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Topic: Mother Diagnosed With Breast Cancer Last Week

Forum: For Caregivers, Family, Friends and Supporters —

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: Feb 5, 2019 05:37PM

longwinter wrote:

Hi everyone - my mom (55) was diagnosed with breast cancer last week. From what they can tell through the many mammograms, her ultrasound and her biopsy, this appears to be Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Stage 1. Of course they'll know more after it's removed and that's about all I know at this point. 

I'm feeling A LOT of feelings. For one, I feel like a jerk because at Christmastime I had to go in for a breast ultrasound and diagnostic mammogram as I found a painful lump in my right breast. I'm 29 with two small children and was so nervous that I might have breast cancer that I vented to my mom often about it until the day of my appointment at which point the radiologist concluded through ultrasound that I have several cysts in my breast. They seem to grow and shrink depending on where I'm at in my cycle. He didn't want me to do the mammogram because he felt confident from the ultrasound. Two weeks later my mom had her routine mammogram which ultimately led to her diagnosis. So I'm feeling guilt about making a big deal out of my thing when she ended up actually having cancer.

I'm also feeling relieved that her cancer seems to be fairly contained (from what they can see) but I'm nervous for her about all that's involved - all of the doctor's appointments, tests, treatment, and possibly finding out it's worse than they think. Can they be confident of stage this early on? I know it's overwhelming no matter what stage or prognosis and I'm wondering what are some ways I can help her? 

So far she's taken herself to most of the tests, though my dad will take her to her surgery. She's pretty independent and doesn't like me to fuss over her too much but I've been trying to make dinner for her a couple nights a week. Other than that I just feel kind of helpless to how to help her without being a pain. I guess I'm also just looking for other daughters to talk to about how they coped without adding stress to their mom.


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Feb 6, 2019 05:54PM - edited Feb 6, 2019 05:55PM by WC3

About two weeks before I was diagnosed, one of my sisters was having a melt down because she needed a biopsy. She invited 6 friends to accompany her for moral support. It turned out to be benign. I do things a little differently...I would have gone to my biopsy alone if my mother hadn't insisted on accompanying me, but I don't blame my sister for being scared when she needed a biopsy. The prospect of having cancer is a scary thing. So don't beat yourself up over it.

Dx 2018, IDC, Left, 3cm, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Chemotherapy 6/1/2018 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 11/15/2018 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant Targeted Therapy Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy Herceptin (trastuzumab)
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Feb 7, 2019 09:13AM longwinter wrote:

WC3, thank you for the response! My mom is like you, she likes to do things on her own which I understand. I let her know that I'm always here if she wants someone with her, but I also come with a 3 & 5 year old so that might be overwhelming. My other sibling is out of town for work until spring so it's just me right now. If you don't mind me asking, from your perspective what are some ways I can be helpful to my mom without being overbearing or making her feel worse about the situation? She is having a lumpectomy in the next two weeks. My dad is taking her to that but do you think she'll need care afterward? My dad isn't much of a caretaker, to be honest. 

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Feb 7, 2019 10:21AM Runrcrb wrote:

let your mother be your guide. I was 55 at diagnosis and my husband was in the hospital. I had a friend join me at dr consults but did all tests solo. I enjoyed being alone during chemo! Stopping by with a meal sounds great. Lumpectomy recovery usually is pretty straight forward. Talk to your mom about your worries but it sounds like she’s early stage and recovery prognosis is good.


Dx 6/27/2016, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IIB, Grade 1, 4/10 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 6/27/2016, ILC/IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 1, 4/10 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 9/22/2016 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Chemotherapy 10/31/2016 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 2/9/2017 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall Hormonal Therapy 4/23/2017 Arimidex (anastrozole), Aromasin (exemestane) Surgery 12/13/2017 Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap
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Feb 8, 2019 07:12PM WC3 wrote:

longwinter:

I would just ask her if she needs anything.

Dx 2018, IDC, Left, 3cm, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Chemotherapy 6/1/2018 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 11/15/2018 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant Targeted Therapy Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy Herceptin (trastuzumab)
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Feb 17, 2019 10:33AM longwinter wrote:

Thank you Runrcrb and WC3 for your suggestions and support :) My mom is having her lumpectomy tomorrow, late morning. They're going to do a dye test and node removal as well to see if it's spread which I think is typical for lumpectomies? So we're very anxious to find out if the cancer has spread or is as contained as they hoped it was through the needle biopsy. If it is she'll have 5 weeks of radiation and a few years of medication. If it's spread then they'll talk chemo. Where we live, the hospital system uses "cancer coordinators" to help guide her through the procedures and treatments and I think that's wonderful! It helps clear up any questions for her and that seems to be bringing her some relief through all of this.

