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Topic: Introduction and I am a bit lost with all of this.

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: Jan 13, 2021 02:50PM

GirlWithGoldenEyes wrote:

Hey everyone.

I am Kristin, and am taking care of my newly diagnosed mother. Actually I’m not sure if she’s considered newly diagnosed anymore.

Breast cancer was first suspected during a routine mammogram back in late November, a couple weeks later a biopsy took place and she was diagnosed with grade 3/stage 2 invasive ductal BC.

At the end of December she had surgery to remove the mass (small 3 cm and was completely removed according to the surgeon with nothing in her lymph nodes, leaving us with the information that she would only need a few weeks of radiation and a hormone pill and is otherwise good to go.

However the oncologist she just met with says her cancer is aggressive and she may need chemo before undergoing radiation, and we will know more after either a PET or CAT scan. My mom is not sure which one because it was too much information too fast in that appointment and since I had worked overnight prior I skipped that appointment- really regretting that now, I usually take notes for her.

Financially, all of this freaking sucks and I don’t know how we are going to get through this. She’s been put on FMLA, but still needs to come up with the insurance premiums on top of all the copays and everything. It’s been an insane amount of money is just two months. And so much more is heading our way. According to taxes neither of us are in the poverty line so I don’t know if and how we could get assistance.

Emotionally, she’s doing okay, she’s frustrated but overall she’s doing alright. I’m not though. I have a bad mental health history to put it lightly. I also grew up with a very sick father, my parents were divorced so it was often just me and him. He was in and out of the VA due to major heart issues. It took a massive toll on me, and here we are yet again. I have siblings but their idea of support is, well, nonexistent. My brother has no interest in being anything for anyone whether emotionally, financially, or even as simple as rides even though he lives right near. My sister lives in another state, but she also has mental health issues on top of her own physical issues (one of which is she has convinced herself she also has breast cancer in the very same breast mom does). And she calls to vent about it constantly. I’m working two jobs, and just trying to keep my head above water.

Anyway, that ended on a bit of a rant lol, sorry. I’ve been needing to unload for awhile.

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Jan 13, 2021 03:01PM Beesie wrote:

Welcome! Sorry you had to find us, but glad you did.

I have a couple of questions before I say anything about your mother's situation. First off, how old is your mother? Second, do you know the hormone status of her cancer - ER, PR, and HER2? These factors all play into the treatment recommendations.

I'm in Canada so can't offer up advice or suggestions on the financial issues.

As for your emotional issues, here again I don't know what resources might be available to you but it is very important that you take care of your emotional health, so hopefully someone will come by who has some suggestions. Do you mind mentioning where you live, since most resources are local?



Dx 9/15/2005 Right, 7cm+, DCIS-Mi, Stage IA, Gr 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- ** Dx 01/16/2019 Left, 8mm, IDC, Stage IA, Gr 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- (FISH) ** Surgery 11/30/2005 MX Right, 03/06/2019 MX Left ** Hormonal Therapy 05/2019 Letrozole
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Jan 13, 2021 03:16PM GirlWithGoldenEyes wrote:

Thank you so much for your sweet response. I am located in Texas, my mother is 65, and her status is ER positive, PR positive, and Her2 negative. The surgeon also mentioned her ki67 is 35% but I can’t for the life of me remember what that means.

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Jan 13, 2021 05:43PM Beesie wrote:

Okay, with ER+/PR+/HER2- cancer, I would expect that your mother will be getting an Oncotype test. This test assesses the genetic make-up of the cancer and therefore how aggressive the cancer is. If this test is done, the Medical Oncologist's decision on whether or not to recommend chemo will at least in part be based on your mother's Oncotype score.

The other factors to consider are her age and the pathology of the cancer. Being 65 is a factor in her favor, as cancers tend to be more aggressive in younger women. But a 3cm tumor is on the larger side and grade 3 means that the cancer cells were likely dividing quickly. Ki-67 is one of the genetic factors looked at by the Oncotype test; like grade, it is a measure of aggressiveness of the cancer but it's not used in decision-making by many MOs (and some pathology reports don't even provide it). That said, anything over 20% is considered high. So it's the tumor size, tumor grade and Ki-67 that is likely leading the MO to say that your mother may need chemo.

Good luck to her with the CT and/or PET scan.

