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My wife was recently diagnosed with Stage 2a BC

dthompson's picture
dthompson
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

My beautiful 43 year old wife of 4 years was recently diagnosed with Stage 2A breast cancer in her right breast. She has two lumps (1cm&1.5 cm) and one lymph node under the arm came back positive for non Her2 50% estrogen receptive very agressive BC. All MRIs and bone scans came back negative for cancer any where other than in the right breast (great news). She was started on 4 treatment of AC bi-weekly then will get 4 of taxol bi-weekly, then surgery. Surgeon hopes the chemo will shrink the tumors enough to only do a lumpectomy. She got her 2nd AC treatment last friday and has been doing great, just a little tired the day after and sore bones due to the neulasta injection. She is handling it much better than me. I try to stay strong and positive for her but sometimes I just break down and feel there is no hope. She has started loosing her hair and asked me to shave it off for her tonight. It breaks my heart and don't think that I can do it. I went to buy her some warm hats today at Wal-Mart and just broke down and had to leave the store. I am so scared of losing her and I don't know how to stop the "worst case scenario" thinking.
I also don't understand why the doctors decided to do chemo first instead of just cutting the tumors and lymph node out? Will the chemo work ? I feel so lost and helpless when I see the fear in her eyes and there is nothing that I can do about it. She lost her mother to breast cancer when she(my wife) was 17 years old and sees herself in her mothers shoes. Any help or advice on how to handle this would be wonderful. Thank you all so much

Margeaux
Posts: 75
Joined: Dec 2011

Dear Sweet Husband:
I am so sorry your wife has joined the ranks of Pink Sisters. How wonderful and heart warming it is to hear how much you care! Rest assured you will find support and information on this site. I was diagnosed Sept. 2009 at age 76 with Stage IIB, HER Pos, hormone negative BC in the left breast Grade 3, the most agressive type. 2 lymph nodes were involved. There were 2 lumps, one 3.5 cm, the other .9 cm. I had chemo first 3 months of weekly Taxol and then a cocktail of Cytoxan, Anthracyclin and 5FU 3 weeks apart, plus weekly infusions of Herceptin, all administered through a port. I have heard that younger women may have shorter intervals between infusions, the doctor may feel that your wife can tolerate this. At the end of the chemo no cancer could be detected on either the mammogram or PET scan. I had a lumpectomy and had 18 lymph nodes removed, followed by 33 radiation treatments. When the tissues were examined in the lab, no cancer was found. Yes, having to lose ones hair is a traumatic experience. I, too had my head shaved by husband and I have to say I tried to never look at myself bald, just imagine a 77 year old bald lady! I found wigs very uncomfortable, the scalp was so sensitive and preferred to wear head covers, some were downright chic! I will look up the website where I purchased them from and let you know. Please do not think the worst, your wife will make it through this with your help. It will not be easy, but as the Pink Sisters on this site will tell you - it is doable! I was given literature from the doctors, which helped a lot, so did looking at reputable websites - ACS, Breastcancer.org, comes to mind. Tears are natural, when my husband heard the diagnosis he wept. Believe me, it will not be the end - stay strong for your wife.
Hugs and many warm fuzzies
Margeaux

dthompson's picture
dthompson
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement. It certainly helps hearing from others who have or are going through the same thing as my wife. Hearing from survivors certainly offers hope. I have found that if I sit and think about the situation that it drives me crazy. I try to stay busy with work to keep my mind occupied. She has already gotten two wigs, not sure if she will wear them or not. Thank you again so much for your reply.

Margeaux
Posts: 75
Joined: Dec 2011

Forgot to mention - my diagnosis was IDC, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.
M.

GMcD
Posts: 120
Joined: Oct 2011

It is obvious that you have " manned up " for your wife. It is certainly ok to cry and be scared because someone you love so much is going through a rough time. It will be very doable with you in her corner. My son, shaved my head for me and I felt it was a very loving thing for him to do as he doesn't deal with illness well. Please come here often as it will be a huge benefit to you and your wife.

Rague
Posts: 3303
Joined: Aug 2009

It is not unusual for neoadjuvant chemo to be used with some types of BC - in fact it is almost always (if not always) done with IBC (Inflammatory Breast Cancer) as without doing it to get the cancer to form a lump and shrink (IBC does not form as a lump with margins but as a nest or in bands) there is basically no hope of getting it all. I would doubt that your wife's is IBC if she is stage II as it is seldom found before it is Stage III or IV as it is so fast growing.

Only time will tell if the chemo works as we are all different. For me, the A/C did and got it to form a lump with clean margins as were the nodes. Suirgery (modified radical mastectomy) followed the A/C and then 3 weeks after surgery I did 12 weekly Taxol followed by 25 radiations.

Chemo effects us all differently. For some A/C is worse - for some Taxol is. With A/C, I was only tired for a couple of days and had no paiin from the Neulasta at all. (Claratin is supposed to help with pain.) Taxol was. NASTY - I existed those 12 weeks on the couch watching TV or iin bed - so completely and utterly EXHAUSTED but started feeling better a week after last infusion when I started rads.
For many though, they will do 2 different chemos before surgery - different Drs will treat differently.

