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Psychological Support
Questions about support for the mental aspects of breast cancer & treatement.
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AskedPublicly Submitted Question
10/13/2015I am almost 5 years out from a stage 1, grade 1 1cm ER+PR+Her- breast cancer and two years out from a 8mm stage 1 grade 3 ER+PR+Her- breast cancer and after taking tamoxifen am now on letrozole. Both cancers were node negative and I am 65 now. Double mastectomy. No chemo, no rads. My sister has stage 4 and had a metastatic spinal cord collapse and despite them saying she probably won't walk again, she can walk for a bit now. I have told her she is being treated like she has a chronic illness but it was her extreme denial that led her down this pathway, ignoring the back pain etc. and she also has a colostemy un-related to the breast cancer. I am her care-giver as best I can be, but sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the sadness of it all and worry that she isn't telling me everything I need to know to keep this disease "chronic" rather than terminal. How can I help her emotionally get through this without causing her grief or should I just let her manage it the way she is (she doesn't even think she'll need chemo down the road). I have told her that to keep it chronic she must tell me of any changes so that they can be dealt with immediately, before it becomes a wildfire. She is feeling ok as far as I know except she is complaining of side pain. She is a year out of her collapse. She says it is "just mechanical" and seems to get a bit upset if I say that it should still be seen. So, mixed with the sadness is a bit of anger. I want her around as long as possible but I don't want to upset her either. Sorry for such a long post, but I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place. I even bought her a book on how consciousness may be eternal (from a science perspective) so she won't be so afraid. I am more afraid of losing her than anything else at the moment. Thank you if you have any suggestions. I know I am dithering.
RepliedJHU's Breast Center Reply
10/13/2015What a heart felt missive. You love your sister dearly and it's so sad and scary to imagine life without her. You are trying all that you can to help her and be a caregiver to her, but it is possible to begin to suffer from caregiver fatigue and even burnup.

It's so important that you take care of yourself, and even put the focus on your well being.

Another idea maybe to talk with her breast medical oncologist, whoe may be able to put some light on your sister's thoughts and actions.

As much as we may wish differently, your sister is really in charge of her journey. For whatever her reasons, she is choosing to travel it this way. Consider for yourself contacting someone from hospice at your hospital, and talk with them. They will be able to provide some insight and support. Hospice is about living well. There may even be cancer caregiver support groups in your area or on line. My heart goes out to you and your sister.

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