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Topic: My mom just got diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer

Forum: Caring for Someone with Stage IV or Mets —

A place where family members, caregivers, and loved ones of people having a Stage IV (metastatic) diagnosis can share, discuss, and support one another through the tough times unique to this diagnosis.

Posted on: Apr 18, 2021 11:13PM

Yeray717 wrote:

Hello everyone! My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time in 2018. I’m originally from Spain, she was treated there and the tumor was completely gone after surgery and chemo and everything was going great since then, all scans, gammas, etc clear since last week where they found a tiny little tumor in the hips. After doing a lot of tests during this last week her oncologist finally diagnosed her with stage IV breast cancer and I’m completely desolated. I’m currently living in Atlanta GA, I’m fully vaccinated and obviously I’m getting ready to travel overseas to spend with her a long time. My father is trying to be strong, as my grandmother, but we are having the worst time of our lives. She’s fairly young (63) and is full of energy. I know in her last check up four months ago everything was clear ( her oncologist checked up again the last PEC & gamma and everything was going great). My first mistake was looking on the internet about metastasized breast cancer and it brought me completely down. She’s starting treatment next week, but also I read that at this point it doesn’t matter if it’s caught early or not. I found myself finding this amazing community and after reading some of the success stories have brought me back some hope. I just wanted to hear some advice on how to deal with the initial shock and the real possibilities of having her still for years to come. Thank you all!;

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Apr 18, 2021 11:41PM - edited Apr 18, 2021 11:46PM by exbrnxgrl

¡Bienvenida!

I am sorry to hear of your mom's dx. I am here to tell you what a bad doctor Dr. Google is and urge you to stay away from him! Although no one, doctors included, have a crystal ball as to what the future holds, there is reason for optimism. I will be 65 in September. I work full time, first grade teacher, and have an almost normal life, pandemic not withstanding. And I was diagnosed with a metastasis to my upper femur almost ten years ago. Yes, almost ten years without progression after my initial treatment. Granted, I am not typical and the reasons for my survival are unknown (we are called exceptional responders or outliers) but my point is that your mother has not been handed a death sentence. She has many potential treatments and reasons for hope. Many of the drugs that women with bone mets take these days hadn't even been approved when I was first diagnosed.

I know this is worrisome. I understand . Tengo dos hijas y me recuerdo how they reacted when I was diagnosed*.This is certainly not what any family wants to happen to a loved one but I hope this offers you a bit of optimism. Feel free to ask me anything.
Take good care, querida y abrazos virtuales.

*Although I have lived in CA for over 30 years, I grew up in the Bronx which accounts for my use of Spanglish, the official language of the Bronx 😊

Bilateral mx 9/7/11 with one step ns reconstruction. As of 11/21/11, 2cm met to upper left femur Dx 7/8/2011, IDC, Left, 4cm, Grade 1, 1/15 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 9/7/2011 Lymph node removal: Left; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Dx 11/2011, IDC, Left, 4cm, Stage IV, Grade 1, 1/15 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 11/21/2011 Arimidex (anastrozole) Radiation Therapy 11/21/2011 Bone Hormonal Therapy 6/19/2014 Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane)
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Apr 19, 2021 12:08PM Yeray717 wrote:

Hola exbrnxgrl!

Muchisimas gracias por tu comentario, I really needed it! She’s starting with treatment on Friday so I guess we’ll have a better idea then. I talked to her this morning and she is facing it really well, while I was crying inside and trying to be funny and happy on the outside... it is really hard. I would love to ask you about timing... if there’s a point in time where we know the treatment is being effective or not, etc Also, what can we do to make her feel good and not thinking about it all the time? I know she’s going to try to be strong as always and will try to carry with basically everything as she always does, but I feel it is good for all of us to cry it out. I’m a sea of emotions right now... though thanks to your comment yesterday i slept better thinking of that ray if hope!

I lived in New York City since 2013 till last year, just right before the pandemic started that we moved to Granada Hills in California! And this year Atlanta! That weather in California is soooo amazing!

Once again Muchisimas gracias por tu ayuda, that even if you don’t believe it you made a lot for me already and hoping to keep chatting with you for a lonnng time! You spanglish is more than welcome!

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Apr 19, 2021 09:19PM exbrnxgrl wrote:

Querida, that is a lot of moving in a short time! Vivo en San José, the capitol of Silicon Valley. I am glad that your mom is holding up well but I agree that she should feel free to express all emotions. Anger and grief are not inappropriate! I don’t believe a good attitude will cure cancer but it will make your life a lot easier and let you enjoy each day.

Your question about timing; typically patients are given some type of scan after a course of initial treatment. What that initial treatment is will vary as each patient is different, doctors have different approaches and sometimes we see things vary by country. Por ejemplo, my initial treatment was radiation to the femur. After that was completed (15 sessions) I had a PET scan which showed the metastasis was metabolically inactive. For three years, mas o menos, I was scanned every three months. Then, as there was no progression, we moved to ever six months and for the past two years I am only scanned annually!

Please take good care of yourself and I hope you sleep well. Sleep is healing. Abrazos

Bilateral mx 9/7/11 with one step ns reconstruction. As of 11/21/11, 2cm met to upper left femur Dx 7/8/2011, IDC, Left, 4cm, Grade 1, 1/15 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 9/7/2011 Lymph node removal: Left; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Dx 11/2011, IDC, Left, 4cm, Stage IV, Grade 1, 1/15 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 11/21/2011 Arimidex (anastrozole) Radiation Therapy 11/21/2011 Bone Hormonal Therapy 6/19/2014 Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane)
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Apr 19, 2021 09:29PM moth wrote:

Yeray, I'm sorry about your mom's diagnosis. Stage 4 is treatable but not curable so generally speaking, for the vast majority of us, treatments are to buy time. . Some people have exceptional response to treatment & manage to buy a lot of time, but most do not. Is your mother's cancer hormone positive or negative? That changes prognosis significantly. Bone only is also a good prognosis.

