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Topic: Advice for a single woman prior to starting treatment?

Forum: Just Diagnosed — Discuss next steps, options, and resources.

Posted on: Jul 16, 2019 10:41AM

Karen2019 wrote:

I am a single woman, living alone, with no family nearby and friends who are all married with children and full-time jobs. (I too have a full time job.) Does anyone have any thoughts on things I should do/plan for before I start planning surgery and treatment? While I'm sure family and friends will want to help me with things, but in reality it will be very difficult logistically, so I would like to get a jump on as much as I can to prepare myself and my home now since I will be largely on my own in my house during treatment.

Dx 7/15/19 at 52, IDC, Right, Stage 1, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 16, 2019 03:16PM DorothyB wrote:

I am 61, single, and live alone. I have church family & friends that are close and they have been willing to help.

A lot of how much help you will need will depend on what treatment is done.

I did need someone to go with me to my lumpectomy surgery and I then spent the night after that at her house as I couldn't stay by myself the first night.

I have been able to take myself to all doctor appointments. I am 75% done with radiation and have been able to drive myself to all of those appointments. I have been able to care for my house, myself and my pets including buying groceries, cooking, etc.

Prior to my lumpectomy, I made sure that I had purchased easy to fix meals (frozen dinners, etc) and had enough pet food, etc so that I did not need to go to the store for a couple of weeks. Turns out that I could have gone to the store in less than a week.

I know some have more difficulty recovering from surgery and more radiation side effects.

If you are having chemo or mastectomy, then you will probably need more assistance.

Diag. 4/19/2019 ER+ PR+ HER2 neg Lumpectomy 5/29/2019 IDC w/ DICS 2.0 cm Grade 3
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Jul 16, 2019 03:27PM Scrafgal wrote:

I am single and 53...I think that I did three things that made me feel emotional stronger, self-sufficient and less worried about living alone:

  1. Started a online food delivery service--There are many out there, from Amazon Prime to Instacart. Of course, friends and neighbors would bring things but it was never really what I wanted to eat (or could eat) during chemo. So, being able to control the food diet and get exactly what I wanted was nice. They even would walk the groceries up to my 2nd floor kitchen because I was too tired to do it. That service also saved me the time, energy and germ-risk of going to the store when I was weak.
  2. Got housecleaning services--Again, my sister would fly back and forth from Chicago for my infusions, and would have cleaned my house, if necessary, However, I didn't want her to have to spend time cleaning my house. She was stressed out by my treatments, too, and had a full-time job in another city. So, I wanted her to just be able to spend time with me, during her visits. She would cook for me, but the cleaning service kept things nice. I am sort of a neat freak and cannot rest is a messy house! Also, people would visit, occasionally, and the house was always guest-ready!
  3. Kept on online blog to stay in touch with friends and relative across the country--At first I rejected the idea from a friend, but then I discovered that the blog served two purposes. It was an efficient way to communicate with friends/family about how I was doing. You don't always feel up to a bunch of phone calls or texts. Also, it helped me to process my feeling about how I was doing--an unexpected benefit!
I wish you well on this journey. It not easy but it is doable!
Dx 12/2016, IDC, Right, 4cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 2/5/2017 Mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant, Tissue expander placement Chemotherapy 3/22/2017 Taxol (paclitaxel) Chemotherapy 6/14/2017 FAC Hormonal Therapy 9/27/2017 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 10/12/2017 Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting, Silicone implant Surgery 3/15/2018 Reconstruction (right): Nipple tattoo Surgery 5/9/2018 Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting, Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting Surgery 5/9/2019 Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting
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Jul 16, 2019 05:59PM Karen2019 wrote:

Thank you

Dx 7/15/19 at 52, IDC, Right, Stage 1, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 16, 2019 07:25PM Scrafgal wrote:

You are welcome. Take care, and come back to let us know how you are doing.

