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Mum cancer. Keep replaying over and over. Scared.

(23 Posts)
bumbleclat Fri 25-Mar-16 04:04:17

My dear mum (63) went to hospital after a routine blood test today and they told her she has Leukaemia. I live 3 hours away but straight away drove down to be with her.
I am feeling so scared and shocked Ibdont know what to do.
My mind keeps replaying the moment she told me over and over again- even the word Leukemia scares me.
I keep waking up feeling frightened and disturbed for her as though she is trapped in a room with a killer and there's nothing I can do about it.
Thanks for reading, any hope or experience gratefully received I just don't know how Im going to go back to where DH and I live knowing what's happening for her. sad

MrsWhirling Fri 25-Mar-16 04:12:12

I'm sorry about your mum's diagnosis, but I hope now that she will start her treatment and be well again soon. It is a massive shock and I took my own mothers diagnosis with Liver Cancer in 2013 really badly. In fact I just went to bits - I am normally a very rational person. Does your mum have any other family close by?

bumbleclat Fri 25-Mar-16 04:22:10

Thanks. I hope so, from what au understand and know if you want to be alive with C you have to agree to be pretty sick with side effects so either way it's shocking and disturbing.
The idea of her getting well seems like too much to dream for but maybe there is hope so thanks for saying that.
I too am normally very rational.

DisgraceToTheYChromosome Fri 25-Mar-16 08:53:35

flowers for you. It's going to take a while yo get over the initial shock, as I remember well. The best thing you can do is Be There, but you need to make sure your fears don't become too overt. So: practical help with lifts, cooking etc. Talk online to families of people living with cancer. This is a good resource: justthetalk.com/personal/11123/living_with_cancer . The thread starter writes with wit, strength and resignation.

Courage.

TheLesserSpottedBee Fri 25-Mar-16 09:06:39

flowers so sorry to hear about your Mum.

Does she have a partner/husband? Do you have any siblings?

As MrsW says, it does come down to practicalities, so lifts to hospital appointments, food shopping etc.

My MIL was given blood transfusions at home for her leukaemia rather than travelling to hospital. She was also helped by Macmillan re applying for benefits that she was entitled to which helped offset the costs of travel and she got a blue badge, as did my Mum when she was diagnosed with cancer.

What about you? Can you take time off work or arrange to travel to your Mum's on a weekend?

I won't lie, it is shit. But people do survive cancer. There is hope. Cling to that.

Sn0tnose Fri 25-Mar-16 11:43:52

I'm so sorry for your mum's diagnosis. Obviously, it's terrifying. Especially if it's the first time you've ever thought about your parent's mortality. I think people hear the 'C' word and assume it's a death sentence. I won't lie, it's a fucking awful disease and heartbreaking to watch a loved one suffer, but there is every chance she will recover. And the side effects vary from person to person.

When my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer, I found it helped me to concentrate on the practicalities. Things like making sure all of her bills were set up on dd so it wouldn't matter if she wasn't feeling up to going into town to do her banking. Organising her shopping on line, making sure the dog was walked etc. Macmillan is an invaluable resource and I'd recommend you get in touch with them asap so you start getting help as quickly as possible, even if it's only advice on just explaining procedures. And then, when you're at home, you can cry as much as you need to.

Something you might find difficult is well meaning people wanting to tell you about their next door neighbour's aunt's friend, who had the same thing, and what happened to them.

Oh, and if she's going to have chemo, it can often leave a patient with a nasty taste in their mouth. Take a big bag of sherbet lemons with you; they're sharp enough to cover the taste and make it a bit easier. flowers

CuttedUpPear Fri 25-Mar-16 11:53:00

Hi OP I'm so sorry to hear your news.
I hope you don't mind me joining your thread. My SM has also been diagnosed with leukaemia about a year ago. We don't really understand anything about it, apart from that it's not uncommon in the elderly.

So far she seems to be leading a normal life. Obviously I don't know how it is for your mum but I hope she can continue to live her life well with your support.

PacificDogwod Fri 25-Mar-16 11:54:42

Sorry to hear your mum's bad news and how deeply it's affecting you.

