How do I help myself get through close family member having cancer?

Hi, 

I feel a little silly writing this and know my family member/others are going through the tough part of this illness, but I feel when I see photos of others family members and friends that are at the end of life or going through chemo makes me think negative about things. 
My family member found out last year they had stage 4 follicular lymphoma  (can’t remember the month as it’s still hard to process and honestly I can’t process it either) however they’ve already had to stop and start treatment due to getting another type of cancer during this treatment (both types of lymphoma). They’re going through this more stronger (I know that’s not the right word but can’t remember it right now) chemo now and if it doesn’t work they’ll need a bone marrow transplant which I’m really concerned about because I have health issues and won’t be able to be a donor which makes me feel helpless after they’ve brought me up and I can’t do one little thing for them. It hurts knowing that.

what can I do to try and get my head around this? 
my family member is very open and tells me everything when they know but I don’t want to show them I’m upset I’d rather show them “me” the bubbly chatty person not the low in mood one because I don’t want them to feel bad if they know I feel this way or for them to see me this way when you don’t know how much longer they have. (I’d feel bad them knowing I feel this way) 

kind regards and best wishes to all x

  • Hi Dee!

    I think it's amazing that you've reached out on here, so please don't feel silly at all. It's difficult to let yourself be vulnerable, but sometimes it's so necessary. I am sorry to hear about your family member, I completely understand how you're feeling right now. In fact, it's almost as if my thoughts have jumped ship from my brain and created their own account!

    My family member is also very open about their diagnosis, and they encourage me to be the same way, but like yourself, I have a lot of trouble with them seeing me like that. Their diagnosis is still quite fresh, other family members have been able to "normalise" it, but I haven't reached that stage (not sure that I ever will). What has helped me slightly, is talking with my partner, as well as my closest friends, to air out the negative and confusing thoughts. When I don't want to bother them, I write it down, just to get it all out of my head. That's also a good one if you don't know how to verbally articulate how you're feeling at that time. If you don't want to read it back, you can always rip it up as soon as you're done, but at least it's out of your head then. When things got really heavy, I called Macmillan, and the wonderful lady advised that I make an account here, to connect with others in similar boats, as well as book an appointment with my GP. If you feel able to speak to your doctor, they might be able to signpost you to groups or services that can help with the emotional support. I hope that being here also helps you, just as I hope it can help me. 

    It's a long process, and it's never bloody linear, but you've made the first move in asking for help, which can feel like a mountain to climb sometimes, so a huge well done!!! Please be kind to yourself, these situations can affect us in strange and distressing ways, but one thing I try to remember when I'm feeling impatient with myself for having these feelings is that I wouldn't feel impatient if it was someone else talking to me about it. I hope this helps in some way, even if it just makes you feel less alone with it all. Take care, my dear x

  • Hi Leanne,

    thank you so much for your reply! It honestly has helped me so much! I never thought of writing down my thoughts then ripping them up but seems like such a good idea. 
    move tried the doctors and they’ve given me numbers to call I’ve rang them and they’re not the numbers I need so I’ve been ringing so many different numbers I feel like to give up on it Face palm

    I think I’ve been thinking more recently as I’m speaking/video calling my family member a lot and seeing them a little more swollen and no hair just makes it so much more home hitting in a way and it’s their birthday this week and because I’m working that day I feel like a failure (work in health and social care so won’t be able to get the day off) thankfully I’ll see them the day before. 

    It’s a bad situation for anyone but I’m so glad there’s people out there including yourself that really do help even if it is just writing it all down and knowing you listen! 

    How are you feeling? 
    You’re not alone either even if you feel like it. I’ll always message back if you need someone Blush 

    Take care xx

  • Good morning, Dee :) 

    I am glad that my response was some kind of help to you! It's not easy when you're feeling alone with something as heavy as this, so it's an important moment when you feel understood and related to. I'm sorry to hear that your GP has been a bit useless, you don't need that right now. One charity that was recommended to me is Maggie's, I think they have centres all over the UK, I'll certainly be visiting my local one. From what I've seen on the website (https://www.maggies.org/), they offer various types of support for people living with cancer, as well as family and friends. The 1-2-1 emotional support looks promising, so I'm hoping to get something out of it.

    I totally understand the feeling helpless, as well as the shock of seeing your loved one while they're going through the treatment. You do such a challenging and demanding job as well, I am sure that your loved one understands why you can't be around as much. The fact that you're taking the time to speak via calls and video is probably super appreciated as well. I live a couple of hours away from my family member, which can feel like a million miles at times, but checking in with them and calling them whenever I can has been helpful. 

    It's hard not to feel isolated with this stuff, even with our loved ones around us, but this community makes it feel a little less lonely. I hope that you're feeling okay today, thank you for your wonderful response and your support. Likewise, I am just a message away if you need to chat xx