Talk to me about breast cancer.

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  • Talk to me about breast cancer.
  • My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer at the weekend. Like a bolt out of the blue it has hit everyone incredibly hard. We won’t know what stage it is at until the end of this week but we are all currently struggling to come to terms with it. She turned 60 a few months ago and is fit, healthy and generally looks after herself.

    I realise that millions of people go through this all the time but I’m struggling to find a means to cope with the worry of it. I’m an only child and we have a small family. I’m worried sick about my mum obviously. I’m worried about my dad who doesn’t know what to do or how to cope. My mum is a natural worrier and she hasn’t slept since she was diagnosed. She’s telling everyone not to worry and seems only to be concerned about my dad and I, which in turn is making me feel worse because while I can cope with my own concerns and stress I can’t cope with the idea that they will be worried and stressed. I don’t want them to go through this and I feel so helpless and so I am putting on a facade that I’m not worried and that I’m confident everything will be fine so they don’t worry about me. So in the end we have a group of people all terrified who are acting like they aren’t terrified so as not to cause one another to be terrified.

    I’m endlessly scouring the net looking for information and although there is so much positivity regarding breast cancer I have it in my head that I’m going to lose my mum and my dad will then be on his own struggling to cope. I’m panicking about things that haven’t happened and may not happen and playing out these scenarios in my head. The moment I woke up this morning the thought was in my head. I was thinking about how I would come to terms with losing my mum, how my dad would manage, how I would be able to help my dad, just playing out this scenario that hasn’t happened, just endlessly bleak thoughts.

    Sorry all for the depressing thread and I’m not sure what I am looking for here. Just getting it off my chest I suppose.

    Premier Icon geoffj

    1. Step away from google – at least until you have more info from the docs
    2. Have a look at what Macmillan can do for you – they are excellent (

    Good luck!

    Premier Icon theotherjonv

    I can’t help you directly, only one experience and that went badly, which is not what you want.

    But I can say, talk to Macmillan. It’s what they’re there for. For you as well.

    Good luck

    1. Step away from google – at least until you have more info from the docs

    That ^

    I can’t help you directly, only one experience and that went badly, which is not what you want.

    That as well ^

    Stay calm and be supportive to your mum/dad and yourself…

    Hope all goes well…

    Premier Icon molgrips

    Cancer is not a death sentence. Lots of people get better.


    My Mum was diagnosed at 62 with breast cancer. She will need lots of love, care and attention, but in our case anyway, she had the treatment and despite everything at the ripe old age of 72 she as had no reccurence. I wouldn’t give up hope yet. My Mum’s was quite an advanced state and had to have part of her breast removed and all her Lymph nodes removed from her arm, which still gives her a bit of gyp but other than that has a full and normal life now.
    Hope all goes well


    In some ways this is the worst bit – until you know more, you’ll always focus on the worst-case scenario.

    In contrast to the poster above, the only person I know who talked about having had breast cancer was definitely a survivor, and that was back in the nineties. She had been diagnosed and treated in the eighties, and had passed the 5 year mark by the time I met her. Treatment has also improved hugely over the last decade or so, because so much research funding has been focussed on breast cancer.

    My mother died earlier this year from bowel cancer, and some of it was pretty tough; I helped where I could, but my dad had to do most of the caring. By the end, he was worn out, but he had a lot of friends and commitments to keep him going, and various people have told me recently that not only is he coping better than they had ever imagined he would, but he also seems to be recovering from the physical exhaustion better than they had expected – he’s 72. If the worst does happen, make sure that your father has plans for what he wants to do next – any travelling that he hasn’t been able to do, redecorating he wasn’t allowed to do, anything like that to keep him occupied. My brother and I finally had to get my father to set up an online diary that we can access so we can keep track of him…

    Finally – keep venting on here if it helps you; make sure that someone you trust at work is aware of what’s going on (ideally your manager, but being able to trust them is more important!) and take time for yourself as well as spending time with your parents. You will be better able to support them if you’ve got support and space to sort yourself out.

    And I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you that it’s been caught early and is easily treatable…

    Premier Icon notmyrealname

    I can’t really offer much help other than to reiterate what others have said, speak to Macmillan or Marie Curie, they’re exceptionally helpful in situations like that faced by you and your family.

    Hope it all goes well.


    I couldn’t read this without posting. All I can say is take things one day at a time. There will be some good days and there will be bad days. Be there as a sounding board as your Dad will want to talk about his fears and worries for his wife. Once you know what you are facing you can begin to plan.
    I also say don’t google as it will scare you. When my daughter was diagnosed the first thing the doctor told us was not to look it up on the computer and I stand by that. Everyone is different and reacts to treatment in different ways.
    Also tell your friends. Its important to look after yourself and have people to talk and vent to. Our friends helped us in our very dark days.


    Get on to Macmillan there brilliant. Also if your local to manchester Christies hospital is amazing seen my mate and uncle there. The staff there are amazing. Sure your mam will be ok and just make sure your there for her. All the best.

