We are Macmillan. Cancer Support
This is a new board for me as I'm normally over on the Lung Cancer board due to my mother, however, I'm seeking some advice here, if possible. A very lovely friend has been living with Stage 4 breast cancer which had spread to her bones. However, after 2.5 years of a combination of chemo and a holistic approach, had managed to actually get it into remission. However, rather shockingly (as she's been so well and with absolutely no symptoms) the breast cancer seems to have metastasised in her brain with 6-7 small tumours just found there. She's due to start whole-head radiotherapy next week as the first line of treatment, with gamma knife suggested as the second line. I just wondered if anyone had had any experience of breast cancer mets in the brain and if so what kind of treatment they may have been given? Or if anyone had had any experience of either of these forms of treatment?
Thanks very much in advance.
My mum went for whole head radiotherapy last December as her Breast Cancer metastasised into both of her lungs and then her brain (she was on Herceptin at the time), she was there once a day for a week (or 2 weeks, can't really recall without looking at my mum's notes). She never underwent gamma knife as our oncologist didn't recommend it as there were too many inside her brain (our oncologist didn't give us a precise number of mets but he said it was about a dozen) and may cause more harm than good.
The after effects of head radiotherapy is the usual hair loss (although my mum had her hair cut off already), vomitting/nausea and i've noticed since then that she has been a bit...'slower' than she used to be, which could just be because of the brain mets or a side effect from the radiotherapy in the head. We were told that if the brain mets grow again or the radiotherapy did not work, you cannot use radiotheraphy a second time in the head which was unfortunate for us but that's to be expected due to the side-effects. We weren't given any other alternatives or 'second line' for the brain mets as there is no chemo treatment that can bypass the blood-brain barrier.
Sadly, my mum passed away 3 weeks ago, it was very sudden. One day, she was up and about walking around and smiling, a few days later, her health just deteriorated rapidly, she couldn't move her legs, needed help going to the toilet, couldn't keep her eyes open, slurred speech, being forgetful, complaining about head aches and on the day she died, she was writhing around in pain because of it (our gp and district nurse saw my mum the day she died and only told her to take paracetamols), later that night, we went to the A&E hosptial which they then transferred us to the cancer hospital where she passed away in less than half an hour after being transported there (it was a cold night with light snow, my mum was wearing light nightwear and the ambulance was freezing cold inside and all they provided was a thin blanket). We were told by the nurses there that the trip was unnecessary (and imo, may have sped up her death with the poor way they moved her from the trolley used in ambulances to the bed in A&E and then to the trolley again and back to another bed in the cancer hospital in the freezing cold. My mum was already in a deep sleep from the morphine they gave her in A&E, and her neck was turning 80 to 120 degrees each time they moved/pushed her). It was upsetting seeing this and not being able to do anything.
Sorry, may have gone off on a tangent here, that last paragraph was just my experience from the poor handlings of people on the day my mum died.
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