Once she tries a treatment and they rescan, then you'll have a bit of a better idea of what to expect next. We have an active bone mets thread which might be helpful to have a read. She's likely to be put on a bone strengthening medicine in addition to any other treatment.

https://community.breastcancer.org/forum/8/topics/...

best wishes! I hope she responds super well to treatment :)

Initial dx at 50. Seriously???? “Sometimes the future changes quickly and completely and we’re left with only the choice of what to do next." blog: nevertellmetheodds2017.tumblr.... Dx 12/2017, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/5 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 12/12/2017 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Chemotherapy 2/13/2018 AC + T (Taxol) Radiation Therapy 8/13/2018 Whole-breast: Breast Dx 2/2020, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to liver/lungs, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 3/18/2020 Taxol (paclitaxel) Immunotherapy 3/18/2020 Tecentriq (atezolizumab) Chemotherapy 11/25/2020 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel) Radiation Therapy 12/8/2020 External Dx 12/9/2020, IDC, Right, Stage IV, metastasized to lungs, Grade 3, ER+/PR-, HER2- (IHC) Hormonal Therapy 12/15/2020 Femara (letrozole) Dx 1/28/2021, IDC, Left, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, Grade 3 Radiation Therapy 3/2/2021 External: Bone
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Apr 19, 2021 11:41PM jhl wrote:

Hi Yeray,

I don't speak Spanish but welcome & welcome to your mom. Is your mom computer literate? If so, you might be able to get her on this site herself although she would need translation help if she doesn't speak or read English. If not, I hope you share some of the stories on here because they are inspiring. As far as things to distract her, do you have children? Grandchildren are a universal welcome distraction for all of us who are Grandparents. Of course, FaceTime, Zoom, etc are great, they can be troublesome at times. If you have children or nieces/nephews of elementary school age, you can try having them be internet pen pals. Of course, you would need to translate if your kids cannot write Spanish. What does your mom do for relaxation? Knit? You can go to a knitting store & purchase some yarn. I did that for my mom once. Garden? Go online to purchase seeds or seedlings that are compatible with her climate & location. Books? Again, go online & find a good book that might interest her. Of course, a visit is always a wonderful thing to give our parents. If at all possible, I would encourage you to try to make it a family trip if Spain is opening its borders at all. Distraction by normalcy - the fixing of a meal, sharing the sunshine, late nights catching up all help in ways that are difficult to describe. As others have mentioned, one bone met does not mean the end is near. This truly is a marathon and your parents will be grateful for years to come for your kind attention.

Be well.

Dx 11/15/2019, IDC: Cribriform, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH)
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Apr 20, 2021 01:29PM Yeray717 wrote:

Hey mot!

No problem at all! At this point I think I manage myself pretty well in English ( hope so... lol) It’s being a while living in the US permanently plus years of internship prior to it. For what I read in the peperwork ( told my father to send all the documents for me to check too and be more informed) is ER 4/8 PR 3/8 HER2-, but I didn’t want to put a lot of pressure on him to send all the inform over because he’s pretty down right now. But i git to see that. Hopefully I’ll have everything on the email in a couple of hours. She was just diagnosed on Friday and we are all in shock but her! I’m already arranging my trip to be with her in the moment i get my second dose of the vaccine, which will be on the 27th and then I’ll be ready to go!

Hopefully can talk with the oncologist face to face too which it will make it easier too.


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Apr 20, 2021 03:18PM LivinLife wrote:

Welcome Yeray! I sooo feel for you and your family - so many feelings you're experiencing! I'm so glad you are able to travel back to Spain and spend a long time with family. I'm also glad you've taken time to read on this site and see how much progress there has been in cancer treatment, including Stage IV. I will not say much about that b/c I actually know next to nothing. What I can tell you is that indeed there are many on this site who have been battling for years and alive to battle those years. Hopefully some of those folks will respond at some point. Otherwise check out the threads for caregivers and I believe there may be a forum or thread (Stage IV) that does allow non-Stage IV patients on there...Most are ONLY for people with Stage IV. Not sure how those members feel about family members on those sites? Maybe someone will speak to that as well.

with expansive comedo necrosis & weak ER/PR Dx 7/2020, DCIS, Left, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+ Surgery 8/31/2020 Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right
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Apr 21, 2021 03:58PM - edited Apr 21, 2021 04:03PM by Yeray717

Hello LivinLive!

Believe me when I say that this community has helped me a lot already, since day one. When I got the call last Friday confirming the dx I was broken, my mother is my everything and with her by my side I know I can face everything... Spent the weekend crying non stop, I couldn't sleep ( still don't sleep well at all ), but after reading successful real stories, of people that have been living with mets for 5/7/10/15 years... was the ray of hope I needed. Doesn't mean that my mind is not getting ready for the worst, because it is, but at least I have that 10/20% of hope that out-brights the rest of negative thoughts and feelings. I know she has had and is having the best life, she's a really positive and happy person and I know she doesn't regret anything she has done in life!!! I tried not to bother her too much over the phone ( my father and sister are dealing with all thi since day one and I kind of feel so bad for them) but when I talked to her she doesn't even mention it! She even told me no, don't come, your father and I will go to Atlanta when I finish the first treatment... Obviously I'm still going no matter what she says... but that made me smile ( She loves to travel an never been in Atlanta, only New York and LA) So I agree that this community is what I was needing, because it really is that light of HOPE


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