Breast Cancer Community
Wife's been diagnosed with breast cancer.
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Wife's been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Oh ****, now what.
She has made the decision to have a bilateral mastectomy. And is presently in hospital, breasts removed. They think she'll be home next week. She was told to see a breast nurse, but this hosp doesn't have one, shud I arrange one? Is there any benefit?
They believe they may have got it all and the nodes were clear, but still say she needs chemo? why? if its gone why more treatment?
She's all worried bout what I think of her breastless and Ive told her I'd rather have her breastless than dead. And at her age they're 'excess baggage' 'surplus to requirements'. so Ive tried to tell her not to worry and I am here to support her in any way I can.
I need some advise, what can I do?? Any suggestions welcome, cos Im a bit scared I'll stuff it up.

Thanks Merl1n
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25201_tn?1255584436
HI ... I hope you were involved in the discussion BEFORE the surgery and why the decision to remove both breasts. If not, you were cheated in a way .. you are involved so you should be included in any and all appointments and discussions as well as decisions. Not sure what was meant by a "breast nurse" ... I would think that the Nurses at the Oncologists office would suffice OR you and your Wife might consider calling the Amer.Cancer Society for information about what type of support is offered. There are usually groups connected with a local hospital that have meetings open to the public regarding support following any type of Cancer treatment. Some information may also be obtained by calling the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Your role is now to keep reminding your Wife that she is the same woman she was before Cancer .... with or without breasts. We women do tend to think of breasts as a defining part of US ... I think men have the same feelings regarding various parts of their bodies so don't become aggravated or "tired of hearing it" because it may be an issue for some time with her. The best advice is "Be there" .. Keep a positive attitude and hopefully it won't be long before life returns to "normal" for you both. Chemo is extra insurance ... even when breasts are removed a few
cells can remain ... think of the Chemo as taking no chances.   You'll be fine ... she will also .. hang in there it's a survivable journey even if it seems tough at times.  All the best to you Both !!
8 Comments
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25201_tn?1255584436
HI ... I hope you were involved in the discussion BEFORE the surgery and why the decision to remove both breasts. If not, you were cheated in a way .. you are involved so you should be included in any and all appointments and discussions as well as decisions. Not sure what was meant by a "breast nurse" ... I would think that the Nurses at the Oncologists office would suffice OR you and your Wife might consider calling the Amer.Cancer Society for information about what type of support is offered. There are usually groups connected with a local hospital that have meetings open to the public regarding support following any type of Cancer treatment. Some information may also be obtained by calling the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Your role is now to keep reminding your Wife that she is the same woman she was before Cancer .... with or without breasts. We women do tend to think of breasts as a defining part of US ... I think men have the same feelings regarding various parts of their bodies so don't become aggravated or "tired of hearing it" because it may be an issue for some time with her. The best advice is "Be there" .. Keep a positive attitude and hopefully it won't be long before life returns to "normal" for you both. Chemo is extra insurance ... even when breasts are removed a few
cells can remain ... think of the Chemo as taking no chances.   You'll be fine ... she will also .. hang in there it's a survivable journey even if it seems tough at times.  All the best to you Both !!
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks Jap, I think I'm more of a mess than she is about it all. She accepts it and me, I just freaked. AHHHhhhhhhh. I keep telling her she'll be fine but I think she suspects I'm the one whose stuck at Ahhhhhhh. My wife has a tendancy to jump way ahead, so ' something wrong, cut it off', she did discuss it with me but she had already made the decision before we attended the Dr's appointment that confirmed a 'nasty'. I was still at the 'wait for the scan results to confirm' bit. I have attended all of her appointments and will continue to do so. She supported me in my time of need and I will support her.
I must admit I had major brain surgery in January and the roles were reversed, she was panicked and I just accepted it all. The problem with this is that my treatment is not finished yet and then this comes along. A bit of a double smack in the mouth. But I keep telling her we will get there, eventually. (wherever 'there' is)
Thanks again
Merl1n
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25201_tn?1255584436
I can assure you that if the Surgeon didn't think the bilateral was a good move it wouldn't have been done; at least not so fast. It is done many times as a preventative measure. You guys will be OK ... you sound like a perfect team to fight these "bad" times together. Any other questions or concerns please don't hesitate to return and we'll be here to do our best with answers, etc. "GO TEAM" !!! Kindest regards.
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Avatar_f_tn
I'm SO sorry to hear about your wife's diagnosis and surgery. It sounds like your reaction is perfectly normal and I agree with you that you'll get through it in time. As japdip said, you sound like you and your wife are a wonderful team and are there for each other. Just being there for her and accepting her as she is a huge thing. I had major surgery when I was only 14 and again when I was 19, about a year after I met my hubby. He was there for me through 8 hours of surgery, intensive care, all of it. I  worried that he wouldn't be happy with my scarred up body, but he said the same thing you did---he preferred the scars over a perfect body in a coffin!
I noted that you're in Australia and one of my reasons for writing was to hope that you'll take japdip's advice and seek out some support groups.
I hope you have organizations in your country that are similar to the one's japdip recommended. They can really help you and your wife through the rough times, plus provide some very helpful information for you both.
I truly wish your wife and you all the best. You're both dealing with a lot right now, but I think you'll make it as a team.
Hugs,
nc
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks NC,
Yeah, 'a team' is a good way to put it, 'now its my turn to take the batton'. We were hoping she'd be out today but one of the drains is still removing lots of fluid from the nodes. So the Dr wants her to stay. She's not exactly happy about it, but understands why.
As for the organisation/services here, there are a few I have since found and contacted (now). Some are sending information kits, one group send out mastectomy bras and pads. I work in community services with people with disabilities, so I know how to get the most out of these services for my wife. But I'm not sure what/who she needs, so Ive got the 'known' items and contact details for the others that she may want to contact.I don't want to be going and arranging too much as it could all overwhelm her when rest and recuperation is priority number one. Ive tried to keep myself informed to try and ease any concerns she may have.

