Topic: Worrying about future - need to vent

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 27, 2021 01:11PM

Posted on: Aug 27, 2021 01:11PM

Hopefulldad wrote:

My wife, and mother of our two young kids (3 and 6), was diagnosed about a year ago and we went very quickly from small (1cm) Stage 1 disease to a more uncertain situation with LVI, a couple of microtumors in the margin, positive LNs. This all came in follow up phone call after an initially upbeat assessment right after surgery (LNs appeared negative...). She's gone through scans and there's always a little something to worry about but unclear enough to change plans. She's gone through AC+T, radiation, now hormone therapy. Battled everything and does her best to stay upbeat. She struggled in the first couple of months but has definitely found a way to cope. She is strong and has dieted and exercised so much that she is as fit as she has ever been.

I've had more trouble and if I'm not worrying about her latest strange scan result, I'm having my own health anxiety because I fear the possibility of leaving our kids without either of us. I have been feeling like the next shoe is always just about to drop.

Just in the last week, she discovered a small (<1cm) circular pinkish discoloration on her affected breast. Looks a bit like a bruise but so small and not in likely bruise area. I've spent a lot of time looking at the literature and it seems very possible. She hasn't been seen but a biopsy is ordered.

It's just so hard to imagine that this could be the turning point and I feel like she will be hit hard by this and I will need to stay strong. And I really question my ability to do this and lack a strong social network. I have just started therapy to deal with my anxiety but don't expect this to be a quick fix.

I've read comments here and found some good advice. I'll keep doing that and will make it a priority to be there for my wife. Part of my struggle is that she wants to keep everything a secret from as many people as possible until necessary, and that includes our kids. I just can't imagine how that would go but will do whatever is needed (therapy, groups) to help them adjust if things turn for the worse.

Thanks for reading. I just haven't had much opportunity to share my worries and wanted to see if this would help me get my head straight.

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Aug 27, 2021 01:54PM moderators wrote:

Hi Hopefulldad and welcome to,

We're so sorry for the reasons that bring you here, but we're really glad you've found us. You're sure to find our amazing Community a wonderful source of advice, information, encouragement, and support -- we're all here for you and your wife!

We know it can be nearly impossible to not jump to conclusions after receiving an original breast cancer diagnosis. However, please to remain calm and positive while your wife waits for her biopsy results. It's very possible it's nothing at all to worry about!

Please keep us posted with what you find out. We're sending good thoughts to you both.

--The Mods

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Oct 4, 2021 03:51PM dadof3ohio wrote:

Hi Hopefuldad,

I've been there and continue to be there with my wife through her treatments that have spanned two years. I also lacked a strong social network to provide support and felt that a therapist was helpful. I saw someone for a few months before recently moving my whole family 1000 miles. We have not stopped living life to the fullest and have prioritized getting my wife the best care possible. My spouse is stage 3 and had a huge tumor along with lots of nodes positive. None of it has the greatest prognosis but there are many on these boards that show that the prognosis is very individual and nothing is in a straight line. I encourage you to take care of yourself kind of like the "put your mask on first" for an airplane ride and just keep pushing forward. I have a few health issues myself and worry god forbid something happens to both of us. My answer was to quickly buy up as much life insurance as I could afford since my health doesn't have any restrictions like my wife. If we had known what was coming perhaps we would have done that with her as well. Unfortunately, a cancer diagnosis takes away a lot of options in terms of financial safety nets.

Hope you're doing well and things are going well for your wife.

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Oct 4, 2021 04:12PM mswife wrote:

Hi Hopefuldad,

Glad you found this forum to post to and hopefully feel supported. I can very much empathize with your story.

