Diagnosed today and struggling

I am 77 and today (or rather yesterday as it’s now 1.30a.m) diagnosed with grade 1 invasive breast cancer. It’s very small, just 6mm and they reckon half of that has gone in the three biopsies I had. I need surgery and radiotherapy and meet with my surgeon on Thursday to plan those. At the weekend I need to sit my two sons down and tell them and that’s going to be hard. I’m the toughie in the family who everyone turns to and relies on and I don’t do asking for help. I also don’t want my grandchildren knowing, the eldest two lost their maternal grandfather to cancer two years ago and never dealt with it and we are very close and I know they won’t cope with this (I’m their paternal grandmother). I know I’m over stressing but at 1.30 a.m. I can’t sleep and my brain just won’t shut down. I’m sorry to go on, I just needed to get it out there and try to get my head round it all. Thank you for reading, bless you all for caring.


I’m 70 and could have written that post a couple of months ago. It’s a big shock and it takes time to get your head around it. Telling family is the hardest. However small the lesion is, mine was 17mm, and however much they emphasize the positive it is still the ‘Big C’ which is scary. I sometimes wonder who I am trying to convince of a positive outcome, me or those I am speaking to.

I only told a few people, family and very close friends as I couldn’t cope with the reactions of others, but we’re all different and others find comfort in telling others. If you know someone who has been through something similar get support from them.

Once you see the surgeon and have a plan things get a little easier - you are on the journey to recovery - but the anxiety is still there.

I had my surgery 3 weeks ago and am waiting for results and the next steps.

It’s tough and a real rollercoaster of emotions. There is no right or wrong - just what’s right for you. Reach out when you need it. We’ve all been there, understand and are ready to support you. It’s a club none of us want to be in but we are there for each other.
Sending hugs xx


Dear Nannabee,

So sad to read your post, we are all here for you.

I found the hardest thing was to tell my children that I had cancer, yes they were very upset, but are stronger than we ever imagine, they take it on board and for a short time we become their children.

At the moment, you are in shock and can’t get your head around this. As you said you have been awake and your brain is doing overtime. Please try to take one day at a time it will all fall into place I promise.

Wishing you health and happiness going forward. Good luck with your treatment my brave lady.

Please let us know how you are getting on when you are feeling up to it.

Biggest hugs Tili :rainbow::pray::rainbow::pray:


Dear Holly,

Well done for getting this far with your surgery and treatment.

Wishing you well, finger crossed so a good outcome with your results.

Health and happiness going forward.

Keep posting letting us know how you are getting on.

Hugs Tili :rainbow::pray::rainbow::pray:


Poor you Nannabee. A horrible shock for you and of course you are worried and upset.
I dont normally go in for the ‘they can do wonders these days’ type of reassurance but I think you should look at the very real positives to reassure yourself that all will be well. This has been caught really early and surgery will more than likely completely remove anything nasty. Radiotherapy is not too taxing and is really a form of insurance against a return.

My mother was diagnosed with exactly the same as you when she was 81. She came through treatment well, it never returned and she lived to be 101! I was diagnosed with Grade 3 in 2020 and have had surgery, chemo and radiotherapy. I am now leading a full and enjoyable life. I am sure your experience will be similar.
With regard to your family, of course they will be worried and concerned, but my tip is to play things down. Do your homework on the internet, Marshall your facts and explain to them that the cancer has been caught at its earliest possible stage and your chances of a full recovery and a long life are at the upper end of 95%. I say this not to deprive you of sympathy but because you will want to lead as normal a life as possible and not become a cancer victim in terms of how others treat you. I am sure they will wrap you in love and help with the practical aspects of your treatment, but it is easier to do this if they aren’t consumed with worry.

Chin up, best foot forward and start the journey. Think positive, put your lippy on and line up some treats for post surgery. You WILL get through this.


Please, please tell your family, they will be able to process it if you explain it right, that it’s small and been caught early.
I lost my mum to cancer (her 2nd type) when I was 23, my parents kept a lot from me during he treatments/diagnosis to protect me and it was totally the wrong approach. I resented them for keeping me in the dark. When I was diagnosed 3 years ago, it was the one thing I said I had to do with my boys age 13 and 16 then, I had to be honest and tell them everything, it was better all round.


Hi @nannabee,

Firstly I am so sorry to hear your diagnosis, and it’s totally understandable that you’re stressed and worried about telling your children.

It may help you to talk through it first with one of our nurses as it might help you order you thoughts and think about what you want to say. Our free helpline is available 9am - 4pm Monday to Friday and 9am - 1pm on Saturdays on 0808 800 6000.

The responses you’ve already had here hopefully show you what a supportive and helpful place the forum is, and we will be here for you whenever you need us.

Sending love,

Alice :heart:


Dear @nannabee

So sorry for the situation you are in . I can only repeat what some of the others have said . I was also an early Grade 1 with a 10 mm cancer , I had surgery in Feb 22 followed by radiotherapy - my pathway wasn’t entirely straightforward but I’m fine and living a normal full life .