Does your wife sew? If she does it's real easy to make nice scarfs or hats to match whatever is in her wardrobe. None of the scarfs I found suited me so I made a lot in slightly different measurements. Also I went through chemo during winter and here winters are quite brutal so keeping my head warm was an issue so I made several out of flannel or fleece. Had 2 wigs that I did wear quite a bit if I was going to Church or somewhere special but wore the scarfs or watch caps most of the time as they were warmer and stayed put in the wind and snow better. Hubby would often go by the fabric store and bring home some nice bright material for me.

I was 63 when DX'd IBC, Stage III, ER+/PR-, HER2-; am 66 now and still 'riding NED' (No Evidence of Disease) as far as I know. I believe it was harder on Huuby than me. He had lost his Mom at 9 to Cervical Cancer and after 33 yrs of marriage I turn up with IBC - but he made it so did I. In taking care of her, be sure to take care of yourself! You can't take care of her if you get 'down'. Contact your local ACS and see if there is a men's support group or check with the BC Navigator at the Center where your wife is being treated for any groups or. Counselors/social worker that you could meet with. Remember - take care of yourself TOO. Thoughts and prayers.

Winyan - The Power Within

Susan

dthompson's picture
dthompson
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

Hi Susan,
Thank you for the very informative and helpful post I am so thrilled that you are NED. My wife has IDC stage 2a type 3 from the your and other posts, I now understand why they are doing the chemo first. My wife is very cold natured so I was able to go buy her some hats today and just kept my mind on other things while doing so. We have gotten her two wigs so we are ready for this weekend. We have decided that she will go get her hair cut very short and then just wait for the rest to come out. I just could not do it for her and she didn't want to put me through doing it. I will check with our nurse navigator on men support groups in my area. We are staying positive that the Taxol will not put her down too hard. She has done amazing on the A/C. One of her major cocncerns, aside from loosing her hair, is not missing work as she was recently promoted to a upper management posistion at her job. Thank you again so much for your reply. Gob bless !!

Rague
Posts: 3303
Joined: Aug 2009

I am always coldeer than most - always have been - but it got much worse while on chemo. My temperature dropped and on good days it would be close to 97 but on bad days would be 95.something. Wearing 'thermies' (long underwear) helped a lot but the ones that are usually the warmest for me - the waffle weave one - were uncomfortable as I could feel every 'waffle' so had to use the smooth ones.

Something else that was helpful was an electric 'fleece throw' for using on the couch watching TV. Hubby found it at WalMart for I think about $20. Basically looks just like a fleece throw except that it has a cord coming out of it with a thermostat on it. Quite light weight so easy to handle. Something else that I found years ago that I like better for keeping wrm in bed is a heated matress cover. They have 3 different areas with the part up high the least warm but the foot area is the warmest, great for cold feet. The one we have has 2 different controls so I can have it nice and hot but Hubby can keep his side off or very low. I have noticed though that the older he gets the warmer he makes his side though he won't admit it. I also found that wool or wool blend socks were much nicer for keeping 'toes-ies' warm.

In another post I read you were asking about an occasional drink. I was told that an occasional drink or 2 was fine. So I continue to have a Midori and soda on the rocks when we go up to Deadwood for prime rib and a bit of play with the ' penny one armed bandits' there but that's only every 3 - 6 months.

Winyan - The Power Within

Susan

dthompson's picture
dthompson
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

Hi Susan,
Thanks so much for the post. All great points and I have noticed her temp stays around 97 and she is always cold. I will definitly look into the heated throw and the mattress cover. I just bought an electric blanket for the bed. As far as the occasional drink, were you estrogen receptive ? God Bless !!

Dennis

Rague
Posts: 3303
Joined: Aug 2009

Yes - I am ER+. I have been on Femara/letrozole since Feb.11, 2010. It is an estrogen blocker primarily for post menopausal women. I went thorough a 'natural' relatively early menopause at 44. That said - our bodies do not stop producing estrogen at that time. - don't produce as much after but still produce some - men's bodies also produce estrogen. Men with BC can be ER+. Estrogen is in a lot of foods also - soy products have quite a lot. It was stressed upon me by my DRs to watch the soy intake more than to just have an occasional 'drink' at a 'special' time. (Femara was not available as a generic when I started but is now as letrozole.)

After TX, an estrogen blocker is usually ordered for 5 yrs for any/all ER+. There is new research that shows that for some, we will always need to be on an estrogen blocker.

Winyan - The Power Within

Susan

ladyg's picture
ladyg
Posts: 1577
Joined: Apr 2010

what a loving and caring husband you are. Your wife is very lucky to have you by her side. I know from experience that having my husband with me made my journey easier. My husband broke down as well so you are not alone. There were many times that we actually broke down together. Having you by her side will make a big difference to her and to you as well. Have faith...she will get through this and so will you.

