Help for my daughter-in-law: triple negative, stage two breast cancer

Posted by shirleymac @shirleymac, Jan 6 11:45am

My daughter-in-law, who is 52, was recently diagnosed with triple negative, stage two breast cancer. She has always been very healthy and has a young daughter, 12. I am not able to be there for her, as her dad, my husband, has dementia. The caregivers, dementia group has really helped me over 11 plus years.
My questions are from both me and her sister, who is going to be there for about 2 months:
How does she help lighten the mood? The only thing I’ve thought of is to watch a funny movie, for her daughter, but that’s also fun for adults, like “Ice Age”.
What can she do to help her sister pass the time (4-5 hours) during chemo, every week?
This chemo is expected to go on for 6 months and then a different chemo for 3 months after that, then a double mastectomy.
Can anyone recommend a soft cap that’s sort of flattering? I am trying to help from afar.
Please offer any advice you can think of.
Also, I don’t know if the cancer has metastasized. What support groups might be ones I can suggest for her?

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Breast Cancer Support Group.

Hello @shirleymac firstly I would like to give you a link to a virtual breast cancer support group.
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/event/virtual-breast-cancer-support-group-12/
You might ask your daughter in law what kind of hat she would like, but I was very partial to a cashmere/merino blend hand knitted one from a customer. If she would like a hand knit, any yarn shop will have some ideas as to who might knit one for you or teach you to knit one. 😊
As for lightening the mood, that might be hard from a distance and even harder to read the want or need. If she is an Apple phone or pad kind of girl, you might consider an Apple gift card. I am an Apple girl, and I used mine for music to listen to during the long hours. One of my friends got audio books on Amazon.
Are you in close contact with her? More importantly, are you a knitter?😂

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breastcancer.org is a wonderful online forum and source of support.
See if the hospital where she gets her care has a group too!

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Thank you, so much! I know someone who knits and will ask for her help.
She does like audio books and I will check with her sister re the music gift card. We all live pretty far apart, but we’ll do all we can.
I thought of watching a movie that her daughter would like, but appeals to adults, too . Ice Age came to mind. Maybe her sister can get the 12- year old to help cook.

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I will give her the support groupss, too.

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Listening to her would be the most valuable asset; as a BC survivor I found two things to be most helpful ( aside from a warm soft cap). Someone who will listen, really listen to my fears and concerns without trying to minimize “ you look great” “ you’re going to be fine” have within them a dismissive quality ( however lovingly felt and delivered) . It’s important to deeply listen and bear witness to the trauma that was unleashed with this diagnosis.

The other is to ask what would be most helpful in the realm of what you can provide. Would a housekeeper be useful during chemo ? Meals arranged for the family for those completely knocked down days? Arranging food delivery can be helpful. AND, asking if there is anything she would like to have you research … things she wants to find out more about but is fearful to read herself. This was a big help.

Once these basic needs are being met other more lighthearted distractions so to speak come to be available and appreciated more easily… like books and movies puzzles etc.

Being heard … without needing to minimize hard to hear fears and realities… is powerful. This is where a survivor support group is invaluable!

Best Wishes 🌸

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My biggest source of support (besides partner and sister) came from a totally unexpected source. Preparing for hair loss from chemo led me to a small wig shop with a very special owner. This lady had hundreds of customers with cancer over the years and had picked up a lot from their experiences. This stranger became a friend and source of support that was priceless. Almost three years past treatment and two years past needing her services, I maintain this friendship. There are small business owners out there providing services from hair loss solutions to mastectomy bras who have customers with cancer or who have had cancer themselves. If you can find someone like this (Google?), the support can be priceless. There is a Gilda's Club in my area, but I never felt comfortable with such a public concept. Probably the most important thing you can do is let her know you are there, her decisions are hers alone (everyone's emotional needs are different), don't push, just love.

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I am sorry your daughter in law are on this journey. She is lucky to have you.
Amazon has alot of cute chemo hats. They have ones that look like baseball caps that are soft and don't show any baldness. Look under chemo caps maybe she could look and see what styles she likes. I read the reviews on caps I was interested in and they were alot of help. Sometimes the chemo clinics have hats people have donated.
I also had stage 2 Triple Negative breast cancer. The oncologist should give her tips on how to take care of her nails during chemo. Mine recommended utterly smooth hand cream.
Her oncology team will always be there to answer questions and give her tips. Thinking of you both and sending hugs.

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@shirleymac
You have gotten a lot of great ideas from other members.
I went through mastectomy and 6 months of chemo- the most difficult part of my life.
Music helped me tremendously- especially plugged into my headphones.
Maintaining good nutrition may be difficult. I had always had a healthy diet, but with the chemo I lost interest in healthy foods.
I wish someone had suggested specific supplements and vitamins.
Another comforting activity was putting photos in albums. Nowadays, it would be digital albums.

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