With your mother being 65, while obviously you want to be there to support her, I would think she is probably pretty self-sufficient. I'm 64 and lots of us here are older than 65 and fully managing our own care. If you told her about this website, would she come on the discussion board for support and with her questions? I can understand that you may feel that you need to be involved with everything, but is this your mother's expectation or request, or it is somewhat self-imposed? You may feel less emotional stress if you realize that she is able to handle a lot of this by herself. You may remain very involved (if she wants that), but maybe just not feel responsible in the same way.


Dx 9/15/2005 Right, 7cm+, DCIS-Mi, Stage IA, Gr 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- ** Dx 01/16/2019 Left, 8mm, IDC, Stage IA, Gr 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- (FISH) ** Surgery 11/30/2005 MX Right, 03/06/2019 MX Left ** Hormonal Therapy 05/2019 Letrozole
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Jan 13, 2021 06:52PM Moderators wrote:

Welcome, GirlWithGoldenEyes. We're so sorry to hear about your mom and all that you've been dealing with, it's a lot for one person to handle! We hope you find this to be a supportive place where you can come to get encouragement and guidance.

The Mods

To send a Private Message to the Mods: community.breastcancer.org/mem...
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Jan 13, 2021 07:19PM AliceBastable wrote:

I was 68 when I had breast cancer and although I love my family, if any of them had tried to take charge of me or my treatment, they'd be missing at least an arm where I tore it off. My Mom had breast cancer at 85 and she felt the same way about interference from my sister and me . Support yes. Management no, unless your mother has debilitating health issues besides cancer.

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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Jan 14, 2021 09:08AM GirlWithGoldenEyes wrote:

Thank y’all. Frankly I would love to step back, but with her it’s just not possible. No she doesn’t have other illnesses but if I try to just support and not help her then it becomes comments like, “do I not care about her anymore”, “why don’t I love her anymore”, “doesn’t anyone want to be around her”, “her other kids are just lazy assholes and I better not get that way too”, and on and on. It’s just far easier for everyone to take care of this stuff for her.

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Jan 14, 2021 02:06PM Beesie wrote:

Yikes, Kristin, I'm sorry you are in this situation.

Is there any chance she would be interested in coming to this site, to "talk" to others going through the same thing? There are lots of forums with advice for getting through chemo and radiation and hormone therapy. If she does come here, it could take some of the pressure off you.


Dx 9/15/2005 Right, 7cm+, DCIS-Mi, Stage IA, Gr 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- ** Dx 01/16/2019 Left, 8mm, IDC, Stage IA, Gr 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- (FISH) ** Surgery 11/30/2005 MX Right, 03/06/2019 MX Left ** Hormonal Therapy 05/2019 Letrozole
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Jan 14, 2021 06:13PM - edited Jan 14, 2021 06:14PM by ctmbsikia

girl - I'm am sorry to hear what you have going on as well as your mother being recently diagnosed.

As a former caregiver for my mother and mother in law, and step father in law, from my experience I'd like to sharea few pointers.

#1-take care of yourself. First and foremost. You do what you feel you can do and nothing else. This is not your fault, you can't fix it, you can't fix family dysfunction and you can't expect anymore out of anyone more than they can give or think they should comprehend. Caregiving can suck the life right out of you. Wasting energy on others —just don't do it.

#2-Seems you are already sucked in. If in the U S can you ask your mother if she (if not already) will put you on her Hippa, and possibly sign on as her medical proxy-poa (power of attorney). This will allow you access to her medical records as well as being able to speak with the team treating her, and following through on making decisions. As you've already learned and reached out here, knowing the medical stuff will help you while dealing with the emotional stuff. Especially now during a pandemic when you can't be present with her at appointments. Don't count on your Mom to learn it on her own and relay it to you I don't say this unloving, but if you're doing this, you need the facts

I had to deal with dysfunction and denial in families, and it was dementia/Alzheimer's which in my opinion is way worse than breast cancer. However, it's all the same premise. Validate your mother's fears, try to reassure her as best you can as you gain more knowledge on her diagnosis. Again, remember there's no shame and no judgement here if you feel it's too much. Your well being is just as important. Especially if your mother has her faculties and is running on all cylinders. Please reach out if needed. Best wishes to you.

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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Jan 15, 2021 01:16AM AliceBastable wrote:

I'm so sorry your mother is kind of a soul-sucker. I've heard that trying superficial cheerfulness but not letting her drag you into emotional tug-of-wars can help you keep your sanity. Maybe pretend you're playing a nurse's aid in a movie and whatever she says, just smile and say "You bet!" or something similar. Good luck.

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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