Hugs,
Georgia

dthompson's picture
dthompson
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

Thank you so much for the reply Georgia. I am trying so hard to be a rock for her and I think I am doing a pretty good job of it when she is around. It is when she isn't around that I sometimes break down . The biggest fear is of the unknown.. What will the remainder of her chemo treatments bring, what type of surgery will she require etc.. Right now we just don't know what to expect so that is what is making it so hard. God bless !!

Dennis

CypressCynthia's picture
CypressCynthia
Posts: 3954
Joined: Oct 2009

Never lose hope! I think that you might be able to help her most by becoming her biggest cheerleader.

I was diagnosed with Stage 3A (very large tumor and 4 nodes) way back in 1987. Can you believe it? I had a mastectomy, chemo, radiation and hormone therapy. Then I had a 22 year remission. In 2009, I found out I had bone mets, but I am currently back in remission. There are more and more stories of survivors living a long time. In fact, some of us consider ourselves "thrivers" and not survivors.

My advice is to encourage your wife to be as compliant as possible. Some studies are showing compliance is less than 20%. It is so hard to be compliant, but so important. Also, she should really consider avoiding alcohol altogether because, when you drink, your estrogen level goes up and your survival rate goes down.

The initial chemo is so hard, but it goes by and, hopefully, becomes a distant bad memory. Also, your local ACS chapter may be able to supply free or affordable hats and/or wigs and they will also give your wife a makeover with free makeup if she wants one. "Look Good...Feel Better" is the name of the program. See:

Find Support Programs and Services in Your Area

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/supportprogramsservices/index?ssSourceSiteId=null

P.S. Tell your wife not to give up because of her family history. I have a terrible family history: two sisters, my dad, my uncle, my grandmother and her 4 sisters. All had colon and/or breast cancer. Although the older generation died quickly after diagnosis, my sisters and I (all with breast cancer) have all survived for >15 years.

AngieD's picture
AngieD
Posts: 504
Joined: Sep 2011

I was diagnosed the end of Dec 2011 and was on a similar treatment plan to your wife's. I had 4 A/C every other week and 12 weekly Taxols. There are 2 very good reasons for doing the chemo first before surgery. One, the tumor can be shrunk down so a lumpectomy can be performed and can be less disfiguring. Even more importantly, you get actual visual proof that the chemo is working (or if it isn't, something else can be used.) In my case, the tumor completely disappeared to feel or ultrasound. A clip was placed prior to chemo, so the surgeon would know where the center had been. After surgery healing, I had 30 radiation treatments. It's not easy but very doable and your loving support will help her so much.

It's a good idea to keep a list of questions that come into your head, and take the list with you when you go for oncologist visits with her. And insist on explanations for anything you don't understand.

Angie

dthompson's picture
dthompson
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

Hi Angie,
Thank you so much for the post. I am so happy that your tumors shrunk !! Hopefully my wifes will do the same. The Onc does not think that she will have to do raditation afterward. We are hoeing this is true. I think she is going to ask to have a double mast and rebuild just to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back after her treatment How did you do with the Taxol? Thank you again.

Dennis

dthompson's picture
dthompson
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

Hi Cynthia
Thank you so much for your reply. I am crushed to hear that you had a re-occurance after a 22 year remission, but I am also very happy that you are back in remission once again!! I'm not exactly sure you mean when you say "compliance". My wife's cancer (IDC Stage 2a type 3)was 50% estrogen receptive and her Onc N.P. told her it was Ok to have a glass of wine or beer occasionally. I am now wondering if she knows what she is talking about because as you said.. alcohol causes estrogen levels to go up. Thank you for suggesting the link for look good..feel better. I think the physical changes are what are effecting her most. Loosing her hair, dealing with baldness and wigs, possible double mast etc.. I try to tell her that those things are not important, only her getting better matters. I also understand that I am not a woman so what seems minor to me probably are major issues to her and other women. Thanks again for your words of encouragement. I'm sure I will be speaking with everyone on this post frequently as questions, fears and other issues arise. God bless !!

Dennis

CypressCynthia's picture
CypressCynthia
Posts: 3954
Joined: Oct 2009

By compliance, I mean to take meds and treatment as prescribed. Believe it or not, few finish all treatments. I know the treatments can be hard, but, I also know, I am here today because I did comply with my oncologist's treatment plan.

Alcohol has been studies extensively now for >20 years. When I visited MD Anderson last year, one of the first questions that they asked was about drinking. I really try to avoid it now.

Recipe For Disaster: Alcohol and Estrogen-Positive Breast Cancer

http://breastcancerbydrruddy.com/?p=2703

dthompson's picture
dthompson
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

Thank you so much Cynthia, since your post, my wife has completely stopped drinking and we are trying to eat much more healthy and avoid fatty, carb rich foods. Her tumor is definitly shrinking as it was very easy to feel under her breast, but after two chemo treatments it is almost undetectable to the touch. I hope to keep in touch with you on this post as all of your replies have been very helpful. I will be praying that your METS stays in remission. God bless !!

