Mom Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

Updated on October 11, 2009
E.N. asks from Denver, CO
16 answers

Three months ago I found out that my mom has breast cancer. Unfortunately she underwent surgery and she will have to go through chemo, radiation and hormonal treatment too, it has been a really long and tough time I try to support my mother in every way I can, But sometimes I just don't know what to. Any advice on how to encourage her when she is feeling down? Also, I think chemo will be withn a month so I was thinking if there were some things that I could buy for her so she can be as comfortable as possible??. Please help ladies I never though this could happen to my mother but now that it has I feel so lost and fearful I have so much stress on me that it has been impossible to concentrate on my own life, any imput or adive would be greatly appreciate it!

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answers from Denver on

Hi E. - I know you are so incredibly worried about your mom. Remember that you dont have to go this alone. Pull in your husband, other family members and your mom's friends to help carry the load. Find a friend who is willing to let you vent and cry all you want. You need an outlet outside of your husband and your family to help you cope with this.

Think about some practical things to help make your mom's day to day life easier. No matter how much chemo and radiation she has to do, she is going to feel really tired and nauseous but it's important that she maintain good nutrition. She will probably appreciate simple things like having fruit juice popsicles on hand when she feels sick but needs to keep up her energy. Some chemo drugs are taken orally and are fruit-punch flavored so keep that in mind when purchasing juices and drinks, etc. There are going to be other tastes and smells that send her through the roof so think very simple and easy to digest foods. She will also want to avoid any type of soy because of the estrogens.

She is also going to be very sore for a while if she had a mastectomy and has reconstruction devices implanted. Perhaps pull in one of her friends and you all can pull out some things from her kitchen so she will have easy access and wont have to reach or lift anything remotely heavy or pull in friends to help with household chores like vacuuming, bathrooms and laundry, etc.

One of the most important ways to encourage your mom during this time is to pray for her and with her. There is no better time than this to seek out God's help.

My oldest sister is a cancer survivor and she just passed her 13 year mark since her last treatment. I wish your mom a quick and lasting recovery.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

I have breast cancer that has traveled to the liver. My daughter lives in DC and it has been so hard on her not to be able to support me What she wishes for the mpst is that she could go to my oncologist with me. She calls and talks to my doctor, does research on the drugs I am taking, and calls me everyday. I know this is very hard on her but we are both managing. Things that she has bought me that has really helped is a portable DVD player, lots of DVDs and books that she knows I like. I take the DVD player to chemo with me and it helps the time go by much faster. The fact that your Mom can have surgery is a good thing because it means it is just in the breast and she has a greaat chance of speedy recovery. One of the best things you can get her for her hospital stay is an egg crate matters. Makes the hospital bed so much more comfy. Also there is a cancer support group that meets the 3rd Tuesday of every month at Kildays in Divide at 5pm. Something both of you might enjoy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boise on

Everyone has given great advice already and the only think that I can add is patience. Know that she is going to be grumpy. Either from not feeling good, being sore, depressed, or the guilt from you having to do so much. My mom did this for my grandmother, and never once got a thank you.
When my grandmother went through chemo and radiation, she lost much of her sense of taste, and therefore didn't want to eat. After her not eating much for a week, I got to town and made her one of her comfort foods. She ate everything on her plate! Oh, and she had some temperature issues as well, nothing cold! So be flexible and go in knowing that this won't be easy.
She also lost the feeling in the tips of her fingers. She was really into knitting, crochet, needlepoint, etc., and I think this was the most depressing thing for her. As much as you can distract her through the process, do.
Good luck, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cheyenne on

The things my mom complained about most with the chemo/radiation treatments were that she was ALWAYS cold, and that food tasted weird. She felt nauseous, but she had some meds for that that worked really well for her. But for Christmas she asked for sweatshirts...lots of sweatshirts, because it was so hard for her to get warm. You might line some people up to do grocery shopping and such for her because she will probably pretty confined to the house for the first few days after each treatment because the immune system is shot. My mom was really lucky....our whole town pitched in to help with rides to appointments (when I couldn't take her), do the grocery shopping, making ready made meals to put in the freezer so we didn't have to cook...some smells will be intolerable...kind of like during pregnancy. Those are the things mom needed most besides the emotional support. And like someone else said, she will be grumpy. My mom was never exactly a ray of sunshine, so it hit me really hard that she got worse and seemed so unappreciative of my efforts. Try not to take it too hard. And you'll need some support yourself...people focus on the person with cancer and forget that it affects family and friends, too, so you end up dealing with everything yourself with no one to talk to about it. My heart goes out to you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Great Falls on

I think everyone has given some great, heartfelt advice and suggestions.

