Feeling guilty

I had a lumpectomy on 12th November and am having full lymph clearance on 10th December. I am a single parent with a daughter away in university 3 and a half hrs away from where I live. I have no other living family members. My daughter has already missed 2 weeks of uni and is insisting on being home for my next op. She is very stressed about the fact that her exams are due in Jan and she has not done all the work for them. She is worried that she will fail them and be put back a year. This is all she talks about, and gets very very distressed and is often in tears. I know I have no control over getting cancer but I feel very guilty that she is so stressed because of me. She was already taking anti depressants before my diagnosis. I am trying to be positive about my cancer but all I can think of is my daughter. Sorry for rambling. Have no one else to talk to and I don’t feel that I can burden my daughter further if I try to explain how I feel.


Hi Hester

I am sorry you are having such a difficult time and are worried about your daughter please feel free to contact our free phone helpline on 0808 800 6000 if you would like to talk to someone in confidence about how you are feeling. Everyone on our helpline either has experience of breast cancer or is a breast care nurse. The team comes from a variety of backgrounds, so callers get to talk to someone who has an understanding of the issues they’re facing. The team is able to talk about both technical and emotional issues surrounding breast cancer and breast health. The lines are open Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm and Saturdays 9am - 2pm. We also have a peer support service as it sometimes it helps to talk to someone who has been there. Our Peer Support telephone service aims to quickly put you in touch with one of our trained peer supporters, who has had a personal experience of breast cancer, I have added the link to further information breastcancercare.org.uk/content.php?page_id=4438

I hope this is of some help to you.

Kind regards

I’ve just been diagnosed (mastectomy this coming Friday) and have 2 kids at Uni. My son is in his final year (so finals next summer) and my daughter has just started. I made them both promise to inform their main tutor and both have had sympathetic responses and been told they can have extensions to work due in etc. There is no easy answer regarding your daughter but have you tried talking to her? Maybe if she realises that you will feel better if you don’t have to worry about her etc?? Has she tried the counselling scheme at her uni? Try to remember that you are not responsible for how she chooses to react to your diagnosis-sounds hard but my philosophy has always been:‘It’s not what life throws at you, but what you choose to do with what life throws at you’. If she was already on anti-depressants BEFORE your diagnosis then it sounds like counselling will be the bet.
I try to be as upbeat, but also as honest, as I can with my 2 and encourage them to talk about it.
Good luck!
Love Gill x

Hi Hester

Can only reiterate Gill’s comments. My son is now in his second year at uni and they have been fantastic in their support (both to us and him).

I was diagnosed with secondaries just as he started his A levels and then last year I started to go downhill again (although I’m feeling really good now) but the uni couldn’t have been more supportive and said to him that he can go home anytime he wants to, just to let them know. He decided that he wanted to stay at uni and I’m glad he made this decision as he has some sort of normality, although things are okay here with me at the moment.

I think its similar to another thread on here by ‘Seabird’ - she said that if you’re okay, they’re okay. Having said that though, it must be really hard being a single parent and no other family members around so my heart does go out to you.

Love Pinkdove

Hi Hester

I can understand your feelings, I have a 12year old daughter who has just changed schools (7th Sept) and I had a mastsectomy on 28th Sept. Obviously because of her age I contacted the school to let them know what was going on and have found the support for both her and me has been invaluable, can you not between you find out if there is the same support through the uni or perhaps the students union could help. There is support out there it just seems a monumental task finding it when you are worried about both you and your daughter.

I wish you all the best for friday, and hope that your daughter will come to terms with this, and do well in her time in uni. Once she sees that your are on the mend so to speak she will probably feel better, I know my daughter did and I have just received her first school report for the first half of term and she has excelled herself managing to come 25th out of 275 pupils. She has her down days when she gets worried, but she knows that she has a network of friends, councillors and me to reassure her.

All the best Heather

Hi Hester

First things first, have a hug. You’re dealing with a lot.

Your daughter seems to be finding all this very hard, one, or both of you need to make sure her uni knows what is happening. They have so many kids that just aren’t interested or can’t be bothered to work that, unless you tell them they’ll not know. There are many things they can do to help your daughter - but only if they “officially” know.

If it really comes to it though, staying ack a year isn’t that bad at the end of the day, but I doubt if that will happen. She might have to redo some assignments etc during the summer break, and resit an exam or two at the start of next year. You don’t say which year she is in? So I am assuming she’s in year two. Perhaps she could stay at uni until you’re coming home again, that may be more normal for her than sat at home thinking?

One way or another she and you will get through this.


Ruth x x x

Thank you all so much for your comments.

Hester x

Hi Hester, My daughter is also on anti depressants, and was in the very first week of her first year of a degree course at Uni when I was diagnosed in Oct 2006. It was very tough for her, and she had time off to be with me on the day of the op. To be honest, I don’t think they can concentrate to do any work if they stay at Uni.
She also had bronchitis just afterwards.
Although she passed some of her exams, she didn’t pass them all and they let her re sit the year. At the time she was upset, but now is much happier and doing well.
It is important that her tutor knows what is going off as they can then take it in to account.
I wish you both well, it is over a year now since my op and things seem back to normal now.
Hugs Heidicat