Breast Cancer: Stage 3 & 4 Community
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Avatar universal

please please help me understand

my 69 yr old mother has Invasive Lobular carcinoma. Diagnosed by a biopsy. on 10/16 she had a full mastectomy-had 11 lymph nodes found with cancer and a 6 cm tumor.. She had her first Oncology appt today..I did not go, but she just got off the phone after telling me everything he said. I am absolutly terrified. Please someone explain to me--I know I dont have all the info, but this is what I know. He called it stage 3...a "high risk situation". He said they r still analyzing it. Why? Pls tell me how a tumor of that size could be missed by 3 mamograms (the latest one was August of THIS year!!!) and missed by an ultrasound ( a few weeks ago)????
its all mumbo jumbo right now to me, Im all confused by what she said..but shes got a huge task ahead of her! First she has a PET scan scheduled. for someone with claustrophobia, how will that be?? Is it as bad as a MRI?
I am so scared, I am shaking...I apologize for any spelling errors. She has to have an echocardiogram ...?? She thinks to see if her heart is strong enough, for all that lies ahead??? All the drugs?? Help...why????
Then she starts a horrible nightmarish regimine of treatment...she says will have chemo...will have radiation 5 days a week for 6 WEEKS my god!!!  and...chemo mixed in at times?? She has to be on several drugs....I dont know what...one is...Herceptin????? then she has to have IV of some other kind of medicine for how long I dont know...then other medicine it just goes on and on and on ...he said it will be 2 years of treatment....
please please explain to me...do they think shes not going to make it? shes healthy otherwise....
also...one other thing, since her mastectomy on the 15th of Oct, shes noticed she gets short of breath easier...she never had that before the surgery....any idea what is causing....she did not mention it to the dr...this is so much to absorb...she sounds exhausted on the phone (she lives 2 hours away ) my mom & dad moved up north a year ago...
the city they have to go to for treatment is over an hour away...they dont know what they are going to do..I am just overwhelmed but I have to be strong for her...
any answers please please....

6 Responses
Avatar universal

First of all, you need to relax as worrying will not be of any benefit.  

If the mammograms and ultrasounds are clear a few weeks or months ago, then this may mean that this may really be an aggressive tumor.

The presence of 11 positive nodes really puts her on stage III which is also termed as a locally advanced disease.  She would require additional chemotherapy and radiation therapy.  Herceptin is a special drug to address the Her2 receptor on the breast cancer cells which is a marker of cancer aggressiveness.

The shortness of breath should be evaluated thoroughly.  This can reflect a heart or lung problem, or in worst case, cancer spread to the lungs.

I would suggest that you meet with her oncologist to get all the facts and details, and also have the treatment plan outlined for you.  This is really a tough battle and I suggest you keep calm and be a symbol of strength for your mother.
Avatar universal
Is this situation doable??? Do people make it thru all this, and survive?
505677 tn?1263951693
I was dx with breast cancer an agresive form on June  24th 08 I had both a mastecomy radical with 13  2 were positive for cancer lymph nodes taken out on the right and modifided radical on the left along with a larscopic complete histerectomy on July 29th. I had a port placed and statred chemo on August 19th 08. The end of nov I will be done with chemo had 4 rounds of combo of douxrubion (SP) and Carbo (sp) then the 4 rounds of Taxol. When I went in for my last visit the Chemo onc scheduled us for a visit with the radiology deptartment on the 20th of nov so wondering whats up with tha??? When we 1st met with the surgon in early July he said I would have surgery chemo and radiation but it went kind of over my head at the time .... Is it comman to have both chemo and radaition???? I guess we will find out more when we meet with the radiologist on the 20th....
Ihatepalp2 .... this can be done just take one day at a time and get through it support is important for us with cancer and being positive is a big help.....
Avatar universal
I am so sorry to hear about your cancer. Boy, I wish somebody would find a cure for this horrible disease, and quick!!
Thank you for your words of advice. I take them to heart--and totally agree--the big picture for my mom is unbearable...so we will just break it down..one treatment at a time!
Can I ask...have you been very sick with your chemo? Mom is worried about that..I know it varies from person to person...
Avatar universal
Hi - so very sorry to hear of your Mum's cancer.  Yes....it is doable, as I am still here 6 yrs from diagnosis.  My tumour was stage and grade 2, with spread to 3 lymph nodes. I had a Wide Local Excision, then a month later, total axillary removal. Another month later I started FEC chemo, every 3 weeks. 6 cycles. When that finished I had Crohn's complications and was hospitalised as I had to stop my normal chemo for Crohn's in order to have the FEC.  Then, it was 6 weeks of daily (Mon-Fri) radiotherapy.  Since then I have been on various hormonals, Arimidex, Aromasin etc. bisphosphonates for bone loss and am currently NED (no evidence of disease) - the best 3 words in the English language!

Your mother's Oncologist will prescribe appropriate anti-emetics to control the nausea and vomiting. I had dexamethasone (a steroid) infused at the same time as the FEC chemo, and was given domperidone and granisetron to take home and strongly advised to take the medications (up to 3 days) before I felt nauseous.  I did feel very nauseous, but luckily no vomiting. They also prescribed Nystatin lozenges to deal with the thrush in my mouth.

The best piece of advice I can offer is for your Mum to get a copy of all her pathology reports, which although difficult to understand at first, detail the parameters of your Mum's particular cancer, and in my own case, my prognosis.  Not terminal, but 4.4 on the Nottingham Prognostic Indicator scale.

Your Mum will need all the love and care relatives and friends can offer. One of the biggest side effects of chemo is extreme tiredness. I couldn't understand how I could sleep some 18 hours a day, but I guess the body knows when it needs sleep. I found I was happy to let friends do my ironing, and still invite hubby and I for lunch, even though I couldn't eat during chemo - I existed on Fortijuice enteral nutritional drinks. We needed to feel "normal"  and have a social life beyond the hospital.

It seems like a mountain to climb at the beginning of treatment, and the language of bc akin to Japanese, but slowly, we do learn to cope day by day, and understand what is happening.

Take care, of your Mum, and yourself.
Liz, in Cornwall,England.

"Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."
Avatar universal
YOU, my friend...are an angel!!!  What an informative, yet understanding post!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Ive printed your post, and am going to keep it. I learned alot!
Yes, its a huge mountain to climb..for sure....and BC is EXACTLY like a foreign language to us...but we will make it. Somehow.

Thanks again.
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