You need to find out more about what type of leukaemia your mum has.
Many forms of blood cancer in older people are, relatively speaking, benign and progress very slowly. We talk about 'cancer' as if it was one disease, and really it is NOT - there are very aggressive and hideous types of cancer (and leukaemia) and fairly indolent types that are more like a chronic disease rather than something that makes you ill and kills quickly.

LeukaemiaCare is a good source of information.
Chronic myeloid leukaemia can be present for years and decades and not necessarily make the person ill.

Get more information under your belt.
Don't get too far ahead of yourself - none of us know what's around the corner.

It is great that you want to be there for your mother, be another set of eyes and ears for her. No doubt there will be more hospital appointments etc - write down questions as they occur to you, also jot down answers if you want. Keep a notebook specifically for questions/problems/things you want to raise. It is so easy to forget in the heat of a consultant appointment.

Sending you and your mother good wishes and the hope that is won't turn out quite as gloomy as you think just now.

PacificDogwod Fri 25-Mar-16 11:55:57

Types of leukaemia

Sn0tnose Fri 25-Mar-16 12:01:23

I've just been thinking back a few years and wanted to add something.

Obviously, everybody deals with their diagnosis differently, but my experience was that it was very important to listen to my mum's reactions and be guided by her. She was a little taken aback that so many people didn't know how to talk about it, and avoided her, so I made sure that it wasn't something I tried to pretend wasn't happening. And she has a fantastic sense of humour, so we'd try and find the humour in a situation (it won't seem like there will ever be anything humourous right now, but further down the line, if she wanted to laugh, I laughed with her).

ladylambkin Fri 25-Mar-16 13:01:41

Sorry to hear about your mum. One of my parents was diagnosed with cancer almost 2 years ago, they are still fighting it but still here. I'm normally a go to person in an emergency situation however when I was told the news (by my brother who was in such a state) I actually broke down completely and it threw me for many weeks afterwards. My advice is to be there for your mum for all her appointments if you possibly can..I know it may be difficult for you as you live 3 hours apart. If anything it helps to remember what doctors are saying as I know when we all go as a family to appointments we all come away with different snippets of information even though we have heard the full conversation. It can hard to hear some things and please don't hide your emotions, let it out and be afraid at times. Cancer does not just affect the person but those around them and with all that energy amongst you the fight will be a good one. Sending you lots of love at this horrible time

ladylambkin Fri 25-Mar-16 13:06:28

Sn0tnose.....agree with the humour...we had some of the funniest times while the worst was happening but I think that's what gets you through it. In our experience we were told our lovely parent would be in theatre for 12 hours then on life support..imagine our surprise when we went to see them and they were sitting up in bed full of the drugs and absolutely so funny, recalling stories of our childhood and just really well! Adrenalin pumping through their body as they had come through it and were still alive. Even now that day fills me with dread it was awful but the end result was just fantastic we knew then everything would be ok

springydaffs Fri 25-Mar-16 13:25:27

Ime of having just come through cancer treatment (breast) I can honestly say it all becomes very normal in a way. I have made some great friends and we are all normal! Just with this waft hanging around us that frightens the bejesus out of everybody...

Treatments now are so straightforward and effective. Brutal, certainly, but they do the job. As others are saying it's the practicalities that swing to the fore eg I had no energy during chemo and needed practical help (I live alone so noone to change my bedding..)

Yy to people trotting out their cancer stories (including the ending you don't want to hear, thanks hmm ). I have become very adroit at blocking my ears and singing lalala. All done humorously but ultimately sparing me the details. You have to be quick off the mark though - I assume people are going to say something stupid so I have my fingers metaphorically ready.

So be ready with practicalities - right down to the minutiae. I found it hard to accept, even ask (!), for help but I had no choice. She may struggle at the role -reversal so bear that in mind.