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. The day of her masectomy, my father got a call, diagnosing him with lung cancer. It was a difficult Thanksgiving, especially since my sister was in another state.

What I would suggest most is that you be there as much as you can for your mom - physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I spent a lot of weekends with my parents, helping around the house, and even just hanging out. Just knowing you are there can be comforting. Let you mom know that when you aren't there with her that you are just a phone call away. Also, find out if any of her friends are willing to help out.

Also, make sure you have a support system for yourself. The news of any family member becoming sick can be distressing, and you, too, will need someone to lean on when you feel overwhlemed with emotions.

You and your mother are in my thoughts and prayers.

Like Colleen, if you need anyone to talk to, just drop me a line!


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Great Falls on

Hi E.,
I completely empathize with you. My mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 15, she underwent a mastectomy and then chemo. 10 years later, it was in her other breast and some lymp nodes. She had another mastectomy, chemo and now has lymphedema which is permanent.

All you can do is encourage her and empathize with her. She is going to get frustrated and a little depressed and you may not be able to say anything to help her, but just being there with her and even a hug could help her. What my mom said when she had to have chemo the second time was that "its better than the alternative". Remind her that even though recovery is painful, its all for a greater purpose in the end and that is to get her back to healthy.

I gave my mom a ton of books(i went to goodwill and stocked up) the last time she was in the hospital, maybe bring her flowers once and a while, a nice cozy blanket, and maybe some nice hats for when she looses her hair. And once she is better...celebrate that! Make her proud to be a survivor (I had my mom come to my hometown for the Race for the Cure - staff at those events are so supportive and encouraging of the survivors). Oh and encourage her to befriend someone that has gone through any kind of cancer and join a support group. They can help each other in ways we cant!

Like I said, I understand your stress and fear and everything else, it is a sucky situation, espcially when its your mommy! If you need any other advice or have questions, please feel free to message me!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pocatello on

I haven't been through the breast cancer thing but my dad has cancer and has been through chemo 4 times and every time, we have our chemo survival kit ready... Boost/Ensure meal supplements because he loses his appetite; warm slippers and one of those snuggle blankets that zips up (ALWAYS COLD!!!); a fleece neck pillow for treatments at the hospital; (hospital pillows were uncomfy) Ipod or Mp3 player with all his favorite music and a gameboy with a couple of games (new ones as he wanted them). Crossword books are good too if she likes that sort of thing or a good novel. If you don't have something to do its easy to wallow and get caught up in the misery around you so KEEP YOURSELF BUSY!! We did anything to keep his mind busy and occupied so that the time went quickly. Then of course we had people come in to clean house for him and my mom and get groceries and there was someone at the house 24/7 to make sure he was okay through his treatments. It was rough on everyone but he has made it through 4 times now and still kickin'!! I was 11 when my Dad was diagnosed with cancer, I am 31 now with 4 kids. I can't say it gets easier with age. Cancer is hard at ANY age. I am just so thankful that the research and treatments have come so far in the last 20 years and there is so much more hope now then there was 20 years ago. I hope everything goes well for your family. I wish you well...




answers from Denver on

Hi prayers are certainly with you and your mom. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was about your age. She is now 10+ years out and doing well. That was a very scarey time in my life so I know how you feel. Before my mother started chemo we went out and got a wig and a few cute head scarves so when she was loosing her hair she was ready to cover up if she wanted. She started her chemo in late fall so she had to be very careful about not getting sick which limited us sometimes to go visit her if we had colds etc. She stayed away from church which was very hard b/c she had faithfully gone all her life. The priest came out a few times to give her communion which gave her great strength. The chemo meds of course made her nauseated and she had medicine to take for that but still didn't have an appetite so we would ask her if anything sounded good and we would go get it for her. We helped out with laundry and cleaning(she has always kept a spotless house and that was important to her). Dad needed lots of support too, as he was there to see her bad days first hand. We would sometimes just sit with my mom, sometimes not saying anything but were there. She didn't always feel like talking. She and we got through it one day at a time. Now medicine is so much better and more effective so maybe your mom will sail through this. I'm glad you are reaching out to talk about it....hopefully this will give you some encouragement. God bless you.



