Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Another breast cancer diagnosis in the family

Today my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has a small, cancerous lump in her right breast. It is less than 2 cm. They are thinking lumpectomy. A lumpectomy is a surgical procedure that involves removing a suspected malignant (cancerous) tumor, or lump, and a small portion of the surrounding tissue from the breast. This tissue is then tested to determine if it contains cancerous cells. A number of lymph nodes may also be removed to test them for cancerous cells (sentinel lymph node biopsy or axillary dissection). If cancerous cells are discovered in the tissue sample or nodes, additional surgery or treatment may be necessary. Women who undergo a lumpectomy normally receive radiation therapy (RT) for about six weeks following the procedure to kill any cancer cells that may have been missed with the removal of the tumor.
Radiation therapy is used as an attempt to kill any cancer cells that may have been missed during the lumpectomy. Radiation therapy is a standard follow-up treatment for any woman who has had a lumpectomy. The woman is typically scheduled to receive radiation therapy for about six weeks beginning as soon as possible after the lumpectomy, usually after the breast has been given some time to heal (about a month). Radiation therapy is given daily, with each session usually lasting a half hour or less, and does not cause any pain. Some women with small tumors may be candidates for local breast irradiation that is given twice a day for five days. Chemotherapy may be given to the woman, especially if tests reveal that the cancer has spread to her lymph nodes. The doctor may also prescribe tamoxifen (Nolvadex) or recommend hormone therapy.
I did not have the option of a lumpectomy as my tumor was too large. I also did not need radiation since the entire breast was removed. So, this is a whole different ball game. I'm trying to talk her into having her treatment down here so we can be available to help but she is so damn stubborn. I can only hope that she doesn't need chemo as chemo is HELL! I wouldn't wish chemo on my worst enemy. Strangely, I feel like I'm reliving my own diagnosis as all the fear and uncertainty came flooding back. I also don't have enough information on her diagnosis so it's hard to know how to suggest she proceed. She sees her surgeon on the 11th. Although this isn't about me, I just don't know if I can wait that long to know how to proceed because the waiting is the worst!


  1. I'm sorry about your mom, Tami. And I'm sorry you had to relive the feeling of your own diagnosis.

  2. It just never ends ... sorry about your mom.