SHARE Breast Cancer Support
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Caregiver to my mom

I'm 39 years old, married with 4 children. My mother has been diagnosed with Breast Cancer (IDC) again. This is 17 years after her first diagnosis which was treated with a lumpectomy and radiation. This time around she's getting a mastectomy with reconstruction. She's leaving the other breast alone. I want to give her the best care possible post-surgery, as she will be staying with me during recovery. I would love to hear some "to do's" and some "what not to do's" and to also better understand what she will likely go through both physically and psychologically through this journey.

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I've not had a mastectomy, so can't address that directly but being there for her is the best! And as a woman with grandchildren, I would suggest talking with your mom ahead of time and letting her know that you and your children want to take good care of her and will need continuing info from her about what she needs in terms of peace and quiet! But your kids may have a lot to offer her--distractions, intergenerational love and comfort! One of my sweetest memories of my grandson when he was about two 1/2 was him patting me and telling me it would be okay!

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I had my double mastectomy with no reconstruction 8 weeks ago, and I never realized how useful my adjustable bed (purchased a couple of years prior) would be post-surgery! Without one, be sure you have lots of pillows or a wedge to use when Mom needs to sleep on her back, along with one to use as a bolster under her knee, and one to two to use under her affected arm. If she will have lymph nodes removed, she can help avoid lymphedema by limiting her arm movement to shoulder height for the first 10-14 days post-op to allow the efferent and afferent vessels to connect during the limited time of lymphatic regeneration. Also, her affected arm should always be raised under a pillow when sitting--except to eat--and lying down. This is taken directly from stepup-stepout.org, an excellent website on all aspects of preventing and treating lymphedema. Make sure she is well hydrated, and she should breathe deep, slow, belly-breaths whenever she thinks of it to stimulate the lymph system. Doctors don't tell us this important piece of information. Several weeks after surgery she can start stretching out her shoulder with various exercises to regain flexibility. See the Risk Reduction tab on the website I cited. Other than that, you'll be helping her with the drains, and trying to get her through those first few days, limiting the use of those awful, prescribed pain relievers--try to stick to Extra Strength Tylenol if it works for her. Good luck to your Mom! She is already so lucky to have a caring daughter who not only is willing to help her when she needs it, but is smart enough to reach out to those who have been there to ensure she'll give Mom all she needs!

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Hi Meridethshaw. I'm sorry to hear about your mom and hope everything goes well with the mastectomy and reconstruction. I wanted to make sure you knew that SHARE offers support for Caregivers, including a Helpline (844-275-7427) where you can speak to a trained peer specialist who has been where you are. You can also get more information on this page, as well: sharecancersupport.org/care... Wishing you and your family all the best!

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Oh wow! I did not know about the caregiver support. How invaluable! Thank you so much for the information.

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You're welcome!

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Bless You and Your Mother!!! My daughter underwent a double mastectomy two years ago after being diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at the age of 30. Her two year old, family and friends rallying beside her kept her spirit alive!!I

You are already giving your mother the most precious gift of all; unconditional love!!!

Best To You All!!!

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I had another thought! Meredith, my own mother died from lung cancer in 1985 and that was sooo much harder on me emotionally than having cancer myself has been! Our mothers are such key people in our lives, and seeing them tired, sick and vulnerable is not easy! Do make sure that you have support, too! And take time for yourself. And maybe you and your mom can plan something you can do later on when she feels better, a weekend trip or something special.

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I had a lumpectomy in October. I have 2 granddaughters ages 2 and 4. My son told them they needed to be gentle with grandma because she had an owie and that I wasn't feeling good. Depending on what the ages of your children are, you'll need to tell them something...I'd go with as little as necessary...at least enough so they don't come at you with a flying leap! 🙄 During my chemo, I didn't get to see them much, (as far as I was concerned one of the worst side effects of chemo) but the only time one hurt me was when the youngest was hurt and came flying at me, throwing her little head square on my portacath! Bless you for being there for your mom and I know for sure the grandkids are THE BEST MEDICINE EVER!

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