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Mastectomy, probable radiotherapy - how best to support mil?

(13 Posts)
assumedname Thu 28-Jul-05 23:26:36

Mil is in hospital having just had a mastectomy. She will probably have radiotherapy for a few months (not sure yet).

I have no experience of this. So what I want to know is - how bad will she feel from the radiotherapy?

What is she likely to need help with? Have already said I'll do the shopping or take fil with me when I do mine.

Any thoughts welcome.

assumedname Fri 29-Jul-05 00:26:30


mears Fri 29-Jul-05 00:45:11

Sorry to hear your MIL is going through this. I haven't personal experience of caring for someone close but years ago looked after patients undergoing radiotherapy. She will probably feel very tired, especially after having had surgery too. Radiotherapy can cause skin irritation but the staff should be able to provide information of what the possibilities may be. She will probably require physio as well if she has had lymph nodes removed as that can lead to restricted movement of her arm. She should have a specialist nurse who can discuss things more fully.

I think that helping with shopping, cleaning, washing etc. and generally letting her know you are available to help in any way she needs will be good. Hope she recovers well.

assumedname Fri 29-Jul-05 00:55:38

Thanks mears.

assumedname Fri 29-Jul-05 09:01:21

Anyone else?

NoPearls Fri 29-Jul-05 09:50:12

My Mum is having her final radiotherapy session today. The radiotherapy itself has caused her few problems, and whilst her treatment has gone well and the staff individually have been really good, there was a lot of waiting about for appointments and treatment which left my mum feeling very vulnerable and out of control. Also, almost every member of staff who has treated her has given different advice and views.

Initially she was told that radiotherapy would start two/three weeks after her op - it turned out to be six. She was told that she would have to pay for transport (which would have totalled about £800) and she should not have been paying. She was very stressed about this and kept asking whether she had to pay and was told so many different things - and then on the first day the transport didn't even turn up! The treatment itself does not hurt and takes only minutes, but the clinics can easily overrun or the radiotherapy machines can break down so the clinics fall into chaos. There are several appointments were they have to calibrate the settings and she has had to lie there, very still for half an hour or so. One time the fire alarm went off in the middle of one of these sessions!

She felt fairly well for the first three or four weeks (treatment is every day) but is now very tired and in the last two week her skin has started breaking down and is very very painful. She has to travel about 40 miles a day via hospital transport, which means leaving home at 11 am and sometimes not returning until late afternoon - I think the journeys have really added to her tiredness.

I hope your MIL makes a good recovery - I think a lot depends upon the person, the support available to them and their ability to ask for help when they need it.

assumedname Fri 29-Jul-05 12:11:36

Thank you NoPearls.

spidermama Fri 29-Jul-05 12:20:47

My MIL had exactly this about two years ago and appears to have made a full recovery.

She felt ill and unmotivated on the radio-therapy for a little while. She also had a great deal of discomfort from the actual wound. I think she tried to do too much too soon without letting it heal. She's very energetic and finds it hard to relax.

Practical help is great and will allow her to take it easy. I think the best help is emotional. It's great that you're there for her and that you care enough to be looking into this.

I know my MIL was scared and wanted to be able to talk about it, in detail, without people saying, 'Oh you'll be fine'.

spidermama Fri 29-Jul-05 12:22:43

Oh .. and she really wanted support at the hospital appointments. She had women friends taking her there and I know how she appreciated their support in that environment. So make sure she has someone to take her to the appointments, or go yourself if you can.

assumedname Sat 30-Jul-05 14:58:49

Thanks spidermama.

highlander Sat 30-Jul-05 15:33:30

My SIL has just been through all this. Find out what all the support etc the hospital can offer. My SIL's hospital offered free complimentary therapy sessions for her and her mum (I think they had some reflexology). She's also making use of the clinical psychology service - highly recommended, whether your mum feels she needs is or not.

assumedname Mon 01-Aug-05 16:47:52

Thanks highlander.

Mil is doing ok at the moment. Dh and I have suggested various things to help, but at the moment she seems to want to just be at home with fil.

She's seeing the doctor next week and we'll know more then.

Amanda1 Mon 01-Aug-05 19:21:06

Message withdrawn

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