Really struggling

Hi Everyone,

My Name is Hannah and I’m new to this site. On Wednesday my mum found out that she has breast cancer. She will be having surgery on 11th July and then radiotherapy to follow. The doctor hoped he would not have to use chemo but he said he cant make any promises which i understand.
I’m 25 and my mum is 54. My mum went for a normal routine mammogram and got recalled for a biopsy. she went for her results on wednesday and she has an 8mm mass (no lump) which i think she said is stage 1.
I am very close to my mum and i know we can get through this but i am just in total shock (as my mum is too) and i just don’t know what to do with myself. I am trying to be strong and positive around my mum but its just so hard because when i am stressed/upset i would normally go to my mum but i don’t want to upset her anymore.
She and my dad had planned to go to my cousins wedding in philadelphia on friday so we thought it was best that she still went and tried to relax/get her head straight before the surgery. I wanted her to go but i miss her so much and i can’t just give her a hug. I know i need to get these tears gone and pull myself together before she gets back on saturday but i am just so worried. I’ll be fine then all of a sudden want to cry and run away!
we dont know anyone that has had breast cancer and all the people i know who have had other forms of cancer have sadly passed away. I thought it might help me to make contact with other relatives in similar situations. I hope that this may help me.
Would be great to hear from others and sorry for this long message,

Hannah x

Hi Hannah, your Mum is very lucky indeed having you alongside her. This first bit when the exact nature of the disease and treatment plan is not know is much the most tricky to deal with, on top of the shock as well. Hopefully another relative will come along soon to offer some wise words, best wishes nicola

Thanks Nicola. My boyfriend is really trying to support me but he doesn’t really do “emotions”(he just wants to be macho!) and gets all uncomfortable! i know he’s there for me though and cares. I think talking to someone who is in/or has been in this situation would really help.

hi hannah of course this is a huge shock and so upsetting for you all, my children are 24,20 and 18 and i know this is huge for them as their dad passed away 8 yrs ago aged 38 and we are so very close, there are many ladies on here who are doing well yrs after diagnosis and it sounds like they have caught your mums early and thats really good. just dont bottle everything up you are only human take care love to you all xxx

Hi Hannah,
Your mum being stage 1 is very good to start with this means it is at a very early stage and so very treatable. Why not give the helpline a ring 08088006000 they have people there that you can chat things through.
When i was diagnosed all i could remember was my father who died from stomach cancer and in those days there was no treatment, i felt like i was going to die the next day that the cancer was a death sentence. I then bumped into friends who had cancer had, had cancer it was unbelievable and here am i diagnosed 9 months ago not even completed treatment and am in remission. Today there is so much that they can do its not a death sentence and there are many good reasons to hope for remission and finally cure. I wish you and your mum all the luck in the world.

Hi Hannah, I am a similar age to your mum, and went through this shock just before Christmas last year, and am having chemotherapy now. I have three daughters, the youngest of whom is close in age to you.
The first thing to remember is that you and your mum are at the most difficult part - the early days are the hardest, waiting to understand what the exact diagnosis is and what the treatment and prognosis will be. Tears, disbelief and anger are all normal reactions at this stage! Once the surgery is over the doctors will be able to give your mum the full analysis of the cancer and will let her know if any further treatment is needed.
The next thing to realise is that most people with breast cancer have the treatment and then get better and on with their lives. I cannot guarantee that will happen for your mum, but it sounds as if her cancer has been found at an early stage, so try to stay positive.
Your mum will be very glad to have your support during this time - don’t hide your fears from her too much, as she may want to have someone she can honestly discuss these things with. My girls are far too careful around me and only the youngest says what she really thinks! Also you could maybe get your mum to join us on here - we are a friendly crowd and the support is really good!
I can’t tell you not to worry, but I will tell you not to google on sites other than the reputable cancer charities - this is where you wil find honest straightforward information at every stage of your mums treatment. And also take care a little care with the forums - it can seem very scary reading about some of the problems that people have to face, but of course those that are fine don’t need to ask for help!
best wishes Sue

Hi, hope someone else who is worried about there mum comes along for you soon. I am older than her (64) but I nearly did not tell my daughter becuase I knew how worried she would be. Oddly enough i had a holiday booked before surgery and i think it did me good. It was a surreal time for me, life seams to be going on as normal for everyone else around you, but here you are with breast cancer, a bolt out of the blue. so it was good for me to be in different surroundings.

