Mum just told she has cancer

Mum has just been told she has cancer - two lumps in her right breast. The consultant has recommended that she has it removed and she has been booked in for the op in just over two weeks time. I don’t think it has really sunk in yet but I’m really scared. I lost my Dad just over two and half years ago to cancer at the same time that my little boy was born - so it’s been a difficult couple of years. I want to offer Mum all the support she needs and wonder if anyone can advise what may help most.

I am very sorry to hear about your Mum so soon after you have lost your Dad.

I have 2 adult daughters who have supported me, although I have my husband as well. One of our daughters lives with us at the moment and she has been able to offer practical support such as cooking meals when I don’t feel up to it. Our other daughter lives a distance away but has been a frequent visitor and phones most days. She has also sent many bouquets of flowers to cheer me up when I have felt low. They have both listened to me and been a shoulder to cry on at times.

I have really valued having them there to listen to me and they do not tend to come out with the well meant platitudes that some friends do. As your Mum does not have your Dad any longer, I expect that she may need extra help from you. Perhaps you could go to appointments with her, give her practical help such as providing meals for her freezer etc. And on her good days, take her out for the day as having a treat now and then makes such a difference.

These are just my thoughts and others may well have other suggestions about what they found most helpful.

Good luck and very best wishes to you and your Mum


Hi Anne

Thanks for your reply. I’ve offered to take my Mum shopping next week to buy bits that she will need for when she is in hospital. Also arranged to help out when she gets home after the op.

She visited the hospital again this week and has more info on the cancer, the op and what to expect afterwards. I feel much more positive today now that I know what’s happening and what to expect. Thanks for your advice, it really helped…


Hi Mollymoo

I know it is easier said than done, but try to keep positive. I was diagnosed on 6 July and try to think of the all the people I know who have survived breast cancer. When you talk to people, everyone knows someone. Of course there are people who have died and I am not belittling that, but treatment is progressing all the time and the survival rate increasing. It must be awful for you, having recently lost your Dad, but I am sure you will have your Mum for a long time to come.

Lots of love.

Julie N

Hi Mollymoo

I’m sorry to hear about your mum.

I agree with Anne that the practical help can often be the most important, especially if your mum has to have chemo which can be exhausting. I slept a lot during chemo and, as something of a neat freak, it bothered me a lot that I couldn’t keep up with the housework. People tried to tell me it didn’t matter - but it did to me - so the best thing is probably to ask your mum what she needs help with rather than try to second guess.

If your mum is having any surgery to her lymph nodes you can expect her use of her affected side to be limited for at least a few months so she will need help with vacuuming, shopping, cooking, etc - and maybe even dressing/bathing depending on her age and whether she has any other health problems. It wasn’t clear from your post whether she is having a lumpectomy or a mastectomy (I suspect a mastectomy as there is more than one lump.) That can be difficulty psychologically and physically so just be there for her as you are already.

Another thing I’d like to add is that it is common to have a post-treatment ‘crash’. Many of us go into autopilot once we start treatment and it can appear that we are coping well. Once treatment is over and we have the chance to catch our breath the reality of it all can hit hard and depression at this point is common. It is about this time that people start to lose interest and think we should be getting on with our lives. Keep an eye on her at this point as she may need anti-depressants to help her through.

It sounds like you are doing a great job already. I wish you both the best of luck.


Hi Mollymoo,

I know how you feel with respect to your mum - My mum was daignosed back in March and had 2 tumours in both breasts. When she told me I felt awful like our worlds had been turned upside down but as you and AnneG said I helped her by making healthy meals for the freezer took her to buy bra’s which was one of the hardest things we’ve both done as it made it more real but was glad I was there to tell her she’s the most important thing, not stupid breasts, that makes her my mum. Her fear was not being feminine - But she has two daughters - How more womanly can you be than be a mother who is loved dearly!!

I found the day of surgery very hard but a relief as I knew the cancer was going and after that you’ll seem to get swept away with helping your mum recouperate and learn to get used to her new body (I looked up mastectomy scars so when she showed me I wasn’t shocked) and it helped as I was surprised how unshocked I was but think alot of that was I was glad the cancer was removed.

As Lola said during chemo mum was on auto pilot (well she has one last FEC this week) and coped with whatever came her way with the support of us but I am at the fear of the after treatment stage or the ‘Post treatment crash stage’ and am terrified of that but will do everything to keep mum upbeat and positive!!

Its a hard journey for both or you but together you will come through this and before you know it treatment will be over March seems like yesterday to me!

Keep coming back on the website and let people know how you and your mum are doing (there are some amzingly special people on this website). I hope I have helped a little and please don’t feel alone just do what feels right after all you know your mum best!!

Best wishes to you and your mum.