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Glad to Be Alive
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43,010 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Sorry to bug you gals.

I thought I had a lot of trouble when 3 weeks ago I crashed and almost died. I ended up in the hospital for 7 days for a rupture spleen. If I went home and took a shower, like I wanted too, there would have been no way I would have lived.

Anyway, I thought that was a big problem until an old girlfriend (and really good friend) was diagnosed with with invasive dutcal carcinoma of the breast, high grade, already spread to one lymph node.

First off if you have a lump don't let your doctor tell you don't worry about it we will check it next year. Make sure to get your mamograms

second I want to be there for her. If any of you have gone through this could you please PM' some tips for me to help her get through this. This is really tough.

She will have both breast removed, followed by chemo and radiation

Thanks for your help......and

PLEASE GET YOUR MAMOGRAMS
 

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Slothful dirt hippie
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2,900 Posts
My sister was diagnosed at stage 4 leukemia with probably only 6 weeks from organ failure in December 2005. She went through a round of chemo in early 2006, then a stem cell transplant just over a year ago, and almost died this spring from GVHD and complications from anti rejection drugs. Her kids are 10 and almost 8. She was actually almost back to 'normal' until last night- she's landed in the hospital with intestinal problems, and we're hoping it's just the flu since it's going around and one of her kids just got over it.

Hopefully your friend has a good support network, because getting through treatment can demand a lot from a raft of committed people. There are a million things she may need, from people to step with her through the medical stuff to someone just keeping an eye on her or a family member's house while they're away.

Ask her what she needs. Keep asking her. Ask her family/friends doing care-taking what they need. You'll need to respect her space of course, but I'd say the MVPs in my sister's adventure have been those pittbull friends and family members who have refused to give up, never quit calling or emailing every couple weeks, never quit asking what was up and how they could help, never quit offering to put everything down and come running if/when we needed it... just knowing extra hands were available and willing as backup has been HUGE.
 

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Are we there yet?
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794 Posts
In my circle of friends we've been hit with a few 'challenges' such as this. What really helped pull people through was

1. Daily cards of support from over 50 people. Some of the folks that sent cards had never met these people (a mom of a friend and 'virtual' friends in a forum such as this)

2. Daily meals dropped off so cooking was removed from the daily to-do list and attention could be spend on the task at hand. Meals could easily be frozen if they didn't feel like eating it that day.

3. I watched a gals dog for a month so her husband was free to focus on her and her recovery and not have to worry about a puppy that need to be exercised as well. Remember that small tasks are daunting when faced with a bigger challenge. Even filling a pet's bowl with water removes one worry from the mind.

4. This I think helped the most, the daily emails and phone calls reminding each person that we were there for them if they ever needed anything and that we were pulling for their recovery. It's always nice to know you have an army of support behind you.

5. Sometimes people don't know what they need. If you see something don't always feel compelled to ask - it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. Sometimes people are too proud to ask for what they need the most.

I'm sorry you are faced with this. Earlier this year I had a breast cancer scare. It sets priorities straight fairly quickly. 2008 also marks the years the mother of a friend SURVIVED breast cancer. It was a long hard road but she pulled ahead and was recently given the 'all clear' sign.
 

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ADIDAB
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578 Posts
SHIVER ME TIMBERS said:
second I want to be there for her. If any of you have gone through this could you please PM' some tips for me to help her get through this. This is really tough.
Sorry, but just stumbled across this as it was the last post showing on the main forums screen. I hope you don't mind me giving a husbands tips for helping a friend get through breast cancer.

My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in Sept '07. The past year and a bit has been difficult for both of us, our immediate families and friends.

I have two very important tips:

Be there. Be willing to drop everything to be with her and support her in whichever way she needs. Offer to look after the kids (if she has them), do some housework, cook some meals etc. Sometimes she will not have the energy to do them and sometimes she will - and if she does let her as she will most likely want to feel productive, I know my wife did, she didn't want to feel helpless, so when she had the energy to do things I let her. It made her feel better.

Be a good listener. Sometimes she will need someone to just listen to her. You don't need to provide all the answers, just listen to what she has to say. She may want to rant and rave and that's cool. If she's having a double mastecomy, she's going to go through a sense of loss that very few others will be able to comprehend. She will go through the whole range of emotions, so be prepared to lend a sympathetic ear. I remember a common question from my wife was 'Why me?'. I could never answer that question but I was always said 'I don't know why but I'm here for you to support you the best way I can'.

