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Topic: How to cope with my mum's mets and her feelings about it

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: Jul 13, 2021 08:05AM

DaughterOf wrote:

Hello,

Recently my mother has been diagnosed with a recurrence after 9y. It's spread to her liver and seems to be her2-, Er- and PrG+.

Her coping mechanism is to be angry and blame everyone. She's no longer the kind and loveable person I knew. She's angry or crying and blaming me for everything. Says she doesn't care if we live or die, we (my sister and I) have never done anything for her and we need to accept there's no help and she will die soon. She doesn't want to talk about treatment (currently recommended hormone therapy) and just wants to stay in bed or argue if we try to get her to do anything else.

She doesn't want to see a therapist or take meds. It's taking a huge toll on my and my sisters mental health and my sister is already suffering and being treated for depression.

How do I cope with this and how do I help? Thanks

Dx 11/2012, IDC, Left, 5cm, Stage IIIC, 4/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 6/2021, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to liver, ER-/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast Chemotherapy AC + T (Taxol) Chemotherapy FAC Surgery Mastectomy: Left
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Jul 13, 2021 11:54AM ctmbsikia wrote:

Hi Daughter. I am sorry about your mums diagnosis. Short of talking to a therapist or counselor (please reach out to your local cancer society they may have free assistance for you), the only thing you can do is to validate your mother's feelings. Let her know you love her no matter what, and that it's OK -- whatever she is feeling. Let her feel it. It's no one's fault. It's a disease. It seems your mum is still processing her situation, thus the looking for someone to blame. There is no right or wrong way, just through. I do hope it gets better for you in a little time.

Dx 12/14/2017, DCIS/IDC, Left, 4cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 1/16/2018, LCIS, Right Surgery 1/31/2018 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Radiation Therapy 4/11/2018 Whole-breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy 6/25/2018 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Jul 13, 2021 12:30PM - edited Jul 13, 2021 12:30PM by AliceBastable

Is it mets (spread to a different location in the body) or a local recurrence in the breast? Sorry, but the topic sounds like one thing and the description like another. They are two really different things so people's advice would probably be different, too.

Endometrial cancer 2010, basal cell multiples, breast cancer 2018, kidney cancer 2018. Boring. Hope it stays that way. Dx 5/2018, ILC, Left, 2cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 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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Jul 13, 2021 12:42PM moth wrote:

Alice, OPs mom has a metastatic recurrence with mets to the liver. She posted in another thread.

I'm sorry that things are so difficult for you Daughterof. That sounds really hard. Does she go to drs appointments and scans though? Would she go see a counsellor? If she was referred by her doctor? It sounds like she's suffering from a temporary major depressive episode which is not uncommon after a stage 4 dx. I was told by my oncologist that if I wanted she would refer me to a psychiatrist for anti depressants. This might be something your mother needs right now.

Either way, I think you and your sister should start seeing a counsellor right now too. Just listen, ignore as much as you can and try to get her to her doctor's appointments.

Would it help to tell your mom that death is not imminent. Median survival is 2-3 years - maybe tell her 'several' so it's not jarring - and so many people make it much much longer than that. So there are still years and birthdays and summers and winter holidays to celebrate ahead.

I take weekends off

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: Never Tell Me the Odds

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 2/14/2018 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 3/19/2020 Tecentriq (atezolizumab) Chemotherapy 11/26/2020 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel) Dx 12/9/2020, IDC, Right, Stage IV, metastasized to lungs, Grade 3, ER+/PR-, HER2- (IHC) Radiation Therapy 12/9/2020 External Hormonal Therapy 12/16/2020 Femara (letrozole) Dx 1/28/2021, IDC, Left, Stage IV, metastasized to bone Radiation Therapy 3/3/2021 External: Bone
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Jul 13, 2021 02:08PM illimae wrote:

Without knowing anything about your family dynamics, history, ages and living situation and cannot offer any specific advice but I can say as someone relatively young still, feelings of anger, betrayal (by our own body), unfairness at being robbed of the future we planned is pretty normal. I don’t have children but occasionally found myself frustrated that I had taken on too much family care, inadvertently leaving loved ones unprepared to deal with life without me. And then, there’s the hormonal medications, which can turn nice calm people into raging monsters over something as minor as placing a fork in the sink after you’ve just finished dishes.

Please try not to take it personally, she’s struggling with more than most can imagine. Offering to help is great but so is space and silence, if that what she wants.