Something that I would recommend for any other males out there having to support their partners in this challenging journey is to go to Google Images and have a look at mastectomy pics. Prepare yourself,  to have an idea of what to expect. Had I not done this my reaction could have been soul destroying for my wife. She was reluctant to show me anyway, but when I had seen some very bad, and very good, examples via Google. I had some idea so I was not in a state of shock. This helped my wife and by being able to say  'well, I've seen worse' in a light hearted way but also with honesty, I could see some of the stress just melt away before my eyes

Big thanks, sounds like I might be on the right track. Phew,

Merl1n
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Avatar_f_tn
It sounds like you and your wife are off to a good start and I truly hope she makes a complete recovery. Chemo can be tough but everyone is different and some women have very little trouble with it while some have a hard time. Just remember that if she does have some problems, to discuss it with her treament team because there are many things available now to alleviate the side effects. Tell her  "don't suffer in silence because you may not have to suffer at all". Most cancer treatment teams are very compassionate and will really try to make it as easy as possible on their patients.
Thank you, too, for your excellent advice to the partners of mastectomy patients. I'm sure you'll help lots of men who have to be there for their woman but don't know what to expect. I'm a retired nurse and was always a true believer in patient education. The more you know what to expect, however hard, really makes it easier, I think. Being blind-sided is way worse, I think, so thank you for sharing that tip to look at the pictures ahead of time.
I also forgot in my last note to say that I hope that YOU'RE doing well after your brain surgery and will also make a complete recovery. This has to be a really tough time for both of you, but I have confidence, just from the little I've heard from you, that you'll come through it with flying colors!
All the very best to you both & hugs from the other side of the world!
nc
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks NC,
She's finally home. She's got some pain but I try to keep her medicated, like she does with me, I keep asking 'are you due for med's'. But over all she's going really well, I'm actually quite jealous. Wish I was that well after my op. lol
I have seen ppl go thru chemo before and we have been told this is a mild form and Ive seen ppl have 'mild meds' before that were anything but mild. So I'm semi prepared. But thanks for letting me know that if things aren't great to ask 'what can be done'. You are told black and white, with no grey and this often leaves you stuck with the black and white options only, but we'll see what happens.
I found the pics on the net confronting to say the least, but it most definitely of benefit to me. Just to know cos by golly I would have had a totally different reaction had I not known what to expect when the wife showed me.
As for my head, its a mess. I keep saying if you kept an animal in this state you'd be charged with animal cruelty. But a person, that's different. Some days I don't see it as too much different. But the wife, she looks after me and if I continue to look after her, we will get there.
Thanks again
Merl1n
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Avatar_f_tn
Thanks for your response and hang in there! There's got to be a light at the end of the tunnel, and hopefully, it's not the damn train!! :o)
Glad to hear your wife's home and recoving well---it sounds like you're taking good care of her. I hope she just continues to get better and that you do, too. It sounds like you've been through a lot and are still dealing with a rough recovery.
Please keep us updated on your wife's progress and how you're doing, if you wish. You can also send me a private message any time you wish if you need some information, advice or just to vent a bit. I promise to reply. You'll both be in my thoughts and I'm wishing only good things for the two of you.
Hugs,
nc
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