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Feb 17, 2019 12:59PM Runrcrb wrote:

Longwinter - the dye test is the sentinel node biopsy.They will inject a dye in at the nipple a few hours before surgery. The dye will make its way through the breast to the sentinel (first) nodes in her axillary lymph nodes. The doctor will biopsy these - if there is no evidence of cancer, then you know the cancer is contained to the breast and the lumpectomy / radiation will likely be the recommended treatment. Even if there is cancer in the sentinel nodes, if only a few, your mother will likely bypass chemo.



Dx 6/27/2016, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IIB, Grade 1, 4/10 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 6/27/2016, ILC/IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 1, 4/10 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 9/22/2016 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Chemotherapy 10/31/2016 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 2/9/2017 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall Hormonal Therapy 4/23/2017 Arimidex (anastrozole), Aromasin (exemestane) Surgery 12/13/2017 Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap
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Feb 17, 2019 01:08PM - edited Feb 17, 2019 02:06PM by Sjacobs146

I agree with the other posters that you need to let your mom be your guide here. Everyone reacts to a breast cancer diagnosis differently. I personally did not want a lot of fuss, but others want the world to know. Recovery from lumpectomy is fairly easy. She will likely be tired the day of the surgery, so preparing dinner for her that day would likely be welcome. I had small loss of motion in the arm on the affected side, so I couldn't drive the next day, but was fine the day after that. The wait following the surgery to find out the results can be challenging, it's good to be distracted by positive, fun activities. Wishing your mom successful surgery and no surprises

Dx 8/26/2014, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 9/23/2014 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Chemotherapy 10/24/2014 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 1/26/2015 Breast Hormonal Therapy 4/17/2015 Arimidex (anastrozole), Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Feb 17, 2019 08:19PM - edited Feb 17, 2019 08:19PM by AliceBastable

If nobody has mentioned it yet, one thing she'll need is a compression bra. The hospitals usually provide one that's put on before the patient wakes up, and can't be taken off for a day or two, depending on the doctor. I wore a snug sports bra for about 3 weeks, 24/7. I had minimal swelling and no bruising, and I think the bra helped.

I was 68 when I went through this, and I had to beg my husband to go back to work after a few days. Having someone underfoot can be worse than a lumpectomy. 😊

My mom was 85 when she had a lumpectomy and several weeks of radiation. She did fine. My sister hovered. My job was to listen to Mom complain about my sister being a nuisance.

So - let your mom know you're available, but after the first day, let her decide what she needs. Some of us think 55 is pretty young.

Endometrial cancer 2010, basal cell multiples, breast cancer 2018, kidney cancer 2018. Cancer's a bitch, but I'm a bigger one with more practice. 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 10/29/2018 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Feb 17, 2019 08:22PM AliceBastable wrote:

Oh, and go over to the Lumpectomy Lounge thread. Lots of great advice and friendly people. Your mom might want to sign up and hang out on these boards after her surgery.

Endometrial cancer 2010, basal cell multiples, breast cancer 2018, kidney cancer 2018. Cancer's a bitch, but I'm a bigger one with more practice. 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 10/29/2018 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Feb 18, 2019 01:09PM longwinter wrote:

You are all so wonderful, reading your posts is keeping me distracted while she's in surgery :) Also, it's helpful to know that she won't know on the nodes until tomorrow- for some reason I expected to know that today. My mom is also fairly independent and doesn't like a lot of fuss either, so I think I'll just check in tonight and see if there's anything I can bring her and check in a couple of days to see if she wants me to pick her up a compression bra - I never would have known that one would be helpful if not for this board! 

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Feb 18, 2019 01:35PM longwinter wrote:

I just heard from my dad and he said they removed the tumor and she's in recovery but that the surgeon said the tumor was about the size of a "small tangerine" so much larger than the original guess of "less than a centimeter." I don't really know what to think about this but will wait to hear more on the nodes.

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Feb 18, 2019 03:00PM Olynn wrote:

Hi longwinter - My mom (62) was diagnosed Stage 1 IDC last month after finding a lump on Christmas Eve (the timing!). I'm an only child, and she is not very Internet savvy, so I've been doing a lot of research online, trying to assist in offering explanations whenever she feels confused and overwhelmed after meeting with her team of doctors. The diagnosis was the worst part of the experience so far, everything else seems to get a bit easier as soon as plans are in place. She had her lumpectomy last Thursday and is recovering nicely.

It's been an emotional rollercoaster, but I've tried to stay calm and positive around my mom, offering support whenever she needs it. Take comfort in knowing you're not alone in this journey. Sending you good thoughts!

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Feb 19, 2019 02:56PM longwinter wrote:

Thank you Olynn. I feel very alone right now. My mom just heard back from the hospital that the tumor was 5-6 centimeters. I don't understand how they could be so sure it was less than a centimeter only a few weeks ago and now it's 5-6 centimeters? This makes no sense. Does your mom have a treatment plan yet? Did her surgery go as expected? I'm just so floored by how the doctors could be so wrong about size and now worrying that I can't trust them. 

