Terrified of the future

Hi everyone. 

I am 21 (22 next week), and last October my mum got diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer. 

She has refused to receive any sort of formal prognosis, so I have no idea what that actually looks like long term. She is my best friend, we're very very close. But I'm finding it really hard to deal with. I am the type of person who just holds all of my feelings in to remain strong for everyone else. I am the 'funny one' and the 'chatty' one of the family, but I'm finding it so exhausting to keep up. Everytime I go to visit my parents I put on the biggest act, trying to make everyone laugh and have fun, only to cry myself to sleep that night. 

I have a fantastic boyfriend and two great best friends, but the one person who I always confide in is the one I can't speak to. 

I don't want her to know I am so worried, because she is extremely positive at the moment. She looks better than she has done in years and is more active than ever, but all the while she has stage 4 cancer. 

I'm in the middle of completing my PGCE, (anyone here that is a teacher will understand how hard it is), so I am trying to balance so many plates at once and I'm starting to crack. 

Does anyone have any tips for helping me cope any better? I'm just lost. I can't be without my mum. She is home to me. I always assumed she would see me getting married and having children, but now I am terrified that she won't be allowed that chance. 


  • Hi and welcme to our family - though so sorry to hear about your mum.

    My wife when she was diagnosed was very clear she did not want a prognosis and I really struggled with that. However as years have gone by I did come to realise that for many people a prognosis is not really that helpful - just a best guess based on averages on out of date treatments.

    Often of course when people get treatment for cancer the illness that sent them to the GP in the first place gets reduced and so often they do end up looking better - because they are.

    Not a teacher but I was chair of governors for many years and work in academia so I have some feel of what you are going through - and so will the college if you tell them and they will almost certainly have support systems in place for people in just this position.

    Do post on here whenever because someone will always be here but if you need a quick fix ring the helpline.



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  • Hi Steve,

    thanks so much for your lovely reply. It’s so good to know I’m not alone with any of the feelings I’m having. 
    Reading your explanation of the prognosis has given me some more to think about, so thank you for helping me with that! 
    My university and the school I am working in have been great throughout this whole time, so I count myself very lucky for that. 

    it’s really brightened my day to know there are people who will listen to my rambles and answer so kindly. 
    Mum had her 3 month scan again today, and mixed news came back, so I really needed this. 

    Meg :) 

  • Hi   I think that every situation is unique so sharing experiences can help however may be different. My Mum died 2 years ago from throat cancer, at the age of 83. She was offered some treatment to prolong her life however it would not be a cure. She decided not to have treatment, a decision that my sister, who lived near her struggled with initially. The doctors did give my sister a prognosis- when my mother asked her, my sister did tell her, however giving the higher time period. Mum had a type of cancer that was not painful as such, making it hard for her to eat solid foods. She was able to  She died peacefully at home and it was the right decision for her, at her age, 

    A book that I was recommended to read and found helpful was Dear Life by Dr Rachel Clarke. It was useful for the later stages of the illness. 

    Reading information on these pages is helpful I think for preparing yourself, although it will often be general. As a trainee teacher, you will be used to gathering information and assessing it. 

    Information in the news can be helpful- and Dame Deborah James was I think given an 8% chance of 5 year survival on diagnosis of stage 3 bowel cancer. She did not think she would see her 40th birthday- and various other milestones which she did.  Her book, 'How to live when you could be dead' is due out in August. That is also a book I will want to read.  

    I am visiting this website again as my husband is awaiting diagnosis following an ultrasound scan. He had surgery for bowel cancer 3 years ago and made a good recovery. Last time, I was very practical and got on with supporting him through his treatment. There is a saying I have seen on greetings cards- that a women is like a teabag- you do not know how strong she is until she is put in hot water....( I am sure the same can be said for men, or people generally)

    It is however now an anxious time for us waiting for the meeting with the consultant to find out the diagnosis and treatment.

    Your news is still very early days for you- it will take time to adjust and take on board this news that you were not expecting. I am sending best wishes. A phrase that Deborah James has mentioned is 'Rebellious Hope' for how she dealt with her situation

  • Hi Mem.

    Firstly I am really sorry to hear about your Mum. I am the opposite to you in that I am a Mother whose daughter is ill. She is around your age and has acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and I am petrified that I will lose her.

    All I can say is that your Mum is more than a statistic and knowing the odds or chances or even time left is basically a doctors best guess and your Mum and my daughter will have their own very unique journey and statistics will play little part in it.

    Try to enjoy and cherish the time you have with her. Knowing time may be finite makes us experience every emotion stronger and that includes fear and sadness but also happiness and laughter. I have cherished the moments spent with my daughter since she was diagnosed last week, just holding her and we have talked so much about her life, her childhood, happy memories and the time I am spending with her is precious to me.

    As a mother we always want to protect our children and your mum will want to do the same for you even now. She is ill but she is also still your mum and will want to live the best life and spend the best time that she can with you for as long as she can without it all being about the cancer she has and I want the same for my daughter I don't want it to all be about the cancer she has.

    Being vulnerable is normal when dealing with cancer and don't be afraid to share how you are feeling with you mum, she will already know how you feel and is maybe waiting for you to broach the subject so she can get to be your mum and hold you and reassure you.

    I wish you and your mum and extended family all the very best and I am sending a hug and love to you. x x x