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Topic: What does the recovering patent need?

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: Oct 5, 2020 08:31PM

Ada0709 wrote:

Hi All,

My name is Ada Zhou, a student at MIT.

I'm writing to ask for some advice as my bestie has been diagnosed with breast cancer recently and will have partial removal soon as I understand. I saw her having been vulnerable and I'm quite worried about her. I am wondering if I could have a quick chat with you just to understand how your journey had been and what I could do as a best friend to better support her.

I'm new to the community, there are too much information to looking for. Would you have time for a quick chat?

Thank you,


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Oct 5, 2020 08:51PM MinusTwo wrote:

Ada - it will take some reading on your part - but depending on what treatment is prescribed for her, there are two threads with great information.

Surgery information

Chemo information

2/15/11 BMX-DCIS 2SNB clear-TEs; 9/15/11-410gummies; 3/20/13 recurrance-5.5cm,mets to lymphs, Stage IIIB IDC ER/PRneg,HER2+; TCH/Perjeta/Neulasta x6; ALND 9/24/13 1/18 nodes 4.5cm; AC chemo 10/30/13 x3; herceptin again; Rads Feb2014
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Oct 21, 2020 12:46AM Ada0709 wrote:

Thank you very much. Heart

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Oct 21, 2020 03:52PM AliceBastable wrote:

If your friend is having a partial, or lumpectomy, the surgery is usually just a same-day quickie. I was home by early afternoon. A lot of hospitals put the patient in a very snug post-surgical bra that has to be worn for a few days (time might vary based on surgeon's preference). I remember not being allowed to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk for a while - can't remember the exact time frame. I don't think I took any of the prescription pain pills after getting home, maybe one to get to sleep at night for a day or two while in the Bra From Hell. Once I could switch, I wore zip-front athletic bras which had a slit in the side to put an ice disc in (I had the disc left from my biopsy). I also used a soft folded child's sock inside the bra for gentle pressure, and had minimal swelling - my surgeon said it was about the least swelling she'd seen. Once your friend finds out what the next step is, she might need more support from you, as that's when she'll find out if she needs chemo or radiation or both. But the actual surgery? I've had worse dental procedures. In fact, I had surgery on a Wednesday and went to lunch with a group of friends on Friday (it was pre-Covid, of course). Best of luck to your friend.

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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Oct 21, 2020 04:34PM Claire_in_Seattle wrote:

I said no to the garments that make a Kevlar dentist's vest look sexy. Found something that I thought would work bra-wise, and it did. The big one for me was attractive undergarments. I found a soft, sexy black cami at Nordstrom Rack that I could pin a surgical drain to. Made all the difference. I eventually gave them (I bought 2) to a friend who was about to have surgery. She got good use out of them. I recycled the bras for cycling when I didn't need them post-op anymore.

I had a pair of silk undies that saved the day. That said, it was a wonderful day when I could get into my La Perla bras again, and I haven't moved out since.

I was just fine post surgery. Got to the OR late, and got home around 10. Slept through the night. I had a friend staying with me and I made her coffee the next day. I got out and walked, scaring people to death because they expected me to still be in the hospital.

The other thing that most of us find reassuring is when we have a final diagnosis and start our treatment plan. Then we have a much better grasp of the journey ahead. Speaking of which, I want to strangle the next person who uses the expression "new normal". My take was "better than ever" and I got there.

Ten years later, it's another chapter layered into my life. I was much more worried about my general bloodwork recently than my oncology visit. My father died of diabetes complications and I don't want to go down that path. But of course, the tests came back just fine.

As for "partial removal", I look at this as being missing a couple of chunks of flesh. If I wear a bra with slight padding, you can't tell. And the last guy I dated certainly didn't mind. I am quite a bit older, and the harder conversation was bring up the age gap. He didn't mind that either.

There really are better days ahead for your friend. She will be thankful that you are there for her. And for goodness sake don't let her deprive herself of a tasty sweet in the name of "staying healthy". Because we all need an indulgence or 2.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. - Claire

Completed all treatment (AC +T, lumpectomy, radiation and 5 years of AIs - anastrazole). Now celebrating every single day for the wonderful life I have been granted. Dx 8/2009, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 1/21 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- (FISH)
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Oct 21, 2020 05:42PM MinusTwo wrote:

Claire - I like your post. My only issue is that at age 76 with neuropathy & lymphedema - I have had to settle for a "new normal". I walk 4-6 miles a day - but I don't have any feeling in my feet. And I have to be careful that I don't aggravate the side where I had ALND because I sure don't want my breast & truncal LE to spread to my arm.

That said - I've adjusted to the "new normal". I can't do everything I "used to could". I'd love to know how much is due to breast cancer and how much is due to aging - a question with no answers. Wish I could hop around on the bow of a boat under sail and pull the lines again - but I have no feeling in my feet to it wouldn't be safe. Wish I could do pull-ups & push ups - but I can still lift weights & participate in water aerobics & probably could still drive a car at speed around a race track. Hmmmm -

You're right - there are better days ahead for her friend - But you have to grab life by the throat and push through.

