Older BC sufferers

Hi,

My Mum has recently been diagnosed with cancer in the lymph nodes. She first had bc 9 years ago & they found it had spread to the lymph nodes. At that time, she had 3 nodes removed & one was found to be cancerous. She then had radio & chemo. She doesn’t have a recurrence of cancer in the breast however.

She’s had an op to remove all the nodes from the affected armpit, is having a CT scan & was told today that she will need a bone scan & 5-6 sessions of chemo. They haven’t been told how many nodes were affected though.

My family & I are more devastated now than last time, because of it being in the nodes. Although her first occurrence was 9 years ago, it doesn’t seem as though technology/treatment has moved on since then, as she appears to be going through the same processes as before, except for the CT scan, which she didn’t have last time (although the technology existed of course).

What is also hard is when I tell people I know or work with, the first question they ask is “how old is she?” as though it doesn’t matter because she’s “old”. It worries me that the medical profession might also be thinking this and that she may not get the treatment she needs (she’s a fit and active 77 year old, notwithstanding a knee replacement).

Feeling knocked back at the moment.

Psyche

Hi Psyche

Welcome to the forums. I’m sorry to read about your Mum and can understand how worried you are. If you want to talk to someone in confidence about your concerns Breast Cancer Care have a team of helpliner’s who will be happy to talk to you and just be a listening ear if you feel you want to offload. I am sure the feelings you are having are natural but please use the helpline if you think it will help. The number is freephone 0808 800 6000 and it is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and Saturdays 9am to 2pm.

Kind regards

Katie
Moderator
Breast Cancer Care

I know exactly what you mean. I am 57 and sometimes posts have reflected exactly what you are saying regarding age. It is tragic when a young person gets bc. But… when I was 15 I thought 21 was ancient and thats how it is. I feel I am still relatively young at 57 and know that if I was a fit 77 I would feel just the same.This is a horrible disease at any age. I love life I have everything to live for I don’t want to die. I don’t want to waste my time worrying about dying but the thoughts creep in and take hold. People can be so insensitive, what has age got to do with anything. I once read a post on here when first diagnosed and said something about 50 odd year old women crying in the waiting room it was said in a derogatory way as if to say what do they expect at their age. Try not to worry too much treatments have improved . Lots of us have node involvment take care love Eileen

Katie and Eileen,

Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging comments. I think it’s wonderful that there is a site like this where people can feel that they are not alone in what is going on for them.

All the best with your treatment and recovery Eileen.

Love Psyche

Hi,

It’s me again. Since I wrote last time, Mum was told she had secondaries; “a small spot on the liver” and “a bit of a problem in her chest”. Turns out the chest problem is that she has infected lymph nodes in the chest. She is waiting for the result of a bone scan (tomorrow), has had one chemo session already & is having the second (of six) tomorrow too.

My brother, sister & I feel that we still don’t have much information since we found out at the end of August. I don’t think my parents are holding anything back; it’s just that they either don’t think to ask questions or don’t know what kind of questions to ask. We don’t understand why Mum is getting chemo when not all the results are in yet; how can they make a decision about what treatment/what drugs to use without knowing what they are dealing with?

We don’t know whether she has some of the abbreviations I’ve seen on this site e.g. HER2 etc. All I know is that when she had her initial bc diagnosis 9 years ago, they said it was not oestrogen receptive because she was post-menopausal, hence no tamoxifen treatment. Does this mean she has a poorer prognosis than those who are oestrogen positive?

The first time she was diagnosed, the hospital (Bedford) seemed to be more informative & we knew what was going on. This time round, we don’t seem to know anything & there’s no way of finding out.

It feels as though bc has smashed our lives to pieces to be honest. It was bad enough the first time round. This is like living a nightmare. It’s like you can’t let yourself relax on the days when nothing medical is due to happen, because if you relax and there’s bad news, it’s going to floor you so badly that you might not be able to pull yourself back up out of it.

That sounds trite, because I’m not the one who has the disease but believe me, I am thinking so hard about bc and the physical and emotional effects it has on sufferers and their families and friends, especially after reading some of the discussion on this site.

Sending my love and best wishes to you all.

Psyche xxxxx

Dear Psyche

It sounds as though you could do with someone to talk things through with, you are welcome to call our helpliners who will be able to explain some of the issues surrounding your Mum’s diagnosis and treatments which you are finding difficult to understand:

The helpline number is 0808 800 6000 and opens Mon-Fri 9am-5pm and Sat 9am-2pm.

Best wishes
Lucy
Moderator
Breast Cancer Care

Hello Psyche,

I read your post and just wanted to say that what you are feeling is quite understandable and I am sorry that you are having to go through this again. I am sure that your Mum is in the best care but I have found with Consultants that whilst they know what treatment is right etc they find it difficult to put their ideas and findings to the patient. I have found out so much more from the postings on this site than I would have found out from all my appointments. Whilst I think I was a bit unlucky with the breast cancer nurse that was in my hospital I would hope that they will be able to answer some of your questions or at least explain in a bit more detail.

At the appointments your Mum & Dad are probably just so shocked to be there. My husband said that I chose to hear what I wanted to hear because when I was told after the op I was to have chemo I was like a zombie but my husband said it was mentioned at my early appointments but I chose not to hear it.

I hope that things become clearer and you get some answers.

Take care
Hazel

Hi Hazel,

Thank you for your words of support. I think you are right. The shock and trauma of being in the clinic and hearing these things talked about must be overwhelming.

Sounds like you have a good, supportive husband who is providing a second pair of ears to listen to what is said. I’m sorry to hear that your breast cancer nurse was not as good as she might have been.

All the best for your treatment and recovery.

Take care,

Psyche

Hi Psyche

I only learned from this site that I was entitled to a copy of my pathology reports - the first one after the lumpectomy and sample node removal, the second after total axillary clearance. It was like reading a foreign language at first, but I got on to this forume and researched the net,and finally understood the abbreviations e.g. HER2 status, ER and PR status. I also found out from the pathology report that I had widespread DCIS, intermediate grade, which neither the bc surgeon nor the Oncologist told me about. If your Mum asks the surgeon, bc nurse or Oncologist, they should get her a copy. I didn’t have to pay, but some hospitals make a nominal charge of 50p or so. The path reports are perhaps the most important pieces of information you can get and you can come here for explanations of terms you don’t yet understand.

Take care,
Liz.

Hi Liz, Thanks for the tip. Mum is due to go back to the clinic later this month so I’ll suggest it to her.

Take care,

Psyche