I know barely anything about leukaemia only that my good friends mum has /had it and is taking an extremely expensive drug c/o the nhs and living an entirely normal life after many years.

flowers to you and your mum flowers

springydaffs Fri 25-Mar-16 13:27:17

Brutal in my case, sorry - not everyone has to have chemo eg <guilty of trotting out stories blush >

bumbleclat Fri 25-Mar-16 14:40:56

Thank you all so much for your lovely, helpful responses.
I will try my best to be there for appointments, she has a mental illness what would now be called bi-polar and I haven't lived with her since I was 18 months old (I'm now 32) but I've always visited and had a really special relationship with her.
Role reversal isn't an issue because the roles have always been reversed.
I'm going to set up an online shop so that she can have food delivered.
She lives alone in a top floor flat which requires her to climb 3 flights of stairs, so I'm not sure if this will need to be changed at some point before long.
I just wish I lived closer- I'm just coming into the last third of my first year of teaching full time so I can't really afford to take school days off.
She has a brother and sister living close by who will I'm sure give lifts not to mention my cousins who would help if they could.
It's worrying to me her spending too much time alone.
My granny (who is 96 and very able) still has my mum come and stay at her house every weekend until Tuesday but I can't see this continuing because my mum will feel so rough after chemo.
She has a great SOH and said this morning; 'looks like I'm still here then!' Which we both laughed about.
Thanks again, I'll contact Marie Curie xx

springydaffs Fri 25-Mar-16 19:33:09

Ime I was much more incapacitated than I expected. I had two types of chemo; first not so bad, second gruesome and increasingly incapacitating.

To that end, if at all possible, get a relay system set up with local family. Ime visiting wasnt enough ('popping in'), I had to arrange for people to stay.

Yy we're talking months (give or take I was very poorly for 6 months). And there are a wide range of different chemos, some not too bad. But look at it that it is finite: 'just' n months.

I wonder if mh charities would have something to offer in the way of practical support? You could also see if her GP practise had a bank of volunteers (mine has - they were wonderful!)

bumbleclat Fri 25-Mar-16 22:22:43

Thank you so much, Springydaffs, what a strong person you really are.
I will really hold on to what you've said and I'd like you to know that somehow your post has given me a moment of peace and comfort in a hellish mind.

springydaffs Fri 25-Mar-16 23:33:01

I don't know how because I have cut straight to the chase! But I wish I'd known all this before it got into full swing..

ime (<< again!) I couldn't say the C word for a few months. Perhaps you're feeling a bit like that? We're all so terrified of it aren't we - I certainly was before it knocked on my door. Not any more though. I was gripped with terror when I got the dx but that went quite quickly - even if I searched for it I wouldn't be able to find it.

I hope that comes soon for you flowers

Unescorted Fri 25-Mar-16 23:47:10

Bumble it is such a shock. We went through this with my dad 7 years ago and my mum last year. Both are still with us.
Humour, practical help, refusal to be defined by the illness and hugely improved treatments that mean more people survive than don't got us through.

bumbleclat Sat 26-Mar-16 08:43:42

Thank you, I went off to sleep last night trying to visualise her all better and looking back on this time as a difficult period (probably sounds naive) but it helped me get to the next moment.
Yes I'm scared of the C word, I keep saying if in my head again and again to try and desensitise myself.
I fear that I'll not be as hands on as I want to be because mum loves so far away. Her retired siblings (my aunts and uncles) are nearby so I hope that they will be very proactive.

Mrscaindingle Sat 26-Mar-16 08:57:53

I think that the shock of the diagnosis is in many ways the hardest part really.
I remember this well when my dad was diagnosed with cancer, (over 20 years ago now) just trying to take it in was really hard.
As others have mentioned if you're going to get cancer some have better survival rates than others and leukaemia is one of those.
Sounds like your mum has support and a good sense of humour which will really help. Sorry you're going through this but your mum is lucky to have you. flowers

bumbleclat Sat 26-Mar-16 16:08:56

Thank you so much.
I was in the post office earlier trying to sort some stuff out re paying her bills and stuff and I stumbled upon a book called The Cancer Whisperer written by a woman who's been diagnosed a few years ago. I read a little bit of it and each paragraph uplifted me. I'll buy it when I get paid.
Yes. The shock is really powerful and the fear of the Unknown.
When Ibtry to inform myself online I end up down scary alley ways and disturbing anecdotes which don't help.
When I go home on Tuesday I'll be freer to contact Macmillan without worrying my mum.
I am lucky to have her and am so happy with the relationship we have.
Thankyou flowers

springydaffs Sat 26-Mar-16 19:30:09

No, it's not naive to see it as a difficult period and then it's over. If you're naive then so am I (and I"m not!)

Don't google! Dear me, don't google.

That book sounds good.

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