Dx 12/2016, IDC, Right, 4cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 2/5/2017 Mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant, Tissue expander placement Chemotherapy 3/22/2017 Taxol (paclitaxel) Chemotherapy 6/14/2017 FAC Hormonal Therapy 9/27/2017 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 10/12/2017 Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting, Silicone implant Surgery 3/15/2018 Reconstruction (right): Nipple tattoo Surgery 5/9/2018 Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting, Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting Surgery 5/9/2019 Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting
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Jul 16, 2019 07:57PM jessie123 wrote:

Being alone is one of the reasons I choose a lumpectomy. A friend of mine who had a BMX said I would need someone with me at least 3 days after the surgery. With the lumpectomy I really didn't need anyone with me --- although a friend did go to surgery with me that day. She also spent the night with me that first night, but I really didn't need her. Radiation was a breeze to do alone. I also purchased a lot of groceries and dog food. The whole thing was so scary being alone because I didn't know what to expect.

Dx 11/2018, LCIS/ILC, Left, 2cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 2/21/2019 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Radiation Therapy 4/14/2019 Whole-breast: Breast
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Jul 17, 2019 12:27AM rockymountaingirl wrote:

As others have observed, having plenty of food and supplies stockpiled at home is a good idea, and there are also delivery services and housekeeping services that can help when you aren't feeling quite up to doing errands and housework yourself. Note that some agencies that focus on providing in-home help to people who are elderly or frail can provide people on an as-needed basis to do errands, take you to medical appointments, and provide other services, so if a friend isn't available to provide help when you need it, you might look into that. If your treatment center has a social worker or "navigator", he or she may be able to give you some advice on the best places to look for help, including some that may be low-cost or free. I live alone, I have no family nearby, and I did pretty well when I had treatment last year. My two sisters, both of whom live quite far away, came to help several times, and my friends helped when they could, but for the most part I was on my own and it was not a problem. You may find, like me, that you can manage quite well on your own. However, you are very wise to plan ahead, and I think you will find that you will feel a little better about your situation once you have a plan in place.

Dx 3/8/2018, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Dx 4/24/2018, DCIS, Left, Stage 0 Surgery 4/24/2018 Lumpectomy: Left Surgery 5/15/2018 Lumpectomy: Left Chemotherapy 6/10/2018 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxol (paclitaxel) Radiation Therapy 9/27/2018 Whole-breast: Breast
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Jul 17, 2019 07:18AM Scrafgal wrote:

I read that Lyft and American Cancer Society provide free rides to medical appointments for cancer patients but I never had to use them...

Dx 12/2016, IDC, Right, 4cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 2/5/2017 Mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant, Tissue expander placement Chemotherapy 3/22/2017 Taxol (paclitaxel) Chemotherapy 6/14/2017 FAC Hormonal Therapy 9/27/2017 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 10/12/2017 Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting, Silicone implant Surgery 3/15/2018 Reconstruction (right): Nipple tattoo Surgery 5/9/2018 Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting, Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting Surgery 5/9/2019 Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting
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Jul 17, 2019 08:16AM Karen2019 wrote:

Glad to know I should be able to handle radiation by myself. I was worried I was going to need to find rides to EVERYTHING, and that would be just as stressful as the cancer itself!

Dx 7/15/19 at 52, IDC, Right, Stage 1, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 17, 2019 08:21AM Karen2019 wrote:

I'm hoping to get a cleaning crew in before my surgery to do a deep clean, so that hopefully I won't need much more than that during treatment. I also plan on stocking up on pet food and frozen meals this weekend to minimize any assistance I would need with that. I'm just worried about all the little things that will surface in the next few months that I will have to deal with that I haven't even thought of yet - both at home and at work. Makes me tired just thinking about it. But I'm sure I'll get through it all somehow. Thank you for everyone's suggestions and support. It is wonderful.

Dx 7/15/19 at 52, IDC, Right, Stage 1, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 17, 2019 08:29AM Scrafgal wrote:

Don't forget to just ask for help, with the little things that come up. You will find that even strangers are incredibly helpful. Many have had loved ones with cancer and will show up to help. The kindness of strangers amazed me! Just because we are single doesn't mean that we are alone!

