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Can anyone help me support my friend who has breast cancer, not sure what to do.

(67 Posts)
CheckpointCharlie Mon 23-Dec-13 19:59:24

I have a close friend who has recently found out she has a serious type of breast cancer.
She has it in both breasts and is due to start chemo next week as the tumour in one of her breasts is too big to operate on.
She is having wig fittings and bra insert fittings as she will have a double mastectomy.

I am just not sure how to best support her, I am trying to carry on as normal but wondered if anyone had any advice.

CheckpointCharlie Mon 20-Jan-14 21:16:46

Thanks betty that is a good tip. She's going in again this week for her second so if she gets it again I will grab her some.
Am v pleased for your friend!

BettyMacdonald Mon 20-Jan-14 19:48:18

Hi Charlie if your friend's still has the horrid taste in her mouth then pure, cold pineapple juice may help. A lot of people having chemo can find that their mouth also gets very dry - sipping pineapple juice can really help. One of my closest friends has BC and has had chemo, radio and a mastectomy. Happily she's doing brilliantly gringrin. All the best to all of you affected by cancer in anyway

CheckpointCharlie Mon 20-Jan-14 19:34:12

And thanks spero too!

CheckpointCharlie Mon 20-Jan-14 19:28:47

Hello, thanks wren and I hope you get better ASAP.

I popped over today and the dreaded hair loss is in full flow but obv the hairs are just teeny weeny, but she is still a bit upset about it.

We had that very chat about eyelashes and eyebrows. Her DS has got her an eyebrow stencil kit so she is prepared in a way.

Thanks malteeserzz for the tip about the make up sessions! I will find out about it and get on it pronto!

Spero Tue 14-Jan-14 09:28:37

The focus is often on the hair on your head and you just don't appreciate how much useful hair you have elsewhere.

I think it was Zombie who told me that ALL my hair was at risk and mentioned my nose, which I had never even thought about!

So stacks of tissues can be useful as you may end up sniffling more.

One of the only times I cried was when I realised my eyebrows had grown back and how odd I had looked before.

Its often the little things that trip you up.

malteserzz Tue 14-Jan-14 08:38:38

Mine all fell out spero, lashes and brows but lashes have just grown back and brows are on their way. I've found that worse than the hair in a way as you can't hide it so easily

Spero Tue 14-Jan-14 08:14:03

I didn't go down the makeup route as what i found very distressing was that I lost 2/3rds of my eyebrows and eyelashes. It wasn't until they grew back that I realised what difference they make to your face!

If she does want to try that, I would recommend no later than mid way in the chemo cycle so she still has some eyebrows!

Hopefully she will be lucky and they won't fall out - it is different for everyone. Just warning you however.

malteserzz Tue 14-Jan-14 08:04:19

Well done to her for posting the pic on Facebook, she is braver than me only close family have seen me without my wig !

Does she know about look good feel better ? It's a session for any cancer patients, they teach you how to put makeup on and you get a big bag of makeup free, it's a lovely session and a real boost, all free. You could look into it for her and see where her local one is held.

Spero Mon 13-Jan-14 22:41:39

Good idea to shave the head - I had my hair cut short before first chemo. I remember reading one really sad blog post of a woman whose hair started falling out in her salad one day as she couldn't bear to cut it. I would have found that much more traumatic.

I don't think a 'positive attitude' can beat cancer but it does make the whole experience less grim if you can at least pretend you still have your sense of humour...

Wren48 Mon 13-Jan-14 22:39:29

Oops. Yet again I've posted only ever having read page one and not realising there's lots more talk. So my comments sound completely beside the point. Sorry!

Wren48 Mon 13-Jan-14 22:35:57

Hi there. I'm another one with breast cancer. Meals for the freezer are really great, but more than anything I am grateful to friends and family being kind and loving to my children, making them feel part of a supportive network. I'm really grateful when parents of my children's friends make sure they are included in outings/ invited over.

And I so agree about the battle analogy, Spero. And positive thinking is another unhelpful one!

CheckpointCharlie Mon 13-Jan-14 20:45:43

Thanks all, I will mention the mouthwashes. And YY she has ulcers so might mention the Orabase, thanks! I bought her a lime and soda the other day but it was still foul but thanks for the tip.

She has 'come out' tonight on fb and has shaved her hair off and posted a pic, I am so proud of her I want to cry. She isn't really like that though and would probably slap me!!!!

kitkat1967 Sun 12-Jan-14 18:52:39

Charlie - the only thing I wanted to drink was lemonade with lime in it (so like Sprite but in my case tesco own) and I sucked on sherbert lemons and chocolate limes so obviously had a citric thing going on.
Like others have said there's a lot of trial and error and I often would fancy something to eat until I actually tasted it.

TheOneWithTheNicestSmile Sun 12-Jan-14 17:59:27

Good to hear about the benign cyst, Charlie smile - glad you are there for venting & stuff

I was never actually sick with my chemo - presumably due to the anti-nausea med that went in the line along with the it - also I had a selection of pills to bring home each time, which were taken over the next 2 or 3 days, but I've no idea now what they were all for.

Not all my hair fell out either though it got very thin.

My worst thing, iirc, was horrendous mouth ulcers. I had some disgusting mouthwash (which I never used either, Spero!) & a tiny tube of special paste - Orabase? - which helped treat them & also formed a protective layer on top.