I don’t have children but I dreaded telling my elderly Dad - particularly as my Mum had died only seven months previously . He took it well though as did my brother . I did emphasise it was low grade and had been caught early and so on and the good news is that you are in the same boat and can do that too. Dad did ask some questions and I can remember saying " well it’s not going to kill me it’s just going to be a bloody nuisance " which we even managed to have a little chuckle over. You will find that you are still being the strong one making light of it and saying you’re ok even though you feel like you’re falling apart inside - and it’s ok to feel like that . If you have a really good friend you can talk to honestly that helps as well - there may be a breast cancer survivor in your social circle that you aren’t aware of.

I wouldn’t advise telling everyone you know but with the people who are closest to you I think that honesty is the best policy . If you don’t tell them It will be hard for you to behave naturally with them - they will know something is wrong . The places we go in our imaginations are nearly always worse than what happens in reality and they may start thinking the very worst if you shut them out .

@Alice_BCN is right though - if you can get your thoughts into some sort of order it will help. It might also be easier after you have spoken to your surgeon and have more information. On the other hand if you tell people before that then it might be reassuring for everyone if you can take a close friend or family member with you to your appointment and to what the Surgeon has to say.

Take care and sending love
Joanne. X


Just wanted to send you love and support. Hearing the C word is truly terrifying. I am year tomorrow from my diagnosis. Two surgeries and radiotherapy on I am now worrying about my first mammogram one year since the first surgery. I truly believe support networks of family and/or friends and/or professionals are key xx

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Rollercoaster is absolutely the right terminology

I use it myself

I hope uou managed some sleep but if not naps are fine

Probably for the first time in your life you are going to need practical and emotional suport so please reach out to your GP, your breast team , your closest people and on here

Its going to be hard but you are resilient and just focus on the day, each step gets a little easier but having found it your outcomes are likely to be good

Sleep when you can, eat when you can, drink lots of water every day, ask questions and better times will come

Blessings to you xx

Hello, please try not to worry too much. I am 60 and was diagnosed with Stage 1, Grade 3 invasive breast cancer back in March, it was 10mm and called an early small cancer. The evening I was told, all I could think was that I might die. But after talking everything through with my surgeon and her nurse, everything was clearer and much less traumatic. I had surgery and a partial mastectomy, it hadn’t spread to lymph nodes and my surgeon got all the cancer out, so I was cancer free. Because of the grade there then followed three months of preventative chemo and then radiotherapy and now I’m on Letrozole for five years. And all my treatment is now done and I’m really feeling OK. Obviously your surgeon will be able to explain everything, but if it’s grade 1, I’m sure with surgery and radiotherapy you’ll be right as rain. Telling people is always hard because they just hear cancer, and it’s frightening. But it’s good you’re seeing your sons after your surgeon because you’ll have all the facts. If you can, try and record your meeting on your mobile, if you have one? It’s hard to write things down, because then you don’t really listen to it all. But I now record every appointment to listen to later if I need to. Or do try and take someone with you to the appointment, because they can hear it all as well. I hope you’re a bit better today, night time is always when the mind monkeys drive you mad. it is a huge thing to get your head around, but you’ll manage it all I’m sure, and good luck.

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Am 43 and.just found 4 days before my bday in August too it was definitely tough as ally family is french. 2.1 cm triple negative BC.
This is the toughest time but also it’s been found so if they’re not talking chemo it’s even more of a positive. They’ll take care of you and you’ll have a nurse who you can talk to and nurses and.heere and Macmillan will support you as well as your family. Avoid Google if you can but get information from.specialist team. It will be a roller coaster of emotions but I found this forum very helpful. All the best big hugs take care 🩷

So glad you reached out and wish you well with your recovery.

I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer (grade 1A) a few years ago and found it hard to tell my family, when I did I put a caveat on the news that my nieces and nephews should remain in the dark and should only be told when I had come through all the treatment as didn’t want to burden them. Personally I never regretted that decision, you have to do what you think is right for you and your circumstances and only you can decide what that is. I really hope everything works out for you, take care.

Thank you all for taking the time to reply to me. I’ve taken all your suggestions on board and know now where to turn to when I hit bumps in this journeys road. I am taking my husband with me when I see the surgeon on Thursday, he won’t understand or take much of it in but we will talk it through once home again. I’ll talk to my sons at the weekend. I don’t plan on telling all and sundry, my dear friend knows as is supporting me already. Obviously my husband, my sons and their wives and I’ve told my brother and sister in law who will tell their family once my boys know. Other than that it will be strictly if someone needs to know. It all seems totally unreal at the moment and when I think about it I find I don’t believe it - of course I haven’t got breast cancer that’s just not possible. I need to get my head round it, understand it, believe it and accept it. For now the journey has started and I am so grateful to have you all with me. Thank you, thank you, thank you xxx


Write down questions you want answered on a notepad - take the pad in with you and a pen or pencil .
Make some notes from what the Surgeon says . At the end of the appointment they will usually ask if you have any questions so then check your list and make sure the things you wanted to ask have all been answered plus anything else you have thought of during the appointment. They will write to your GP after the appointment and your surgery should send you a copy - if they have explained things properly then there shouldn’t be any surprises in the letter . If you need anything clarifying reach out to your Breast Care Nurse team.