Dennis

Gabe N Abby Mom's picture
Gabe N Abby Mom
Posts: 2415
Joined: Sep 2010

It is wonderful to see that you care so much for your wife. According to my husband, your feelings are very normal. A couple things that may help you...a book called Breast Cancer Husband by Marc Silver. And there is also a 'caregiver' group here as well, just scroll down through the list of cancer types you'll find it toward the bottom.

As for chemo first, it is becoming more and more common and is used for several types of BC. You should ask the onc exactly why they chose to use this method in your wife's case, and what results the onc expects. I did chemo first, and it definitely made a difference. The other thing about chemo, it is a systemic treatment. It will go after any stray cancer cells that might be roaming around your wife's body and kill them. Surgery is a local treatment, it will only get the tumors. And then there is your surgeon's hope for a lumpectomy rather than a mastectomy.

To help your wife with the bone pain...ask the onc or pharmacist about claratin (not claratin d). I was told it is recommended by the manufacturer, and it really helped me with the bone pain. It took it two days before my shots (I had neupogin, a cousin to neulasta) during my shots, and two days after.

I hope this helps you. Please come back and let us know how your wife is doing.

Hugs,

Linda

dthompson's picture
dthompson
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

Hi Linda
Thank you so much for your very informative post. It makes complete sense now to me why they are doing the chemo first.. to target any stray cells that may have gotten away. My wife has and does take the claratin and it does seem to help. She normally only has the bone pain for one day after the neulasta injection and motrin seems to help also. Thank you so much again. I will definitly keep updating and asking questions on this post. I will definitly look into the book that you suggested. God bless !

Dennis

dthompson's picture
dthompson
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

Hi Linda,
I got the book that you suggested " Breast Cancer Husband" it was awsome, I read the entire thing in two days. It was very helpful and the author described most of my feelings, fears and anger as the exact ones that he felt when his wife was diagnoed with BC. Thank you again so much. God Bless !!

Dennis

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salls41
Posts: 340
Joined: Apr 2012

I went through my chemo before my surgery. I understand how you feel, why not just get in there and cut that nasty thing out!! I felt the same way. My tumor was almost 6cm so they wanted to shrink it or hopefully kill it..it did shrink to almost gone. I then had a bi lateral mastectomy because I didn't want to worry about the cancer coming back in the other breast. You are doing a great job already of helping your wife!! You found this site! You already got great advice from these ladies. I will add that I loved T shirt scarves..its a DIY project, but they felt good on my bald head. My husband was very involved with my treatment. He took me to every chemo session. He changed my bandages for every surgery. When I was sick from chemo he cooked everything or anything to help me to eat. He bought every type of drink you can imagine to help me to stay hydrated during treatment. I know you are feeling the same way.. you want to ease her suffering but can't do enough to help. Just keep reading the positive posts here. You will read some negative stuff too but don't hang on to that, hang on to the positives.. you both will get through this! Remember that your wife will get a lot sicker before she gets better. Just hold onto her when she needs it and let her cry and feel sorry for herself when she needs to. Its a emotional roller coaster ride from hell, but it does eventually stop.
Take care of yourself as well as taking care of her.
God Bless
Sandy

dthompson's picture
dthompson
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

Thank you all so much. I have gotten more information from all of the wonderful posts in the last day than I have been able to get from the doctors in 3 weeks. There seems to be good days and bad days for me. I find that when I stay busy and can keep my mind off of the situation I do much better. It sounds like my wife will probably opt to do the bi-lateral masectomy for the same reason... so the cancer does not come back in the other breast. She has handled her A/C treatements wonderfully and hopefully the Taxol will be the same.

mollyz's picture
mollyz
Posts: 737
Joined: Sep 2010

Welcome to the boards,im a 2yr. survivor.my husband went thru the same thing but i think he chose to reach out to some other female im not totally sure just all the evidence,2 cell phones and a condom,i found all of this in the last year and I hope and pray you love your wife not to hurt her in any kind of way.I know your scared now but when it's all over and you and her look back you'll be able to help someone else going thru.My dr. told me that the husband goes thru harder than the wife,it's a lot of good advice on here and it's some that will scare the "H" out of you,everyone is different.we send cyber hugs to each other,so im sending a big hug to you and your wife.do you have kids?~~MollyZ~~

dthompson's picture
dthompson
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

Hi Molly,
Thank you for the reply and I am so sorry to hear about your what you found with your husband. I love my wife more than anything in the world and would never dream of being unfaithful to her. I agree with what you said about it being harder on the husband because I am so used to being able to fix any problem, but not this one. We do not have kids as we h were married in our late 30's and decided we would not have children. You hang in there too ! Congrats on being a two year survivor what was your cancer type/stage and treatment regiment if you don't mind me asking? God Bless !!

