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Ask an Information and Support Adviser

Our Information and Support Advisers, Alex, Ruth and Jenna, are here to answer any questions you might have. They can answer questions about the emotional impacts of cancer and offer practical tips. They'll aim to respond within 1 working day.

anxiety, being scared of whats coming

Posted by


My mum has been diagnosed with bile duct cancer last week and she doesn't speak English so its very hard on us as we had to tell her the diagnosis etc. Since few days she is extremely irritable and snappy, she doesn't want to communicate with us unless is complaining about being in pain. She is in hospital and we cant be there all the time so phone is our only way of communicating. I feel guilty that Im upset with her, that she doesn't try to fight or be at least a little positive. I feel scared of what's going to come as she will live with me soon. 

I feel broken and anxious every day, I don't know how to help her and how to cope with my own emotions, I worry that when she comes and live with us it will be extremely hard on all of us ...but she is my mum and all I want for her is to be happy


RuthS - Macmillan
Posted by

Hello Naynay82,

Thank you for contacting the Macmillan Online Community.

I’m so sorry to hear about your mum’s diagnosis and the impact this having on you all. As she was only diagnosed last week, this is bound to still feel very raw and it’s understandable that you feel worried and emotional.

Renata, quite often within a family, people react to difficult news very differently, and everyone deals with this in their own way. While this is natural, it can cause some tension and conflict between family members. Some people tend to think the worst, almost as a way to prepare themselves in case this happens, while others try to think more positively or practically about what can be done.

It sounds to me like you are doing your best to support her, despite only bening able to speak on the phone – don’t be afraid to ask her directly how she would like to be supported, as this can help you both to understand what she needs, and what you are able to provide. It may also help your mum to think about the fact that you are trying to help, which could possibly change the way she is communicating with you.

You are very much going through this too, Renata, from a different perspective to mum, as someone you love has been diagnosed. It’s so important to look after yourself and feel supported, for your own wellbeing, but also so that you can be there for mum and your family as much as you are able. You will experience challenging emotions, such as guilt and helplessness, but please try not to beat yourself up for the way you feel. The feelings you’ve explained are understandable, given the circumstances, and as you say, it all comes down to wanting what’s best for mum and for her to be happy. When mum comes to live with you, it will be a big change for both of you, and even more important that you have support in place. Is there anyone you talk to honestly about how you feel? Maybe someone outside of the family?

You’d be welcome to contact us on the Macmillan Support Line to talk things through. We offer emotional support and a listening ear – sometimes people find it easier to talk openly with someone who is completely separate from the situation. If mum would like to access this support too, we are able to bring an interpreter on the line, if she would find that helpful. We also have a team of cancer information nurses, if you wanted to discuss mum’s diagnosis or clarify anything the doctors are saying. You can call us on 0808 808 00 00, 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday, or contact us on our online chat facility here.

Renata, you might also like to have a look through a few of our booklets aimed at supporting relatives when a oved one has cancer. Cancer and relationships discusses how you might be feeling and how to manage the difficult emotions and get support, while our smaller booklet called be there for someone facing cancer might give you some ideas on helping mum at this time.

I hope this helps, Renata, and please do keep talking or writing things down if you find this helps in any way. You know where we are.

Take care,

Ruth, 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.