other health complications with metastatic cancer

  • 4 replies
  • 3 subscribers


Back in October of 2018 my mum, age 79, was diagnosed with breast cancer, after further tests we were told that the cancer has spread to her lymph nodes and bone.  My mum had heart surgery 4 years ago and a tissue valve replacement was fitted, she had a minor stroke during this surgery, which in turn caused short term memory loss.  shortly after this surgery it was discovered that my mum also has gaul stones which needed to be operated on, but as she was still recovering from heart surgery the decision was taken to allow my mum longer to recover from the heart surgery.

The oncologist has said that my mums cancer is very aggressive, there is little they can offer in way of treatment and whatever treatment she does have will not cure her.   Chemo, radiation therapy and surgery are out of the question, to be honest i'm grateful for this as i doubt she would cope.  During her last appointment hormone therapy was offered as an option and it seems to be her only option. Her memory loss is getting worse and on more than one occasion since the diagnosis i've had to re inform her of the doctors findings.

Over Christmas my mum was very ill with the gaul stones and the ward doctor has suggested that she has these removed.  I'm worried about so many things.  I'm worried that the hormones could make her sick, and she already being sick due to the gaul stones.  I'm worried that she could have another stroke during surgery.  I'm worried that she lives on her own.  I'm worried that i'm her only carer and i'm not coping very well, I have two children, one of which has anxiety issues, i have a full time job, my husband works away.  Most of all I worry that she seems to be having to go through an awful lot and for what?  She's 80, she has no quality of life, she's tired.  I don't know what to do.  How long is she expected to carry on like this?

  • Hi Maccaroon

    Sorry to hear about your Mum, My Mum also has metastatic breast cancer but is only 59.

    I also had the logistical issue of working full time being a carer etc etc. Before your Mum leaves the hospital request an NHS Continuing Healthcare assessment. This will access her needs and will allow care to be put in place so she's not alone at home.

    In regards to treatment my Mum is also very poorly, she is unable to walk and is classed as all care in bed. She struggles with delirium and confusion. I found the hormone tablets didn't increase the confusion however steroids did.

    My Mum is on palliative care and they look at managing pain and doing what's what for quality of life.

    Do you have a hospice who can get involved they are amazing.


  • FormerMember
    FormerMember in reply to HannyC

    Thankyou for your reply

    At the moment its like we're in limbo nothing is in place, she's still able to walk...just.  Isn't in any pain as such, but is loosing weight as she's not eating due to her gaul stones.  

    We went to an oncology meeting last monday but were booked in with the wrong doctor, he started to talk to us about end of life plans and setting up links with McMillan, then my mum mentioned the hormone treatment and it seemed that we needed to speak to a different oncologist about that which means yet another appointment this week.  We've been told that that the hormones with slow down the cancers growth but then im thinking does that not just mean that its going to be an even slower drawn out process?

    My mum barely leaves the house unless it's with me, isn't eating, seems to be getting more and more confused day by day, without wanting to sound callous what is it they think they are prolonging her life for?  To add to this the time that I am away from my family is having a detrimental affect.  My son is under healthy young minds as he's attempted to take his own life, he's 14.  My daughter is excessively clingy when I am at home and teary over the slightest thing.  the nurse at hospital said she could look into a carers allowance for me but again without wanting to sound callous I don't want to be my mums carer, and that doesn't mean that I don't care for my mum. I'm just finding the constant ball juggling exhausting.

    Sorry to sound so nasty and cruel I love my mum to pieces but when will it end x

  • Hi 

    Treatment and options are such a personal thing. It's completely up to your mother whilst she is still capable of making such decisions. I understand what you mean by "just drawing out the process". Incurable cancer is a journey and although you are told you're going to die when that happens is really anyone's guess, they can give a prognosis but it's not gospel.

    If your Mum does not want the Hormone treatment she is within her right not to have it but it's something she needs to decide upon. From our personal experience with the hormone treatment doesn't actually make a whole lot of difference on its own, it needs to be along side radiotherapy really. In my opinion and this is completely my opinion it seems to be something Oncologists prescribe as an "end stage" treatment to almost act as a placebo to show they are offering "treatment". But as your Mum is Palliative like mine everything they do from now on is for the benefit of quality of life and symptom control and once your hospice palliative care is in place it's worth having an open frank conversation with them as they're very helpful.

    They tried to put the whole carers allowance etc. etc. information on me but it was just not possible for me to become her full time carer, I'm only 27 and have a full time job and rent to pay and carers allowance wouldn't even touch the sides plus my Mum would be devastated if I gave up my carer on her behalf. Your Mum is entitled to an NHS Continuing Healthcare Assessment which will review what care needs to be put in place.

    I still consider myself a carer for my Mum as I care for her at the weekends and go see her most evenings after work but she quite rightly needed someone there 24/7 so we were entitled to a live in carer and double up carers coming in 4 times a day. You have your family to look after so it's not possible to just drop your life and become a full time carer (it also takes a lot from you mentally and physically!).

    In regards to when will it end...well that we never know. It's a journey and although it seems never ending and a mess right now once you have the treatment plan and care plan in place you will see somewhat of a routine form where you can aid in your Mums care and also continue your life but it's not easy unfortunately, it's a horrible disease.


  • FormerMember
    FormerMember in reply to HannyC

    Thank you x