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Breast cancer new diagnosis

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#1 Sara.xoxo

Posted 19 November 2018 - 08:41 AM

Hi there,
Just wondering if anyone has any tips for surviving chemo? Diagnosed last week, already had lumpectomy and auxiliary clearance. Will get results Friday but surgeon said expect chemo, radio and hormonal therapy.
Any advice will be great.


#2 Mollyksy

Posted 19 November 2018 - 09:10 AM

Hi Sara. Good on you for being proactive. I was beside my mum for her 20 plus year journey plus I worked in oncology too. I'm sorry you have to deal with this. Depending on the results, you might require further surgery (if they didnt quite get it all with the lumpectomy for example). But hopefully not.

Part of your results will be to tell you if your cancer "feeds off" hormones. Mums initially did. They'll talk to you about cutting off the hormone supply to the cancer. Sometimes they'll temporarily or permanently put you in menopause, they'll advise no HRT, and will likely start you on a hormone medication like tamoxifen.

If you cancer is not hormone sensitive, a chemo only will likely be chosen.

They may also test for something called her-2 in your cancer. If it has it, then it will likely respond to a drug called herceptin.

Studies decades ago showed that taking a lumpectomy and doing radiation in the area has exactly the same effect as simply taking the whole breast. So, you'll likely be looking at 4 to 6 weeks worth of weekdays of short radiotherapy targeted to the area. Usually that comes after chemo.

There are many different chemos given in different ways. Some every 21 days. Same on day 1 and 8 of a 28 day cycle etc. Your doctor will pick one that has shown promise. It might be a single drug or a combo. In terms of coping, nausea and hair loss and mouth ulcers and exhaustion are big ones. Some people find it worse at the beginning of the cycle. My mum was worse about a week to 10 days after.

Hopefully you'll have access to some great resources like a breast care nurse. Keep their numbers handy and dont feel bad about calling, or asking a trusted person to call for you.

Keep sick people far away while on chemo and check your temp. Any high temp, call your caregivers asap. You will be vulnerable to infections as the chemo generally destroys cancer cells but also takes out good cells too in collateral damage.

You may choose to keep a diary of symptoms. Helpful to tell your caregivers what is going on.

Ask for nausea drugs. Things like stemetil, maxolon, zofran. Kenalog in orobase (ask the pharmacist) can help mouth ulcers. The hospital can help with special mouth wash too. Cold icey poles also helped mum. (I'd had a hyperemesis pregnancy so sometimes I just suggested to her what worked for me).

One day at a time. I wish you all the best. You'll get into a groove.

Edited by Mollyksy, 19 November 2018 - 09:13 AM.

#3 Mollyksy

Posted 19 November 2018 - 09:23 AM

Do you have someone like a partner or a trusted friend or family member? My mum had my step dad who adored her but practically wasnt thay useful! Me, that was useful. And my brothers who were more in stepdad level. She had friends but was a very private person.

I know when she was first diagnosed though it was different as I was 13, my brothers were 10 and 8. I don't remember a lot which I think was deliberate on her part. I do remember a heap of family and friends stepping up caring wise for us kids and rescuing us from my step dads cooking! I do know from later she was petrified of us losing our mum. As it was, I was 39 when she died. She was very lucky in that cancer responded to treatment (mostly) and when it didnt, there was always another option to try.

That was a jumbled way to say I dont know what stage of life you are at. The help and support you need will change if you have no kids, toddlers, teenagers, adult kids etc etc.

I'm happy to offer a (web!) shoulder. Anytime.

#4 Mollyksy

Posted 19 November 2018 - 09:27 AM

Sorry, to clarify, she didnt have cancer all those 26 years. She had up to 5 years at a time cancer and treatment free then they'd find it again (one breast, then again in the same breast, then the other breast then in her bones). Not everyone will relapse after initial treatment of course.

Ok, will stop clogging your thread.