    Premier Icon martinhutch

    This is one of the hardest bits – you know it’s there, but you don’t know anything about the type of breast cancer (whether it’s affected by hormones) or what stage its at.

    Once you know that, you can start focusing on treatment and actually doing something about it.

    My advice would be to talk to MacMillan if you feel like you need to, and try to help your mum and dad plan out any questions they need to ask at the next consultant appointment. If you’re going along, take notepad and pencil and write down pretty much everything you’re told.

    Very sorry to hear your news.
    Several experiences all mixed
    Great advice above, don’t rely on internet experts, definitely speak to Macmillan they are a brilliant organisation.
    Best wishes to your Mum, as an only one who’s Mum was very ill I can understand your position, but also look after your Dad too.


    Macmillan do seem to vary from region to region, to be honest – they weren’t much help to my parents, and my mother’s comment was that they didn’t really seem to be set up to deal with patients in their late 60’s/early 70’s, whereas a younger friend in another area found they were great. The district nurse was the biggest help for my parents, and managed to get extra help from Marie Curie over the last days for us, as well as keeping an eye on my father in the immediate aftermath! The local hospice was also helpful, especially if my father needed a break and I couldn’t cover for him.

    I suppose what I’m saying is that if Macmillan don’t seem too useful, or your parents don’t get on with them, don’t assume they are the only support out there…


    cancerbacup are also helpful, lots of info out there, and cancer isnt a death sentance,sometimes just a warning to change your lifestyle,lots of people make a good recovery,positive mental attitude and all that, from the patient and the family /freinds.

    Best wishes to your mum.


    My wife was diagnosed with a cancerous cyst only a couple of weeks ago . Last Thursday, she had a small operation to remove the cyst, plus a lymph node (for a further biopsy and investigation). It went extremely well, and she’s up and about, although she does get a bit fatigued and needs to rest. Her mum is currently being treated for breast cancer too, having been diagnosed in August, and it was my wife’s (understandable) paranoia that led to her being sent for a scan.

    I won’t lie; it’s been **** terrifying. The thought that you might lose a loved one is too awful to contemplate. Being in denial is really quite normal, and part of your emotional defence mechanism. I just tried to concentrate on practical matters, and distract myself from dwelling on what ifs and maybes. Because doing so won’t help. We can’t do anything to help medically, but we can do so much to support a person; humour and laughs are what people really need, so it’s really important to create as happy and positive atmosphere around the person as possible. We’ve had many, many offers of support, and several people have popped round to bring food and treats etc. Normal rules are out of the window; it’s time to pamper and overindulge.

    Life goes on though, so it’s also important to carry on with normal everyday stuff, as much as possible.

    And it’s perfectly, perfectly fine to be scared, upset and angry. Talk to whoever will listen; you’ll be surprised how supportive people can be, and how many others have been through similar experiences. Make sure you find suitable outlets for all that emotion, be they going for a bike ride, playing some violent computer game, listening to music, or just shutting yourself away and having a good rage. Get it out, don’t let it fester within.

    No matter how powerless and inadequate you feel, you still have a massively important role to play, and so much potential for supporting someone. They need you. You’ve got a job to do. You’re part of a network, you’re not alone, remember that. You, yes you, are gonna help fight that cancer. Your mum needs you in her team.



    My Mum got diagnosed with breast cancer at 59.
    She had some pretty drastic surgery (full mastectomy + lymphnodes removed) and 6 months of chemo (which was tough – if your mum goes this route it’ll be ‘house rest’ for 6 months)

    She’s just turned 67 and was discharged by the oncologist after 5 years as if it hasn’t returned in 5 years, you’re at the same risk as the rest of the population.
    She takes a ‘maintenance’ drug, which is supposed to stop it coming back, which she’ll stay on for life.
    But 8 years on, so far so good.

    My younger brother (aged 36) died 2 weeks ago from bowel cancer that had spread to his liver – so sadly I’m well aware that not everyone wins, however I think the outcomes for Breast cancer patients is a lot better, and getting better all the time.

    Good luck to all of you – oh and stay away from Google, until you know what you should be googling.

    Thanks all for the supportive and sensible replies. It genuinely helps to hear about others thoughts, experiences. It’s a range of emotions I’ve never really experienced. Having a small family has meant I haven’t really experienced facing anything like this before, which I realise I should be very grateful for. But I have such conflicting emotions and thoughts. I have moments where I think this is ok, this isnt a death sentence, it’s just going to be a difficult period of treatment and that’s it, just a nasty bout of illness. Then I feel completely doom and gloom and that it’s just the road to the end and everything else that comes with it. I’ve started to worry about my wife and in a moment of irrational fear I started emptying anything that I deemed to be unhealthy or processed food out of our kitchen cupboards. It’s this overwhelming fear that I’m going to start to lose the few people I love that has hit me. It’s all ridiculous I know and selfish that I’m going through this crazy range of emotions when I should be putting all my energy into being supportive for my mum and dad.

