I’m so sorry you and your mum are in this situation. Initial tests determine what kind of surgery is done. As far as I am aware, the actual prognosis comes after surgery when the histology reports go back to the surgeon. They still use a very outdated tool to determine what treatments are necessary but that prognosis changes (improves) with each treatment. There may be other tests after surgery depending on the surgery results - CT scan, bone scan, MRI. One thing to expect is a lot of waiting - for appointments, for call-backs, for blood tests....
My surgeon told my husband on the day I had surgery that the cancer had been removed (2 tumours and all lymph nodes). The treatments that follow are to prevent a possible recurrence. NICE recommends chemotherapy commences within 90 days of surgery for optimum efficacy but that may not be practicable in the current circumstances. Generally, if the full menu of treatments is required, chemo takes about 18 weeks, then there’s a rest, then radiotherapy is 3 or 4 weeks, during which hormone therapy commences (5 or 10 years). There can be additional treatments, depending on the type of cancer. You mother may not require chemotherapy - it will depend on the iffy lymph node. As for feeling herself again, it all depends on the individual 🙂
Two things I’d be careful of: 1. relying on Google for information. It can be dangerous. A lot of information is outdated, misleading and/or way above our pay grade and it tends to fuel our anxieties. Stick to recognised charities such as this one and Macmillan - you can talk to nurses who are well-informed, good listeners and very reassuring.
2. Be very wary of the statistics. As we’re finding in the current crisis, it’s very easy to mislead people with statistics. With breast cancer, if you see, say, 75% survival rate, you’ll probably focus on the 25% chance of a recurrence and worry about it too much, too often. But that’s a 1 in 4 chance. What about the 3 in 4 chance of staying healthy? It gets overlooked with cancer as we’re conditioned to expect the worst. A positive outlook goes a long way and it will help your mother tremendously if you can feel positive (I say this as someone who has been positive throughout but has a husband who has been pessimistic and even now, 18 months later, expects something bad to happen! He’s been a rock but...)
The other thing you mention is C-19. Trust your mother’s multi-disciplinary team to make the right decisions for her in this unusual context. They may change the usual order of treatments around and put her on hormone therapy first rather than last. This will enable them to defer treatments that require frequent hospital visits (radiotherapy) and/or weaken the immune system (chemotherapy) until the risk of contracting the virus has been reduced considerably. But they will always have her best interests in mind and they know their business.
I wish you both the best possible outcome. Just be there for her xx
Hi Joshinlondon, sorry to hear the news and your unfortunate brush with cancer from other members of your family. It’s a bit of a waiting game whilst tests are completed and the treatment plan is being decided which makes it a very anxious time for everyone. I guess the treatment depends on what the results confirm. Smaller tumours more likely have a lumpectomy rather than a mastectomy. If cancer is in the lymph nodes these are usually removed. Cancer in the lymph nodes can be a trigger for chemotherapy but it may depend how many are affected and how well developed the tumour cells are. I had the maximum dose of everything; chemo, surgery and radiotherapy and I’m still here 3 years since diagnosis and doing well. The COVID virus is an added worry for chemo patients so extra caution with hygiene around the hospital is a good idea. You just need to be there for her and let her guide you on what she needs. Things like a lift to the hospital and shopping are helpful. Also if she needs help with telling anyone the news as she may find it draining and upsetting to keep telling people for the first time. I know I did. I hope this helps a little. Best wishes.
Here is a link to information on primary breast cancer but don’t go scaring yourself too much:
My mum just got diagnosed, we don't have the exact results back but o heard her say it was 2-3cm in her right breast and they think her right lymph looks a bit off too. We find out results next week of the first tests.
My dad died of cancer when I was eight and my half sister (dad's side) died of cancer last year - so I've had my fair share of the big C. I just don't know what to expect with this though, and I love her so much. I'm worried that some of the treatments will leave her more exposed to COVID19 problems too 😞
Does anyone have an idea of the steps that have to take place for a prognosis to become clearer? And does getting rid of it (if possible) take months, years, etc...? I'm not sure if that's the right thing to ask but I just want to be able to look ahead with a bit of clarity, instead of the fog I feel now