Mum just been diagnosed with cancer

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My mum has just been diagnosed with cancer after a year of fighting to get the diagnosis. I know deep down in my head it’s gone too far now as her health has declined massively and has more and more symptoms of it spreading I’m struggling in my own head to deal with that I’m going to lose my mum who I’m so close to. My kids her grandchildren don’t know yet and I’m so scared to tell them they are going to lose their nana I can’t support myself so how am I going to stay strong for my children they are so close to their nana and it’s going to break them. I feel like I can’t get through this and don’t know what to do or who to turn to. I’m struggling seeing my mum in so much pain with no help were do I go from here 


    I’m sorry to hear that your mum has been diagnosed with cancer and that her health is declining.  After a year of waiting for a diagnosis, that diagnosis must have been so hard to hear.   It’s understandable that you are struggling in your “own head” to process everything, alongside the thought of losing your mum.  Coping with the news that a loved one has cancer is such an emotional time, and trying to find the words to explain to your children must feel so hard.  I’m really glad you have got in touch.

     You mention you feel you can’t get through this: how have you been coping   ? Do you have plenty of support around you? Please know we are here on the Macmillan Support Line as a place you can contact to talk through how you’re feeling and access emotional support. We are also here to support with any general medical questions you might have, as a result of what you’ve been told, and what you are seeing with your mum in pain.  Our Cancer Information Nurses are here, alongside us, every day of the week from 8 am-8 pm on: 0808 808 0000 or via web chat. Do keep in touch as much as needed,  we don’t want you to feel you have to cope alone.  May I ask   is your mum’s GP supportive at this time? 

     When facing the loss of a loved one, this is the hardest of times, and there is no right or wrong way to cope, as each family is different.  I am wondering if you are experiencing what is called anticipatory grief?  Most of us think of grief as something which happens after death.  In fact, grief can start a long time before someone dies, but is often not talked about.  You may find this link below helpful, to explain in more detail.

    Anticipatory grief.

    If you feel you need additional support,  as well as contacting us on the Support Line.  Marie Curie, have advisors, just like us at Macmillan, but they are trained in Bereavement Support.  Please feel you can reach out to them as well as Macmillan.

    Marie Curie Bereavement Support Service.

    You may also like to explore if there is a local Macmillan Support Centre nearby to where you live  : often they will offer emotional and practical support as well as having a good knowledge of additional local support services for your family.  You can search if there is one nearby using our in your area tool. This tool also allows you to search for local support groups if connecting with others coping with a similar experience would be helpful or of comfort.

    In Your Area

    With this type of support in mind, our Online Community groups: Family and Friend’s Forum may also be valuable sources of support.

       you may find this link helpful from the online community as it talks about coping with anticipatory grief.

    Online Community coping with anticipatory grief

    I can see from your message; you are preparing yourself, and your children, for the loss of a much-loved mother and Nana.   Preparing children for the loss of a relative is an incredibly hard thing to do. You will know the best way to do this for your family, but you may reach out for support from professionals such as your children's school, a nurse, or doctor at the hospital.  Being open and honest with children is often the best approach,using clear, age appropriate language.  You may find the booklet below supportive, you don’t mention the age of the children, but I hope it's the right choice. 

    Preparing a child for loss.

    The booklet is written alongside the childhood bereavement charity Winstons Wish.

     Winston's Wish

       I don't wish to overwhelm you with information as you can always come back to us for support. 

    Take Care


    Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Advisor

  • Thankyou so much for getting back to me I just want to sit and cry all day everyday I’m trying so hard to stay strong so my children don’t pick up on this but I’m struggling. I don’t have any support only my mum and she is struggling and crying everyday too with the pain and knowing she is going to die. I lost my brother and my dad so there is only me and my mum left and my mum is the only one that understands me. I feel so lonely and scared. No my mums gp has never been supportive she has no support either she’s struggling with her pain struggling to know when her time is up and what’s happening. Everyday is another challenge. I am definitely grieving the  loss that is going to happen in grieving for myself my kids and my mum. It’s so hard and I don’t know were to turn or what to do. I’ll have a look at few of the links thankyou 

  • None of the links are working 

  • Hi  

    I'm so sorry about that, the links have been updated so they should work for you now. Do email if you have any further issues. 

    Best wishes, 

    Macmillan's Online Community team


    I am so sorry the links weren't working.  A colleague has helped to put them right, they seem to be opening now.  I really hope they help. 

    I can feel you are isolated with only your Mum for support, and she is struggling with pain, which must be so hard to see.   hopefully, the In Your Area Link is now working, so you can find some support locally to you.  To speak with others in the same situation can be comforting.  Of course you can always call us on 0808 808 0000 on any day from 8am to 8pm.

    It's so hard to hear that Mum's GP is not supportive, especially as your mum is in pain.  I am wondering Kelly, maybe someone at the surgery can look into your Mum's situation and see if she is eligible for a Macmillan Community Nurse to call.  

    The Macmillan Nurses, are what's known as Palliative Care Nurses that specialise in pain and symptom management as well as offering emotional support and helping to co-ordinate care. These Nurses come under our banner, because as a Charity, we fund their initial training and development and they then go on to work for the NHS. As such, they work on a referral basis:  a health care professional such as the G.P, or District Nurse can chat with Mum about a referral to the local Macmillan Community Team.  There are many other types of nurses who help look after people with cancer at home. These include district nurses, hospice at home nurses and Marie Curie nurses.

    This link, will give you more details.

    I hope this is helpful  

    Please keep in touch and let us know how you are.  There is a lot to think about at this time.

    Take Care


    Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Advisor