Mum has secondary cancer - I need your help

Dear all
I am a newbie to this forum and would really appreciate your help.
My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer two years and 5 months ago. After chemo and radiotherapy we were looking forward to “life after cancer” then she started to get back pain and a secondary tumour has been found on her spine.
Now I realise how much she has kept to herself, she mentions being in agony with back pain that I thought was no more than an ache. It breaks my heart to think she had a feeling the cancer was back but hid it from us, or didn’t give us all the facts.
Even now I am not sure she has told me the full details and wonder if you guys can help.
Having read some of the other threads I am guessing that secondary cancer is the breast cancer but in another place. She is having five radiotherapy sessions to control the tumour - does this mean it’s inoperable because of where it is? Has anyone else been through this who can give me some idea of what will happen next? I can’t bring myself to ask her what happens next just yet. Any advice, thoughts, experiences would be so very much appreciated.x

Hi Vicki - Sorry to hear about your mum. I’m a bit of a newbie to all of this myself but will try to help you. I was diagnosed with breast cancer and secondary cancer to my spine and ribs all in one go just before Xmas when I thought I simply had a very bad back. Because of the fact that the cancer had already spread to my bones I was told that surgery on the breast tumour was not an option, although I guess what you are asking is if surgery would be an option on her spine.

As far as I’m aware unless she had what is known as spinal cord compression or some other very serious spinal problem which would require immediate surgery, then surgery is not normally an option for bone secondaries. It’s good that she’s having radiotherapy on the spine which should help a lot with the pain she’s in. She will probably also be offered bisphosphonates, a special type of drug to strengthen the bones. This can be either in intravenous or tablet form - I’m having mine three-weekly intravenously and it’s working wonders on my back pain.

I have been told that the cancer is not curable now that it has spread to my bones but that it is very treatable and that there are a lot of treatment options out there. There are a lot of people on this forum with bone mets, most of whom have been posting on here for a lot longer than I have and I’m sure they’ll be along to help you soon too.

Take care

Lesley x

Hi VickiJane

I’m sorry to read of your Mum’s diagnosis. As well as the support you will receive from the other forum users you may find it helpful to read the BCC fact sheet on ‘secondary breast cancer in the bone’ You may find it answers some of the questions you have. If you would like a copy of this please use the following link:-

I hope you find this helpful

Kind regards
Sam (BCC Facilitator)

Hi VickiJane
So sorry to hear that your Mum has been diagnosed with secondary bc in her spine. Lesley has given some really good advice about what you and your Mum can expect. It may be that you or someone else goes with her to her next appointment to find out more? Or ask her yourself if she knows and you would like to know. It is a scary time, I have 2 daughters aged 18 and 20, and it has been very difficult for them since my dx last March/April so I understand how worried you must be. I hope the radiotherapy helps with the pain (I’ve heard it can get worse before it gets better) and then the followup treatment continues to help. As Lesley has said it is incurable but treatable and there are many ladies on here with bone mets who have had them for many years. Coming from a Mum’s point of view make sure you give her a big treat on Mother’s Day - she’ll appreciate it :slight_smile:
By the way if you need to ‘talk’ to others in the same position you can look at the Friends and Family forum on here, I’m sure they’ll be someone to help.

Hi, VickiJane

Sorry to hear about your mum. Now that she’s having radiotherapy, she’ll soon start to feel better. As Lesley said, she’s probably on bisphosphonates by now or will be soon. I am on Bondronat for the bones and Aromasin.

I was diagnosed with bone mets at the same time as the primary breast cancer in late 2005. It’s in my spine, hips, ribs, sternum and humerus. It was all shock, doom and gloom at first but as time has gone on and I’ve had chemo, surgery and radiotherapy, I’m now virtually pain-free and doing much more than I thought I’d be able to do.

Could your mum be persuaded to join us on here? She’d get some very helpful advice from a lot of very knowledgeable ladies.

Best wishes.
Maureen xx

Thank you all so much. I seem to be lurching between complete panic and feeling rally positive. Its has been such a shock. i think I scared myself when I realised it would be incurable and can’t imagine how she must be feeling.
I am going with her to her radiotherapy appointments and want to be close to her.
I will try and talk to her about her treatment and come back to you all for your thoughts.
Hope you don’t mind me waffling on - this forum has been such a support already.

This is what the forums are for Vickijane, so do feel free to come on here any time you want advice or get anxious.

I have bc with bone mets (spread) in my spine. I had to have an operation because as Lesley has said, I was one of the ones with spinal chord compression.

There are always similarities, but there are also differences amoungst us in terms of cancer and treatment. Just because one of us gets a certain type of medication or treat,ment doesn’t necessarily mean that your mum will get it, it is very variable. As you can see the radiotherapy helped lots of women on here, yet it did not help me.

You don’t say how old you are - we may be able to signpost you to different types of support.