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I’m so confused.

Posts: 4
Joined: Mar 2013

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 years ago. After radiation treatment, everything seemed fine. Last month she was told that she had two tumors; both were two inches, one on her liver and one on her pancreas. They did a biopsy on her liver, the results was that it was stage 4 cancer. She was told it was from her breast cancer.

I love my mother and I know she loves me, but she never really tells me everything because she doesn’t want me to worry (which only makes me worry more). She said the doctor told her it is treatable. Everything I have read says that stage 4 cancer is not curable. Can anyone help me understand more of this? What should I be expecting? I’m a “numbers” type of person and I would really like to have some real statistic to help.

helen e's picture
helen e
Posts: 223
Joined: Sep 2009

I have always thought that we can go into remission and be cancer free but have never heard the words cancer and curable in the same sentence. I do know that a lot of people on here have been stage 4 and lived to tell about it. I was stage 1 so I'm no real help here. I just wanted you to know that it IS treatable and we can live years after treatment. I hope that this is the case for your mother.


jamiegww's picture
Posts: 384
Joined: Dec 2009

We are all different so it's difficult to know what to expect.  There are more than a few members of this board that are Stage 4 and you will probably hear from many of them because they are wonderful people living with a difficult disease but please note that I said living.  I don't believe they think of themselves as dying and I hope that isn't how you are thinking of your mother.  Stage 4 cancer is often considered a chronic disease which requires life-long treatment.  It's obvious you love your mother but I can tell you from experience that your mother is probably still trying to figure out how to process and deal with what is going on with her.  Probably all you can do is to let her know you are there for her if and when she needs you.  Try not to worry.



New Flower
Posts: 4224
Joined: Aug 2009

I am very sorry that your Mom has become stage 4. Well from my experience it is a very shocking event to learn about cancer progression. No wonder that she is not talking too much about it. As Jamie has mentioned numbers will not help you and your mom, however emotional and physical support will. Statistics for stage 4 does not look good (http://www.cancer.gov), however personal stories have been giving more hope. These conditions are treatable with the goal of extending life with reasonable atemption of maintaining quality of life. You can learn more about your mom conditions and future treatment from talking with her doctor at the next appointment and showing your love and support.

Please come back and tell us how is your Mom doing.


SIROD's picture
Posts: 2204
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi Whittsandy30,

I know it is hard for those that are close to you.  I am 18 1/2+ since my diagnose.   Every diagnose is different depending on so many factors.  My first recurrence was regional but rib mets showed up a year later and then for a long time there wasn't any evidence of the disease as the drug they tried worked for 8 years.  Then it returned as widespread pulmonary and pleural metastasis along with a pleural effusion.  The ribs were back too.  Here I am nearly 5 years later and doing chemo for the 1st time since my original diagnose. I have been on hormonal drug therapies for 18 years as I am ER+ PR and HER2 negative.  

The truth is no one knows how a person will do, not the oncologist, not the radiologist, not the surgeon and not the patient.  We prepare for the worst, hope for the best and live life to the hilt was what a friend oncologist told me.

Ask your mother if you could accompany her on appointments to the oncologist.  A second set of ears might help remember all one tries to recall after you leave.  What I do is ask for the oncologist notes of the appointment this way, if I forget there is something to jolt my memory.  Perhaps you can ask your mother to have the notes if she doesn't have them, she can ask for them as they are her property so to speak.

Best wishes and keep us posted on your mom,





Posts: 1110
Joined: Dec 2010

I am very sorry for your mother and your family with her new diagnosis. As said before, there are many women who live with Stage 4 cancer for years. Did they do a biopsy on her pancreas? You don't mention that. I certainly hope that the cancer regimen the doctors put her on now, works wonders!!! 

I know it is scarey for you and family, and probably your mother,too. Is it possible to ask your mother if you could go to one of her oncology appointments? Have you sat down and talked to your mother to tell her that you don't like being kept in the dark about her cancer and treatments?


I have never used statistics for myself other than the numbers that Tamoxifen can reduce a chance of another breast cancer. My thought about statistics was and is, how do I know what side of the statistic I are going to be on? We are all too individualistic (is that a word?) when it comes to statistics and numbers. I think the doctros can try to classify patients in you have so many xx days to live, but they REALLY know do they? 

I had a very low to slim chance of getting lymphedema after my breast cancer surgery...yet I have lymphedema in both arms and parts of my chest. That's why I say, I don't know which side of the statisitics I will be on.

Posts: 4
Joined: Mar 2013

Thank you everyone!!!! All of your comments really did help. Over the weekend I talked to my mother and, although she did not tell me everything I wanted to know, she did agree to let me go with her to her next appointment.

They have not done a biopsy on her pancreas yet (I’m not sure why they didn’t do both at the same time) but she is being scheduled for it soon. I will keep everyone posted after it is done. We live in a small town and it takes a while to get an appointment for anything. Her oncologist likes to send her to Albuquerque, NM, but she had her breast cancer treatment in Lubbock, TX. I wish she would go back there. They did such a great job and made her feel comfortable. Oh, well, we will just wait and see what treatment they want to do now to see where we will go.


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