October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. People all over the world show their support for everyone affected by breast cancer. As part of this awareness, our article discusses how live-in care can support you or your loved one through the challenges and emotions of a breast cancer diagnosis and its treatment.

Breast cancer treatments

If you have breast cancer, your team of specialists will provide the best treatment and care.

Surgery is typically the first line of breast cancer treatment, followed by chemotherapy or radiotherapy. However, treatment will depend on the type of breast cancer you have.

Most breast cancers are discovered in their early stages. But some women find out they have breast cancer after it has spread to other parts of their body. This is known as secondary cancer, or ‘advanced’ or ‘metastatic’ cancer. In this case, the type of treatment you have may be different.

Secondary cancer isn’t curable and the aim of treatment is to control the disease. Many patients live for several years with secondary cancer and enjoy a good quality of life.

Breast cancer treatments include:

Breast cancer surgery

There are two main types of breast cancer surgery:

  • Breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy): removes the cancerous lump.
  • Mastectomy: removes the whole breast. A mastectomy can be followed by reconstructive surgery to help recreate the shape of the breast that was removed.

To find out if breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes of the armpit, a procedure called a sentinel lymph node biopsy may be carried out.

The sentinel lymph nodes are the first lymph nodes that the cancer cells reach if they spread. The sentinel lymph nodes are examined in a laboratory to see if there are any cancer cells present. This gives a good indication of whether the cancer has spread.

You may need further surgery if there are cancer cells in your sentinel nodes.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy is the use of controlled doses of radiation to kill cancer cells. It’s typically given after surgery along with chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells.

If you need radiotherapy as part of breast cancer treatment, it will likely begin within three months after surgery or within one month of finishing chemotherapy. This allows your body a chance to recover.

Depending on your treatment plan, radiotherapy can be given approximately five days a week for three and six weeks. Each session lasts a few minutes.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy involves using an anti-cancer medication to kill cancer cells. If your cancer is caught in its early stages, you might not need chemotherapy.

You typically have chemotherapy after surgery to destroy cancer cells that have not been removed. Alternatively, it can be used before surgery to shrink a large tumour.

Chemotherapy is usually given through a drip straight into the blood stream via a vein. But in some cases, you may be given tablets to take at home.

You may have chemotherapy sessions once every two to three weeks, over a period of four to eight months. This is to give your body a rest in between treatments.

Hormone therapy

Some breast cancers are stimulated to grow by the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which are found naturally in your body.

These types of cancer are known as hormone receptor or oestrogen receptor-positive cancers. Hormone therapy works by lowering the levels of hormones in your body or by stopping their effects.

The type of hormone therapy you have will depend on your age, whether you have experienced the menopause, what other type of treatment you’re having, and your general health.

Biological therapy

Some breast cancers are stimulated to grow by a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). These cancers are called HER2-positive. Biological therapy works by stopping the effects of HER2 and helping your immune system to fight off cancer cells.

Emotional impact and physical effects of breast cancer

Dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis can be a huge challenge for patients and their families. It can cause emotional distress and physical difficulties.

In the event that a woman has to have part or all of her breast removed, she will find this very upsetting, especially when faced with treatment side effects, too.

Breast cancer treatment side effects depend on the treatment you’re give, but can include:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Tiredness
  • Aches and pains
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
  • Hot flushes and sweats
  • Hair loss
  • Suppressed immunity
  • Nausea and vomiting

Alongside physical side effects, you might feel a number of different emotions, including:

  • Numb
  • Frightened
  • Confused
  • Angry
  • Guilty

Everyone reacts in their own way. Accordingly, there is no right or wrong way to feel. The important thing is to make sure you don’t try to cope with these feelings alone. Talking to your friends, relatives, counsellor, and/or doctor about your cancer can help and allow you to be supported.

How live-in care can help people having breast cancer treatment

You might need some care and support at home while you undergo breast cancer treatment.

Live-in carers can give you practical support, including:

  • Household chores (such as cleaning and laundry)
  • Shopping
  • Preparing meals
  • Dealing with money matters

During breast cancer treatment, you might find these roles overwhelming .

Alongside practical support, live-in carers can provide emotional support. They can lend a friendly ear, encourage you to continue your hobbies, and offer companionship.

In summary, live-in care can help you maintain your independence and freedom to live in the comfort of your own home.

Mumby’s live-in care breast cancer treatment support

At Mumby’s, we understand how devastating a cancer diagnosis can be to all of your family. Receiving compassionate cancer care in the safety and familiarity of your own home has far-reaching benefits in improving your wellbeing.

It might be that you need cancer live-in care after a period of treatment or surgery to help with everyday tasks and more involved personal care. You may be looking for respectful palliative care to support your loved one to live the rest of their life in their familiar and comforting home. Mumby’s compassionate live-in carers are trained to give highly personalised and flexible support where it is needed whilst allowing the space that you and your family need.

Our high-quality cancer live-in care helps your loved one to live a peaceful, fulfilled and meaningful life in the comfort of their own home. A Mumby’s one-to-one live-in carer can provide nursing support, symptom management, help around the home, personal care, companionship and emotional support.

We strive to provide a well-matched carer to help with tasks that are difficult, get the chores done and chat about shared interests or memories that will boost morale.

Useful links

Live-in cancer care

Respite care

Costs of live-in care

How to arrange live-in care

Who would beenfit from live-in care