My Mom Has Breast Cancer. . .and Why Elderly Women Need Mammograms

My 80 year old mom (who is more like a 50 year old energy wise) was diagnosed with Breast Cancer during last week.   It has been quite the emotional roller coaster ride for our entire family.   We all felt overwhelmed by the thoughts “Here we go again!”  But today I have good news to report as breast cancer goes.

After spending all day at the University of Michigan meeting with surgeons, radiologists, oncology, etc., mom got great news.  Her cancer is Grade 1, very slow growing, a small 1.5 cm tumor, no lymph nodes, no chemo, 90% estrogen positive, and most likely no radiation, however, they won’t know that for sure until after surgery.  She will have a wire-guided Lumpectomy in about 3 weeks with no drains.  Mom was so relieved about that as she helped me with my drains and hated them!   The surgeon indicated it was miraculous mom ever found the lump.

Mom’s parents lived into their 90s, aunts that lived to be 97, and no cancer ever in generations of  family members on her paternal and maternal sides.    Mom has eaten a healthy diet, been extremely active, and weighs within 10 pounds of her weight when she was in her 20s!  If my mom got it, anyone is at risk.  Well, we know that, but this makes it more clear to me!

The genetics counselor thinks it is rather a fluke that both of us got breast cancer, but it sure makes me wonder about environmental factors.  I had far more reason to have breast cancer as my dad’s side of the family has cancer everywhere.  But mom, they have no idea.

Here is what I can pass on to you that I have learned thus far.

1.  Breast cancer odds greatly increase with age.  As the nurse navigator conveyed to us, breast cancer amps up with age.  She said that so many women feel like once they have reached 65 or 70, they quit having mammograms as they feel their odds go down.  That is WRONG information.  Some older women will tell you they don’t want to look for anything.  Relay to them how early stage breast cancer is far easier to deal with than later stage!  Know your facts and make every attempt to get the elderly women in your life to get their mammograms!  

2.  Be sure to be extra nice and appreciative to your Oncologist!  You never know when you may need them again!   Send them and their staff cards of thanks and appreciation, take simple gifts into their office like candy or cookies or vegetables, or whatever!  It is meaningful to them.   I made one call to my Oncologist, and he and his staff bent over backwards to help my mom.  Make yourself memorable in a positive way to your Oncologist and his or her staff.

3.  Remind your moms, grandmothers, aunts and older women in your life (well, younger ones too) to do regular breast exams.  Show them how and what to do.   My mom accompanied me to my last Oncology checkup in April.  On the drive back home, I casually asked my mom if she was doing regular breast self-exams.  She said she was not and had not done one in awhile.  Later that week, she did one, and found an area of change in her breast which caused her alarm.  That is what got her to the doctor!   There was a lump underneath that breast change!  Thank God she found it when she did!

4.  One of the most difficult things about breast cancer is having to figure out what to do.  Now that we have been through it, we know.  That makes the journey much easier to help someone else.  If you are emotionally up to it, reach out and help someone else just starting the journey.  Your input will be invaluable to them.

That is what I’ve learned thus far!  Thanks for letting me share!   I appreciate all of my readers so much!   Love to you all!


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  1. Hi Denise, What a relief!! I’m so happy for your mom. Give her a big ole hug for me.

    My friend in Texas has stage 4 and it’s metastasized to the bone. She has no family except for a 13 year old adopted daughter from China. She also has 5 dogs and 4 cats. It’s a mess to say the least. The doctors don’t think it’s even worth treating. She has no insurance. My best friend in North Carolina just related this info to me in a voice mail yesterday. I am trying to find out how I can help. My friend in North Carolina hasn’t seen her in years and she has now been asked to take the little girl. Kristin is going to fly her to North Carolina to meet her. I sure wish Nancy, the lady with the cancer, lived someplace else but Texas. If she lived here we have a good health insurance exchange she could have gotten insurance. I feel like if she had insurance she would have seen the doctor earlier and maybe would have had a different outcome. I’ll keep you posted. Please keep them in your prayers. Love, Katie

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Thank God every day that you mentioned the exam to your mom. I am so grateful to you for doing that. I want her to be around me for a long, long time. She is the best and my Mom loved “Mary” so much!!

  3. Glad she’s doing well! I’m not surprised about older women getting breast cancer. Even though I have a strong family history we do take checkups at any age. But when my sister-in-law thought about quit taking mammogram at age 75 and I urged her to keep going for mammogram as long as she can. Guess what at 76 she was diagnosed with breast cancer! She had lumpectomy and she’s doing well. My friend’s mom was diagnosed with BC at age 80 and like your mom she had lumpectomy. She’s still strong at 86 now! My Aunt was diagnosed with BC at age 77. Thoughts and prayers for you and your mom. Take care,
    Polly 6 1/2 years breast cancer survivor.

    • Polly, thank you for your information. Based on your comment, a friend
      who is turning 80 this year is getting a mammogram. She was told by
      her OB/GYN not to worry about it anymore! THANK YOU!!

  4. So glad to hear the news! Best to you both for a quick and easy recovery with no complications!

  5. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. I was 65-years-old and my two daughters were by my side from the beginning. Your mother is indeed blessed to have you as both a loving supporter and someone who has undertaken the responsibility to become educated on this condition. Thank you for sharing.

  6. I am very happy to hear that your mother found her cancer at an early stage. I just found your blog, but wish that I’d found it much earlier. You put such right on information out in such a great straight forward manner. I would have loved to have been cheering you on sooner. I write about breast cancer and a million other things, but my blog is more of a whine and rant blog, so I’m glad to see that someone is getting the message out in a positive fashion.

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