It’s so hard to not think of worst case scenarios - I think it pops into my head every day and we’re 6+ months out from my husband’s diagnosis (also stage 3 with lymph node involvement). I’ve run the gamut of feelings, but seem to have settled into things a bit more recently.
I’ve also seen a counsellor and I think the most helpful thing to come out of talking to her and following posts on this forum is that no one has any idea what the future holds. It could be a cancer diagnosis, or an accident, or any other event. Someone mentioned to me the idea of grieving things multiple times - while you’re imagining everything that could happen, and then again if/when it does happen. It’s complete torture to worry about the ‘what if’s’, and I’ve started telling myself exactly that when my brain starts taking me in the wrong direction - that I don’t know what’s going to happen, what the future holds, live in the now, etc. There are many positive stories of long term survivors (even with advanced disease) and there’s no reason right now to think that can’t be our loved ones!

The silver lining about this diagnosis (for us) is that my husband and I have been able to take time off together to enjoy each other, and our relationship is much better for it. I know I’ve realized how unimportant a lot of things are in the grand scheme of things. We’ve both re-evaluated our priorities in life and decided that we’re going to live it up with whatever time either of us has left!

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need someone to talk to at any point!

A member to gather info for my husband ❤️ Dx 03/2021 IDC 2.6 cm, stage IIIA, nodes ‘undetermined’ (matted), grade 1, ER+/PR+, HER2 - Dx 3/16/2021, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 1, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 3/24/2021 Lymph node removal; Lymph node removal (Left): Sentinel; Mastectomy; Mastectomy (Left) Chemotherapy 4/25/2021 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy Whole breast: Breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall
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Oct 4, 2021 05:10PM Hopefulldad wrote:

Hi Dadof3Ohio -- I really appreciate your thoughts. It's been tough -- we had several pending tests that all worked out well but just like that there is a new blood test that has put us back on our heels. I've been going to a therapist and felt like I was making progress but had a major setback and let my own health anxiety get the best of me. I realized today -- after getting my own bloodwork -- that I really can't trust my judgements at all about my health, or probably the health of my loved ones. My thinking and perceptions are distorted on this topic, at least just enough to make them useless. I have to find a way to be an attentive and responsible father and partner but leave the medicine to the doctors. I feel so bad for putting my wife through my own imaginary health problems when she is the one who has a much more serious threat. Each moment of relief for me puts her situation back in her head. I don't think I'm nearly this selfish in other parts of our life -- but this anxiety freezes me in my tracks and makes me feel that there is no hope. I'm sure I just came into this with some heavy anxiety baggage and it will make my process a challenge. I've definitely got a better handle on some of it. Thanks again!

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Oct 4, 2021 05:24PM Hopefulldad wrote:

Hi MSWife,

Thanks for the kind and reflective words! I'm trying to live in the moment as much as possible. It's embarrassing but it seems to work better when I've tried to stop worrying about my wife than when it's about myself. It sounds selfish -- and is to some degree -- but I think it's more about my feelings of responsibility. It's easier to accept that I'm not going to personally cure my wife by worrying. But when it comes to myself, I think 'what if I ignore a symptom and miss a chance to stop it -- for my kids." I suppose it has to do with how much time my wife and I talked about what might have prevented her BC. And my own guilt about being so irresponsible with my own health and planning. So now it seems whenever there's an opportunity, particularly regarding my own health, I throw myself into full worry-mode, confusing that with being responsible. But it's not enough to understand this for me. I have to find a way to put it in practice.

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Oct 12, 2021 09:01PM vidal1993 wrote:

Hi HopefulDad:

I too would like to offer my support and encouragement and share my story.

In June 2019, my wife was diagnosed with Stage 2A breast cancer with lymph node involvement (Tumor Grade 3), and simultaneously diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She also has other medical problems, including Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and anxiety.

Since her cancer diagnosis, she has undergone 2 surgeries, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy. We have 2 daughters aged 8 and 6.

You mention guilt about a breast cancer diagnosis. I share that. My wife and I started our family late, and she took progesterone to enhance her fertility. Apparently, that increases the risk of breast cancer.