The other thing too is looking out for her significant other. Her SO will need help too whether they think so or not, so even if you're not directly helping her, helping her SO will help her. I also refer to the above tips for them too. It's an absolute crap time for them too. I knew I felt helpless most of the time because I felt like I couldn't do anything about it. So if you can help her SO, then you'll be indirectly helping her.

Above all, stay positive. She, and those around her, will feed off of your good vibes, so keep the positive thoughts high and it will flow on.

That's all I can think of at the moment as it's late (12.30am in Sydney AU) but the above is a good starting point....

Give my best wishes to your friend. I have witnessed first hand how sh^&%y this disease is but with the right support, your friend will make it...

Good luck
 

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Bike Matron
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245 Posts
My most heartfelt wishes for your friend's successful treatment and recovery.
I was diagnosed with extensive, but localized DCIS & a very small tumor about 12 years ago and had a mastectomy. Didn't need chemo or radiation since it had not spread so I won't address that.

For reconstruction, i chose saline breast implants and have been very happy with this decision -- there have been no complications with them at all. As the various reconstruction scenarios were offered, it seemed they were just too complicated. One option was to use a muscle from the abdomen and route it up to reconstruct the breast -- pretty good, you just would never be able to do a sit up again. Huh?
Another option was to route a part of the deltoid muscle from the back, through the armpit and use it for the reconstruction. Again, I had a cousin who did that for a double mastectomy and had terrible complications and difficulty healing. My thinking was, just let it be about the breasts and not try major rerouting. If I didn't like the implants, I could have them removed, but so far it has worked well and I am happy with my decision. That was just my experience; she may choose some other option or no reconstruction at all. I spoke with women who make other decisions who have been equally satisfied.

Post surgery, the major thing to deal with are the drainage tubes; a major inconvenience for sure. The other thing to remember is this is major surgery; it takes a very long time to completely recover. For me, the process was about 6 months of gradually doing more and more; a lot of walking was my route to recovery. The first 6 weeks post surgery are absolutely critical for recovery. Trying to do too much too soon will really set her back.

Also, if there are people around her wanting to offer all kinds of negative theories about why she got cancer, the most egregious of these being that she brought it on herself in some way, just get that person out of her life and you need not even be pleasant about it. We all want to think we know why someone has cancer, or there is some miracle cure, etc, but the point is that right now she needs to deal with the current important decisions and what lies on the road ahead; she can focus on her treatment and recovery with the loving support of friends like you.

Again, many healing thoughts headed her way.
 

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Slothful dirt hippie
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2,900 Posts
Team Pro Laps said:
...Also, if there are people around her wanting to offer all kinds of negative theories about why she got cancer, the most egregious of these being that she brought it on herself in some way, just get that person out of her life and you need not even be pleasant about it. We all want to think we know why someone has cancer, or there is some miracle cure, etc, but the point is that right now she needs to deal with the current important decisions and what lies on the road ahead; she can focus on her treatment and recovery with the loving support of friends like you...
Oh man, I totally missed that part- and it's important! My sister has developed an extensive collection of horror stories about what NOT to say to cancer patients. Everything from mystery Mexican miracle herbs being much preferable to "that chemo that'll kill ya" to "you just don't have enough faith" to "did your mother take medications while she was pregnant with you?". Even insinuations that if she quits thinking about or saying the word CANCER that it will somehow magically disappear. And these are often not polite discussions, but impassioned, extended rants, even DEMANDS that the patient follow up with [insert crackpot idea of the week].

Energy sucking situations and people need to get booted summarily. There just isn't room for it on the recovery-train.

Fortunately my sister has a sense of humor. She's actually messed with such people's heads for entertainment when she's had the juice for it. When members of the 'just don't mention it any more and it will surely go away!' group have run into her and asked how it's going, she's made a point of dropping the C-word as often as possible in her reply just to see how many times they'll flinch and how long they'll stick around. She named the tumor that came back in her neck (re)Pete. And when she launches off on someone or something while in treatment, the description usually starts with: "So I was having a cancer-tankerous moment....." :devil:
 
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