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Close friend diagnosed with breast cancer

Jambalaya

Ideal_Rock
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Oct 2, 2014
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Got the news last week and can't believe it. We've worked very closely together for the last five years. I've spent more time with her than anyone during that time! She's a year younger than me, slim and fit, no family history, mid-forties. It's large so she needs six months of chemo to shrink it before surgery, and it's aggressive.

I have five family members who have died of this disease, and now this friend who has been such a huge part of my life has it. In addition, I know many women in my community who have had it.

But only two who have her aggressive kind (TNBC).

I'm scared for her, and depressed at how prevalent this disease seems to be - in my life, anyway!
 

moneymeister

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Just lost a friend to BC at Christmas.She was diagnosed at stage 4 and lived five relatively healthy and happy years until the last six weeks. She was admirably great at ignoring it between treatments...and that worked for her.

My sister is having issues and may be diagnosed with IBC soon, not sure. She doesnt want to talk about it. She's a parametic near Detroit so the stress right now is nuts with COVID. I'm waiting on news.


I'm so sorry to hear about your friend and family losses. It feels so helpless.
 

Daisys and Diamonds

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@Jambalaya that's alarming news
but its amazing the treatments they have now days and the results some people get even when diagnosed in stage 4

unfortunately my other half's 43 year old daughter is in the hospice tonight trying to get pain under control
she had breast cancer 5 or 6 years ago and thought she had beaten it but it came back on her spine and liver and is now in her lungs
only her mom and her husband can visit because of the pandemic
 

Jambalaya

Ideal_Rock
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Thanks, moneymeister. I am so sorry about your friend.

I really hope your sister will be OK. IBC is rare, so...here's hoping.

"Helpless" is the word, for sure. I hate thinking of how frightened my friend must be. And there's nothing I can do about it!

She has this long, gorgeous, truly ravenesque hair, and I hate the thought of it falling out. I know it's only hair, but the thought of her losing it just seems to symbolize how awful this disease is.

This is the second of my peers to be diagnosed with a bad cancer in the last few months. The first person is a friend's ex-husband, and his is terminal pancreatic cancer - he's only 47. It seems that I'm of an age where my contemporaries are starting to be diagnosed with cancer, and it does not feel good.

When I was a child, a teenager, and then a young adult, none of the adults around me had cancer or other serious conditions. My parents' friends were all 60-plus when they started having such health issues. It seems that there is so much more cancer around, younger, these days. Or perhaps it's simply that we know more people and are connected to more people these days via technology.
 

Jambalaya

Ideal_Rock
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Daisys, I'm really sorry about your partner's daughter. That's terrible - and she's so young! That's what happened to my mom - it came back years later, first on her spine. But her treatment was bad - she should have had chemo and they didn't give it to her, even though she had a large tumor. She may well be here now if she'd had chemo. Just wanted to put that out there in case others who have had breast cancer are reading this. Terrible mistakes were made with my mom's treatment. Mostly, the disease is very treatable.

See what I mean about so many more young cancers around these days??
 

Jambalaya

Ideal_Rock
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Having peers my age being diagnosed with cancer is new to me, but as I get older, I know there'll be more of this. Any advice from those who have passed through this life stage would be gratefully received! I mean, regarding how to manage your own emotions and not let it get you down too much. Obviously, I'm at risk for cancer too (as we all are, but I have a ton of cancers in my family) and ideally I'd like to strike a balance between caring for others while not spending my own healthy years being too miserable about what they're going through. Plenty of time for my own potential health troubles down the road! It's difficult though, because the close work friend being diagnosed has shaken me. It was just so, so unexpected. And weird, because I'm the one with the strong family history, ridiculously dense tissue, etc. etc. If I had a crystal ball, and someone told me that a person in my small department at work would get breast cancer at this age, never would I have imagined that it would be her and not me.
 

Queenie60

Ideal_Rock
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@Jambalaya - Think positive and just be there for her so she can vent and share her fears. I am a 19 year survivor of TNBC. Yes, it is very aggressive however, once you beat this one, it is less likely to come back. So, based on my diagnosis I chose to strive for spiritual healing and Western Medicine. Breast Cancer is no longer a death sentence. The advances they have made since my illness is very positive.
 

Jambalaya

Ideal_Rock
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Thanks Queenie! I am so glad you made it through. It's true that TNBC is less likely to come back once you get through the first five years. I really hope it's the case for my friend. I'm just scared because her tumor is really large. And the whole thing was so unexpected.

If you're 19 years out, I'm guessing (based on other posts of yours which give an indication of life stage) you must also have been on the young side for bc?

