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Supporting my nan through her cancer journey

Posted by


I apologise that this is quite long! My name is Chloe, I’m 22 years old and my nan has suffered from a few bouts of head and neck cancer. She’s had skin cancer and then a tumour in her neck which was operated on a year ago. The operation didn’t go well because her heart struggled and so she ended up in intensive care with the operation being postponed. She managed to get well enough to try the operation again, which luckily was successful. She then went through 6 weeks of radiotherapy (5 times a week) which I went to every session with her. I suffer myself with mental health and have done for over 10 years, I also have physical issues myself including fibromyalgia and chronic migraines which got horrifically bad during my nans radiotherapy treatment where I was getting numbness in my face and pressure in my eyes. I was told it was the stress although I didn’t particularly feel very stressed as I was just getting on with it, however when my nans radiotherapy treatment finished, the migraines subsided. The last 8 months she has done extremely well, she has gotten back to eating fairly normal, she had a PEG tube during her radiotherapy treatment, however she managed to go without using it (she’s a fighter!) and she’s starting low laser light therapy next week. Unfortunately a week ago her consultant was concerned so sent her for a PET-CT scan, within a week she had the scan and a day later she was phoned to come in for an appointment the same week. We went today and we were told they found shadows on both of her lungs. The consultant is only specialised in head and neck so couldn’t offer many answers and has referred my nan to a respiratory specialist. She does smoke around 5 a day and we’re told it could just be inflammation from smoking, however we have been told to prepare ourselves for the possibility it could be lung cancer. I have been an anxious wreck all week waiting for the results and I feel as if we don’t really know much more. I have been really struggling with dealing with my nans cancer because I absolutely love her to pieces. She wasn’t involved in a lot of my childhood, but we regained contact 4 years ago and we are so close now. Even if I do my best not to get stressed, it somehow has an affect on my body and triggers things like migraines off and I am struggling to support her and keep myself well. I’ve never supported a family member as much as I have done with my nan over this last year. If I’m ever not able to go to an appointment with her (which is very rare) then I feel extremely bad, I feel as if I need to be there for everything. I’m going on holiday in 3 weeks, for 8 days, my first holiday in over ten years and I’m extremely worried to leave her and be away in case something happens or she needs help, seeing as I’m the main person who goes with her to all of her appointments. And I’m struggling with not knowing exact answers and finding myself doing so much research about the cancer she’s had and the possibility of lung cancer which I know isn’t good but I can’t help it. I’m not sure if anyone can offer me any advice on any of this? 

Thankyou x 

Posted by

Hi Chloe, welcome to the community. Wow, you've been doing sterling work caring for your nan!

You might like to join the Carers only and Head and neck cancer groups. (Also perhaps the Lung cancer, secondary tumours group  - if need be when you find it more)

It sounds  as if it's all taking its toll on  you, eg the migraines so you most likely could benefit from the holiday. Is there anyone else who can support your nan while you're away? Your mum or siblings? Or can you try n get any appointments made either before or after your holiday maybe? (Preferably before, so u can relax on holiday)

You say you've been researching things. You might "ask a nurse"  on the site here or call the helpline 0808 808 000, 8am to  8pm- probably more reliable n up to date than Dr Google tbh.

Do let us know your Nan's results.The folk here are very friendly n supportive and someone will have similar experiences to your nan, sad but true.

Hope this helps, take care of yourself x

Fear of the unknown is the worst thing. Once we know what we're facing, we find the strength to deal with it.
Posted by

Hi and a second welcome to the online community

It's perfectly normal to feel so worried about your nan as you're obviously very close to her and you want to help her as much as you can.

Although your nan has had to go through a lot over the last few years it does sound like she's a fighter and I'm sure she really appreciates how much you do for her. However, it's also important to look after yourself and having this holiday will hopefully give you the chance to recharge your batteries. 

I'm assuming from your post that you are not your nan's carer so could I suggest that you join the family and friends group where you can get support from others who have a loved one dealing with cancer. If after your nan has seen the respiratory specialist it is found that she has lung cancer then it might help you to join that group too so that you can ask questions about treatment, etc and share experiences with others who have this form of cancer.

To join the family and friends group just click on the link I've created and then choose 'join this group' on the page that opens. You can then introduce yourself after selecting 'start a discussion' or join in with existing conversations by clicking on 'reply'.


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Posted by


Thankyou for the reply! I will definitely look into joining that group. And there aren’t many family members who can help, my mum isn’t my nans daughter as it’s the other side to our family and my sister has loads of issues going on right now so she wouldn’t be able to step in and she never wanted to help out with my nans radiotherapy treatment as she was scared so it was me that took it all on. And that’s a good idea about speaking to someone on here, thankyou very much again, it means a lot x 

Posted by

Hi latchbrook, 

Thankyou very much for the reply. Yes she’s been through a lot bless her, she wrote off the majority of last year especially after her radiotherapy treatment going on until 2 days after Christmas, she’s so strong though, always speaking so positive! Thankyou I will definitely join that group, thankyou very much again x