Only you can assess how to handle yourself round your mum. But it might not be the end of the world if you told her how worried you are. She is still your mum and its still her job to comfort you. It might be that she is being brave for you and would welcome a chance to admit that this is all a bit scarey. Again though, an outsider cannot tell you what will work best for you two.

and dont forget your dad. My daughter dragged him off to one side and asked how he was coping and was he worried and was there any practical help she could give, and i think it was good for him.

Practical support you can give to your mum. Suggest she gets a sports bre,best thing i did was buy myself an expensive well fitted sports bra to wear in bed after surgery. I got one with an adjustable back so that there was room to let it out when i was swollen and so it would be comfortable in bed. If she is well endowed Bellisimo give wonderful advise and will make sure she gets fitted (expensive though, about £30) . Suggest that she gets the excercises from this site and does them before surgery. Someone over 50 is not necesserily as supple as a 25 year old so it is good to find out how far you can stretch and it gives you something to aim for after surgery, also there is some belief that if you tone the muscles up then they recover better.

You will see lots of very sad stories on sites like this and lots of ladies who are braving very long treatment. But reassure yourself that stage 1 means it was caught very early and if the doctors say they hope no chemo, then they do mean that. Many people are told before the op that they definately will need chemo. So there is a very good chance that when they get the lump out and analysed then she will not need it.

I am one stage better (i hope) my doctor said he does not think i will even need radio therapy --but he cannot promise till he gets the results. No operation is going to be pleasant, but mine was two weeks ago, and i am recovering well with no real pain during the whole thing. But then i have taken the two weeks total rest the nurse recommended to heart and given my body a chance to heal. So do not worry about your mums operation. With all the help and support you and your dad are going to give her she will recover realy quickly.

Do give the help line a ring, a good cry with someone trained to help might do you realy good. And come on here whenever you need a bit more help. Everybody is realy suportive

Hannah, it sounds like it was caught really early, which is a good thing. 8mm really is very tiny in the BC scheme of things, and if it’s been suggested that she goes from surgery onto radiotherapy, it sounds like the surgeon thinks it’s a lower grade. Grades go from 1 (cells not very different from normal, generally slow growing), Grade 2 (cells more different) and Grade 3 (cells quite a bit different from normal, and tend to grow more quickly). Generally they offer chemo straight away to Grade 3, don’t generally offer it to Grade 1 because it’s seen as overtreatment, and sometimes do to Grade 2, depending on other things, including size.

Once the lump has been removed it’s examined under the microscope, and sometimes the grade can go up. They also look at how receptive it is to hormones and so she may be prescribed 5 years of hormone therapy. This is strong stuff as far as the cancer is concerned, and is designed to help prevent it coming back. They also look at whether it’s receptive to HER2, a growth hormone. If it is, she may be prescribed Herceptin for a year. Around 25% of cancers are HER2 positive. But that’s for after the surgery. Take a look at the Publications part of the site for more information, particularly the early booklets.

My son’s girlfriend’s mum had a low-grade tumour and had surgery and rads in December. She’s been back at work for a couple of months and is now feeling really well and very positive about life the world and everything. The initial stages when you first hear are THE WORST, believe it or not, and with the support of you and your dad, your mum will be able to deal with whatever is thrown at her.

I know my biggest worry when I was diagnosed was who would be there to support my family, so I encouraged them to talk to each other. If you and your dad can have a quiet chat and share your worries, and agree to support each other through all of this, your mum will probably feel a lot happier that you’re there for each other. And of course you’re very welcome on this site, there are a couple of other people whose mums have been diagnosed.

Give the helpline a ring too, a lot of us have found them very helpful, and there won’t be anything you can say that they won’t have heard before.

Best of luck to you, your mum and your family.


Thank you to you all for your kind comments and words of encouragement. It has helped me already and its good to hear others have got through this.
I think we’re all still in shock really still and i think once she has had her surgery on the 11th we might know some more.
Thank you again for your replies xxx

Hi Hannah your mum has a lovely daughter in you :slight_smile: firstly this has been caught VERY early my lump was 7mm but your mums doctor is right until it is out & nodes/ margins type/ grade checked then they will know what they are dealing with. It may even be smaller once they have removed it mine measured 8mm on the scan too.

This is the worse time the shock of being diagnosed is so raw, once surgery is over & your mum goes back 2 weeks later for the update you will all have a clearer picture of what you are dealing with. call up the helpline here anytime you feel you need to they are wonderful, & come here anytime you need to let off steam or a good cry dont bottle your feeling up.

