Post # 1
So my FI and I just found out two nights ago that his mother (FMIL) has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She went to go for a biopsy without telling anyone, and it came back as positive.
It was completely out of the blue and shocked us both. I went with her the next day to her diagnostic appointment to take notes on what the doctor said, and it was heartbreaking. She is a gruff and tough badass lady from Detroit, but I just saw her completely break down once the doctor left the room. She has Stage 2, which is relatively good news, because they don’t see any spread to her chest wall or lymph nodes as of yet. We will know more once we get her test results back, and once they take some node samples.
Right now she’s looking at either a masectomy or another breast conservation treatment that involves radiation. We think she’s leaning towards a double masectomy because she tends to get cysts in her breasts, and once you’ve got cancer everything changes.
Our wedding is in late April. She should be having surgury sometime in March. She has told me that she wants to put off on chemo (if it is necessary) until after the wedding so she won’t look sick in our pictures, which breaks my heart. I think she’s going to feel very self conscious after her masectomy as well, so hopefully my FI and I can dress up in our wedding garb and have a photoshoot with her before she goes under the knife.
Any advice for how I can still make her feel beautiful both before, during, and after my wedding? This is a really rough surprise, coming right after my dad had a stroke two weeks ago. Any advice on cancer in general? I have never had a family member or friend diagnosed, so I don’t know how to help her the best way.
Post # 3
First of all I think it’s sweet of you to genuinely want her to feel beautiful 🙂
So, I don’t have much advice about before or during the wedding, since she will be recovering from pretty major surgery, but what about having professional hair and make-up for her? A mani-pedi just for pampering?
As for after, well… if she does have chemo and loses her hair, I’m sure it will be very hard on her. My own aunt went through all of that when I was in high school, and every few weeks or so the family would all get together and go out to eat. Each of us would wear a crazy hat or funky wig just for fun. She wasn’t the only one with a hat or wig or scarf, ya know? Even my 6’2 brother wore a long, blonde, Rapunzel wig every time. Some of my favorite memories of her are from this time, with everyone just being really goofy and having fun together.
By the way, my aunt has been in remission for over a decade now 🙂
Sending positive, healing thoughts to your FMIL!
Post # 4
@DaneLady: That is such great advice, thank you!
I love the different hats and wigs idea haha 🙂 And I definitely appreciate the thoughts and prayers.
Post # 5
- Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL
@keembeen: Number 1 thank goodness they caught it in Stage 2 so she has a high rate of survival. It’s disappointing that she will likely get a double mastectomy but it should reduce the chances of the cancer reoccuring. I like the idea of dressing up before her surgery but only if it’s something she wants.
Post # 6
@beachbride1216: Exactly!! I almost started crying with relief when the doctor said it was an 88-94% chance of survival. FMIL’s sister had breast cancer as well, but they didn’t catch it until it was Stage 4. But her and her sister are tough as nails, and since her sister beat it I’m sure she can too. She’s just very scared about possibly losing both of her breasts – she keeps telling me she thinks they’ll look strange after 🙁 Which as a girl, is super understandable and super heartbreaking.
We’re going to meet with a plastic surgeon soon, so hopefully he can give us some good information about reconstruction.
Post # 7
I like the professional hair, makeup, mani, and pedi idea someone else posted. If she feels up for it, some pampering might be nice.
Post # 8
My thoughts are definitely with you. I like the idea of taking pictures or something ahead of time so she feels included when her strength is at its best. Maybe she would even have a suggestion of what she’s worried about missing/not being able to do the most so you can figure out an alternative.
As for advice, my mom was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer 2 years ago, luckily only needing radiation and minor surgery. At first, it was the elephant in the room that no one brought up, and she often talked to an old friend who had been diagnosed maybe a year or so before her. It was only after the fact that she told me she’d wished people had asked her questions and talked to her about it. Cancer survivors and their family become a community of sorts, and at least for her, she wanted to feel comfortable talking about that challenging part of her life.
