My grandmother

I am sorry if this turns out to be a long post, but I am really desperate. I come from a poor country with moderate medical treatment opportunities. I’ve been through two wars, lost everything I ever got, but I’ve always been a fighter. Always, up until now. One of the few things left worth in my life is my grandmother who practically raised me by herself since I was a baby. She is 77, and I know that every person in the world should be lucky to live that long, but still… For 2-3 years now she’s been having problems with her left breast. Moderate pains that sometimes come, and sometimes go for months. She also had a couple episodes when her breast was inflamed red, and warm to touch, the last time about a year ago. Yesterday I examined her myself, and felt a huge lump (the size of two golf balls) that felt very firm to touch. The surface of the lump also felt pretty smooth, with defined edges, almost like two balls fused together. I believe it’s mobile, and sometimes even makes a popping sound when you try to move it around. The skin below and around her areola slightly resembles the skin of an orange. I know none of those are good signs. In her late thirties she had a cluster of cysts removed from her other breast, and was diagnosed with a small cluster of cysts in the breast that’s been causing her problems now, but back then the doctors thought that it should be left untreated. Her breasts look pretty even, and there are no differences in the appearance of her nipple. No discharge from the nipple, no rash, or any skin change except the orange skin appearance.I’ve checked her armpits for lumps, and there are none. Her blood vessels are maybe a bit more pronounced, but I am not sure. She is a very energetic vital woman, with no other health problems at all. Weather changes seem to trigger the pain, especially in winter. Her immune system is very strong, and she’s not loosing weight. I know that one day I will have to face the fact of loosing her, but I don’t want her to suffer, and I want to keep her close to me as long as it’s possible. I am facing a terrible amount of despair, and anxiety. I haven’t slept in days, and not a moment goes by without me thinking about it. Without thinking twice, I would gladly take whatever she’s got, and fight it instead of her. That’s how much I love her. I know that only a doctor could determine if it was breast cancer, but based on your experience, could you please give me your opinion. What are the chances for a 77 year old woman to fight, or maintain good health condition with breast cancer? Finally, I would like to say that I admire, and love all of you brave women facing this problem. You are the true heroes of our kind.

I give you all my love and all of you are in my prayers.

P.S. 35 years ago she lost her sister to breast cancer. She was in her early 40’s.

Dear Gold Dust Woman,

It sounds like you and your grandmother are going through a very difficult and worrying time at the moment. You haven’t indicated which country you are from (or currently living) but maybe you can support your grandmother in seeking medical advice? As I hope you will understand, other Breast Cancer Care forum users are unable to give medical advice or opinions about your grandmother’s symptoms, but I’m sure they will be along soon to offer emotional support.

I do hope your grandmother is able to access the support that she needs at the moment.

With best wishes,
Anna, BCC Facilitator

Hello Gold Dust Woman
I too found a large smoothlump on my 77th birthday last May,I went immediately to my doctor who referred me again immediately to a breast surgeon,all the tests were donr and confirmed as inv lobular BC,given letrozole to shrink the tumour which shrank quite quickly a Mastectomy was peformed in Aug and 36 nodes harvested 28 of which were positive,I am now undergoing Chemotherapy and will have Radiotherapy soon,I urge you strongly to seek medical advice if that is possible it is the only way forward.Very good wishes to you and your grandmother.
Love and Light Mavisxx

Dear Anna, thank you so much for your kind words. We used to live in Sarajevo - Bosnia and Herzegovina, but had to move to Macedonia years ago because of the terrible war that happened. Finances are a great problem. The medical help is also very limited. I feel selfish for not being able to cope with this problem well, because I know that I am the only person my grandmother can rely to, but I just can’t help it. It seems to me that it would be easier if I was the one who had this problem. She made sacrifices all her life because of me, and now I feel like there is not much I can do for her. I am aware that no one can make a diagnosis without a full medical examination, but with my limited knowledge about BC, all help is welcome. The thing that scares me the most is the size of the lump, the fact that it’s hard and firm, and the “orange peel” skin. I am interested are there other medical conditions beside BC with the same symptoms in women over 70. I am sure that many of these wonderful ladies know much more than I do. For days now I’ve been feeling like falling into an endless abys, and I am sorry if I sound bitter and negative, but I just can’t help it.

Dear Anna and Mavis
Until the war we lived in Sarajevo - Bosnia and Herzegovina. We moved to Macedonia years ago. I am working very hard to save enough money to cover the medical bills, and I believe I’ll be able to do that by the beginning of November. I know it’s not possible to make a diagnosis without a proper medical exam, but since my knowledge of BC is limited, and I am sure that many of the ladies here know much more, I was wondering if any other medical condition other than BC could cause such symptoms in women over 70. The thing I am worries me most is the slightly visible “orange peel” skin bellow and around her areola. Finding a community of wonderful, brave, and strong ladies like you gives me hope and strenght.
Love Anethe

Gold Dust Woman,
I believe that there may be a phone number for the BCC help line that you might ring from abroad and therefore have some more professional advice as to how to help your grandmother.
Wishing you both well

Hi Gold dust woman,

I was actually crying reading your post, what a lovely person you are, I too was very close to my grandmother and would gladly have swapped places with her to ease her pain (she passed away at 89, nothing to do with BC).
I do hope that both you and your grandmother are both fine and everything works out for her,

Love and best wishes
Karen xx