Thanks for posting.
It’s understandable to worry about how best to support your mother’s decision about her treatment for secondary breast cancer.
It sounds like your mother has had a difficult time with side effects from her treatments. Unlike treatment for primary breast cancer which comes to an end, most people diagnosed with secondary breast cancer will be on treatment continually. For many people it can be difficult to continue with daily routines while trying to manage the ongoing side effects of treatment.
Many people reach a point when they decide not to have any more cancer treatment. This is often because the side effects from treatment are significantly reducing their quality of life, and they prefer to have supportive care and symptom control only. This is never an easy decision to make. Family members may also find it hard to accept their loved one has stopped having cancer treatment. It’s a very personal decision, so if your mother doesn’t want to carry on with her treatment, although it may be hard for you and your brother, you should respect her decision to do so. Whatever she decides, it’s important that your mother’s treatment team are aware of her decision. It shouldn’t make any difference to the care and support available to her.
It may be helpful to talk to your mother about your worries and suggest she contacts her treatment team, especially as you mention that she is getting leg pain and her mobility has worsened. It’s important that they assess her symptoms. In talking to her treatment team they will be able to talk through how they can best support her with any symptoms she may be getting, such as how best to support her pain.
You may find it helpful to look at our secondary breast cancer resource pack.
We provide a number of different services for people living with secondary breast cancer aimed at providing both information and support.
At times like this, some people find it helpful to talk with others who are going through a similar experience. We have a secondary breast cancer online discussion forum for sharing information and support. There is also a weekly Live chat session which runs on Tuesdays at 8.30-9.30pm. Both services allow people to talk over their experiences and offer support to each other.
Outside of the current coronavirus situation, our face to face Living with Secondary Breast Cancer monthly sessions also give you the chance to meet and share experiences with other people who understand what you’re going through because they’re going through it too. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had to take the difficult decision to suspend all of our face-to-face services for now. However, we are currently running these sessions online, if you have any questions please email NRC@breastcancernow.org
Our helpline team are here for anyone diagnosed with secondary breast cancer. They have time to listen to your concerns, talk things through and signpost you to more support and information.
Your call will be confidential, and the number is free from UK landlines and all mobile networks.
The number is 0808 800 6000 (Text relay prefix 18001).
Our opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am - 4pm and 9am -1pm on Saturday. Out of hours you can leave a message and we will call you back when we next open.
Breast Cancer Now Nurse
Hello, My mother was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in several spine locations and rib at the beginning of 2019 after a mastectomy in 2017. Her breast cancer was discovered during treatment for a heart attack. She refused chemotherapy but has found radiotherapy (single dose annually) has helped to reduce pain for several months with no side effects. She is getting less mobile and her legs are painful now so she uses a mobility scooter. Sometimes she feels she may collapse and does fall sometimes when she bends over. Recently she fractured a small wrist bone while draining a saucepan. She has had bad reactions to Denosumab and now doesn't want to try any other drugs including oral biosphosphates (Biodronic acid?) which her consultant has suggested. I've also discovered she stopped taking the Tamoxifen which she eventually settled on after bad experiences with Examastane and one other but not told her consultant. She does understand that this course of action may limit her life but at 81 says she would rather have quality than quantity. She also has congestive heart failure and 'below par kidneys'. My brother and I live close and so she is well supported. She's positive, engaged with life and fiercely protective of her independence! She seems to be able to cope with pain but cannot cope with nausea and flu like symptoms on an ongoing basis which was happening with the tablets. Should I respect her decision to not take drugs that may significantly reduce her risk of skeletal incidents and the cancer spreading or should I be piling on the pressure? Do other people of my mother's age decide to stop medication in this way? Thank - you.