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When is it cheering up and when is it minimizing?

(9 Posts)
Fiere Fri 08-Dec-17 22:00:43

Hello all,

I wonder if you can help. My amazing mother was recently diagnosed with incurable breast cancer. I won't go into it all here, but the oncologists are confident that we can keep it at bay for a while, although we haven't asked re: a timeline.

I have been trying to remain upbeat and positive around my mother, but now I'm worry that in doing so I might be minimizing what she's going through.

Can anyone going through something similar share a personal perspective? Is there a good balance between cheering her on and also acknowledging that it's a huge and scary thing?

I'm terrible at showing my emotions openly and I'm finding it really hard to strike the right balance.

I just want to help make her feel a bit better sad

Fiere Fri 08-Dec-17 22:12:12

should add - flowers to anyone who is going through similar

secondhoneymoon Fri 08-Dec-17 22:19:13

I am really sorry to hear this, sorry also I can't answer your question. My Mum had cancer, thankfully she is ok, but I know what played on her mind a lot was getting her affairs in order, letting me know where her will was, what kind of funeral she wanted etc. So maybe part of the 'not minimising' is about practicalities and plans - understanding her wishes. So your talking openly about the inevitable outcome. Then you can balance that with a he upbeat, having fun when she can etc. Might not be appropriate in your situation, just my thoughts. Huge hug, I know it's an awful

NoSquirrels Fri 08-Dec-17 23:00:56

My mum is in this situation. When first diagnosed she seemed very ill & we thought we had no time - 4 years later the treatment has been extremely successful (with lots of ups and downs). Prognosis is always incurable but we are just thankful for every month/occasion/holiday etc.

Practically speaking - initially my mum found it impossible to plan further ahead than 3 months (time between scans). Accepting that and working with it helped her. She has always brought up practicalities when she’s felt ready - and more often to my DSis than to me. I have allocated myself the role of cheerful pragmatist wherever possible, and am always available to help if asked but don’t push. But your Mum might be different, it’s so hard to say. Small things like recognising her limitations and offering solutions are always appreciated by my mum - cleaning the bottom of the fridge/freezer/that drawer she can’t bend to etc. Heat pads/tray tables - anything where you can solve a problem before it’s a real pain are good for my mum.

flowers I hope you have as long with your Mum as possible.

Fiere Sun 10-Dec-17 22:08:07

Thanks for your replies secondhoneymoon and NoSquirrels - sorry you have been/are in similar situations.

I just wish I could go inside her head and scoop out all the worry she must be feeling! I just feel so helpless.

KitschNCabernet Mon 11-Dec-17 02:48:08

Hello Fiere, my sympathies to you and your mother. My DH is in a similar position (but lung cancer). I do find it hard when friends/acquaintances cheerily say how it will all be fine & he will be better in no time etc. He hasn’t said anything but it does make me wince. I agre that this feels like any suffering is minimised and can leave the patient with a burden of trying to live up to someone else’s prediction. I have to remember that everyone means well, even though they are sometimes clumsy in their exI think it is ok to ask your mother how she is feeling, and most important to let her know you love her and are there to support her. If you find expressing emotion difficult I can see that this might be hard for you. Perhaps, try some physical touching? Small gestures can be significant and your mother may know you well enough to know what it means.
In turn, you need to make sure that you too get love and spport from your circle to help you care for her.
Take care.

CharleneMonaco Thu 14-Dec-17 16:16:06

You might find the book Late Fragments by Kate Gross a useful guide through this very difficult time.

She talks pragmatically about living with a terminal diagnosis (she had stage 4 bowel cancer) and how to give support.

Sadly, Kate died two years ago but her family say "she left us a manual for living". It is a moving and funny memoir and I think it might be helpful.

CharleneMonaco Thu 14-Dec-17 16:20:25

Robert Webb describes the book here much better than I can.

Imaginosity Sat 23-Dec-17 00:00:52

I had cancer a few years ago and for a few weeks, before the tests were complete, I didn't know if It was treatable or not. I felt so lonely when people were upbeat about it - I felt they didn't want to hear how I really felt so I had to keep all my worries bottled up - and I had to struggle through putting on a brave face for them. One friend was great and just said - 'that's terrible, you must be so worried' - and I felt I had permission to spill all my worries out.

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