Really Struggling

My mum, in her late 60s has been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. She’s having a mastectomy next week, which I’m glad is sooner than later since the cancer is aggressive.

I currently live with her and my dad and I struggle daily to come to terms with this diagnosis. 5 weeks ago everything was fine, and in that time she discovered a lump, had loads of tests done and was told she’d need to have a mastectomy. I mainly struggle with keeping it together for her…it is absolutely heartbreaking to see your mum cry buckets of tears out of pure fear, knowing there is nothing I can do.

I don’t really know how to be there for her. I feel like any advice is just cliche and has zero merit when I am not in her shoes. She is incredibly stressed at the moment and is taking medication to lower her blood pressure and I worry it’s going to take her toll on her. She hates anything being done to her…she hates going to the opticians, even having her blood pressure checked is incredibly stressful. So what is already a big thing to have done is magnified intensely for her.

I’m trying to be grateful that all the other tests have come back clear, that it is just in the one breast and hasn’t spread. But it’s still just such a shock and I don’t know how to get on with my life and I don’t know how to help her with hers with all of this going on. I just want to put a smile on her face and have her enjoy life again but this feels like the start of a very rocky road.

Hi S_main81, sorry to hear of your Mum’s recent diagnosis. I can only give advice based in my own experience as a recently diagnosed cancer patient. The first couple of weeks are the hardest as the reality sinks in and can feel quite surreal at times. I find that I struggle with people around me being weak because coping with my own feelings is more than enough (I do like sympathy and kindness) so I find it easier when my support network (close family and friends) are strong and keep me positive. Your Mum should have a breast unit nurse who you should be able to contact if you feel you need support so that you can vent your feelings safetly away from your Mum - this may also help you to stay strong. I’m 48 and my Mum struggled to cope with my diagnosis at first so I asked her to call my nurse to chat and that helped her a lot. There is also a support number at the top of this site at breast cancer care.  Sending you hugs and hope this helps. X

Dear s_main81,


Yes, all kinds of advice will sound cliche, but they really will matter, especially this first one: be there for her. And being there for her also means listening to her, hugging her, comforting her. Don’t get me wrong. You have been a great daughter and I can only imagine how you are physically and emotionally through all this. But sometimes we forget what being there actually means. My aunt had a tough time when she was alive, and she had no children so we had to take turns and take care of her. It was devastating to see her getting depressed and all. And I hid in the closet to cry at first. But when she saw me she told me she wanted to cry with me, it comforted her. And so we cried together. That was the least I could do. 


Hugs to you and your mom. Keep the faith.