2/15/11 BMX-DCIS 2SNB clear-TEs; 9/15/11-410gummies; 3/20/13 recurrance-5.5cm,mets to lymphs, Stage IIIB IDC ER/PRneg,HER2+; TCH/Perjeta/Neulasta x6; ALND 9/24/13 1/18 nodes 4.5cm; AC chemo 10/30/13 x3; herceptin again; Rads Feb2014
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Oct 21, 2020 10:20PM - edited Oct 22, 2020 08:53AM by nopink2019

This Post was deleted by nopink2019.
Dx 2008, IDC, Stage IA, Grade 3, ER+/PR-, HER2- Dx 2019, Stage IV, metastasized to bone/liver/lungs, ER+/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 8/23/2019 Taxotere (docetaxel) Chemotherapy 9/20/2019 Xeloda (capecitabine) Hormonal Therapy 11/13/2019 Faslodex (fulvestrant) Targeted Therapy 11/13/2019 Kisqali Hormonal Therapy 5/10/2021 Aromasin (exemestane) Targeted Therapy 5/10/2021 Afinitor (everolimus)
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Oct 21, 2020 11:54PM Ada0709 wrote:

Thank you, Alice.

My friend told me that she must have a mastectomy. My classes at MIT feel like drinking out of water-hose. I have endless assignments and team-projects. Thus, I haven't been able to manage to research this cancer. Your story and journey helped me to understand what is ahead of her. She has some skin allergies (can't wear polyester). I hope she will do fine with the surgery recovery.

Thank you for taking the time to share your journey with me.

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Oct 22, 2020 12:00AM moth wrote:

one of the very first things to understand is that breast cancer is probably not one disease, and definitely it has huge variations in treatment plans based on hormone receptor status of the tumor tissue. You'll see our signature lines say ER, PR, HER2 and a plus or minus. That stuff, plus size of the tumor, grade (how fast the cells are dividing with 1 being slow & 3 being fastest) plus if there are signs of spread to lymph nodes or anywhere else are essentially what drives treatment as well as the ultimate prognosis. So knowing one person's story, or even a hundred people's stories will not necessarily give you a picture of what she faces unless you're looking at well matched samples, kwim?

Mastectomy recovery is more intense that partial. She'll be more sore, more restrictions on lifting weights, will need to deal with surgical drains and more follow up appointments, plus decisions beforehand about whether to have reconstruction or not, and if so, what kind. Honestly, I'd just listen to her, and also remember to talk about stuff other than cancer if she wants that. Sometimes, we all need a break from it.

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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Oct 22, 2020 12:02AM Ada0709 wrote:

Thank you, Nopink.

My friend is Chinese. Looking for information in English is not easy for her as this is not her mother tongue.

You are right. It's a brand new world for her and the one I know nothing about too. It was heartbreaking listening to her cry at another end of the Zoom. It was a lot of fear and anxiety.

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Oct 22, 2020 12:11AM Ada0709 wrote:


You are right. My friend and I both are learning about this (breast cancer) topic. I want to relay the experience better. We tried not to talk about her cancer as much as I can. And the cancer topic keeps coming back to our conversation. It feels like the elephant in the room. Hard to avoid. I will do my best. :)

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Oct 22, 2020 10:35PM msmpatty wrote:

Claire...saw your post and wanted to say hey. I think I remember your posts from 2009/2010. Seems we had pretty much the same pathology and the same treatment except I did 10-years of hormone therapy. Finished that up in March and was diagnosed with a totally new primary cancer in the opposite breast last week. What???? I agree with everything you said. Just a couple more suggestions for gals after surgery, get a bra with a front closure. Much easier to get on. I just found a front zip Jockey sports bra on Amazon that works well (I had lumpectomy and sentinel node surgery today). As for the drains, get a pair of high waisted leggings with a thick waist band (easy to find everywhere). You can tuck the drains under waist band and they stay in place nicely. Patty

Dx 5/13/2009, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 1, 2/13 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 6/18/2009 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Chemotherapy 8/24/2009 AC + T (Taxol) Radiation Therapy 2/23/2010 Whole-breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy 4/5/2010 Femara (letrozole) Dx 10/8/2020, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 10/22/2020 Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 12/17/2020 Whole-breast: Breast
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Oct 23, 2020 12:39AM Claire_in_Seattle wrote:

Oh Patty! What rotten luck. I do want to point out that a new primary is not the same as a recurrence. It's a new cancer. No, not fun, but an important distinction.

I feel honored to be remembered. I am just fine now. Though I did learn that it's harder for me to keep weight off post anti-hormonals. I am losing that one and need to get back on the program. Blech!!!

I didn't have any problems at all with a rear hook bra. I still wear them.

Praying for a swift recovery for you.

I am still sticking to the story that life can be glorious post treatment. I have had new career milestones and many new adventures. Right now, I need to find an appropriate romantic interest. CT is too far away, and my friend that I had beers with last night (outside in 43 degree temps!!!) is too young, though a great friend. London is also too far away, though it was fun to be chased around Kew Gardens last year. I lost one of my great friends last Christmas. Fortunately, got to see him just prior to Thanksgiving last year when in Phoenix for a conference.

Meanwhile I will be going back to help out my vintner friend at the winery next weekend. Wonderful exercise outside, and I have been learning a ton about the process of making amazing wine. Rooting for you. Hope that this round is over and done soon.

Take good care. - Claire

Completed all treatment (AC +T, lumpectomy, radiation and 5 years of AIs - anastrazole). Now celebrating every single day for the wonderful life I have been granted. Dx 8/2009, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 1/21 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- (FISH)

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