My 19 year old girlfriend was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. I don't know what to do

Cale521 Member Posts: 1

About a month ago my girlfriend was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. Surprisingly she seemed like she was doing so well considering her situation. I have been so proud of how strong she has been throughout it all. Recently I noticed she had been very distant. She hardly seemed interested in anything we used to talk about. At first i though maybe since she moved back to her parents we had grown distant or I had done something. It was only after her surgery recently that i got to see her again and straight away i knew something was up. She wouldn't look at me and wasn't in the mood to be touched or hugged. I asked her if she was alright and she finally told me that that during her surger they had found that it there was another tumor on the other side of her breast. 

She went on to say that very soon we could no longer be togethe because she wants to be alone. I asked her why and she told me she didn't want me to see her like this. She kept telling me that she's dying and that I need to let her go. I have tried to plead with her to let me be with her but she doesn't want me to be. I know that she needs space and time to herself because of what this is but I couldn't live with myself if I just let her go it on her own. All I want to do is be there for her but not being able to hurts. 


Thanks for all the comments and support. It has helped get a better understanding of things. I have decided to give her space and we both agreed that she'll message me when she's ready. I've realised I made it a little hard for her with me stressing too much and that it might help. Thanks again everyone for the support, it has teally meant a lot.


  • jd48
    jd48 Member Posts: 484
    edited June 2016

    Being diagnosed is an absolute shock. There is no 2 way about it - you have no clue what planet you are on muchless what is happening to you or what that means for you short term much less long term.

    Then come many appointments where they interpret results to you tell you what will be done to you and you kind of think they know what is going on. You put your faith in the Surgeon and medical advice and head off into surgery to have bits and pieces of you lopped off in hope they get cancer out of your body. They have biopsied it and scanned you and they know what is going on... Well you think they do at least.

    You come out of the surgery in pain, confused, hopefull all is on track as you did what was asked so you hope you are now on track and at the same time horrified by the sight of your own body. Kind of hard to look at in a mirror as what looks back at you is bruised, sliced up, deformed, black and purple lines slashing your skin, angry inflamed flash, holes where muscle used to be... Depending on what had been done to her no woman could look her self in a mirror and not feel horrified at the best to heartbroken and deformed at the worst in that 1st moment she sees the aftermath of what had been done to her on the operating table.

    There is days of searing pain to get through in addition to the emotional and psychologicl horror but you get through it as you wait the post op appoiapppin with the surgeon where you need them to tell you that since you have done all that was asked from you what they promissed after diagnosis and biopsies things will be OK - they had a plan, you followed a plan, cancer is out and now it is onwards to step 2 - treating the rest of the body.

    Well that is how you walk into a consultation room. What happened to me was probably kind of what happened to your girlfgirlf. Looking at the surgeon anxiously - he has a smile on his face... tells me surgery was a success as the cancer is oou and margins are clear (means they got it out in its entirety) tells me the size which is different than what they anticipated and that a 2nd cancer had been found in the lopped of flash....

    That is where it all ends - brain stop functioning as all you can hear is "I have cancer on multiple places in my body - it is everywhere - it has spread so it is all over. I am listened to them, did what they asked, they should have cut it all off - why did I listen what theirnpre op advice was - I was so stupid and now for that stupidity I am goinf to die long and painfull death".

    There is no 2 ways about it - room spins, surgeon continues to talkn about the results and reccomended course of treatment and you do not hear a thing. All that is pounding through your heads is "I was so stupid for listening to them and now I have to die painfull slow death for my stupidity". Days and weeks afterwards meld into each other - you deal with the same Hell of recovering from the surgery as tou did before.they told you you may need a 2nd surgery or what treatment is to come. Then if there is multiple cancers or soread they tell you Chemo is ahead as a reward for when ther are done butchering you. And they tell you about radiation that is to come afterwards and then potentially how when all is done they will out you on hormone suppressing tablets for 10 years to stop your body acting female. And then they tell is not the end of the world, you will get treatment, when active treatment is done they can reconstruct your boobs... The only thing in your mind was "I am going to die" and now someone - a complete syranger tells you you can be made "whole" again. That is where on top of everything it hit you that the rest of the planet sees you as defective, flawed, deformed, disguisting to look at.

    Hun, I am 44 years old, had a very tough life (including medically) so tough as nails and was diagnosed late Feb and like your girlfrient told post surgery they found a 2nd cancer. Sent me into a tail spin...

    There is no fast an easy way to deal with this. Your life ends when this happen and I do mean it ends. Who you thought you were, what you planned to do dies. Your life is no longer your own - it is controlled by doctors and hospital regimes and their availability or lack off. There is no future as you plan for the future but you cannot plan for cancer. I mean you made plans when diagnosed then life stuck it to you and showed you it does not work that way. Cancer.and medical profession and those arround you that you have to depend on for survival now control you and your life. You have no control ... At least it feels like that.