answers from Denver on

Hi E.,

One thing I know that may make her more comfortable is Body Balance. It is a whole food nutritional supplement made from Aloe juice (very soothing, great for inflamation, etc) and 9 sea vegetables (full of vitamins and minerals from the ocean). Chemo strips our bodies of important nutrients... this is a great way to replace them. I've watched a couple of people go through chemo while using Body Balance, and they felt pretty good and didn't even lose their hair! I'd be happy to put you in touch w/ one of them if that would be helpful.

You can learn more about the product here:

Let me know if you have any questions or if I can help in any way. You can reach me @ or ###-###-####.

Hope this helps,




answers from Denver on

I've gotten this for several of my friends who have undergone cancer treatments and surgeries. All of their oncologists gave them the green light and it's helped all of these women.

Burdock root. It cleanses and supports the liver -- which is working overtime because of all the toxins in the body.

You can get capsules in the healthfood store. But the best way to take it is in a homemade tea. Buy it in bulk, along with a tea ball and some mason jars.

Put 1-2 tablespoons in the tea ball. Pour boiling water (anywhere from 8-24 oz.) over the tea ball into the mason jar. Let the tea steep overnight. Then your mom can sip on the tea all day long the next day.

I wish you and your mother peace.



answers from Colorado Springs on

I am a survivor ... email me if you like. I would be more than happy to answer any and all questions you may have. I had an incredible support system throughout treatment.

With love,



answers from Denver on

My best to you and your Mom in this very tough time. For chemo, she will probably get cold, so socks, mittens, scarves are all great gifts for her. Also, there is a support network, I think it is the Network of Caring, that provides support for cancer patients and tehir family members. Also, if you haven't been to, I highly recommend that. Lance Armstrong's foundation website has lots of advice and support. I hope all goes well and your mother recovers quickly.



answers from Salt Lake City on

I am sorry that you are having to go through this, it is really hard. I know that feeling very well I was 7 when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and 9 when she died. Thank goodness the treatments have gone such a long ways since 1992. But it can be very tough no matter what age you got through it. I think that the best way to help is to keep her company whenever possible. also try to keep her upbeat and laughing is always a good thing.
As for what you can give her I would suggest giving her somethings that she likes to work on and that doesn't take to much energy. The treatments take up a lot of the energy that they used to have. Good luck and I hope that everything works out well for you and your mother!



answers from Denver on

You have a lot of good advice here....I'll keep mine short. My mom is a survivor going on now 12 years! We'll prayer you can write an e-mail like this in 12 years!! After chemo my mom always treated herself to a hot fudge sundae. The chocolate help with her depression, she said and the treat was just nice. Just a thought......



answers from Salt Lake City on

just wanted to add my prayers and support for your family at this time. many of us have been touched by cancer. in all the good you do for your mom (and I have no doubt you will) I add my encouragement that you find a support system for yourself as well. healing is a long road and you will need to make sure you are keeping your energies up and not get burned out so you can continue to do the things you want to do to help your mom. prayers and hugs.



answers from Fort Collins on

Hi E.,

There's some great advice here already. On a rather different line of thought... if you (and she) are open to alternative medicine you may want to try subtle energy therapies such as Healing Touch or reiki for your mother. I'm not suggesting that these be used instead of her current care but as a complement.

There have been a number of studies done showing that these therapies reduce the experience of side effects from chemo and radiation. They also reduce anxiety levels and boost immune function.

I know a number of excellent Healing Touch practitioners in the Denver area and would be happy to refer you to them if you are interested. (I am a practitioner also but I'm in Fort Collins.)

If you'd like to read more about Healing Touch and the research that's been done with it, go to Or if you just want a quick overview you can go to my webpage at:

Sending you and your mother love and light,

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