Thanks for posting your positive story.
 

moneymeister

Brilliant_Rock
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Sep 20, 2009
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@Jambalaya that's alarming news
but its amazing the treatments they have now days and the results some people get even when diagnosed in stage 4

unfortunately my other half's 43 year old daughter is in the hospice tonight trying to get pain under control
she had breast cancer 5 or 6 years ago and thought she had beaten it but it came back on her spine and liver and is now in her lungs
only her mom and her husband can visit because of the pandemic
Oh Daisys, I am so sorry to hear about her illness. She is so young. That is absolutely heartbreaking. Hoping they can get her symptoms under control and she is comfortable.


@Jambalaya - Think positive and just be there for her so she can vent and share her fears. I am a 19 year survivor of TNBC. Yes, it is very aggressive however, once you beat this one, it is less likely to come back. So, based on my diagnosis I chose to strive for spiritual healing and Western Medicine. Breast Cancer is no longer a death sentence. The advances they have made since my illness is very positive.
I'm so glad you beat it! Congratulations!
 

moneymeister

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Having peers my age being diagnosed with cancer is new to me, but as I get older, I know there'll be more of this. Any advice from those who have passed through this life stage would be gratefully received! I mean, regarding how to manage your own emotions and not let it get you down too much. Obviously, I'm at risk for cancer too (as we all are, but I have a ton of cancers in my family) and ideally I'd like to strike a balance between caring for others while not spending my own healthy years being too miserable about what they're going through. Plenty of time for my own potential health troubles down the road! It's difficult though, because the close work friend being diagnosed has shaken me. It was just so, so unexpected. And weird, because I'm the one with the strong family history, ridiculously dense tissue, etc. etc. If I had a crystal ball, and someone told me that a person in my small department at work would get breast cancer at this age, never would I have imagined that it would be her and not me.
My friend who just passed was the first close friend who was diagnosed. I'm 55, so it seems I'm in that age range. My cousin also passed with a nasty and fast lung cancer in September, and she made it almost a year from diagnosis.

We all process things differently, but at first I felt sick and like someone punched me in the stomach. If I felt like that, I can't imagine someone just after diagnosis. The first few days were blurry and anxious, and hopeful some new awesome therapy would make this go away. Then I dove into studies and new therapies and trials trying to be helpful. I have no medical background, but have a nerdy brain. It may have helped me, but maybe only me. I shared information a few times then realized the information was kindly received, but EVERYONE was sending clippings and articles. Reading between the lines, I dropped the research. I have a very strong "Inner Karen" that can aggressively try to fix things. She is the best and worst part of me.

Not much I could do but occasionally make food, check in and run errands and listen when she wanted to talk about cancer.

I think we learn to adapt to a new normal. The shock and anxiety wears off and it's business as usual, including cancer treatments and survival. From watching those close to me, there were days where they wanted to not talk about cancer. Just wanted to be "normal". Living with cancer, but living.

Sometimes they needed to talk about it. At times it was hard to hear the plans for a future without them, but they needed to be safe to express everything.

That's really all I have. Life comes with death and it's hard to look at that, but at some point as we grow older, it becomes very real.
 
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Queenie60

Ideal_Rock
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Thanks Queenie! I am so glad you made it through. It's true that TNBC is less likely to come back once you get through the first five years. I really hope it's the case for my friend. I'm just scared because her tumor is really large. And the whole thing was so unexpected.

If you're 19 years out, I'm guessing (based on other posts of yours which give an indication of life stage) you must also have been on the young side for bc?

Thanks for posting your positive story.
Yes, I had just turned 40 and had two small children. Once diagnosed, the fight was on!!! I was not going to allow myself to go down so easy. And you are correct, once you make it past the five year mark, you are pretty much home free!
 

Jambalaya

Ideal_Rock
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Gosh, 40, that's young. I'm so glad you're OK now, Queenie!

I'm in my mid-forties and I feel too young for my peers to start being diagnosed. I guess I'm not too young, though.

My mother was 47 before she experienced any family traumas, which was when her elderly parents died. They had her late, so they were 81 and 87. Good ages. And my dad was 58 before his traumas came - his dad died at age 89, when my dad was 58, and my dad was 59 when his wife (my mom) was first diagnosed with breast cancer at 56.

I was a teen when my grandmother was diagnosed, 23 when my mom was diagnosed, and I was in my thirties when she died.

And now, in my forties, friends are starting to be diagnosed with cancer.

Sometimes I don't think my parents realized how lucky they were to have had zero family/close friend traumas till ages 47 and 58.
 