I can honestly say the last 2 years or so have been the most difficult of my entire life. When she was diagnosed, I had to assume essentially 3 full time jobs: the role of full-time caregiver and dad while working full-time as a lawyer. We have some family support from my parents, but COVID complicated that. My wife's own mother died of the same cancer she has so you can imagine the anxiety that has caused her.

The one thing I regret was not realizing just how difficult this was going to be at the outset. There were times when I still worked a little too hard at work, thinking that I was helping by bringing in income. I pushed back at work, but not hard enough. There are times when your wife just wants you to be there for her.

When COVID-19 struck, my wife's 2nd surgery was delayed and the level of tension and anxiety in our house was off the chart.

Throughout, I have drawn on my strong Christian faith. But at times, I felt I was going to break down.

I echo the posts on this board that recognize the futility of worry.

We never know what tomorrow will bring. I live life with a little less fear and concern about all of the little things. I also recognize what a short time we are all here for--these may be some of the benefits of the diagnosis.

As I write this, we are waiting for test results as a nodule has been spotted in her left lung. I will be trying to live in the moment, but we know how hard that is.

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Oct 13, 2021 12:15AM Hopefulldad wrote:

Hi Vidal

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I wish you and your family the best luck with everything! Sadly, I know I’m not the only one going through this and at some level I know other people are having similar doubts and worries, but it makes a big difference to hear these thoughtful comments. I’ve really spiraled a bit in terms of my own health anxieties and I’ve decided to get a bit more intensive help and try medication. I was hoping to avoid these things but I’m more concerned with getting a handle on things. I’ve been so worried about my own health and how it could affect my kids. But I’ve been ignoring how my excessive worrying is already taking a toll on them, and my wife, and on me of course. So I need to accept the uncertainty and enjoy each day - what you all are saying! But I’m going to need a bit more help than just this realization, unfortunately. My anxiety issues are just a little to powerful at the moment. I actually feel a lot better making the decision to get more help for my anxiety problems. This is the best thing I can do for my family at the moment. I suspect it’s a pretty common problem for partners with cancer and I encourage anyone grappling with these issues to try get help if they think they can use it.
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Oct 18, 2021 07:25PM vidal1993 wrote:

Hi HopefulDad:

Great that you are able to acknowledge the need for help and get it. You are right--it is a significant moment when you decide to get the help after thinking about it for a period of time.

My wife's cancer has caused me a tremendous amount of anxiety, and I wear it on my sleeve. I've reached out to a few friends, but I am finding now 2 years in that people aren't as interested or sympathetic as they used to be. They just don't get it. Some of my extended family members have even wondered if my wife really is experiencing the pain she goes through.

I am sure that my girls can sense my concern sometimes. They don't say anything--we learned that children are very good at hiding their fear and "shielding" you from their emotions. But we found that that one of our kids confided to her friend about how frightened she was.

Still waiting until November 8 when my wife can have her CT scan on her lung. At least we will know if it is anything to worry about.

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Oct 25, 2021 07:49PM edwards750 wrote:

Vidal/hopeful dad - so sorry for you and your families. Sometimes we forget how hard the BC DX is on the spouse.

Vidal - I had multiple modules on my lungs about 5 years ago. I had gone to the PA because my shoulder hurt. I had been carrying around my twin grandsons so I figured that was the cause. The PA orders a chest X-ray and discovers the modules and promptly freaks out although she said it could be scar tissue. I had had 33 radiation treatments.

Anyway apparently lung nodules are commonplace so I tried to stay calm. My PA advised me to go back to the cancer clinic to be tested. I said I would wait for the radiologist’s report. She said he would agree with her. He didn’t. All okay. Hope it is for your wife too.


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Nov 2, 2021 05:20PM vidal1993 wrote:


Thanks for your reassuring message. I expect it will be nothing waiting is on fun. November 8 is the test.

Yes it is hard for caregivers. But if the experience has taught me anything it is how pointless worry is. So much is beyond our control in life. So I try to be a little happier and smile a little more.

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