Take care
Joanne. X


Hi @nannabee I was one of those roughie-toughies that was the problem-solver at work and at home. Latterly I was the carer for my husband who had MND and after that, the carer for my mother who lived with dementia, both massively demanding responsibilities. I was actually quite bullish after diagnosis as it was a 14mm Grade 1 IDC and I knew 6 women of a similar age (66 at the time) who had had something similar in the past and have all been cancer-free for years and all the medics were confident I’d “ live a natural lifespan”. BUT surgery was a bigger thing than I expected and was so so grateful to my brother and sister-in-law for taking me in for a week afterwards and caring for me. Other friends rallied round, taking me to various appointments and doing the heavy shopping etc. Allow yourself to be the helped rather than the helper until you feel physically and emotionally stronger. There is strength in realising a temporary weakness. Allow people to give back. It’s been 15 months since surgery and a year since rads and it’s only recently that I’ve begun to feel like myself again. It’s a road none of us would wish to travel down but it helps to walk down it together. Good luck.


Hi Nannabee. Only a few weeks ago, i did just as you have and posted on this forum for the first time. Good for you for reaching out and not trying to deal with those difficult 1.30am thoughts and feelings all alone! The responses I received to my post really gave me some strength in what felt like one of the darkest days of my life. When it comes to telling our loved ones, it is such a difficult thing to do and a very personal decision about who we tell and who we don’t. Just do what feels right for you at the time. I’m glad to see you have support around you and now you have all of us too. Reach out whenever you need to…


I am now 69 and was diagnosed with BC this time last year. I know exactly where you are! Please - don’t panic! My tumour was also 6mm (and later turned out to be grade 2). At the out-of-the-blue callback after the routine mammogram, when I had the biopsy, I met my surgeon for the first time. After he’d introduced himself as I was lying helpless on the table, he smiled and greeted my clearly worried face with a very breezy “Don’t worry, breast cancer is NOT a death sentence! It’s tiny…I can get it out without you losing your breast!
I remember those words exactly - they seared into my brain when most everything else was a bit of a blur! When I had the biopsy results just before Xmas, I was in denial. When I’ve had operations before, it’s been when I felt ill and after surgery was going to feel better….now I FELT 100% well and was going to feel worse…I found it hard to accept. But the surgeon was very clear and very upbeat and reassuring. Luckily for me, an ex-nurse work colleague had gone through BC 5 years ago - she sat me down and said - don’t panic!
It’s the not knowing and all the WAITING involved that gets to you and drives you crazy sometimes! Yes - the waking in the wee small hours and you can’t get it out of your mind.
But your diagnosis of such a small, stage 1 tumour is good so far. Don’t hesitate to ring nurses/charities to talk. I hesitated because I was a bit embarrassed!! I am now fit as a fiddle again - and now motivated to work harder with regular exercise! It has also strengthened bonds with old friends who were very supportive - and good listeners!!
Please keep in touch along your journey… mine was not as bad as I was expecting!


Hello again
I’ve been thinking of you! I know I’m getting ahead a bit now, but I think it’s worth mentioning because I’ve heard so many differing accounts of meetings with oncologists after surgery. My experience advises you to ask for all the stats - the percentage advantage of subsequent treatments.
Basically, are you high/medium or low risk of recurrence? Some women I know were not told - or didn’t understand.
I was lucky with my oncologist. He explained to me that with my results I had a 20% chance of recurrence, taken down to 4% if I had radiotherapy. So I elected for radiotherapy. Hormone therapy gave me ONLY a further 2% advantage so I decided NOT to have it. At my age, (69) and active lifestyle, I decided quality of life outweighs a 2% risk. The side effects of hormone therapy were what worried me most, of all the treatments. I have already had one menopause and didn’t want another! (I had also been led to believe that hormone therapy was expected, non-negotiable routine treatment). My oncologist was very sympathetic and helpful and actually ASKED me how I felt about my available treatments. (That was a first!)
He said it was my decision with my low risk and he supported me. (After all, put another way, there was a 98% chance of it being no advantage!)
Be sure - had I been higher risk and hormone therapy been more obviously useful, I WOULD have taken it.
What I’m saying is - don’t be panicked or bulldozed into accepting a pretty strong drug without careful discussion and understanding of the risk balance involved. Then it is YOUR decision.


That’s interesting - I was never sent any letters from my surgery! It would have helped to have it written down!

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