I hope your mum & Dad manage to enjoy your cousins wedding, you’ll probably find your mum is trying to be strong for you too.

sending you lots of love do keep us posted

Mekala x

Hannah what a beautiful girl and a lovely daughter, My Mum has BC 10 years ago she was the same age as your mum and it was too found on a routine mammo, she was treated and is doing fine now, you are doing the best you can for your Mum just being there, you can come on here any time and we will all help you.
Love Jeanettexxx

Hi Hannah
I have just read your post and you sound exactly like how I felt at the beginning of February this year - my Mum too had to have surgery and is now on hormone treatment. Just like you I have been absolutely terrified and it is such an awful shock to be confronted with this just out of the blue. I too am very close to my Mum and that can make is both easier and yet more difficult because as you say she is the one you would normally confide in - I have found some wonderful support from my friends and surprisingly some colleagues a couple of which have really listened to me when I have needed it and that has helped. I have at times cried in front of my Mum when I didn’t want to do , but at least it has shown her how very much I do care so now don’t feel too guilty about that. I am sure you and your Mum will get through this horrible waiting time - its not easy I know but you will because you love her so much.
As you can see you will get good support on these threads too from all the brilliant and knowledgeable people here so do come back when ever you need to.
Wishing you and your Mum all the very best.
Esbee x

Again Thank you so much for your comments. It really helps to hear from others who have gone through similar things.
I have also found my friends at work to be really good to me and one has asked her mum to say a prayer for my mum at her church prayer group on wednesday. I thought that was a really nice thing to do.
I am thinkng of keeping a diary/journal- just somewhere to write down what i am feeling and get it out of my head!

Thanks again for your encouragement, i will keep you updated

Hannah xx

Hi Hannah

The girls on here will see you right as will the OHs that use this forum. My wife was Grade 2 and it was thought that Radiotherapy and tamoxifen after surgery was all that would be required, but it had got into the lymph nodes. The surgeon was very happy that he had got the bad stuff out from the breast and lymphs (2nd op full clearance) and suggested that to cross to 't’s and dotted the 'i’s that we go the full distance with Chemo and Rads followed by Tamoxifen for 2-5 years. My wife is the most important thing to me and if that meant the insurance policy of throwing everything at her to make sure all the nasty little cells were gone, then so be it. I didn’t want to see her hurt any more but she just accepted it and i took great strength and pride in her attitude.

She is now finished Chemo and is about 1/5th way thorough rads and is just so strong and coping really well. if the Oncologist comes back with the option of chemo, don’t be scared it’s giving your mum an even better chance of ridding herself of the cancer. But let’s hope that that is not necessary.

A little advice from my own experience is:

  1. I agree with Sue, internet researching outside of the reputable charities will scare you stupid and each case is individual so don’t look into it too much, just listen to the oncologist and BCC nurses and ask your own questions.

  2. You’ll feel scared because it’s your mum and it is not happening to you (which would make it better to deal with in many ways), plus if you are living away from home it will be double hard as you can’t see the gradual changes in your mum (if there are any - tiredness etc)which can make it seem worse when you do see her. Emotional telephone conversations are harder than being there to give hugs.

  3. Listen to her and ask her what she’d like to help her through it and follow it up. Don’t feel that you have to talk about it all the time - my wife got really narked with me for wanting to talk about it when it was bothering me but had had enough of it herself(as it was easier to chat to her than friends down a telephone line and i wanted to know what she was thinking). I try to normalise as much as possible and only when I see her having a moment or having a change in personality/physical posture do I ask her more specifically about it - and that seems to work. However, that said you are the only none who knows your mum and can hopefully pick up on things and know when to talk about it and when not to.

  4. Blokes naturally do the macho thing, but talk to your boy friend and make sure he gives you plenty of hugs when you are down. I’d hope that he’d eventually drop the bloke thing and give you the support you need - it will become easier.

  5. If you are near a Maggie’s centre they are brilliant and very well set up to deal with a range of questions and queries you might have and are there for a neutral take on things and a good ear to bend.

It sounds like they have caught it early and I very much wish and hope that everything is good for you, your family and your mum for here on in. If for whatever reason they opt for more stronger therapies like chemo think of it as just giving your mum the best chances available, try not to see the negative side of it and just keep on being there for your mum. I guarantee that this will make you a stronger more determined person as well.

All the best

Rambling Richard