What to do when your mom is diagnosed with breast cancer?

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What to do when your mom is diagnosed with breast cancer?  Woman from behind tying a pink scarf on her head, cancer patient.

What to do when your mom is diagnosed with breast cancer?

My mom has breast cancer: understanding her decision to forego a mastectomy

As the adult daughter of a woman who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, I find myself on an emotional rollercoaster. It's a mix of fear, uncertainty, and a deep sense of responsibility to support my mother through this challenging time. One aspect that has been particularly perplexing is my mom's decision not to undergo a mastectomy. In this article on my mom's breast cancer diagnosis, I want to explore the reasons behind her choice and shed light on the complex factors that influence a woman's decision in such a critical situation.

Why doesn't she want a mastectomy?

It's natural to wonder why my mom has chosen not to pursue a mastectomy, a procedure often recommended for breast cancer treatment. While each person's experience is unique, I have discovered several factors that have influenced her decision. Let's delve into them further:

  1. Individual Choice and Autonomy:

The most important thing to recognize is that my mom's decision is her own. She has the right to make choices about her body and her healthcare. It's crucial to respect her autonomy and support her in finding the path that aligns with her values, even if it differs from conventional wisdom.

  1. Fear and Anxiety:

A breast cancer diagnosis brings along a host of fears and anxieties. The prospect of losing a breast can be overwhelming and emotionally distressing for many women. When making treatment decisions, the fear of a mastectomy's impact on body image, femininity, and intimacy can weigh heavily on a woman's mind.

  1. Risk Perception and Medical Considerations:

Every breast cancer case is unique, and the level of risk associated with the disease can vary. Factors such as tumor size, stage, grade, and hormone receptor status play a significant role in determining the best course of action. My mom's decision may be influenced by medical advice, which takes into account the specifics of her diagnosis and the likelihood of recurrence or spread.

  1. Alternative Treatment Options:

While a mastectomy is a widely recognized treatment, it's not the only option available. There are various alternative treatments that can be effective, such as lumpectomy (partial breast removal) followed by radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or targeted therapy. These alternatives may provide a sense of control and preserve breast tissue, which could be essential to my mom's decision-making process.

  1. Personal Experience and Support System:

My mom's decision may also be influenced by the experiences of others, including friends or family members who have undergone mastectomies. Their stories, whether positive or negative, can impact her perspective on the procedure. Additionally, the support and advice she receives from healthcare professionals, breast cancer survivors, and support groups can shape her decision-making process.

  1. Emotional Coping Strategies:

Each person copes with cancer differently. For my mom, maintaining a sense of control and focusing on emotional well-being might be essential in dealing with her diagnosis. By choosing a treatment plan that aligns with her emotional needs, she can navigate the journey with greater resilience and positivity.

  1. Personal Priorities and Values:

Beyond medical considerations, personal priorities and values play a significant role in decision-making. My mom's decision may be driven by factors such as her desire to maintain her quality of life, fulfill personal goals, prioritize family time, or focus on other aspects of her well-being. These factors can strongly influence her choice to forego a mastectomy.

  1. Ongoing Research and Advancements:

The field of breast cancer research is constantly evolving. New treatment options, targeted therapies, and less invasive procedures are continually being explored. My mom's decision may be influenced by her hope for future advancements that could provide effective treatment without the need for a mastectomy.

Supporting her decision not to have a mastectomy

As the daughter of a breast cancer patient, it's important for me to support my mom in her decision, even if it diverges from my initial expectations. Here are a few ways I am offering my support:

  1. Open and Non-judgmental Communication:

I try to have open and honest conversations with my mom about her decision. By listening without judgment and seeking to understand her perspective, I can provide the emotional support she needs.

  1. Educating Myself:

I have taken the initiative to educate myself about breast cancer, treatment options, and the emotional impact of the disease. This allows me to better empathize with my mom's journey and offer informed support.

  1. Accompanying Her to Medical Appointments:

Attending medical appointments with my mom not only helps her feel supported but also enables me to better comprehend her diagnosis, treatment plan, and the advice provided by healthcare professionals.

  1. Seeking Emotional Support:

I encourage my mom to connect with breast cancer support groups, therapists, or counselors who can provide her with additional emotional support during this challenging time.

Cancer diagnoses, such as breast cancer, bring forth an array of complex decisions for patients and their families. My mom's decision not to pursue a mastectomy is deeply personal and influenced by a multitude of factors, including individual choice, fear and anxiety, risk perception, alternative treatment options, personal experiences, emotional coping strategies, personal priorities, and ongoing research advancements. It is essential for me, as her daughter, to respect her autonomy and provide unwavering support throughout her journey. Together, we will face the challenges of breast cancer and emerge stronger than ever before.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. Please consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance and treatment options based on your situation.

Article by
Jess Philippon

Jess Philippon, the author of "What to do when your mom is diagnosed with breast cancer?," is ghostwriter by day, author by night. She lives for her two cats, Padme and Eevee, and harbors a sweet tooth unparalleled.


"Understanding knowing what to do when your mom is diagnosed with breast cancer begins with respecting her autonomy and provide unwavering support throughout her journey." | ©karrastock / Adobe Stock