single parents with young children and breast cancer?

I’m Katie; I’m new to this site.
I was told two weeks ago that I has breast cancer and last week has a lumpectomy. It seemed to be healing fine but my nipple is now so black and swollen and is weeping blood and pus that my dr has put me on antibiotics.
The thing is, I am so grumpy about everything anyway, and now I am in such pain with my boob that I can barely sit near my kids - my two year old constantly jiggles and climbs over me. I live alone with them and am at the end of my tether. I SO don’t want their little worlds rocked by what is going on but I feel like I cannot handle very much more on my own.
Can anyone offer some friendly advice/tips/ways of approaching this?
I feel so lonely and sad and fed up about it all.

Hi MamaKT, I’m so sorry to hear you’re feeling so down at the moment. My breast cancer was diagnosed at the beginning of November and I have had chemo first, just had my 3rd session which went surprisingly well but I put that down to the Lorazepam they prescribed as they tried to put a picc line in for my collapsing veins but failed. Am due to have a hickman line put in on the 31st to try and resolve it.
I too am a single parent. My son is 9 and is autistic. I have explained as much as I can to him but tried to avoid the innocent outburst of mum has a lump which could be announced anywhere really. It has been hard cos he needs to know something is happening to explain why I’m not as cuddly or even tempered as I was before. I spoke to someone on the breast care helpline about my guilt about not being a good parent and they said that ultimately I have to use this time to look after myself and so long as my son is warm, loved and cared for then he will be OK. She was right cos as a parent I want to do so much more and behave just like I did before but I can’t at the moment but I have to tell myself this will be short term and eventually we’ll get back to normal.
I think findind some sort of explanation for them as to why things are different is really important staying as close to the truth as you can but tailoring this to the ages of your children. It’s really hard when its just you and them or in my case just me and my son. I still have to do everything and be mum like he expected before. I have told him I am tired sometimes and sometimes it just hurts but its not him that’s causing it.
I really really struggled in the early stages. I was very frightened of letting my son down but I have settled into the routine of treatment and so has he which I have been amazed at but I also realise its OK not to be a perfect or even nearly perfect mum at the moment. I have to look after me aswell as him and I havn’t been used to doing that.
The helpline could be a good place to try. The woman I spoke to reassured me I was OK and not getting it wrong. It’s just a new way of living for a while.
I really hope you feel better soon. The treatment plays wild games with my moods but I am learning about them now which is helping me to manage my emotions. It’s hard on your own but it’ll be OK. Kids are very adaptable and very resilient.
Take care x

Hi Katie, I am sorry you have to find yourself here but forum and the helpline is a good place to come to when you are feeling low. i had a friend who is a single Mum and went through the whole BC thing on her own - it is really tough but she had the support of some friends and her sons school which really helped.
Do you have friends/family nearby who you can call on for support - what about your ex? You may need some backup during the next few months but you will get through it.
The bruising , swelling and bloody discharge after wle isn’t that uncommon it will hopefully disperse in the next couple of weeks and although it hurts it isn’t dangerous - unless it becomes hot and gets infected.
My children were older than yours when i went through my op but I remember totally loosing it with them one day (they had allowed the bath to overflow causing a huge mess). I felt so bad afterwards but a wise friend said don’t worry if it is normal for you to yell at them when they do something silly (which I’m afraid it is) then don’t feel too bad - normal is good I hope he was right - it made me feel better anyway.
Having young kids is difficult anyway and being a single Mum and having to do the whole BC thing - it is a lot to cope with. We are always on here to offer support but if you need something more practical try your BC nurse or MacMillian or Homestart.

Hi I believe there is a book you can buy called mummy’s lump which might help explain to your children questions that they will ask as you progress on this journey which will be at times very rocky but you will come through this! You really do need someone you can off load all of your anxiety and someone to come with you to the earlier appointmenwhete ask questions air take in information that you might forget. I am divorced but close to my mother in law who has been a rock all the way through my treatments and I couldn’t not have done this without her. She doesn’t come now to my appointments as they are mainly routine and I did all radiotherapy on my own after the uninitialised consultation. Apart from that when you are at home on your own and the kids are in bed you can come in here and rant and we are all here for you xxx

Hi Katie and welcome to the BCC forums

In addition to the support and shared experiences here, our helpliners are here 9-5 weekdays and 10-2 Sat on 0808 800 6000 to offer you further support and information

This link will take you to the BCC ‘Younger women’ information page where you will find further support ideas and the Mummy’s lump book kindly mentioned by Carrie:

Take care


Hi mama, I just wondered if you had spotted the Facebook group thread since you’ve been on here? I set up a group a few months ago, just for younger women who have had a breast cancer diagnosis. If you look in the younger women section of the forum, you will see the thread and link. There’s 175 of us now, chatting away in a private group, so it might help you? It’s called younger breast cancer network (uk) if you fancy searching for us on Facebook. We’d be delighted to welcome you. Xxx

Hi, I’m a single mum to a 5yo boy and am just coming out of the other side of a year of treatment (two surgeries, chemo and rads). I think rockydog’s comment about realising you don’t have to be perfect is probably the best advice out there. You will have days when you feel upset, fed up, angry and blow a fuse, just as you would before bc. The thing is not to feel guilty about it (often difficult I know) yes this is a more extreme version of normal life and emotions but it is still fine for them to see you have a whole array of emotions and will help them feel able to express themselves in front of you as well.
My boy has coped surprisingly well with the upheaval in his life (we’d only just moved afather splitting up with his dad before it all happened so he’s had a hell of a year), far better than I imagined to be honest despite everyone telling me he’d cope. I had just moved to a new town and knew no-one but its actually been my new neighbours and mums at school who I’d never met before that have been lifelines through this. Take on board offers of help, try to think of specific things people can do for you, play dates to cover the countless appointments are great as the children will feel they get something good out of this as well and you don’t have to stress if the appointments run late (which they always seem to!). I was fortunate to get my parents to help out for a few days after each chemo session by they couldn’t stay all the time and I won’t deny its often very hard having to drag yourself up to care for children when you feel you need looking after yourself. I relaxed some house rules to get through tough times (iPad games in bed first thing in the morning so I could rest helped!) and took as much help as I could whilst trying to keep as much of his life as normal as possible (I think i only missed half a dozen school runs in the whole year)… Do also go on and on to your team about being a single parent, its not always possible but they can often arrange appointments to suit your childcare a bit better, I just wish there was some type of crèche facility at hospitals, radiotherapy was a nightmare for me organising childcare daily (it was in the summer holidays and they wouldn’t delay it for me) but I got through with play dates in the end (really, other mums are great, use them)
i did use the mummy’s lump book but be really really careful with how you use it. For me it caused more problems than it solved. It has a very stereotypical family portrayed and threw up questions about whether daddy was moving back in (an awfully angry daddy kicking the lawnmower no less!) and has a bad portrayal of the little boy in there who is never shown close to his mum always apart which was queried by my boy as he thought he wouldn’t get cuddles anymore. I found explaining things in terms he could understand and answering whatever questions he had as best I could was far better. I wish I’d never shown him the book to be honest but I didn’t feel there was any other support out there.
Feel free to pm me if you want to chat, it was a really tough year but doable and feels good to be coming out the other end and I think my relationship with my boy has become much stronger for it. Using the forums here has also helped as it gives a safe place to vent when its getting tough. I’ve made some fantastic friends on here and its been good to have people that know what you’re going through so you can say what you like and get it all out of your system.
Good luck with treatment