Dennis

mollyz's picture
mollyz
Posts: 737
Joined: Sep 2010

after 2 years i still don't understand my pathology report the radiologist said stage 2 and the surgeon said stage3A because lymph nodes where involved(out of 16 8 where positive) but the radiologist knew that too! i know it was estrogen positive 95% Her2 neg. I had chemo for 6 months the first 4 where very aggressive and we call the chemo here on the boards "a cocktail" anyway my cocktail was FEC(5-FU,Epirubicin,Cytoxan. one of them is known as the "red devil" and i understood afterwards why they call it that it attacks like the devil,this was done every three weeks and after that i had 6 weeks of taxotere and i could deal with it and after all the chemo i had 33 treatments of radiation.I don't know how you found the boards but it was the only thing kept me sane going thru this ordeal. I wish you and your wife blessings because God is the only one knows our out come.I don't know if you beleive in God or not but prayer is what i stood on and a lot on here don't like it when people talk about God because they think your putting your beliefs on someone else but God is the only one that woke them up this morning.sending prayers and hugs to you and your wife did i miss somewhere your wife's name? if not what is her name because when i pray to God i call out the persons name.~~MollyZ~~

dthompson's picture
dthompson
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

Thank you so much Molly, my wife is on AC now then will be swithing to 4 treatments of Taxol. We can already feel the lump in her breast shrinking. I am not an overy religious person, but I have been praying alot lately and hope that God will understand and forgive me for my past and help us make it through this thing. My wifes name is Isabelle, and thank you for any prayers. God bless !!

Dennis

kacee999
Posts: 109
Joined: Oct 2012

I was in a similar situation. Four months after my husband and I got married (my first time, his second) last year, and 4 days after my 60th birthday, I was diagnosed with BC. I thought my husband was going to freak. Our meeting and marriage was so story book it threw him into a tailspin of "Why God after all you have given me are you going to take this away so soon?" He had a hard time of it. But you HAVE to be there for her and be strong. Shave her head and call her beautiful (I actually ENJOYED having no hair!!!!)...my husband shaves his head normally so he did mine and we looked like a real pair! Things are going to get a LOT worse for her on chemo before it's over and you HAVE to understand she is not going to be able to do the most elementary simple things (wash, emptying a dishwasher, etc.) which is going to furstrate and dumbfound you. You must understand that she CANNOT do these things. The Fatigue is unrelenting and all encompassing, and she has to roll with it. I spent weeks on the couch or in bed. Fopr 14 days after EVERY session I was flat on my back, lucky to be able to walk across the room even. The biggest mistake my husband made at first was trying to cajole me out of the way I felt (I was not "down", I was just dealing with the side effects as best I could). For heaven sake don't do that. When we're in the throes of this mess the LAST thing we need is someone trying to make light of it. My husband learned pretty quickly...when I was in the thick of it, just leave me alone to deal with the circumstances. Know you are going to have to do practically EVERYTHING around the house until this is over, and accept it. You've got to get in "business mode" going through this. I just hunkered down and crawled my way through everything, knowing that this too shall pass. Don't let her feel quilty in any way for lack of being able to do the smallest things. Support her in every way. During this hard time life is going to revolve 150% around her, her needs and wants, to get through this. If you can do that you will be giving her the greatest gift.

kacee999
Posts: 109
Joined: Oct 2012

I was in a similar situation. Four months after my husband and I got married (my first time, his second) last year, and 4 days after my 60th birthday, I was diagnosed with BC. I thought my husband was going to freak. Our meeting and marriage was so story book it threw him into a tailspin of "Why God after all you have given me are you going to take this away so soon?" He had a hard time of it. But you HAVE to be there for her and be strong. Shave her head and call her beautiful (I actually ENJOYED having no hair!!!!)...my husband shaves his head normally so he did mine and we looked like a real pair! Things are going to get a LOT worse for her on chemo before it's over and you HAVE to understand she is not going to be able to do the most elementary simple things (wash, emptying a dishwasher, etc.) which is going to furstrate and dumbfound you. You must understand that she CANNOT do these things. The Fatigue is unrelenting and all encompassing, and she has to roll with it. I spent weeks on the couch or in bed. Fopr 14 days after EVERY session I was flat on my back, lucky to be able to walk across the room even. The biggest mistake my husband made at first was trying to cajole me out of the way I felt (I was not "down", I was just dealing with the side effects as best I could). For heaven sake don't do that. When we're in the throes of this mess the LAST thing we need is someone trying to make light of it. My husband learned pretty quickly...when I was in the thick of it, just leave me alone to deal with the circumstances. Know you are going to have to do practically EVERYTHING around the house until this is over, and accept it. You've got to get in "business mode" going through this. I just hunkered down and crawled my way through everything, knowing that this too shall pass. Don't let her feel quilty in any way for lack of being able to do the smallest things. Support her in every way. During this hard time life is going to revolve 150% around her, her needs and wants, to get through this. If you can do that you will be giving her the greatest gift.

