My 86 year old mother has been in denial about a lump in her breast for three yeas. It started out the size of a bean and grown to a size of a grapefruit. She has refused to believe it is cancer until recently. I came to visit her and finally got her in to see a breast surgeon yesterday who said it was Inflammatory Breast Cancer and the spread was way too large for surgery. She will not take chemo or radiation. The only option she said was to have a biopsy to see if anti-hormonal drugs can be used to shrink it. In all my on-line research I can’t fine any information about these drugs being used as a primary treatment – only after chemo or radiation. We are also getting a PET scan because she has a dry cough. If these meds do not work what is our timetable here? The tumor looks close to the surface and like it may be wanting to ulcerate – as the doctor said that would happen if nothing is done. Any words would be appreciated.
You may not appreciate my words but here they are ..... we always had a right to accept or refuse any and all treatment; especially at the age of 86. Very often some of the standard primary treatments are bypassed due to a person's age and/or general condition and this may be the case in your Mother's situation. In cases such as this Hormone Therapy is used as a primary treatment. I'm not sure why a Mastectomy could not be done unless your Mother's general health is such that either anesthesia would be dangerous OR recovery would be less than desired. The timetable is something that can't be answered I'm afraid. Have you considered a second opinion from another Breast Specialist and/or Oncologist ?? If not I personally would give that some thought. In the end we must respect the patient's wishes no matter the result. Kindest regards .....
Oh I do respect her wishes. The frustration is that if she had it out three years ago she would be ok now - or at least not dealing with a tumor too large to operate. Three years ago she was convinced she could beat the cancer with nutrition only and would not accept the small tumor was cancer because her belief system was so great. This is not just one tumor now. The surgeon said he's have to go from the sternum all the way to her back as the smaller tumors have invaded the skin - thus IBC. We now have to deal with the large tumors breaking through and the risk of infection, odor and mess from them - thus the hope the anti-hormonal treatment may keep that from happening. She is at peace with her choices and I respect her not wanting to have chemo or radiation. I just don't want to see suffering as seems to be the direction we are headed. Also - I have great respect for alternative medicine but not when people totally disregard conventional ideas.
I am so sorry to hear what you are going through in regard to your mother.
Unfortunately, we have heard similar stories many times. The patient refuses standard medical treatment, in favor of "alternative treatment," and then when things get worse, family members and others who love the person have to watch and support the person through (perhaps unnecessary) advancement of a disease...
I hope you will be able to put "what-could- have-been" thoughts out of your mind as much as possible, and focus your energy and love on helping your mother through "what is." I hope the hormonal treatment will slow down the course of her disease. And when the time comes, don't hesitate to take advantage of palliative treatments that are available to control pain and suffering.
Thank you. We got the biopsy back this week as Stage IV triple neg IBC. Nothing to do but love her and pray she stays happy and active as she is today until the Good Lord takes her home. When it comes time she promises to call in hospice and let them help her.
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