The good news is they’ve made so many advances in medicine, and the doctors are often very understanding and helpful!
Post # 9
@keembeen: I’m so sorry to hear about your FMIL! The only thing I wanted to add, and I don’t know how true this would be for breast cancer…but my dad had brain cancer and they had to wait six weeks after surgery to start chemo…he had two surgeries and did chemo after both. But anyway the six weeks is for the wound to heal because chemo doesn’t let you heal properly. So, if this is true for breast cancer then she probably won’t have to worry about feeling crappy from the chemo during your wedding. I actually think her surgery might be at a really good time…she’ll have the surgery pretty soon after finding out about the cancer, but she’ll have enough time after surgery to be back on her feet before the wedding, so she can really be involved. I wish her the best!
Post # 10
@keembeen: I had a family member undergoing chemo at the time of our wedding, including a round of dosage that very weekend. You can’t tell in the photos.
I think you and your FI should tell your FMIL to have treatment when the doctors recommend, and tell her that you forbid her from delaying it just for your wedding photos! The effect on the photos will be minimal, but the effect on her health could be great. I wish her all the best.
Post # 11
@aussiemum1248: Yes! I tried to tell her that, haha. She’s just very stubborn on delaying, but I’m hoping I can wear her down a bit.
@boogiewoogies: Ahh, that makes me feel so much better! Again, I have no idea about anything treatment-related to cancer, so I’m just trying to pick things up as I go!
@KtGa: That’s such great advice! I’m always so shy about asking about touchy subjects, but it’s good to hear that people WANT to talk about it. Thanks for the good thoughts.
@sjhanddab2014: Yeah! The only problem is trying to figure out what she would like – she’s super picky about her hair, and I’m not sure how she feels about manicures 😉
Post # 12
I was diagnosed with BC over 11 years ago and went through all the treatment.
My advice would be to stick around and just be a good friend.
The experience of cancer is that some friends can’t cope and just disappear. Others show just what good friends they really are.
I don’t know how long you have known your FMIL but the chances are that for as long as you’ve known her she has has had BC (albeit undiagnoed). Now for the first time she doesn’t have it anymore. This is something to say to her.
Treatment tends to attack femininity. Get her a really pretty necklace. Or an outrageous scarf. Hire a fast sports car for a day and take her for a drive with the top down. Have a little bit of fun with the emphasis on life affirming stuff.
But most of all just be there.
Post # 13
My mom is a breast cancer survivor, and I’ll never forget the day she told my sister and me. It was so scary! But boy was my mom a trooper through all of the treatments and chemo, and all the other complications she had after the chemo. Retail therapy really helped my mom whenever she was feeling down – there were many purchases of necklaces and scarves. 🙂
Post # 14
I think you’ve already made her feel special by going to her doctor with her. Just knowing that you are there for her is comforting Im sure . As hard as it is and will be for you as well, That is a wonderful thing that you are doing for her.
She probably wont have chemo until 6 weeks after her surgery. I think a double masectomy is a little easier in the long run especially if she large busted. Its devastating either way. I think being treated normal is the best thing, Sometime it can be overwhelming when everyone around you is treating you differently because of a cancer diagnosis. Its scary enough to have to think about your body betraying you and then all of your family and friends babying you or acting weird.
There are great strids being made with breat cancer so hopefully she will do really well. My mother have a masectomy , chemo and radiation,, it was very upsetting to us as well but we were actually glad she had the treatments because it just seemed like an extra precaution or extra to save her life,
My sister is a hairdresser so she had a wig come in and styled to match my mothers own hair before she even started chemo. The very first treatment she had her hair came out. She found that part very hard,, even years later she says it was the hard part for her. Maybe you could privately speak to her about her options so that she is prepared in case that does happen..
Breast cancer is rampant in my family, we are all tested regularly, and with both your FMIL and her sister having it, it may be something the rest of your fiances family will have to be very pro active about ,,men can get breat cancer as well. Best of luck to you ,,take care.