How to tell mum there is nothing else they can do?

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My mum was diagnosed with stage 4 GBM in May this year following surgery. She has since had 6 weeks of radiotherapy and chemo (TMZ) and is due to start chemo again at the end of august. They have told us that the consultant may scan again in 3 or 6 months. My mum was told that her cancer cannot be cured but she could be offered treatment, and since this conversation in May she doesn’t want to know anything else. I completely respect this but I have so much anxiety about the next few months and results that we get back from scans. When it gets to the point of tumour growth and there is no more treatment that can be offered, I don’t know how we will manage these conversations with my mum when she doesn’t want to know? I wish I wasn’t thinking about this already as I want to be positive but it feels like it’s inevitable we will reach this point and I am so worried. Is there any advice you can give for how we tell Mum without actually telling her if that makes any sense at all?! 

  • Hello Justlooking and thank you for contacting the online community.

    I’m sorry to hear about your mum’s diagnosis, it’s understandable you’re worried about what might happen in the future. It’s not an easy conversation to have so it makes sense you want to prepare for it in some way.

    If you have to tell your mum about what’s happening further down the line, it’s probably best to be totally honest Justlooking. Whether she decides to accept what’s happening or not is something out of your control but at least you’ll have been clear about what’s happening. It may be upsetting, but denial is a strong coping tool and should be respected. Some people will eventually accept their situation, but some choose to stay in denial. If that happens, try to accept it.

    Our publication Talking About Cancer is aimed at patients but it has a section on ‘telling people the news’, some of which might be helpful. It talks about things like choosing the right setting and checking understanding.

    Something else to consider is if this is information you feel you can properly relay to your mum Justlooking. You might find it hard emotionally when the time comes to say what you need to say whereas a health care professional will have lots of experience with this. Her consultant could perhaps have that conversation with her as they’re likely to be able to answer any questions she might have, and some people tend to ‘hear’ news more if it comes from a healthcare professional.

    I appreciate this must be a difficult time for you just now, how do you feel you’re coping? Do you have much support around you? We’re here to support you of course so please stay in touch if it helps to talk or if you have any further questions.

    Alex, Information and Support Adviser

    Remember you can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or by email.

  • Hi Alex 

    Thank you so much for replying. I don’t know how I’m coping to be completely honest. It’s a whirlwind of emotions that I wish I could run away from. Of course that isn’t an option and I am trying my best to be strong for my mum, and my family. I do have lots of support around me but nobody truly understands what I’m going through. Thanks for your advice it makes complete sense, im just so scared for my mum and wish I could protect her and her feelings. She is only 55 and it feels so unfair :( 

    I’ll have a read of the link you sent to me. Thanks again.