    It is a shock, it is painfull and hard and heartbreaking for anyone and a total loss of identity and control. 

    She is a baby at an age when world is supposed be there for her to conquer. She is meant to plan crazy holidays, shop for outfits and plan outings... All your friends surely are doing just that... Working out what party to go to, what show to watch, what to wear... This is supposed to be the best time in ones life when school ends and responsibility of life has not hit and she has been told that her life is over.

    At least that is how she sees it ??

    There is no easy way out and no one right thing to do here. She has an ijncredibl hard road ahead of her the next 12 months at least and not just emotionally but physically gruelling. It will be Hell so she she is dealing with the shock of it all. When treatment starts she will be dealing with that too (and it is physically the hardest thing one can ever go through when chemo begins) and you cannot help her.

    Right now she sees no future so for her to comprehend having a romantic relationship of any kind is unthinkable as she sees no future - all she thought that meant life and living is over plus she feels there is a death sentance so how can anyone even think if romance.

    She needs friends - friends that will be parient and not out pressure on her. She needs friends that live in the 'now' and are not telling her she will be OK, she will be cured and that she looks fine... In her head she is not OK, she is going to mkst likely die and she looks like a deformed freak... You tell her otherwise and she simply will mistrust you and run.

    I am not suggesting you tell her the opposite either by the way. I am just saying do not talk of the future if she sees none... Do not tell her how she looks or that she she looks good or that she will be OK.

    If you want to be there for her then do exactly that. Go see her, take her for a walk or a drive someplace quiet and pleasant. When one feels like a freak they may not want hussle and bussle but a nice park or waterisde bench to sit on and recharge batteries.

    If there are foods, treats she likes maybe take some over... If she has books or flowers or music she likes than that.

    She needs space and she needs to know you do care and showing you care need not be words l and it is not grand gestures. You simply being there not putting any pressure, not reassuring and making grand gestures is about the best thing you can do. If she needs something and you are aarroun then you will know what she needs.and can help her.

    Talk to her family about how she is doing and what you plan to do before you spring it on her. But know that she needs she needs friends who will be there no matter what and she does not need a biyfriend right now - she is probably barely hanging in there thinking life is over so trying to continue as it was before will just break her spirit and make her think you do not care as you do not see the geavity of it all.

    If you really want to be there for her than please think long and hhar about it. Go to the localmhospital's cancer cantre and aske them for literature on how to deal with lived one being diganosed with breast cancer as they have it. They can also direct you groups and psychologists who can help. If you really want to help then you need to talk to them. There is no easy way to deal with this.

    And this is now going to sound cruel and heartless but it has to be said. As much as you wish to be there and to help think about it long and hard. Do not hang arround just because she is your gfirlfrien and you had good times together and you believe things can be good again.

    That before life is over. Will never come back. The girl you knew is gone and is not coming back ever.

    What lies ahead the next 12-18 months is a lot of torture physical pain, emotional turmoil and basically Hell. And if lucky then slowly this time next year things start to slowly improve as active treatment dies down and body starts to slowly recover (if her diagnoses allows it as Breast Cancer comes in many forms, types and degrees and prognosis and treatment very much differ). The girl you knew IS dead. Not the body but the spirit and personality are gone forever. The body may be the same but at the end of the treatment she will be a completely different person. She will have different prioritirs and mentally and psychologicaly will be a different person with different ideas, prioritirs, plans and desires.

    Make sure you really want to be there through all this. Take time to really think as the last thing she needs is sosomeo who is there now, who breaks trough these barriers that she is putting up for the sake of bare survival if that someone lets her down down the road when she is barely functioning.

    I know the jdea of being there is romantic and noble but reality if different. Please seek out councelling and help on supporting a palartn through breast cancer.and seak out literature on what it means to go through breast cancer and active treatments before you go down this path. There is also a group here I believe for partners and they may be able to help you too BUT go seek this out activelly and not just by posting - go to thebcancer centre locally and get addresses names etc of those that can help.

    It may sound cruell to say nest to bugger off now and let her be - let her deal with this with her family and without you but if you have visions of a romantic relationship over the comming year then you may be best off and she may be best off for you to walk away right now before she does allow her self to rely on you.

    This is super hard and I see your intentions are noble but please make sure that well before you try to help her or to make her see that you had not changed that YOU are 100% certain that you have the time energy and emotional maturity to trully be there through this whole Hell without actually expecting romance in the end. She surely has councelling and family and support networks and slowly will start to deal with the situation.

    You need to be fair to her but you also owe it to your self and many unfortunately do not do enough research to unserstand just hownhard it is going to be and that fail ??