I think the nasty taste just has to be waited out. I know I could tell it was going when I started wanting wine again grin

I wonder if probiotics might help with the constipation? My DD has IBS & has had to use Senokot a lot over the last few years, but recently started with these tablets which have made an almost magical difference. I know chemo isn't the same but it might help.

Spero Sun 12-Jan-14 17:41:13

I was given a whole stack of mouthwash (which I never used), pills for constipation, pills in case I had diarrhoea, some of that medicine to prevent reflux and my anti sickness pills. The only ones I used were the anti sickness pills and the reflux medicine as my nurse said there was a risk that chemo could cause permanent damage to digestive process. Glad to say there is no sign of that.

First couple of goes will probably be trial and error about what works for you - but the thing that made me feel really bad was constipation so I was glad to get that sorted.

malteserzz Sun 12-Jan-14 15:47:45

For oral thrush she needs to go to her doctor, I had something you swished round in your mouth a few times a day, got rid if it in a couple of days. She should also have mouthwashes from the chemo unit which will help. Fresh pineapple can cut through the horrid taste and is meant to help too.
Hope that helps

CheckpointCharlie Sun 12-Jan-14 13:42:26

Oh that's a good tip re the senakot. I have got her a couple of pots of chewing gum and some hot choc sachets as she has found she likes that suddenly!

Her DP is doing lots of that kind of thing backforgood but I will keep that in mind after she has the OP in a few months.

BackforGood Sun 12-Jan-14 00:07:12

What I found is that everyone is different in what they want people to do.
Something I really valued was a friend who took my (teen) dc to a couple of things they couldnt do on public transport or lift share. To me it was really important that as much of their lives carried on as normally as possible and tney didnt miss out just because I wasnt able to drive after surgery. Some peple only wanted to 'be seen' visiting I think.

Spero Sat 11-Jan-14 23:46:38

I used to suck on boiled sweets but not sure I got much relief. But I did find the side effects diminished by day 4 and were pretty much gone by day 7.

The worst for me was constipation, sorry if tmi! The drugs they gave me didn't seem to have any effect so it wasn't until chemo 3 that I worked out that the best thing was to take senokat the day before chemo started.

CheckpointCharlie Sat 11-Jan-14 23:37:50

If anyone is still about, does anyone have any advice re having a foul taste in your mouth from chemo? And thrush in her mouth.

My friend has both sad we met up last night in the pub and she had a couple of (soft) drinks but couldn't really drink either.

Chewing gum helped a bit but I wondered if anyone had any good ideas about any kind of drink that helps with that. I remember it from being pregnant and it was truly rank but didn't know if there are any solutions!?

CheckpointCharlie Wed 08-Jan-14 21:36:53

No problemo at all drywhite!

weebarra Wed 08-Jan-14 12:22:58

My friend came with me for my wig fitting which was great. I'm also going to a look good,feel better session at my local Maggies Centre, I've heard these are great.

sashh Wed 08-Jan-14 05:46:31

Glad you had a nice day together, it is better to laugh and be as normal as possible.

Ask to go with her for the prosthetic fitting, I went with my mum and she said afterwards she was glad she wasn't alone.

My mum then went with my grandmother, her MIL who she had a fraught relationship with to say the least, for her fitting.

Wigs vary in price, so do the products to care for them so do some research on them if she opts to buy. Areas with large numbers of orthodox jews often have good wig supplies and hairdressers who can style them.

Have a sweepstake on what colour her hair will grow back, my mum's mousy with lots of grey grew back black, then the second time it has come back a uniform dark grey.

My mum has had great support both from the local hospice and a 'group' which I think the hospice organised but was all women with/recovering from BC.

The hospice ran a 10 week 'course', basically you went for a day, took part in some arts / crafts activities or some physical such as tai chi, had a nice meal with a glass of wine and then a talk from various groups, their favorite seemed to be the guide dog, well the dog didn't talk but the owner did and told them about training and various tales of his dogs.

This was for any woman with breast cancer to attend.

Another thing was organised through a charity was housework and in particular ironing. There might be something similar or maybe you could help out.

With her sons I think if you could take them one day a week for a meal and play in the PS whatever / xbox for an hour of two. It would be good for them to have an adult to talk to who is not their mum. They will be scared too.

You don't mention if your friend has a dh / dp, apparently I was the only person who asked my dad how he was coping.

Drywhiteplease Tue 07-Jan-14 18:50:25

Ladies...thanks so much.
I had a cuppa with my friend today. I let her talk. I didn't ask too many questions. I gave her a definite day I could help with lifts for her dcs. I said that my way of dealing with difficult stuff is with humour and that she was to tell me if it wasn't appropriate. Our relationship has always been silly. I then told her I'm planning to make her a hideous collection of turbans that she will have to wear. Also suggested that since we are both small in the boob dept that we try to get a Bogof on reconstructive surgery. Generally we laughed more than anything and took the Mickey out of each other as usual.
She's scared though. It is shit .
Sorry for hijacking Checkpoint but your thread has really helped.

Spero Mon 06-Jan-14 22:27:03

I hope they both get through the treatment without too many side effects. With love and support it is amazing what you can cope with. It was horrible at the time, but the time does pass remarkably quickly and hopefully you come out the other side.

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