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Avatar universal

Re:Concerned about a friend with breast cancer

I have a friend who had breast cancer and was on Arimidex for 3 years, she then stopped and was cancer free for about 2 years. Then her lower back started to hurt, she lost her balance a few times and fell. All the while she thought it was sciatic or pulled muscle issues. After 8 months she finally went to see a Dr. and was told she has 4 inoperable tumors on her spine with one near her waist that has compressed 2 discs. They decided to do radiation and did 14 treatments which provided no relief so the added 5 more. Still no relief and she struggles to walk and is finished with the rads. She is currently taking femara and has been able to return to work but is still not doing well. She has also lost a lot of weight and muscle tone and the plan now is to wait a few months and do another check up to see her status at that time. She also said she will avoid chemo as long as possible. My question is how dire does this sound ? I've heard this type Stage IV mets usually means months and not years of life expectancy. Does she sound like someone who is in that area of just a few months to live ?

This discussion is related to Breast Cancer with Liver Metastases.
12 Responses
492898 tn?1222247198
It sounds very serious! Did your friend ever have chemotherapy or did she refuse it all along?

I don't know how long she has and none of us know that but it does sound, and is serious.

Avatar universal
Kat, Thanks for taking the time to respond. Honestly I am shocked she is working but then again I guess it helps her keep her mind of this somewhat. She has never had chemo, she had a lumpectomey, not sure of the correct spelling on that, and then did the Aremidex. When she was diagnosed with Stage IV Mets. she told me they were going to be very agressive and do rads as well as chemo but now that seems to have changed. Also, the last few weeks she has really shy away from communicating which is not normal but I'm guessing it's due to all the stress that has to be a part of her life now.
739091 tn?1300669627
If I had to guess I'd say she's not willing to do the chemo and her avoidance of anyone who "knows" of her cancer returning most likely has to do with the choice she's made and she doesn't want to have to explain herself. Personally I believe I'd fight like heck if I had mets. Chemo wasn't fun but it was do-able! And there are a lot of women with mets who are kicking butt and living to tell about it.

But really, the decision to fight is hers, and hers alone. She also most likely is depressed.

best wishes
492898 tn?1222247198
SueYoung55 is right.

At this point you may just want to be there with her and be very supportive and not ask any questions about treatment or even her cancer. If you are just there with support she may volunteer to tell you herself, if she is not pushed.

Rapid weight loss, and all else you have said, it sounds very, very bad.

Just try to support her soul.

492898 tn?1222247198
In her case, radiation would be used to help with pain. (like to the spine and her bones) it would not be utilized as an attempt to cure her.

It may also be too late for chemo at this point, and her working? Is she still in denial?

I am really sorry!
492898 tn?1222247198
I want to take that last line back, about the denial. i think you may be right and that this actually helps her and is worth doing for as long as she can? katrin
Avatar universal
Thanks to you both for your thoughts. I have read that a lot of women with bone mets do in fact survive a long time so that is reason to hope. Yet, her loss of weight and lost muscle tone, the fact that she waited 8 months to see a Dr. while her symptoms were so strong and the two discs being compressed in her spine are all things that bother me a lot. Also, the fact that the rads didn't help her and that the original plan to do chemo right away was bagged is a red flag to me too. I know that she didn't work for nearly 3 weeks after her last rad treatment but this past week she was at work the last 3 days as well as Sat. Is it denial ? I don't know. I also don't know enough about what to expect in  terms of as this progresses. With the tumors being inoperable will she slowly get worse ? Will she lose mobility due to the compressed spine that can't be operated on ? I just don't know or have any experience with anyone who has been thru this and want to at least know the stages to expect. I'd hate to think the next time I see her is in a hospice bed. One last question for now, is this type of cancer fast moving or very slow ? Obviously it's now in her blood stream so it's unfortunately bound to appear somewhere else isn't it ?
739091 tn?1300669627
I believe she is choosing to not be treated. That's not denial, it's a personal decision to not fight the fight anymore. Radiation in mets is used to try and stop the pain in the bones.

If I'm correct that she is choosing no treatment, then you must abide by her decision.

What will you see? Left untreated you will see more of the same. She will continue to lose weight and eventually it will shut down her other organs. There is no way to tell how quickly this will happen. Let her work, it's her way of coping with her choice. Just let her know you are thinking of her and maybe drop off dinner for her, or arrange to have her home cleaned. I never offer, I just show up and do.

This will not be easy on you. You want her to fight. This is her choice. Let her do it her way, with dignity.

Best wishes
Avatar universal
Sue, Thanks for the reply. I am not sure whether she is just refusing treatment or is it possible she can't take chemo now as her daughter told me it was due to having so much radiation in her system that they need to wait. Not sure if that is so, as her daughter doesn't seem to have all the facts straight on other issues with her mom's cancer. Also, is it possible that she doesn't need chemo due to the cancer not being in other parts of her body yet ? Again, I'm just tossing out thoughts, not facts. I also am not sure on the denial as she also last week went and attended a class to get her business lic. renewed. Yet all signs point to her health is failing so maybe she is in denial. I don't know.
492898 tn?1222247198

But you, we, do know that the cancer has spread and that she is stage 4.
It's not only in her bones but in very risky and dangerous places. Sometimes they do surgery just to enable her to keep her balance and not further collapse because that is a huge risk and she can become paralyzed.

There are also other medications that can strengthen her bones but my chemo brain cannot recall anything about that today.

Please keep in touch. KAT  So sorry!
492898 tn?1222247198
My guess is that preventing her back from collapsing is a first priority now, and not chemo.  Oh, and with the surgery, they insert a metal pole in her spine or next to it to prevent the other. Kat
Avatar universal
Kat, She told me that her tumors are in such a place that it's inoperable and the risk of surgery is too great as it would probably paralyze her alone. So, again it's not good at all as if the spine is weak and compressed by the tumors but they can't operate to help then that sounds like to me that she is a time bomb of sorts.
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