Cousin Just Learned She Has Breast Cancer

Updated on June 25, 2009
C.L. asks from Elcho, WI
5 answers

One of my cousins (same age as me) whom I've always been very close to, just found out she has advanced stage of breast cancer. She has known about the lump for months now (5 cm) and is going in for a full body scan soon and going to have the double masectomy done next week. My aunts that have been with her, said she has an "I don't care attitude" They said the Dr's ask her questions and she won't answer, stubbornly sits there. She also has hypothyroidism for the last 12 yrs and the her test results in hospital came back that her thyroid level is off the charts, she did tell them that she hasn't taken her Synthroid for two years now. I am having a hard time to process all this, and don't know what to say when I see her. At 5 cm and this far along, does she have a chance yet, if the chemo is started asap?
Breast cancer runs very high in my family, I feel so angry with her for letting this go for so long.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Cheri - check out an alternative health center called sanoviv. Their website is

They work with several different forms of cancer and have had some very interesting results.

Good luck,



answers from Appleton on

To me it sounds as though she is really scared. She is also showing signs of low self esteem and depression. It may be that she feels that her health is hopeless and/or she doesn't deserve to feel better. She needs to know that she is loved and that no matter what you and her whole family are there for her.
Be sure that no one is sending her on guilt trips or asking her why she isn't taking better care of herself.
I would contact the American Cancer Society. Ask if there is someone you can talk to so you can have a good idea of how to interact with her and be supportive. Hopefully the ACS or her doctor can suggest a good counselor or a group counseling for her.



answers from La Crosse on

I think you need to sit her down and tell her everything that you just told us here in your question. And the answer is, Not really, she doesn't have a decent chance yet (of surviving) if the chemo is started asap because she isn't emotionally and mentally prepared for anything to change. I think you and your relatives need to have a family meeting and decide how you are going to lend your emotional support to your cousin while she is shutting down. Consider hearing, "I am here for you" versus "How could you treat yourself this way?!?"--she will love herself more remembering others do too. Then again, we all have the right to make choices about our own bodies. She might have already made her choices; this of course means you cannot do anything to change her mind.



answers from Minneapolis on

Your cousin is presenting symptoms of severe depression. My suspension that this is in part due to her hypothyroidism. Unresponsiveness is a sign of severe depression and depression is a symptom of hypothyroidism. (I have hypothyroidism and had a pre-condition for many years). Your cousin needs the help of professional for her mental state. Do you think she could be suicidal? Her delay in treating her cancer could be an expression of a suicidal impulse. My thought is that your family may want to consider admitting her to a hospital for her mental state so that she can get her depression addressed as well as the cancer. A mental health professional in conjunction with her medical doctors will be able to address her full medical situation and uncover shat is going on with her mentally and emotionally. Be honest when you see her, but understand, that she must be going through some deep, deep pain. She may not be even able to cognitively process what is happening and her choices. Depression shuts down one's ability to "think" and "feel" appropriately - it is a brain disorder. I hope she gets the help she needs, and you may find it helpful to talk with a therapist as well, just for additional support. Also, your anger is a totally natural response to the shock and grief of the situation. Also, a good therapist will seek to understand what started happening in her life two years ago...


answers from Appleton on

I faced a similar situation recently. My best friend (almost sister) found out she had breast cancer. She is only 29 years old and was devestated. I recently moved from Houston to Wisconsin and could not "be there" for her in the way I wanted. I dont think she was as far along as your cousin but was far enough along that they scheduled a lumpectomy immediately. She was then scheduled for 6 months of chemo and radiation treatments after the chemo treatments. Cancer does not run in her family but she has thyroid issues as well. The dr's are now pushing her to have a hysterectomy done which she does not want as she has not had a child yet. The hard part when I found out wasnt just the distance and feeling of not being able to help, but the fact she had found the lump almost a year before! I could not believe it. Before moving I had a lump removed from my breast but it turned out to be not cancerous. I think right now the best thing is to try and be supportive because its going to get more and more difficult. My friend has been doing chemo treatments for months now, every Friday morning from 8AM to noon. She has since lost her hair, and the ill effects of the treatments have made her ill for longer periods of time. Remain strong, pray if you believe in doing so, and be supportive is the best advice I can offer. Lend a shoulder to cry on, or an ear to listen. Even though it doesnt seem like much it makes a difference. Hallmark carries cards for the different stages of cancer and they say so much by saying so little. Best wishes for your cousin, yourself, and your family!

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