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Topic: How to be a good cheerleader

Forum: Caring for Someone with Breast cancer —

A place to share your struggles and concerns about supporting and caring for a person you love diagnosed with breast cancer with others who understand.

Posted on: Aug 22, 2018 11:35AM

newjoco wrote:

Need some help. My sis was diagnosed with Stage IIb HER2+, HR- BC. They caught it early. Lymph node biopsy showed nothing. But, bone scan showed a possible met. She's really having a lot of doubts that she will survive and make it through this. She's going through chemo and I have no idea what it's like but I know it's rough for her. How can I inspire her and be a good cheerleader? I know she can make it through this and live many many more years after this. But she's really doubting. Any advice would be helpful. Me telling her she can do it and sending her little emails of encouragement are not working. Maybe she just needs to get a little farther down her journey to realize she will get through this. She's got to believe!

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Aug 22, 2018 07:19PM Georgia1 wrote:

Hi Newjoco and thanks for caring about your sister. A friend of mine had breast cancer twice (ugh) and her recurrence happened at the same time as my initial diagnosis. So we talk a lot and our standard answer to "how are you doing today" is "still feeling all the feelings." In other words, this darn journey is such a roller coaster we can go from anger to fear to hope to confusion in the blink of an eye. So my first bit of advice is just to let her feel, let her be pissed off or depressed, and just listen.

Then if you have time (and you may not) do read up on bone metastasis. It's scary stuff. So being a cheerleader is great, but she also could use dinner cooked for her family, a ride to the chemo appointment, and maybe help picking out a wig or a nice head scarf. So perhaps try the concrete offers of help for a bit and see if that makes a difference.

Hope that helps and I'm sure others have their own thoughts.

Cancer touched my breast so I kicked its ass. Dx 9/3/2017, ILC/IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 10/9/2017 Lumpectomy; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Dx 10/10/2017, LCIS, Right, 0/1 nodes Radiation Therapy 11/26/2017 Whole-breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy 1/2/2018 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Aug 23, 2018 11:02AM LoriCA wrote:

Georgia1 hit the nail on the head about respecting her feelings. One of the worst things you can do is tell her to be positive when she needs time to come to terms with everything. When she's having a rough day, just hold her and tell her that you love her and are there for her. It usually takes a few months to wrap your head around everything. They would typically do another scan after chemo is completed and hopefully it will tell them one way or another, until then she's going to be very scared, and rightly so. Once she knows one way or the other she can start to move forward. If she is Stage IV, it's not uncommon for doctor to prescribe an anti-depressant at least for a few months. The emotions are real and valid and it's very damaging to tell someone to deny them. She needs to go through the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance).

The best cheerleading that my sisters did for me was to send me care packages every other week or so (my family all lives on the other coast). My family knows that I'm not the type to ask for help, so they just did things without being asked. Just getting something in the mail was enough to let me know that someone cared and put a smile on my face even on my worst days. It doesn't have to be anything big - chemo is very drying to the entire body so lotion, lip balm, foot lotion, biotene (for dry mouth) are very much appreciated, a pretty scarf for her head, a gift certificate to a food delivery service, a cute cancer warrior t-shirt, a coffee mug, my favorite food treats, essential oils for aromatherapy...it all really meant the world to me and kept me going through my darkest days.

If you live close to her, making meals is one of the most helpful things you can do. My sisters flew out here and spent 3 days cooking and filling my freezer and I can't tell you how much of a blessing that was (and then they continued to have meals shipped to me). Offer to go with her to her doctor appointments and take notes for her because it's hard to remember everything and ask the right questions. Maybe she would like company during her chemo sessions (I prefer to nap!). Do the grocery shopping for her, if she has kids offer to play taxi service or take the kids out for a day. Helping with practical things is the best thing you can do for her so she doesn't feel overwhelmed.

IBC Stage IV de novo - mets throughout skeleton (bones & now bone marrow), liver, dozens of distant nodes, chest wall/pec muscle, skin, tumor in brachial nerves, thyroid, polycythemia from bone marrow involvement Dx 9/8/2017, IBC, Right, Stage IV, metastasized to bone/liver/other, Grade 3, ER+/PR-, HER2+ (IHC) Chemotherapy 9/25/2017 Taxol (paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 2/5/2018 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy 2/5/2018 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 11/25/2018 Taxol (paclitaxel) Radiation Therapy 1/29/2019 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall Targeted Therapy Kadcyla (T-DM1, ado-trastuzumab)
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Aug 23, 2018 10:10PM newjoco wrote:

Thank you! This is great advice. I appreciate it. I am doing a lot of those things that you mention. My sister is so brave and strong. I know she's worried about not being around for her kids. I wont tell her to be positive but it's really hard to hear her doubting that she'll survive this. I will listen more and not try to tell her what to do and let her work through it all. I've been stopping by her chemo treatments during my lunch break just to help cheer her on. She's not one to ask for help so maybe I need to just go do things without her asking me. Thanks again

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Aug 24, 2018 11:33AM LoriCA wrote:

She's very lucky to have someone who cares about her so much and it sounds like you're definitely on the right track newjoco. Cancer is hard on the whole family. Help her smile and laugh as often as possible, and she'll find her way through it. My best wishes to both of you!

IBC Stage IV de novo - mets throughout skeleton (bones & now bone marrow), liver, dozens of distant nodes, chest wall/pec muscle, skin, tumor in brachial nerves, thyroid, polycythemia from bone marrow involvement Dx 9/8/2017, IBC, Right, Stage IV, metastasized to bone/liver/other, Grade 3, ER+/PR-, HER2+ (IHC) Chemotherapy 9/25/2017 Taxol (paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 2/5/2018 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy 2/5/2018 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 11/25/2018 Taxol (paclitaxel) Radiation Therapy 1/29/2019 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall Targeted Therapy Kadcyla (T-DM1, ado-trastuzumab)

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