Jambalaya

Ideal_Rock
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Thank you for your thoughtful reply, moneymeister.

What's an inner Karen?
 

moneymeister

Brilliant_Rock
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Thank you for your thoughtful reply, moneymeister.

What's an inner Karen?
That's a flip acknowledgement that I can be endlessly and tenaciously focused on something I am trying to achieve. It is great and can make me a little unbearable at times. The "Karen" is a reference to the lady who wants to speak to the manager :). Although I really do try to stay polite to society.
 
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Bayek

Ideal_Rock
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I am so sorry to read this, I am sorry so many loved ones in your life have had this horrendous disease..

I've had several friends, and girls I grew with's mom's have this. Hope your friend has a good outcome.
 

dizzyakira

Shiny_Rock
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Sep 25, 2016
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I am so sorry @Jambalaya. Sending many positive and healing thoughts your friend's way.
I was diagnosed 9 years ago at 32 years old; found out 8 months after my son passed away. Oddly enough, before I went for the test, I kept seeing stories about breast cancer and having dreams about it. I was the only person in my circle to have any sort of cancer. I was young, slim, breast fed my kids until they were 3 years old, don't smoke or drink, eat mostly healthy, etc. So it came as a complete surprise and honestly, I was so shelled shocked that year I just went through the motion of surgery, chemo and radiation and don't remember much.
Since then several coworkers have been diagnosed (we all have different breast cancers) and all of us are doing well. The latest one just finished chemo this Friday. There are lots of treatment options available. It may seem like the end of the world but it's not a death sentence. Take it a day or hour or minute at a time. There is hope and many people have beaten it. Thankfully she's in a country where she has access to the best healthcare. I wish her the absolute best.
 

Bonfire

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I’m so sorry @dizzyakira for your experience and for the loss of your son. I was diagnosed last Spring so I’m still new to this journey. I’m in an older age demographic with no family history. Breast cancer is many different diseases I’ve learned. My hope Is that one day there will be a vaccine, wouldn’t that be awesome!
 

arkieb1

Ideal_Rock
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My son had a school friend (they have now moved) who's Mum was a good friend of mine, she cooked cupcakes for my son's birthday, she went out of her way to do all sorts of thoughtful things for people. She was diagnosed with a small aggressive breast cancer and died at the age of 38 leaving 5 children aged, 18, 13, 9, 5 and 3 and a shellshocked husband behind after fighting it for 18 months (she was given 6 months to live).

My aunt had a large aggressive breast cancer in her 50s. She is a pharmacist. I'm not sure if reading about every single treatment and medicine available helped her but she had her left breast removed completely and is still alive many year later.

I hope your friend gets a good quality of treatment as quickly as possible. All you can do is listen, the lady who really was one of the most decent people I've known that died said to me, "people keep asking me how I'm coping, how I'm doing, she said I'm sick of answering that question. I have no choice, I have to get up each day for the kids and put one foot in front of the other. Some days are better than others, some nights when the kids are in bed I cry a lot of tears, not for me, I cry because I won't see my kids grow up, but I'm still here and I'm fighting for each day."

So check in with your friend, and ask if she needs anything and how she is feeling as well as how she is doing.
 

Queenie60

Ideal_Rock
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I am so sorry @Jambalaya. Sending many positive and healing thoughts your friend's way.
I was diagnosed 9 years ago at 32 years old; found out 8 months after my son passed away. Oddly enough, before I went for the test, I kept seeing stories about breast cancer and having dreams about it. I was the only person in my circle to have any sort of cancer. I was young, slim, breast fed my kids until they were 3 years old, don't smoke or drink, eat mostly healthy, etc. So it came as a complete surprise and honestly, I was so shelled shocked that year I just went through the motion of surgery, chemo and radiation and don't remember much.
Since then several coworkers have been diagnosed (we all have different breast cancers) and all of us are doing well. The latest one just finished chemo this Friday. There are lots of treatment options available. It may seem like the end of the world but it's not a death sentence. Take it a day or hour or minute at a time. There is hope and many people have beaten it. Thankfully she's in a country where she has access to the best healthcare. I wish her the absolute best.
I am so sorry for your loss. And I am glad that you survived the bc. You're a soldier and a spokesperson - take care.
 

dizzyakira

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@Queenie60 @Bonfire I'm sorry you had to go through this. You're both warriors! And queenie! 19 years! That's goals! Time seems to pass very quickly, one day this will be a very distant memory.
@Jambalaya I'm really sorry for you, your family and your friend. I'm still sending prayers and hoping that she'll get through this quickly and with very little disruptions in her life. Continue being a great friend!
 
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