ask questions. But she knows that it's better to ask the questions and is happy to have others do it for her. So when she was diagnosed, my father accompanied her to all her appointments, he informed me about what they were told, I did the digging around the internet and the 3 three of us discussed everything. After that, my mother made the decisions. So I was not passing judgement on your questions but merely wanted to understand your role.

If you are still reading, I'd suggest you re-read my posts. I was not arguing against alternative treatments. What I was suggesting is that you first take a step back to determine how necessary the traditional treatments actually are. At 87, the average life expectancy for a woman is 6 years. With luck your mother might have 10 or 12 years. Most breast cancer treatments aim for long-term survival; based on the average patient, that's more like 20-30 years. This is why an understanding of the pathology is so important. For example, if your mother has a diagnosis that is prone to late recurrence, perhaps no treatment beyond surgery is necessary - at your mother's age, treatment should aim to reduce her risk of serious illness for the next 5-8 years, not 20-30 years. This is why treatment protocols are often different for elderly patients. This is what your mother (or you, if you are accompanying her to appointments) needs to speak to her MO about.

It may be that your mother has a very aggressive cancer that puts her at immediate risk. But if not, if more if her risk is longer-term, it would not be unreasonable to skip the traditional treatments. And in that case, if the traditional treatments can be skipped without significant short-term risk, this also means that alternative treatments aren't necessary.

You've jumped to a lot of conclusions without having most of the facts. Suggesting that you step back and get the facts isn't being unsupportive - it's being practical and it will lead to better decisions on treatment, whether in the end your mother chooses traditional treatments, alternative treatments or no additional treatment.

Good luck to your mother! Personally I'd be very interested to hear more about her diagnosis, what the MO says and what she decides to do.


Dx 9/15/2005 Right, 7cm+, DCIS-Mi, Stage IA, Gr 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- ** Dx 01/16/2019 Left, 8mm, IDC, Stage IA, Gr 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- (FISH) ** Surgery 11/30/2005 MX Right, 03/06/2019 MX Left ** Hormonal Therapy 05/2019 Letrozole

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