Diagnosed at 41 Stage IV De Novo Dx 11/16/2016, IDC, Left, 5cm, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, Grade 3, 3/13 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+ (IHC) Chemotherapy 1/2/2017 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 1/2/2017 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Targeted Therapy 1/2/2017 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Surgery 6/26/2017 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Underarm/Axillary Radiation Therapy 8/10/2017 Breast, Lymph nodes Dx 10/5/2017, IDC, Left, 5cm, Stage IV, metastasized to brain, Grade 3, 3/13 nodes, ER+, HER2+ (IHC) Radiation Therapy 10/20/2017 External: Brain Radiation Therapy 4/18/2018 External: Brain Radiation Therapy 5/23/2019 External: Brain Surgery 1/22/2020 Radiation Therapy 2/17/2020 External: Brain Radiation Therapy 7/20/2020 External: Bone Radiation Therapy 12/4/2020 External: Brain Targeted Therapy Tukysa (tucatinib) Chemotherapy Xeloda (capecitabine) Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Jul 13, 2021 07:35PM - edited Jul 13, 2021 07:37PM by DaughterOf

Thank you all for replying. It's so hard to watch someone I love more than myself go through their biggest fear for the second time.. She's absolutely devastated and goes from full denial to complete, utter despair. I spoke to her about going to a nearby country for better treatment options (we come from a developing country so treatment can be a bit limited) and she seems to be a little more open towards it.

I guess what I'm asking here is.. What can I do to help her deal with this horrible thing? I know she loves me and my sister dearly and she's simply blinded by fear and doesn't mean all the things she said.. But I don't know how to get through to her and help her deal with this.

Edit to add that we're extremely close, best friends type of way. We do everything together, travel, watch TV, have brunch.. She's my soulmate and right now whatever I say seems to be the wrong thing and she says I'm lying and wants me to simply let her die.

Dx 11/2012, IDC, Left, 5cm, Stage IIIC, 4/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 6/2021, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to liver, ER-/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast Chemotherapy AC + T (Taxol) Chemotherapy FAC Surgery Mastectomy: Left
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Jul 16, 2021 12:38PM illimae wrote:

daughterof, all you can do is be kind and helpful. Your mom is in the worst of it right now and many of us experienced feelings or anger, despair and betrayal by our own bodies. Honestly, the best relief was time and treatment options that worked giving us a sense of normalcy and hope. If she’s open to it, she may benefit from communicating with another stage IV person here or at a hospital who is doing well and can show her that a good life (even shorter than planned) is still possible. Good luck.

Diagnosed at 41 Stage IV De Novo Dx 11/16/2016, IDC, Left, 5cm, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, Grade 3, 3/13 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+ (IHC) Chemotherapy 1/2/2017 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 1/2/2017 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Targeted Therapy 1/2/2017 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Surgery 6/26/2017 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Underarm/Axillary Radiation Therapy 8/10/2017 Breast, Lymph nodes Dx 10/5/2017, IDC, Left, 5cm, Stage IV, metastasized to brain, Grade 3, 3/13 nodes, ER+, HER2+ (IHC) Radiation Therapy 10/20/2017 External: Brain Radiation Therapy 4/18/2018 External: Brain Radiation Therapy 5/23/2019 External: Brain Surgery 1/22/2020 Radiation Therapy 2/17/2020 External: Brain Radiation Therapy 7/20/2020 External: Bone Radiation Therapy 12/4/2020 External: Brain Targeted Therapy Tukysa (tucatinib) Chemotherapy Xeloda (capecitabine) Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Jul 18, 2021 06:25AM DaughterOf wrote:

Hello all and thanks for replying.

I am so exhausted and mentally drained and this is only the beginning. She's constantly crying and when she's not crying she's arguing and not letting anyone come close to her.

She refuses to get any help, either mental or cancer treatments and definitely doesn't want to talk to other people dealing with MBC.

Nothing I say or do seems to help. We used to be best friends before this but now she's just a different person. I can't comfort her. When I give her good treatment options or hope for a better tomorrow she calls me a naive liar and yells at me.

I have two jobs, I am a young doctor and although I don't know much about oncology, I consider myself to be knowledgeable of medicine in general. I can understand results and treatment options better. I try to explain this to her but she still doesn't care and says I should let her die because I've never done anything for her before.. Which is not true.

This has taken such a huge toll on my own health too. I don't know what to do anymore..

Dx 11/2012, IDC, Left, 5cm, Stage IIIC, 4/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 6/2021, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to liver, ER-/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast Chemotherapy AC + T (Taxol) Chemotherapy FAC Surgery Mastectomy: Left
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Jul 18, 2021 07:37AM Salamandra wrote:

Hey DaughterOf,

Maybe she's not ready to be comforted yet, not ready to go into fix-it mode. Maybe she never will be. Sometimes it is more helpful to have someone just be present with you when you're suffering - not trying to adjust or change or redirect or comfort, but to validate and affirm that this sucks and that it might actually keep getting worse.

Get help/therapy for yourself whether she does or not. Try to let yourself be guided by her. If she cannot be around you without hurting you, it's ok to back off for your own protection, maybe try other ways of communication that could be less intense for you.

Maybe try to think of her as someone going through intense grief or pain who just cannot be rational and there's no point arguing or blaming her or trying to get her to see things as they really are. Just accept where she is now and find the best combination of protecting your own emotional reserves and trying to find connection with her.

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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Jul 18, 2021 10:39AM dutchiris wrote:

Daughterof, I so agree with that's been said here. I am sorry you find in this difficult situation.