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Feb 19, 2019 02:57PM longwinter wrote:

One more question if you feel comfortable answering - did they use a wire in your mother's groin? They did with my mom and it's not clear why. I feel so frustrated right now.

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Feb 19, 2019 05:18PM - edited Feb 19, 2019 05:50PM by Olynn

Having no siblings and generally keeping my private life to myself at work, it's been a hard and lonely road. I have a wonderful boyfriend, a busy work life and caring parents, so all has been "normal," apart from this scary cancer business. We've experienced ups and downs, and have more hurdles to climb, and that seems to be the norm for this disease.

Prior to the lumpectomy, my mom had a core needle biopsy for Oncotype testing. Her score was 37, which means a high rate of recurrence, so she is considering the recommended chemo, but is wrestling with that decision considering her age. On Friday we find out the pathology report of the tumors removed last week, which could mean more surgery if the margins aren't clear. Been trying to take things slowly - Focusing on the next step, rather than obsessing over the future. My mom is still her happy, healthy, loving self, so it's been hard to picture her living with this potentially deadly disease.

I have read posts on here from some women whose tumors ended up being larger/smaller than what the ultrasound predicted, so I don't believe that's an altogether uncommon experience. They did not use a wire on my mom's groin, so that I can't speak to, but do not ever hesitate to ask any and all doctors involved all of the "why's" - My mom has a hard time with confrontation, I do not, haha. I'm hopeful you'll hit some high points in this road. Your mom is lucky to have a caring daughter to support her. :-)

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Feb 19, 2019 09:26PM longwinter wrote:

I do have one other sibling but he is about 4 hours away for work so I've been trying to relay information to him and he isn't really able to do much hands-on right now. Which, in a way might be better since as you mention with your mom, my mom is pretty happy, healthy and loving otherwise. 

That's a hard decision for your mom to make regarding the chemo, I know we're also waiting to hear back on the tumor that was removed and the axillary nodes to see if they suggest just radiation or chemo as well. It turns out when I posted before in a bit of a panic that my mom had received the wrong information regarding her tumor and after talking to her surgeon and cancer coordinator this afternoon, the tumor was in fact not much larger than they originally thought. The surgery went as they'd expected it to. Also, for the groin thing that never happened, and was my father's misinterpretation of information in a pamphlet he was given by a nurse. I think from now on I'll only be considering information that comes straight from the cancer coordinator/cancer specialists as they've been spot-on so far and not be so quick to ask my dad for information as he seems to be a little confused - and I get it, it's confusing. 

I'm glad you have your boyfriend and at least you have your work to keep you busy and keep your mind occupied as you figure this out with your mom. I remember this past fall I was getting my teeth cleaned and my hygienist and I were chatting when she mentioned her mother had breast cancer and my heart just sunk for her. I couldn't have imagined that just a couple of months later it would affect my mom too! But it's also a comfort to know that as scary as it is, it's not so uncommon after all and there's others to connect with.

I hope your mom doesn't have to have another surgery and that from here on out she can just focus on treatment! 

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Feb 19, 2019 09:46PM AliceBastable wrote:

Longwinter, was the tumor that large, or is that the amount of tissue they removed? They take a lot of healthy tissue while removing the tumor.

Endometrial cancer 2010, basal cell multiples, breast cancer 2018, kidney cancer 2018. Cancer's a bitch, but I'm a bigger one with more practice. 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 10/29/2018 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Feb 20, 2019 08:51AM longwinter wrote:

AliceBastable, you're correct - it was the total amount including tissue and after my mom talked to her surgeon and her cancer coordinator they both confirmed to her that the tumor was close to the size they'd originally guessed. So, I was wrong, going off from what my dad had communicated to me (he misunderstood the surgeon). He also misunderstood the bit about the groin. The surgeon and cancer coordinator confirmed to my mom over the phone late yesterday afternoon that the surgery went just as predicted and now she's just waiting to hear about the pathology. Thanks for responding :) 

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Mar 15, 2019 04:23PM longwinter wrote:

Hi! I just wanted to update, especially because I know that when I was searching I really appreciated reading threads with updates - my mom is doing well! They confirmed that through the lumpectomy they were able to get all of the cancer out. She started radiation therapy yesterday and will continue this nearly every day for the next five weeks along with beginning medication that she'll take for quite a few years. I'm so happy for her that she's to the other side of the diagnosis and onto treatment. Thanks again to everyone who shared their experiences with me, it was deeply comforting at a time where I felt really scared.

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Mar 15, 2019 05:03PM AliceBastable wrote:

Good to hear! I hope she does as well on radiation as I did - just got a little pink and itchy, easily calmed with aloe and Aquaphor. And I've been on an anti-hormonal drug for over two months now with minimal side effects.

Endometrial cancer 2010, basal cell multiples, breast cancer 2018, kidney cancer 2018. Cancer's a bitch, but I'm a bigger one with more practice. 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 10/29/2018 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes

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