kacee999
Posts: 109
Joined: Oct 2012

I was in a similar situation. Four months after my husband and I got married (my first time, his second) last year, and 4 days after my 60th birthday, I was diagnosed with BC. I thought my husband was going to freak. Our meeting and marriage was so storybook it threw him into a tailspin of "Why God after all you have given me are you going to take this away so soon?" He had a hard time of it. But you HAVE to be there for her and be strong. Shave her head and call her beautiful (I actually ENJOYED having no hair!!!!)...my husband shaves his head normally so he did mine and we looked like a real pair! Things are going to get a LOT worse for her on chemo before it's over and you HAVE to understand she is not going to be able to do the most elementary simple things (a load of wash, emptying a dishwasher, etc.) which is going to frustrate and dumbfound you. You must understand that she CANNOT do these things. The Fatigue is unrelenting and all encompassing, and she has to roll with it. I spent weeks on the couch or in bed. For 14 days after EVERY session I was flat on my back, lucky to be able to walk across the room even. The biggest mistake my husband made at first was trying to cajole me out of the way I felt (I was not "down", I was just concentrating on dealing with the side effects as best I could). For heaven sake don't do that. When we're in the throes of this mess the LAST thing we need is someone trying to make light of it. My husband learned pretty quickly...when I was in the thick of it, just leave me alone to deal with the circumstances. Know you are going to have to do practically EVERYTHING around the house until this is over, and accept it. You've got to get in "business mode" going through this. I just hunkered down and crawled my way through everything, knowing that this too shall pass. Don't let her feel quilty in any way for lack of being able to do the smallest things. Support her in every way. During this hard time life is going to revolve 150% around her, her needs and wants, to get through this. If you can do that you will be giving her the greatest gift.

kacee999
Posts: 109
Joined: Oct 2012

computer burp

dthompson's picture
dthompson
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

Hi Kacee,
Thank you for the reply. We expect things will get worse but we are hoping for the best. I am already not letting her do things around the house to try and let her rest, but she insists on helping and I cannot change her mind. I feel the same way as your husband. It is a sense of fear, the unknown and to be honest anger. I'm not sure who I am angry at. God, myself etc.. But why was our wonderful life suddely thrown for a loop? It is very frustrating.. This site has certainly helped. I just orderd the book " Breast Cancer Husband" so hopefully that will help also. I know that time will help heal as well as the initial shock will begin to wear off. What type of cancer did you have and what was your treatment plan? God Bless !!

Dennis

kacee999
Posts: 109
Joined: Oct 2012

IDC (invasive) and DCIS ("in situ"--not spreading). Started out with a lumpectomy Dec. 7 (2011) on left breast. Took the sentinel node and it was microscopic "mets" (metastatic), so they wanted to take more nodes. At that point I said "To heck with it. Take it ALL!" and had a full bi-lateral three weeks later. Am totally NOT sorry I did that at ALL. Then started 6 rounds of chemo (one every 21 days...and that knocked me on my ASS!)(Taxotere, Adriamycin, Cytoxan). Hair fell out starting 2nd week after first session and had hubby shave it (he was freaked but got over it fairly quickly and we laughed throughout and took pictures for posterity). The fatigue gradually DOES get worse each time. By round three I kindof had the gist of how things would go...knew exactly how much "good time" I had between the chemo and the first of the bad days. Bad days numbered about 14. Got to feeling human just about the time it was due to go back for the next session. Believe me, the shock will wear off and it will just become a part of your existence. Funny how we humans can adapt to adversity. I appluade you. Read as much as you can about being a caregiver. It will help both you and her to cope with everything. You will get through this and be immeasureably stronger as a result!

Margeaux
Posts: 75
Joined: Dec 2011

Hi:
The place I got my chic head covers from is - topsyturban.com. Worn with huge earrings I looked downright fashionable until chemo caught up with me. I did ok the first 4 weeks of Taxol, but after that it started going downhill. The ACS literature the doctor gave me also contained a booklet on diet, what to eat and what to abstain from,incl. alcohol. Onc told me - yoghurt yes, milk no. No soft cheeses, no nibbling on tempting tidbits in the grocery store. Gingerale for possible nausea. I felt queasy, but never outright nauseous. A liquid form of Benadryl was infused prior to chemo and during A/C/F chemo additional medications were prescribed to prevent any nausea. I actually gained 10 lbs. during chemo. Husband got me green tea, I started the morning out with a cup and crackers. Got protein/vitamin powder from the health food store, mixed it with yoghurt and honey to make a smoothy. Remember, not to get anything with antioxidants, which will interfere with the effects of chemo. Lots of food stuffs didn't "smell" right, did not like any sweets, but was always hungry! Another thing I did was to line up cleaners recommended to me by my neighbor, husband was 83 at the time of diagnosis and I could not expect him to clean house on top of everything else. He accompanied me to every dr. visit and chemo, dr. did not want me to drive. Lots of patients had volunteers, relatives, friends, etc. take turns. I live in a warm part of the US, but still was always cold, especially my bald head. Remember - real men cry!
Sending lots of warmth and love your and your wife's way.
Margeaux

dthompson's picture
dthompson
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

Thank you so much Margeaux,
We have stopped drinking and are trying to eat properly. So much info is out there on what to eat and what not to eat. Much of the info contradicts each other. One report said pasta is fine another report states avois pasta. Not sure which is right.

dthompson's picture
dthompson
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

Thank you so much Margeaux,
We have stopped drinking and are trying to eat properly. So much info is out there on what to eat and what not to eat. Much of the info contradicts each other. One report said pasta is fine another report states avoids pasta. Not sure which is right.