Dx 12/2016, IDC, Right, 4cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 2/5/2017 Mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant, Tissue expander placement Chemotherapy 3/22/2017 Taxol (paclitaxel) Chemotherapy 6/14/2017 FAC Hormonal Therapy 9/27/2017 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 10/12/2017 Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting, Silicone implant Surgery 3/15/2018 Reconstruction (right): Nipple tattoo Surgery 5/9/2018 Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting, Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting Surgery 5/9/2019 Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting
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Jul 17, 2019 08:33AM - edited Jul 17, 2019 09:04AM by Scrafgal

  1. Also, if you own a home, get preventative maintenance done on your AC, change your air filters that could be located near the ceiling and difficult to reach etc...emergency stuff happens because nobody tells your house that you are in treatment...but take care of regular things in advance.
Dx 12/2016, IDC, Right, 4cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 2/5/2017 Mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant, Tissue expander placement Chemotherapy 3/22/2017 Taxol (paclitaxel) Chemotherapy 6/14/2017 FAC Hormonal Therapy 9/27/2017 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 10/12/2017 Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting, Silicone implant Surgery 3/15/2018 Reconstruction (right): Nipple tattoo Surgery 5/9/2018 Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting, Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting Surgery 5/9/2019 Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting
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Jul 17, 2019 08:52AM OnTarget wrote:

There will be small things. Here are my thoughts for surgery prep:

You'll want to make sure your meds/vitamins don't have childproof caps, and as many people say, make sure your drinks aren't in heavy jugs.

Think about everything that is up above waist level- for instance, my microwave is above the stove, and I couldn't put stuff in it easily. Put cups/plates/whatever at counter level.

Think about clothes and take some off the hangers because they'll be too high to reach.

Do you have an icemaker, or do you have to reach up in the freezer for ice and try to get it out of those trays?

Reaching for stuff on the floor is painful too, so you'll want to avoid that.

I got lightheaded easily while walking the first few days so my coworkers signed up to take me for walks 3x daily b/c my DH needs his knees replaced.

I'd suggest setting reminders on your phone for your pain meds, and make sure you write down when you take them, because you may be hazy and forget.

The hospital will ask if you have a caretaker and if you don't, they'll set you up with a nurse to come in. I'd take them up on it!


Diagnosed at 42, Oncotype score 16, ITC in one node- considered node negative Dx 4/8/2019, ILC, Left, 3cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 1/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 4/23/2019, ILC, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 5/15/2019 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Hormonal Therapy 6/14/2019 Zoladex (goserelin) Chemotherapy 8/6/2019 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel)
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Jul 17, 2019 09:26AM - edited Jul 17, 2019 09:27AM by Fairydragonfly

I'm a bit late to the party, but figured I would chime in with my experience to date. I'm single (43), live alone with two cats, no family nearby (one younger sister lives in a different province). I was FREAKING out when I got the diagnosis, because most of my friends are around the same age and busy with work, family, and their own lives.

1. Accept help and ask for what you need. I have been blown away by the love and support my friends have provided. From taking me to appointments, staying with me in the hospital during surgery and chemo, spending the night at my place following surgery, bringing me food, etc. The list is endless. Their offers of help weren't empty. The largest obstacle to receiving help has been me letting go of being my strong, independent self.

2. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. I was petrified of starting chemo because I lived alone. I was scared that I would be too fatigued or sick to do anything. So I stocked my freezer with individual lasagnas, prepped smoothie packs, anything that required minimal work. Luckily my first chemo went well and I only used a few of the prepared items. I also made sure to have people who were willing to be my 'on call' in case of emergency. One will take me to the hospital if I get a fever and one will come take care of the cats if I'm hospitalized. Just knowing this alleviated so much of my anxiety. I also have a bag packed by the door in case I need to go to the hospital.

3. I was strong before diagnosis, and I'm still strong now. Give yourself the credit you deserve for being a strong independent woman. Recognize that asking for help doesn't take away from your strength.

4. Join a local support group. This has been one of the most helpful pieces for me. Much like this forum, the women I met have provided such love and support as I go through my own process. All of them were ahead of me and they have been phenomenal with giving me tips and tricks based on their own experiences.

5. Everyone is different. You're going to read and hear about other people's journeys. Remember that every one and every cancer is unique. What may be difficult for one was easy for another. Resist seeking out those worst case scenarios and working yourself up because you can't imagine how you would do it alone.

I feel like I've blathered on long enough. From one single gal to another - YOU GOT THIS!