    Thanks again all

    Premier Icon jamj1974

    Some brilliant advice – hard to think of what to add. My mum had ovarian cancer four-years ago, which I supported her through. I followed the same advice as given here of avoiding Google until you get a full diagnosis, treatment plan and prognosis. After that it can be useful in providing wider knowledge, the experiences of others and can give you a basis to ask better questions when you see specialists.

    So sorry to hear you are going through this. Take care. J


    Love, support and encouragement (for everyone). There will be really rough times where you will cry together, and hopefully there will be times where you will be able to smile and share what is evident to be a very close family love.

    My mum had breast cancer 4 years ago (aged 64). She had a breast tissue removal, lymph node removal, chemo and radio therapy spanning 12 months. Was very tough on her but, like a lot more nowadays, she got through it and is has been clear since. Every step from now forwards needs to be put in as much of a positive light as possible. Each chemo treatment was a positive as it was one down, a couple left to go. It will be hard, but you will find the strength.

    Premier Icon wallop

    I have no cancer experience, but I’m an only child. If I was in your position, I would offer to go with my mum to her next consultation – an extra pair of ears might be helpful in understanding what’s going on, what’s going to happen etc. She might not be able to take it all in.

    You are absolutely right Wallop. My dad will be going obviously but I’ll be making the trip up north mid week to be with them for the next consultation.

    Thanks again to all. Some much needed perspective and supportive words. Very much what I needed.


    Mum diagnosed 15 years ago.

    Apparently many sleepless nights for my parents, particularly some months after surgery the surgeon called my mum to say that he believed he needed to revisit.

    15 years later, Mum is still fully alive and kicking, albeit still has a smoke…which makes me very, very angry given she was also a nurse until retirement last year.

    Mums experience…my sis is also a nurse and took her into hospital for investigations, etc. My mum says that the best guidance she got was from my sis “Mum, regardless of the outcome you are now in the system…just be patient and until it is proved there is no hope then always assume the positive”

    I was having tests for Multiple Myeloma last year. Knowing what I was being tested for and potential outcomes if results positive turned me into a mental basket case. I’m grateful that tests were negative.


    It’s crap. Really crap. However, survival rates are excellent.

    No need to google much really. Depends on the type of cancer and therefore the treatment she will go through. Chemo sucks a fat one (for most people) and radiotherapy is less bad.

    As said above – the only real thing you can do is be positive and supportive. The line is ‘you are going to survive, we just have to collectively get through the process of treatment’. The answer is survival, the details belong to the docs.

    Your mother, family and friends define how you approach this. The best advice I can give is ensure ‘cancer’ isn’t spelled ‘Cancer’. Don’t make it the most important thing. She has cancer with a small ‘c’. It is something to be faced, dealt with then put aside and life to continue. It sounds as if you need to get with your mum’s attitude!


    Fervoured – my wife is an Oncology Nurse Specialist and the Ward Manager at a huge Manchester hospice.
    She says stop pretending and talk to your mum and dad. Then talk some more. It’s happening and you all need a coping strategy.
    Email in my profile if you’d like any more third party advice


    fervouredimage – Member

    I’ve started to worry about my wife and in a moment of irrational fear I started emptying anything that I deemed to be unhealthy or processed food out of our kitchen cupboards

    Very unlikely any food has brought on breast cancer,but all the food youve thrown out,why not donate it to your local food bank or homeless charity, then youre occupied, and the food goes to a good home.


    Oh no – sorry to read this.

    I don’t have much to add to the really good advice above, but I have been through a similar experience myself and I know how tough it can be. I am also an only child…

    Please take time and space to work things out in your head – it’s easy to get caught up with things but please make time for yourself. I found riding my bike an absolute godsend – I could just lose myself in what I was doing and it was such a relief not to be worrying about everything – but find what works for you.

    Good luck to you all 🙂


    Mother has gone three rounds but clear now. She’s tough as **** and rides a motorbike which probably has little to do with anything. The oestrogen suppression drugs have made her way less mental and she got a free tummy tuck with her reconstruction.

    Coincidently, I donated a fiver today to a campaigner on the street via text message. A very painless way to go about it and she was lovely!


    In my experience this…

    It’s crap. Really crap. However, survival rates are excellent.

    When I met my wife (20 years ago) her mum had just been diagnosed. She’s still going strong (as if nothing has happened).

    Wish the same could be said for my mum and her lung cancer.


    I don’t want to say a lot on a public forum, but beyond the physical demands of radio- and chemotherapy, don’t underestimate the long-term psychological impact of lump/mastectomy.

    Premier Icon kimbers

    fervouredimage, spent the last 10 years in cancer research, and I can relate to your feelings of paranoia about loosing people, eating healthy etc,once you learn how many ways your cells can **** up it can be a bit depressing!

    Ultimately theres nothing you can do other than be supportive of your parents, which is a pretty hard thing in itself really

    breast cancer treatment has come on leaps and bounds, infact its disproportionately funded compared to other cancers so depending on the nature of her cancer theres every chance that she can be successfully treated.

    dunno what else to say other than all the best to your family

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