Just been diagnosed myself with cancer. What next?

Hi everyone, I thought I was ok when I had my diagnosis on Monday but now I can’t stop crying. I’m trying to keep it in when my kids are around as my son is 13 and autistic and my girl is only 7. It is them that I am worried for more than myself. I have been caring for my partner for the last 3 years who at one time reached thirty seizures per day. We thought that things were looking up clearing a two month free from seizures and now this. It is only a grade 1 caught by mammogram so I know there is a lot of hope, but I’m slowly losing the plot.

Kim, I’m so so sorry to hear that on top of ‘everything else’ you now have this landing on you. I’m not in the least surprised you feel overwhelmed…

I would say, however, that the problem with the word ‘cancer’ is that it is ‘too big’ a word for what it actually encompasses…what I mean is this. Cancer is HUGELY ‘variable’…it isn’t a ‘single disease’ as you know, but a huge RANGE of diseases, depending on location in the body and, above all, on stage.

When my husband was diagnosed he was terminal from the moment of diagnosis - it was VERY advanced. (Stage 4, and already spread to lungs and brain).

But I promise you, a Stage 1 diagnosis in the breast (which, lovely though breasts, we only actually need for nursing babies!) (ie, they are ‘expendable’ in themselves!), is a QUITE different situation. There should be NO reason why it is not successfully treated and stopped in its tracks. Thereafter, you will be kept on ‘watch’ for a good few years, with extra scans and checks, just to ‘make sure’, and then you should be ‘done and dusted’.

Breast cancer is VERY well ‘treatable’ - because it is one of the ‘common’ cancers (ie, for cancer!), there is HUGE investment in therapy and drugs, so it is not one of the ‘obscure’ ones that doesn’t get much done for it by way of research etc.

Have you been assigned a CNS (Cancer Nurse Specialist) by the hospital? Every cancer patient should have one, and she is the person you liaise with (you should have her phone number given to you), and who you can ask questions of. Also, do contact Macmillan as well, as they, too, can ‘talk you through it’. On top of that there are a host of BC charities and support groups, some on line and some ‘real world’, where you can ask questions and hear back from ‘former patiients’’ who have been through it all, and that should, I very much hope, help to reassure you and ‘see you through’ this now.

Although WHY we get cancer is still ‘mysterious’ (some do, some don’t ,etc etc), one factor DOES seem to be ‘stress’, and in that respect it’s easy to see how that might have impacted on you personally, given your caring roles with your husband and son.

That said, it’s great that your husband’s seizures seem to be getting less frequent, and I do hope that ‘good news’ keeps going.

What treatment are the docs recommending for yourself, and when is it to happen? Is it ‘lumpectomy’ or radiation, or chemo? I hope they ‘get on with it’ so you have got it ‘out of the way’ as soon as possible.

It will take you a while to get your head around this, and don’t be taken aback if you think you are ‘coping’ and then ‘collapse’ again with worry and so on. Just take things as EASILY as you can (given your difficult circumstances) and do make sure the doctors and nurses KNOW what you are coping with at home - ie, that you are already a long-term carer and ‘stretched’ as it is.

Kindest wishes to you at this time - Jenny

PS - only a thought, but ask your CNS if it’s OK for you to take a daily aspirin (it’s usually fine unless you have blood problems!). The reason is, aspirin (or any other anti-inflammatory I believe) helps to reduce inflammation in the body overall, and for some reason inflammation is ‘associated’ with cancer (again, the docs don’t really understand why). There have been studies showing that a daily aspirin can help in breast cancer patietns, so it might be worth ‘giving it a go’ if it’s not contra-indicated for you.

Hi Kim
Crying and shock are perfectly natural reactions so don’t beat yourself up over it… (((hugs)))
The NAS may have some ideas I how to talk to your son about it, and Macmillan have this to suggest with daughter

I do recommend you contact Macmillan yourself,or one of the breast cancer charities as you need support yourself and it sounds like your partner may not be able to provide much support.

Yes it is all a shock and you will feel extra fragile on top of all your caring stresses. Just acknowledge that and keep telling yourself it has been caught early and the prognosis is very good indeed

You , and your children will get through this