my mum won't talk to me

my mum was diagnosed with bc 5 years ago and was since coming to the end of her tamoxifen treatment, but a few weeks ago a mammogram showed abnormalities in the same breast and it has turned out to be DCIS. I just can’t believe it’s all happening again, im trying to keep positive but its so hard, when i see my mum and how upset she is, she’s like a different person at the moment and it kills me seeing her in so much distress but i don’t know what to do. She will have to have a masectomy on her left breast because she has incurred cancer twise in this one now. I hear her talking to her sisters about things but she will not talk to me. She will approach me with the odd worry but that is it.

I feel such a selfish daughter, she said she wanted me to carry on like normal because she said it would add more worry to her knowing that i was being affected, so i have tried but now my dad said why haven’t i asked her how she was or that i should stay in more with her. I havent asked her because i don’t want to start her worrying again by reminding her of the cancer if indeed she had taken her mind off it, but now i feel so awful and such a horrible daughter because it looks like i don’t care when i do so incredibly much. She tells me thats she fine and to go out but i don’t want to know, i just wish she would say what shes really thinking. I just don’t know what to do, how can i do anything when i don’t really know how she feels?

Thankyou for reading this post, i feel so much better for just getting this out, even if no one replies.

Hi bigfootchan,

This is a difficult one isn’t it. Perhaps if I give a perspective of a mother of three 22, 25, and 28, then maybe you can find some similarities.

I was diagnosed (dx) nearly 2 years ago, telling them was the hardest thing to do. They have completely different characters. One just took the news and got on with life, he asks how I am and is helpful when I am going through treatment. the daughter is concerned and will try to help when she can but works all hours God sends so to speak. The youngest is the most sensitive, I often want to protect him from the reality of what is happening.

I have to treat all three in a manner that I feel suits their personality and circumstances. I am not saying that I get this right but I do treat them differently.

I have just had my third set of surgery and needed to call on my daughter for support knowing that she doesn’t do domestic chores with a sense of pleasure, so whilst she was company she didn’t help where I really needed it.
This did not make her a bad daughter and she did say she felt she had let me down, but you know what, I didn’t agree because she tried and I know she does care.

Her dad was a little cross with her but that was out of a sense of frustration that I didn’t rest as I should have, but that was my fault.

My daughter doesn’t see me as much as I would like but I accept she does her best, the three of them do not have to compete for amount of time and help given to mum.

Relating to your mum does any of my experience ring any bells? You say your mum doesn’t tell you the same things as your sisters, could this be because she wants to protect you? Or does she expect your sister to tell you in order to save her going over the same things again. Perhaps your mum forgets who she tells what, I can be guilty of that!

I am sure you are not a bad daughter you are just adjusting to this new way of life, your mum will love you no more or less.

Could you find a time to talk to your mum on your own and tell her what you have said on this site, I bet you will be comforted by what she says.

Take care

Just as a suggestion, why don’t you print off your post above and let her read it, then you can both hopefully sit and talk about your fears and worries, both understanding the other’s point of view.

Love K

Hi Bigfootchan,

I’m so sorry to hear of your mums recent diagnosis. I can only give you advice from my perspective but I hope it helps…

I was diagnosed in March, age 34. I live with my boyfriend but we do not yet have children. I had a right mastectomy and total axillary clearance a week after diagnosis. I started chemo in may, which I finished today. Next its rads and Herceptin for me.

Personally I have found it very difficult at times to confide in those closest to me, and instead have opted to have counselling so I can really ‘unleash’ my feelings. When I talk about it it makes it all the more ‘real’ and its a reality I don’t always want to acknowledge! Also, I have tried very hard to shield my loved ones from how I am really feeling sometimes. I know how upset they would be and I don’t want to worry them anymore than I have to. I thinks its a bit of a defense mechanism. My poor boyfriend gets the brunt of it all with me. He gets all the tears, the ‘what if’s’ and the worries. I really don’t feel I want to burden my mum, family and friends with it all. Their lives seem to revolve around me at the mo, and I prefer it when they are able to get some normality.

I can totally understand the reasons that may be behind your mums actions. Perhaps she feels more comfortable speaking to her sisters rather than burdening you. Please don’t feel like you are a horrible daughter though, as I’m sure no one thinks that for a second. I think Kelly’s idea is v.g, and maybe sonething you could consider?

Take care,


hi there Chan,
you’re not being a ‘selfish daughter’ at all. Actually, i don’t think there is such a thing as a good or bad or selfish daughter, you are only ever just you. that aside, i think that your Mum probably needs to just talk with women that are not only her own age group, but that she has known all her life. That doesn’t mean she is excluding you, probably trying to wrap her head around it herself first.
I think the best thing you can do is be the daughter she knows and loves. Whatever you do best, do it. That may be you notice when Mum is tired and make her a cuppa, or replace the flowers in the vase, or just give her a hug … be yourself. But also tell her how you feel, maybe set aside some time together … even go to a cafe for a cup of coffee together, and then talk to her. But don’t beat yourself up, Mum will be trying to do what Mums do - protect her child, and however old you are, you will always be her child.
My two daughters ( 28 and 23) know I talk more to my sister - but, once I’ve worked it in my head I tell them too.
Give yourself a hug and remember that your Mum loves you very much, the last thing she would want is for you to feel you were being a bad or selfish daughter.

