Mum diagnosed

Mum diagnosed

Mum diagnosed Ok here goes again!
My mum has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer (shes 57). She has had a lumpectomy and 6 lymph nodes removed. we will have to wait 2 weeks for results and I was wondering if anyone knew what the chances of her having to have chemo would be. Im just starting my uni holidays now and I need to decide whether to cancel a project i should be doing mid june now rather than wait to see what will happen. i hate letting people down. and this has all been such a shock, and the not knowing is so hard - is this the hardest bit cos I hope it gets easier from now on? I just am more worried because she is on her own, so if she needs chemo, then I want to be there with her. Id appreciate any advice! Thanks x

Dear reahn Welcome to the forums, apologies for any inconvenience caused and I am pleased you were able to repost. I am sure you will receive support and information from your fellow forum users very soon, in addition, you are welcome to contact our freephone confidential helpline on 0808 800 6000 which is open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm and Saturday 9am-2pm.

You and your Mum may find our ‘Resource pack’ helpful to read to help you to better understand your Mum’s diagnosis, results and treatments which may be prescribed. You can read this via the following link or by contacting the helpliners for a copy to be sent out you:

breastcancercare.org.uk//content.php?page_id=7514

I hope this is helpful to you.

Kind regards
Forum Host
Breast Cancer Care

Hiya, I think you will have to wait for results until you can plan anything. how long will it take you to do the project. Your mum probably wouldn’t start chemo until July that’s if she needs it. Please don’t worry too much. Not knowing is the pits as nearly everyone on this site agrees love Eileen

Mum just diagnosed Hi reahn - sorry to hear of your Mum’s recent diagnosis and I hope she is recovering well from the lumpectomy and sample node removal. She is very lucky to have such a caring and thoughtful daughter.

It is impossible for any of us to advise on the possibility of chemo or not as it depends on many factors, i.e. size of tumour (at my hospital in Devon all patients with tumours over 1 cm are advised to have chemo),stage and grade, and importantly, if there is any spread to the lymph nodes. All of this information will be on your Mum’s pathology report and I strongly advise you to get a copy. I had no problem - just asked my surgeon and he immediately went ad got me acopy. It will seem like double dutch at first, but once you have the relevant information, we can help you to understand what the various terms mean. It is probably the most important piece of information you need as it will also show your Mum’s hormone status - oestrogen,progesterone and HER2. If you are ER/PR positive, you can then have Arimidex or tamoxifen to shut off any of these hormones which feed the cancer, and if HER2+, Herceptin.

I was 58 when diagnosed 4 years ago, and was absolutely clueless then. Like your Mum I had a lumpectomy and 8 sample nodes removed. When I went for the results I was told 3 of the nodes were cancerous and I had to go back a month later for what is called total axillary resection. This is a much more difficult operation to recover from than the lumpectomy and sample node surgery. Let’s pray your Mum’s nodes are clear and if so, and the tumour small, she may only need radiotherapy. I had 18 nodes removed in total (some women have as many as 50, so the number varies)and 4 were cancerous. Therefore chemo was strongly advised, which I had,;6 infusions every 3 weeks. I had a break of about a month to sort out my Crohn’s then had five and a half weeks of radiotherapy, Mon-Fri. My husband is disabled and we live a two hour journey by car and ferry to the hospital, so for the radiotherapy I was offered and accepted, volunteer car service, for which I didn’t have to pay. Your Mum’s hospital may also have such a service, although I don’t think all hospitals do this.

It seems a long, daunting road at first, but once the position is clear, somehow you just get on with it, in my case because I felt I had no choice but to agree to what I believed was in my best interests. I am very happy with my decision to have everything they offered. I even had the “cold cap”, and although my hair thinned on top, managed to keep it.

I hope I haven’t overloaded you with information, but at the time I was diagnosed I never thought of going onto forums such as this, and it took me quite a long time to understand what was happening.I am a person who can cope with what I know, but get anxious if I am in the dark.

Good luck with the results. I am sure other ladies will be along shortly to answer your post too.
Take care,
Liz.

Thankyou very much for your replies. I really appreciate it and think this kind of support is invaluable. I wasn’t actually thinking straight - my projects meant to be mid july not june for 8 weeks so it would be at a critical point. Anyway Im going to give it a few days to think about - the problem is i would be the other side of the country to my mum so i probably wont risk it! Ill just see how she feels about asking for a pathology report. I have a feeling she would rather leave it in the hands of the medical team. Is there still a problem being offered certain drugs according to postcode? the other thing is when mum asked at the hospital about transport she was just given a bus timetable. she only lives a few miles away but money is a worry for her, so if nyone has overcome this type of problem - a solution would be great! take care x

Travel /drug costs Hi reahn,
Drugs - as far as I am aware, there is no post code lottery now, especially for Herceptin. I am HER2-, so not absolutely sure if Herceptin is available foc at my hospital. I take Arimidex daily and have had no problem in getting a monthly prescription from my GP. Anti-nausea drugs to take home, when undergoing chemo, were supplied by the Oncology Dept, foc, at each session. I don’t know if this is the protocol at all hospitals.

Travel costs - I wasn’t given any information about the voluntary driver service, or help with public transport costs, until I started chemo. I had no need of either for chemo as my husband was able to take me every 3 weeks. Rads is a whole different ball game - Mon-Fri for five and a half weeks. One of the receptionists in the Oncology suite suggested that as I lived so far away, I might like to take advantage of this service,which is run under the auspices of the Devon and Cornwall Ambulance service. For some unknown reason, as I live in Cornwall and the hospital is in Devon, I didn’t have to pay. However, patients in Devon, even if they only lived a few miles away, had to pay £4.50 each way, which I thought most unfair , especially for pensioners. None of the drivers could explain this to me. It could be that Cornwall County Council pay something towards the service - the volunteer drivers get paid a mileage allowance. It is not ideal, as some days I would be picked up at 9 am, then we had to pick up 2 other patients, for an 11.30 am appt. I was often out of my home for 6 hours, all for a 10 minute zap in the radiology dept. We often had to wait around the dialysis unit for kidney patients, so I used to take a book and read in the car.

The other thought is to ask the Macmillan Nurse service if they can help with a grant to cover travel costs. If your Mum has to go alone, I would suggest she get a taxi - both treatments are very tiring. I haven’t used the Macmillan Service, but there are others on here who have, and perhaps can explain how it works.
You might get more responses if you do another posting, say under “Undergoing treatment” or “Living with breast cancer”. I am sure there is a wealth of information right on this site, from other patients who live alone and needed help with transport.

My hospital (Derriford in Plymouth) does reimburse travel costs for low income patients who receive state benefits. Does your hospital have a PALS (patient and liaison service) office? I had to use them once and found the employee very helpful and sorted my problem out within 24 hours.

If you ring or email this site’s Ask The Nurse service, they may have better information than I have. There is a lot of help out there, it is just a matter of accessing it, I have found.

Take care,
Liz.