Clementine_P's picture
Clementine_P
Posts: 363
Joined: Feb 2011

At 40 I too was diagnosed with Stage 2A grade 3. I had 4 rounds of A/C biweekly and 4 rounds of Taxol biweekly as well. My oncologist told me that most people find the Taxol to be easier to deal with than the A/C. Certainly my two friends that have gone through this and I had that experience as well. Since I was small breasted and my tumor was in two sites in the same breast and totaled over 5cm, a lumpectomy was not possible for me. In the end, I opted for a bilateral mastectomy with placement of expanders and eventually silicone implants. Here I am 2 years later doing fine (*knock on wood*!). I am happy with the results of my reconstruction. My husband was there by my side throughout the entire ordeal and it was a great comfort to me. I think he felt much the same as you do (helpless and frightened). Just try to remember that there is a light at the end of the tunel and in all likelihood after going through treatment, the chances are very very good that your wife will be disease free going forward.

Best of luck to you,
Clementine

dthompson's picture
dthompson
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

Hi Clementine
Thank you so much for the reply. It sounds like you and my wife have/had a very similar similar diagnosis. We had a rough weekend as she was ready to shave her head. I did it for her but we were both in tears the entire time. She feels much better physically now because of the hair being gone, but mentally she is not handling it well. She refuses to look in the mirror without a hat or wig on as she does not want to see herself bald. I respect her wishes as hair is much more important to women than to us guys. I bought the book " Breast Cancer Husband" this weekend which helped considerably. We will be getting the BRAC test soon and if it is positive we will do the double mast with reconstruction as neither of us want to have to deal with this nightmare again. Her breast surgeon feels that the tumor will shrink enough to only do a lumpectomy but we do not feel comfortable with this (with family history). Her tumor is definitly shrinking as it is almost undetectable now to the touch, prior to starting chemo it was very easy to find and very obvious to the touch. I look forward to continue speaking with you on this post, you all have been so helpful. God Bless !!
Dennis

Clementine_P's picture
Clementine_P
Posts: 363
Joined: Feb 2011

Hi Dennis,

I look forward to answering any questions/concerns you may have and I know that you may have a lot of them going forward. The fear of the unknown in this process is really difficult. Feel free to ask me anything - nothing is off limits. If you prefer to "private message" me, that works too.

I completely understand your decision to not have just a lumpectomy. I had a strong family history as well and that is one reason why I decided to go for a double (I had the BRAC test and came out negative). I just didn't want the worry to hang over me going forward indefinitely. My radiologist told me that with my history I would need a mammogram twice a year and an MRI twice a year for the rest of my life. For me it was not something that I wanted to deal with every three months. So, for me this decision made the most sense.

I can also completely relate about the trauma of having to shave your head. For me that was the most traumatic part of this entire process. Everyone is different and for lots of people losing their hair doesn't bother them very much but that was not the case for me. I will tell you that over time I got used to it and as time passed it didn't bother me nearly as much. I suspect your wife will get better at dealing with it soon. At first it is just very traumatic.

I am so so happy to hear that the chemo is working to shrink the tumor! That is fantastic news. You are really an amazing husband. Your lovely wife is very lucky to have someone as caring as you.

I hope that she is doing a little better today and that you and she weather this storm together.

All the best,
Clementine

dthompson's picture
dthompson
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

Hi Clementine,
Thank you again for your post. My wife is doing better. She was vey nervous about going to work yesterday and wearing her wig for the first time. All of her staff made her feel very comfortable about it and all commented on how the loved the hairstyle and that the wig looked completely real. That made her feel better. She still will not look at herself in the mirror without something on her head. I think she will get better with time also but I will sit back and let her wait until she feels comfortable with it. Thanks again.

Gob Bless !!

Dennis

LoveBabyJesus's picture
LoveBabyJesus
Posts: 1650
Joined: Jan 2011

Hi sweet husband -- I am very, very sorry that you and your wife have to faced with this. No one deserves it, but please know we are here for support and tips. You and your wife are not alone.

I was dx at 32 (last year) with IDC, grade 3, one tumor ~2.5cm and lymphvascular invasion. Although my nodes came back clean, I had to have the chemo because of my age and how aggressive my cells were (there are 4 grade levels, 4 being the most aggressive kind). I took AC/T, biweekly. Many people do better on taxol than they do on AC. I personally didn't enjoy AC at all, and the side effects became cumulative. But everyone is different. Some people do better and some people have no side effects (just wish there were more of these people). The neulesta shot was actually the worst for me - felt really sick for a few days after day 2. But it eventually felt better. This shot is VERY important to keep her blood counts up and on schedule for treatments. The pain won't last for too long.