Dx 1/25/2013, IDC, Left, Stage IIIC, Grade 2, 19/24 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 2/22/2013 AC + T (Taxol) Surgery 6/19/2013 Lymph node removal: Left, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right Hormonal Therapy 7/2/2013 Radiation Therapy 7/15/2013 Dx 7/26/2019, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, ER+/PR-, HER2- (IHC) Hormonal Therapy 8/10/2019 Femara (letrozole) Targeted Therapy 8/17/2019 Ibrance (palbociclib) Dx 4/7/2021, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to other, Grade 3, ER-/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Chemotherapy 5/14/2021 Xeloda (capecitabine)
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Jul 18, 2021 10:47AM DaughterOf wrote:

Thank you, you beautiful women. I can't even begin to imagine how she's feeling and how all of you must have felt.. I just want to make her feel better and see her smile again. She's truly my best friend and is the kindest being I've ever known.

She doesn't deserve this.

She is communicating with me better as from 2 hours ago. I spoke to her about her treatment plan and how not everything is over and that she can still lead a good, long life. I'm scared that I might be giving her false hope with my motivational speeches.. I just want her to at least try treatment before she decides if that's the right path for her.

She lost her mother recently and we haven't even been able to grieve for her before we received this new blow. I haven't even come to terms with my own feelings on this matter. She's my everyday, I can't imagine life without her.

Dx 11/2012, IDC, Left, 5cm, Stage IIIC, 4/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 6/2021, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to liver, ER-/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast Chemotherapy AC + T (Taxol) Chemotherapy FAC Surgery Mastectomy: Left
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Jul 18, 2021 11:52AM jhl wrote:

Hi DaughterOf,

I want to reinforce what Salamandra suggested - your mom may not be ready yet to think about treatment options or mental health. My own daughter is also a physician and I didn't need one more physician telling me about treatments. I actually didn't want anything from her - just a supportive ear. Think about this - nine years ago she went through this when you were a child. She may have the feeling that she went through this before without you and out of anger she can do this again without you. It sounds cruel & dismissive but she is angry she is facing this again. There is a thread on here called a steamroom for anger and lots of the women are just angry after going for a long time feeling as though they are doing ok. It is a justifiable anger honestly and needs time to work itself to a manageable level. Perhaps you might try having a visit with her that doesn't involve cancer? Does she have a favorite cookie or cake? You might try baking and taking it to her house when you could have a cup of tea/coffee or just a strong drink. Talk about the heat on N America's west coast, the flooding in Europe, the upcoming Olympics - anything that doesn't involve her thoughts straying to treatments.

This is also a learning experience for you - how a patient can be angry and dismissive even when there are treatment options. There are online forums that support women in medicine which you might want to look into. As others have said, you will be most supportive when you are not stressed. Take some time for yourself - get regular exercise, get plenty of rest & find outlets for yourself that don't immerse yourself in cancer. Most of all, extend grace to your mom. This is hard for everyone.

Be well,

Jane

Dx 11/15/2019, IDC: Cribriform, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH)
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Jul 18, 2021 04:53PM - edited Jul 18, 2021 04:54PM by ShetlandPony

DaughterOf, this sounds beyond difficult, and I am so sorry. One thing that keeps poking at my mind is to say that I think you can draw a line where you tell your mom that while your are willing to bear witness to her pain and anger, she is not allowed to abuse you, belittle you, etc. You may need to remind her that you are in pain too, and that you two are not enemies, but teammates.

And I agree with others above that backing off with advice and encouragement and just allowing her to express herself may be more helpful in the long run.

2011 Stage I ILC 1.5cm grade1 ITCs sn Lumpectomy,radiation,tamoxifen. 2014 Stage IV ILC mets breast,liver. TaxolNEAD. Ibrance+letrozole 2yrs. Fas+afinitor nope. XelodaNEAD 2yrs. Eribulin,Doxil nope. SUMMIT FaslodexHerceptinNeratinib for Her2mut NEAD
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Jul 19, 2021 12:21AM Cowgirl13 wrote:

For starters, you must allow your mother to have her feelings. Period. ShetlandPony had some very good suggestions.

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 6/17/2009 Chemotherapy 8/3/2009 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 12/21/2009 Hormonal Therapy 2/23/2010 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Jul 28, 2021 10:42PM Lena0423 wrote:

Daughterof,

When I was reading your post, I thought I wrote that. I am going through the exact same thing right now with my mom. She is battling stage 4 TNBC and things are not looking good, she is really declining. My family is going through really rough times and my moms attitude towards us is really terrible with lots of anger and basically verbal abuse. It’s tough but I have learned how to block it. There is nothing we can do l, it’s out of our control and the best thing you can do is be there for her and attend to her needs. Sometimes I feel really guilty and helpless but I try to focus on something good like my son, my job which is also in medical field just like you are. Feel free to send me a message, we can share our experiences.

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