As a mother, what advice did you give your daughter when she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer?

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member978 (Survivor (10 - 20 years)) - 10 / 02 / 2011

I think learning of my daughter's diagnosis was much worse than facing my own cancer diagnosis. We had no family history of breast cancer so I never thought about her developing breast cancer.

Fortunately, when she developed pain and intermittent nipple discharge, she went to her doctor. At 27 yr old, they immediately told her she was over-reacting and dismissed her symptoms as related to breast feeding. Her youngest child was long past breast feeding so she wouldn't give up. Finally a nurse practitioner took the symptoms seriously and she ordered a ductogram and with the dye and compression mammograms the small areas were found, biopsied and diagnosed as early stage breast cancer. I'm not sure she would have taken these symptoms seriously if she hadn't been through the challenges of my diagnosis 9 yr. earlier.

We lived about 600 mi away from one another but she got the biopsy report while she and her family were visiting us. I was grateful to be able to be there to give support during that difficult time.

I'm called upon daily to assist women who have just received a diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer but it's tough to give guidance to your own daughter. I helped her obtain a 2nd opinion of the biopsy slides (hoping that diagnosis was incorrect), worked with her to research treatment options, and prepare a list of questions for her surgeon. I realized that she would need to make her own decisions and while I could provide information, I needed to be careful and not overwhelm her and listen to what she wanted and needed. It had to be her choice.

In the end she opted for a bi-lateral mastectomy with sentinel node biopsy followed by reconstruction. It was a tough decision but it was what she decided and I was proud of the way she faced the diagnosis.

After her diagnosis, my oncologist suggested genetic counseling since our cancers were both aggressive and diagnosed at a young age. Ultimately I did opt for BRCA 1/BRCA 2 testing and no known mutation was found.
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