Some people have chemo first due to the size of the tumor and the breast. I got surgery first because my tumor wasn't that big and I am a big size. But just to give you an idea, recently I read an article in the magazine "Cure" where Doctors argue that it would be best to have chemo first, then surgery, under any circumstances (whether tumor is small or not) so that Doctors can see if chemo works at all. So this might actually be beneficial to your wife, besides decreasing the tumor for a less invasive surgery. I recomend you and your wife get this magazine. It is FREE for cancer patients and very informative. You have 4 copies a year (I believe). Here's the link: http://www.curetoday.com/

Additionally, here are some tips during chemo:

I purchased this book for special diet: http://www.amazon.com/Cancer-Fighting-Kitchen-Nourishing-Big-Flavor-Treatment/dp/1587613441 please note some foods are NOT recommended to eat during treatment, or post diagnoses. This book addresses some of these issues.

This book for nutritious drinks: http://www.amazon.com/Big-Book-Juices-Natural-Vitality/dp/1844839737/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1352590603&sr=1-1&keywords=the+big+book+of+juices

Additional Tips:

DRINK WATER ALL DAY LONG
Eat small portion of foods, more frequently
Exercise (even if it's just power-walking)
REST (listen to your body)
Stool softeners handy (this was my most chronic side effect) - if she starts to get constipated, have her take one pill 3x a day, starting 3 days prior to treatment (please consult Dr.)

And lastly, you and your sweet wife will be OK. Please try and have faith: no matter what you see. And no matter what you hear. Your wife is NOT her mom. And times are different now with treatments. I am very sorry she lost her mom to this illness. I lost mine too (ovarian cancer) and I understand her fear. BUT, please tell her she is not her mama. She can beat this and still thrive. Only look forward. There is light at the end of tunnel for your wife. Prayers will follow.

HEY, just realized! Two chemo treatments down! But who's counting. :)

P.S. There are many organizations, like this one (ACS) that give hats, wigs, and other useful items during chemo at no cost to the patient. And in the meantime, she can meet other survivors too. Please tell her to join this forum!

dthompson's picture
dthompson
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

Thank you so much for your hearfelt and informative post. We are hanging in there as the initial shock is begining to wear off but then things like having to shave her head this weekend come up and seem to set us back a bit. We both cried our eyes out as I shaved her head but she was so ready to get the clumps of painful hair off. She sleeps much better becasue the pain form her clumped up hair is gone. She isn't handling it too well mentally though. She has refused to look in the mirror without a hat or wig on. I figured when she is ready she will. We try to walk daily as she doesn't have the energy to go to the gym anymore and we are really trying to eat healthy. One of our friends gave us The Cancer Fighting Kitchen" this weekend and I will delv into it this week.
I keep reminding her that her mother had cancer 25 years ago and was stage 4 at diagnosis, (Women didn't have mamograms back then)her cancer was discovered when she got sick and by then it was too late. One ray of hope is that we can definitly feel her tumor shrinking. It is almost invisible to the touch only after 2 AC treatments. When we first found it is was so obvious to the touch but now you have to try really hard to find it so we are really happy about that. Thank you again so much. God Bless !!

Dennis

laughs_a_lot's picture
laughs_a_lot
Posts: 1368
Joined: Mar 2011

the being angry at God thing. He has some pretty broad shoulders. In fact think how humans react when you are mad at them. Being angry at God is ok for a while till you get things figured out. Remember he is not angry at you.

Glad you came here. It is a shame you have to join us though. Yes the informal education here keeps us from driving the doctors and nurses bonkers. We also are very frank and will say "You need to take this issue to the doctor"

dthompson's picture
dthompson
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

Thank you so much,
I think the anger is starting to subside, now just the fear of the unknow is the worst. We had a minor setback this weekend as it was time to shave my wifes head and that really bummed her out but it has to be done. Thanks again, I look forward to continuing on this post and maybe I can help others as well. God Bless !!

Dennis

dthompson's picture
dthompson
Posts: 149
Joined: Nov 2012

Thank you so much,
I think the anger is starting to subside, now just the fear of the unknow is the worst. We had a minor setback this weekend as it was time to shave my wifes head and that really bummed her out but it has to be done. Thanks again, I look forward to continuing on this post and maybe I can help others as well. God Bless !!

Dennis

JanPat
Posts: 25
Joined: Nov 2012

I remember all too well the day that my husband had to shave my head. It is traumatic and please do not be ashamed of the tears that flow. It took me several days to get over crying every time I looked in the mirror. We were both so excited when the chemo was over and my hair started to come back in. While everyone else was telling me how cute I was in hats all I could think of was that the woman looking back at me in the mirror was not the woman that I knew. Love, love, love on your wife!

May God bless you both and carry you through this difficult stage in your life.

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