I’m pretty sure your mum is trying to protect you from hurt.

I too have 3 children aged 28, 26 & 23. The oldest 2 live nearish, the youngest 100’s of miles away,When I was diagnosed, I had to tell him over the phone as he was working in Spain at the time. I got the local ones with their spouses together. After hugs, my son went upstairs and came back after obviously having had a cry. My daughter was quite bouncy, like the news was nothing. This shocked me.

As a mum I wanted to protect them, and still do, not telling them everything. But my daughter who I thought I was quite close to, actually was in contact with me less after diagnosis. After a few wks of me trying to talk to her, knowing if I did I would cry, and my kids have never seen me cry, I finally sent her an email, telling her how I needed her to just keep intouch, ring me occasionally etc.

This worked really well. We got together, had a talk and a walk arm in arm, she told me she loved me, cared for me more than ever but just didn’t know how to talk to me now! I told her to just talk to me like before. She still forgets to ask me about medical appointments etc, but I love her (she’s my first born), and she knows this too. Our bond is too strong to be broken by BC.

You need to tell your mum how you feel, tell her exactly what you told us, get her to tell you what she wants but make sure she knows how much you are hurting. COMMUNNICATION! Hugs, flowers, silly cards, emails, phonecalls, anything to remind her you are there for her, don’t give up!

Good luck


It’s already been said, but Mums have a really strong instinct to protect their children. Even as the doc told me it was cancer, my first thought was ‘how can i tell my children’. that was the thing that got me most upset. i felt i could cope with anything, but i could’t bear to inflict that pain on my kids.
As time has gone on, we’ve been able to talk very openly about our feelings, sometimes it’s been painful to face the 'what-if’s but I know this is a path we’ve walked together. it is so important to be honest with one another.
i think the others are right about showing or telling your mum what you wrote here, and start from there. Also, just asking how she is, sending a text to say you’re thinking of her on appointment days, or taking the initiative in clearing up after a meal or offering to make a coffee can be really precious little touches.
She will also want to know that you are getting support - i was so glad when my teenage daughter said she had burst into tears at school and a teacher had taken her somewhere quiet for a chat (and a chocolate biscuit!) as i needed to know she had others supporting her and that she wasn’t bottling up her feelings. So maybe you could tell her when you’ve been talking about it with your friends or if someone’s been particularly nice to you over it.
i hope this helps. thinking of you both
love jacquie

Thank you all,

Your comments have been so helpful. Its nice to see everything from another view point, as many of you have said you’re mothers yourself and can understand why my mum is doing this. Im 21 and i think this time has hit me so much more than when it happened when i was 15/16. After i had written my first message i took the next day to spend time with my mum, we went to town and did a little bit of shopping and it was so nice to just talk about things, made it a whole lot better. The day i had written that message was definatly one of my low ones, i have read on this forum that many people will have highs and lows every day. I do try to help like i will try and cook dinner most days so i hope that helps my mum. Thankyou so much, reading all those messages made me shed a tear, if not from relief that you all understand where i’m coming from.

Thankyou so much.

bigfootchan - you remind me of my own daughter. She too was just 16 when i was first dx, then 5 years later I had a recurrence so she was your age - 21, and a very caring lass like yourself. She was at uni the 2nd time around. But the first time was going thru GCSE’s. I never hid from her what was happening but i didnt burden her with my fears. I was willing to answer any questions she wanted to ask - and to talk about it if she wanted me to. Sometimes she would get very cross if I was going for further tests/scans and hadnt told her. But I explained that if the scans ever showed I had something to worry about then I would tell her though I wasnt willing to share my unfounded worries with her. I would say go on making it clear you are there for your mum. Help her in little ways so she sees your care in a practical way. Then I think I would let her know that when she is ready you are a willing listener. Oh - I am also 17 years on from that first diagnosis too. I know right now you must feel this is a terrible blow but there are a lot of us out there who live, and do so quite well, with this disease. Does your mum use the internet? Maybe she isnt comfortable with a site like this because everyone can read without joining. If she wants more privacy than offered here she could always join the other site which is a bit more private on Also if you want to talk do feel free to private message me.

love Dawnhc

Hi Dawnhc,

My mum doesn’t use the internet but she did mention forums and so this is how i found this one. When i told her though she said she would rather not read about BC because it would worry her more and remind her about. I think it might be best though because i have seen a few posts on this forum that i think would upset her more and I’m trying to keep her hopes high as possible. It’s strange how everything has happened like it did with you, it is very encouraging to read what you have just written though, after 17 years yours still healthy and well and i think that is definatly something i will tell her about tomorrow.