I mentioned in my post on 28th September that a close family member was having serious health problems. Because this was in the lead up to my sister’s wedding and because I wanted to clear it with the person concerned before blogging it, I have not said anything furter. But I now have permission to write about it.

In the week prior to Hayley’s wedding, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a fairly active form of the cancer, and when mum first discovered the lump (in late August) it showed all the signs of being mastitis. When antibiotics didn’t help she went back to her doctor who ordered mamographs and ultra-sounds (both inconclusive) and then a needle and a core biopsy. The core biopsy confirmed she had cancer.

I went up that week (the Tuesday before the wedding) to help with the wedding preparations and also to be with Mum as she went for more tests (bone and organ scans) to see if the cancer had spread. The results did not come in until the Tuesday after the wedding, so we were all pretty emotional on the wedding day. On the day after the wedding (which was the day before getting the scan results) we all had a big family blue because we were so stressed out and tired.

I was due to go back to work on the Tuesday after the public holiday, but arranged to have Tuesday and Wednesday off to be with Mum. The scan results showed up clear (thank goodness. However, because of how far the cancer had progressed (it was at least the size of his fist) and because they couldn’t guarantee that it hadn’t spread the the lymph nodes, Mum’s specialist recommended a full mastectomy.

Mum went into hospital for the mastectomy on Monday, and I have had Mon, Tues and Wed off to be with her. She’s doing pretty well, physically. The doctor has removed 2 rows of her lymph nodes as well as her breast; we won’t know if she needs chemo or radiotherapy until the pathology results come back for the nodes.

Naturally, Mum has been pretty up and down with her moods. She’s determined to be positive, but sometimes that means that she won’t reach out for help when she needs it. Fortunatly, there seems to be a good breast cancer support network in place through various organisations. Mum is going to go home tomorrow and will have a temporary prosthesis to wear when she does (she is very worried about people noticing or looking lopsided as she is large-breasted). She has also had a visit from a peer support group and a breast cancer nurse will visit her daily to monitor the drain she has in place, clean the dressing and provide support.

Dad’s holding up well, although I think he’s in denial a bit. I hope he’ll reach out to the support network when he needs it as well. We’ve kind of been supporting each other over the last few days, which have been emotionally exhausting.

Love you, Mum. Get well soon.


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October 2004
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