DX at age 43. Weak staining ER, Oncotype score 50, BRCA1 mutation. Lost both parents to cancer in 2018. Dx 4/17/2019, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 5/1/2019 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Chemotherapy 7/5/2019 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel)
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Jul 17, 2019 09:31AM Fairydragonfly wrote:

Also, in regards to cleaning... See if this organization can help you out:

https://cleaningforareason.org/

I am receiving two free cleanings through this organization while I am in chemo. Such a blessing not to have to worry about it.

DX at age 43. Weak staining ER, Oncotype score 50, BRCA1 mutation. Lost both parents to cancer in 2018. Dx 4/17/2019, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 5/1/2019 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Chemotherapy 7/5/2019 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel)
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Jul 17, 2019 10:37AM Karen2019 wrote:

Ladies, you are overwhelming me with wonderful suggestions and I am making a great list! There are so many things I wouldn't have thought of. Thank you soooo much for your help. Though I am only on day 3 of this journey, I already know that I will be living on this forum of wonderful people throughout the entire process. You are all amazing!

Dx 7/15/19 at 52, IDC, Right, Stage 1, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 17, 2019 11:38PM Artista964 wrote:

I was completely alone. I studied the preparing for sx thread here. I stocked up on stuff, made some meals and froze them in single servings, bought paper plates, utensils (not worrying about dishes).... read that thread. It lists what to stock up on. As for driving to sx and post op, we have a free drivers for survivors program here. Do your house cleaning and laundry ahead of time, etc. Of course having someone on hand to help is nice but if you don't, you can still go through it by yourself.

Dxd at 50. Went thru it all on my own by choice. Dx 6/2/2015, IDC, Left, 6cm+, Stage IIIA, Grade 3, 1/4 nodes, PR+, HER2- Surgery 8/6/2015 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant Chemotherapy 11/3/2015 AC + T (Taxotere) Radiation Therapy 5/4/2016 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes Hormonal Therapy 6/28/2016 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Jul 18, 2019 11:10PM Cowgirl13 wrote:

Karen, I was 63 when I went through treatment and I lived alone. The big thing I did was to have my house cleaned. Your idea of having a deep clean is terrific.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the Devil says: 'Oh crap! She's up! Dx 5/28/2009, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Surgery 6/15/2009 Chemotherapy 8/2/2009 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 12/21/2009 Hormonal Therapy 2/22/2010 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Jul 19, 2019 05:11AM gb2115 wrote:

Make things easy and within easy reach. After my surgery it was super hard to do things like lifting, opening jars, etc. The lymph node incision was the problem, caused pain with that stuff.

Button down shirts if you can manage it.


Dx IDC in October 2016, stage 2A, 1.2 cm ER/PR+ Her2-, Grade 2, 1/3 nodes. Mammaprint low risk luminal A, Lumpectomy + radiation + tamoxifen. Age 38 at diagnosis.
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Jul 21, 2019 07:53PM CharityGuru wrote:

I took Uber to the hospital and hired someone to pick me up so the hospital would release me. It was mainly a service for the elderly:) It really wasn't that bad. I had chemo and radiation. I did a lot of prep: cleaned the house, food shopped, bought a pitcher with a water filter (drink tons of water), hired someone to clean my cat's litterbox, and read everything I could get my hands on. I meditated daily. Do the prep then take it day by day, celebrating the small victories. If you are tired, rest. Be kind to yourself. As kind as you would be to someone else who was sick. I think that was the key for me. I was the nicest to myself I've ever been:) Good luck. You can do this.

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Jul 21, 2019 08:13PM GiddyupGirl wrote:

Karen: everybody has given you great suggestions. I minded the boredom most so to prepare I went to the library got books and dvd's made sure I had netflix and Amazon prime and kept my computer handy ( use a side table not the floor). If you like music make sure it is close to where you will be resting. Whatever entertains you make sure you are set up for it. I wish you all the best - Good Luck

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Jul 21, 2019 08:14PM GiddyupGirl wrote:

Karen: everybody has given you great suggestions. I minded the boredom most so to prepare I went to the library got books and dvd's made sure I had netflix and Amazon prime and kept my computer handy ( use a side table not the floor). If you like music make sure it is close to where you will be resting. Whatever entertains you make sure you are set up for it. I wish you all the best - Good Luck

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