#5 Sara.xoxo

Posted 19 November 2018 - 10:28 AM

Thank you Mollyksy for replying! I’m 40 and have an almost 3 DS. I will take your advice on board and hope for the best. Sorry for the loss of your Mum xo

#6 Mollyksy

Posted 19 November 2018 - 11:05 AM

All the very very best. It sounds like you will need extra support with your son. Is he in daycare? I believe the current system will take sickness into account (like you are working, for the work activity test) so you might want to consider starting or upping his days. My DS went fulltime at age 3, from 3 then 4 days. But be careful illness wise too as daycare is a germfest and a half initially! In your circumstance, maybe family day care might suit better?

At the risk of being too intrusive, have you completed your family? You could consider/talk to drs about potentially freezing eggs or (more successfully) embryos. Its very likely your fertility might not return and they like to refer to 5 years when talking about avoiding pregnancy and hormones so 45 for you.

You must be terrified. huge hugs from an internet random. Treatment has come on in leaps and bounds such that the average 5 year survival rate for breast cancer diagnoses is 90%. Up to 99% if you find the cancer is only in your breast. (Survival rate is percentage of people still alive 5 years after diagnosis).

I hope the numbers help...


Edited by Mollyksy, 19 November 2018 - 11:10 AM.

#7 JRA

Posted 25 January 2019 - 07:05 AM

I am sorry I missed this post.

I am sorry to hear of your diagnosis

I was 38 with a 6 month old when I was diagnosed - 16 years ago.

How are you going?  Please if there is any questions, anything, just yell out.

#8 JomoMum

Posted 25 January 2019 - 07:18 AM

Sara how are you going?

I was diagnosed with cancer Dec 2017 (though an ovarian germ cell tumour). I had major surgery and chemo also.

Please let us know if you have any questions or anything you want to talk about x hope you are feeling well.

#9 Snorkmaiden

Posted 25 January 2019 - 07:34 AM

Hi Sara,

Sorry I missed your post too. I was diagnosed with HER2+ breast cancer in Oct 2015, and had the trifecta of treatment - mastectomy, 4 months of chemo and 5 weeks of radio.

Happy to answer any questions you may have.

#10 Mollycoddle

Posted 25 January 2019 - 07:58 AM

View PostMollyksy, on 19 November 2018 - 11:05 AM, said:

All the very very best. It sounds like you will need extra support with your son. Is he in daycare? I believe the current system will take sickness into account (like you are working, for the work activity test) so you might want to consider starting or upping his days.

To add to this, if you're entitled to the child care benefits it's worth asking Centrelink about the Special Chilcare Benefit. You provide a support letter (in your case a doctor could do it) to qualify for 13 weeks free childcare. This can also be extended if required. Your childcare centre may be aware of it too. My childcare centre organised this for me when DP died, I didn't actually have to do a thing and it helped sooo much.

#11 Sara.xoxo

Posted 25 January 2019 - 01:36 PM

Thank you for thinking of me everyone. I’m currently almost finished AC chemo and will then have 12 weeks of taxol and then hormone therapy for a year. Oh and rads too. My Medicare card is getting more of a workout than my credit card for a change.
Thank you for all the advice, my mum (the legend) has moved in to help look after me and DS. I’m hair free and constantly nauseous but it’s manageable with drugs.
Mollyksy and mollycoddle thank you for that info I will look into this too. Emotionally I am ok, but I feel anxiety around what if it comes back? How will I cope?

#12 Mollyksy

Posted 25 January 2019 - 01:51 PM

Good to hear you are ok. Totally normal to be anxious. Know you are doing the very best medical protocol to halt that cancer in its tracks and banish it forever. You cope because you have to and you surround yourself with support (family, friends, drs, nurses, especially your son and mum). As a mum you are pretty used to doing what you have to! You have an excellent chance of never having cancer again. They will follow you to make sure you are clear. But know too, treatment is always evolving. My mum lived quite well with multiple relapses that responded to treatment. The researchers are moving to cancer being a chronic condition not a life sentence. Like HIV has become in some instances.

You are doing so well. If you want to chat, keep using this thread. I'd love to keep up with you and offer anything I can to help.

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