    I trully wish you and her all the best - whatever you decide but remember that all she needs now is friendship and makinng the 'right now' feel less horible


  • jd48
    jd48 Member Posts: 484
    edited June 2016

    and appologies for the typos - faulty smartphone that inserts weird character groups randomly 

  • Brenda5
    Brenda5 Member Posts: 2,423
    edited June 2016

    Perhaps you both need some inspiration. I can recommend a book from

    I read their journey with cancer book and it did help me pick myself up from the self pity downer and see that even in a limited form life can have a future. Every one has value, even a 19yr old with cancer and she needs to know this.

    Apart from that I would suggest you try and be support for the family. Do some errands for them, sit and wait with them during all the tests, even mow their lawn or do some grocery shopping. Just make yourself available as much as possible as its not just one person fighting its the whole inner circle family. Its a big ask but maybe you can be their dependable little rock who just keeps showing up to lend a hand or a shoulder.

    She may want to turn the indignation, hate, frustration and despair on you so be warned. This is why we have this forum, so we can kick and scream and have a good old rant and it doesn't hurt any one as we all know what life's like with breast cancer. We can support you too, keep on posting. Hugz XXXX

  • Nadi
    Nadi Member Posts: 619
    edited June 2016

    All I can say is that being diagnosed with breast cancer really is an unimaginable emotional roller coaster ride. Not only are you worried about your long term survival you have to deal with all the changes that treatment cause to your body and with self image problems. So much of a women's identity is wrapped up in their breasts and their hair. I remember thinking that I won't look like a woman anymore and that I would be hideous once I had surgery and once my long hair falls out from chemo. I didn't want my husband to see me like that and at times I thought about pushing him away. Add on to that the possibility that if your girlfriend needs chemo they will talk to her about freezing her eggs, as chemo damages your ovaries and may put her at risk of never being able to have children, and to expect changes to her sexuality/intimacy as another side effect of all the drugs. That is an incredible load of worries for a 19 yr old girl to carry.  Her emotions are likely to be all over the place. She will have good days and bad. Unfortunately most at the days in the beginning tend to be bad because you are frightened, physically exhausted and maybe even depressed.

    What comforted me the most was my husband telling me that he would love me no mattered what I looked like, that I was more than my breast, more than my hair and that through the good and the bad he would just be there for me in anyway that I needed.

    I wish you and your girlfriend the very best and hope everything works out.


  • ScorpionQueen
    ScorpionQueen Member Posts: 768
    edited June 2016

    Cale521.... I am so terribly sorry that your girlfriend has had to deal with such shocking news at such a young age......

    Let me start by saying, she is lucky to have you, you have come here for advice on how to help her..... being told you have cancer is a massive shock! Your mind gets put in a protective's a real roller coaster ride of emotions...It seems she has gone into this fog and is protecting herself and others from her news. As her partner, be prepared to ride it with her....she may not want to see you right now, but she will...just be there.....remember she is in shock and disbelief at the moment...just let her know you are there....try not to force anything on her at the moment...just be there.....sit quietly if you have patient.

    Although I don't know the full extent of her cancer.....or what her surgery entailed......By the sound of it her cancer has been detected early and it seems she has had the appropriate treatment so far.... . Of course you hear the word cancer and you automatically think, I'm going to die! But she needs to know that BC is not necessarily a death sentence! The treatments and services these days are exceptional.....just look around here and you'll see for yourself..

    I really hope she is being counselled through this, being so young, and that the medical team have provided appropriate support networks for her....I'm hoping her parents are supporting her too..... she will come out of this initial shock of diagnosis and heal from her surgery and treatments, if any....

    She is young, strong and beautiful....she can beat this....many have... and many will!

    Remember to take care of you too, she needs you to be strong and upbeat, but at the same time if she's having a bad day, let her....

    Sending you both love and light for easy recovery and beautiful days...

    Xx<3 xX



  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,388
    edited June 2016

    This is really hard for you too! 

    Right now your girlfriend is swamped with fear and sadness. Just keep letting her know you are there, that you care, even if she won't see you yet. Is she getting positive help elsewhere? From her family? She needs advice about living, and help to focus on what she can do, at a time when she will feel very powerless. 

    You are right to try to support her, even if she feels she can't ask this. Make sure you get some support too. These are very hard times for everyone. 

  • primek
    primek Member Posts: 5,392
    edited June 2016

    As you have read from others so many emotions to deal with when diagnosed. I am wondering if writing to your girlfriend may help if she won't see you. Let her know you care and want to be  there for her. Let her know even if at this time she doesn't  want you as a still would like to be her friend. Breast cancer is difficult enough for long term relationships to cope with so a new one is even more challenging. I have no other answers except to say to you it is not you but her presently. Keep trying and if all else fails at least keep in touch via her parents so that you know how things are. Thinking of you. Kath