18 answers

How to Deal with Mom Cancer

I had always heard of others with cancer but never imagined it would happen in our own family....My mom was diagnosed with Colon Cancer THIS MORNING...we dont know the stages or anything yet...even so, I really dont know how to deal with it? I"ve been crying all day....If anyone has any exprience in this matter, on how to show/or not show my feelings...I REALLY DONT KNOW .....I have two younger sisters and we haven't even been able to tell the youngest :(

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So What Happened?™

I can't thank you enough....We took the first advice in telling my youngest sister this morning...it was hard on all of us but at least now we can all talk about it even when she's around. We are now waiting till we know what "stage" she is in. praying is all we can do at this point.

More Answers

S. -

Unfortunately, I have had too much experience with cancer so I truly sympathize with you and your family!!! I lost my mom 6 1/2 years ago & recently helped my mother-in-law through her bout, not to mention plenty of other close friends and family before my mom. There is no real right way or wrong way to deal...you have to feel the way you feel - especially with the shock being so recent. Crying is OK right now, but remember, there has been nothing definitive & so things could be better than you think. The diagnosis isn't necessarily a death sentence. As time goes on, the best thing to do is stay informed about everything that is going on & remain as positive as possible no matter what. Despair will only bring defeat. Now is the time for your family to really rely on & support each other. If you &/or your sisters live in the same town as your mom, help her by going to dr. appointments and such with her. I was at college when my mom went through her bout & missed a lot of things, partly because I didn't want to admit that there was anything wrong. I think that hurt her a lot in the long run. However, I was by my mother-in-law's side as much as she needed me. Don't be afraid to show your emotion whether it is with your family or a close friend & don't be afraid to seek counseling either.
I am praying for you & your family

1 mom found this helpful

So sorry to hear your mom has CANCER... I survived CANCER my self and I am sure she will beat it too!!!

Love, G.. :0)

Hi S.,
I am sorry your are going through this. I don't know if I am going to be any help but thought that I NEEDED to reply to your request. I have been in a similar situation (my mom was also diagnosed with cancer when she was 65 and died the same year). My mom's cancer was not curable. On a positive note, colon cancer is sometimes treatable, my grandmother had it many years ago and she is now 99 years old, cancer free and doing well. Whatever you do, PLEASE, PLEASE don't delay any more in telling your younger sister. Just put yourself in her shoes, you would want to know, no matter what. I have personally been "sheltered" by family members not wanting to tell me bad news and once I learned the news I felt resentful for not having known the truth earlier. If you can't tell her face to face or over the phone without completely breaking down, you might find it easier to write it or email the info and explain to your sister why you are writing it. Here is an example of wording you could use: "I hope you don’t find it cold to correspond in writing/e-mail but I could not get the courage to tell you by phone or face to face without completely breaking down." Do it ASAP!
Back to how you deal with your feelings...I don't know if you are married or have a close friend, but I used to share my feelings about my fear of losing my mom with my husband. It helped a lot having someone to talk to and a shoulder to cry on. It is hard to do, but try to be strong for your mom. I am sure she would not want to see you so upset and it will help her if you try to keep your composure around her. Something that helped me is trying to view her illness as a process where you have to take just one step at a time. Don't look ahead too much. If you will be involved with her treatment and will be speaking to her doctors, listen to what they have to say and ask questions. Doctors sometimes tend to give false hope so make sure you ask, ask, ask. Find out as much information as you can (the internet can be a great source of information as well). It helps to know what to expect, but try to deal with each situation as it comes. It really doesn't make things any better to "worry"...better said that done, I know...
Lastly, I recently read a book that has completely changed my perspecive in life. You may have heard of it (from Oprah). It is called "A New Earth". This book has helped me live in the "now" instead of worrying about what the future holds. It has also helped me immensly in dealing with my mother's loss.
I pray that God will guide you and your family in this new journey.

I suspect if you check with the hospital they have the names and numbers of support groups to help you guys deal with the scary info. My Mom had breast cancer while I was in college and not near her, then 13 years later has a return of the same thing, for which she is on medications for the rest of her life. What helped me was information on what was going on and prognosis for the disease and what things there are available out there to put it in remisssion. It also helps that my Mom is amazing and has this phenominal "we will get through this" attitude. Also her Oncologist and his assistant were very calming and talked me through the steps and what to expect mext. the best thing though was information on the disease and where were we going to go from there. Also, support your Mom and, even if you cry, try to be as positive that together you can beat this thing as you can!!! Good luck!!!

Dear S.,
My dad had cancer and it was very difficult to deal with. I just learned to take one day at a time. Be patient there are so many great books that helped me too. Please make sure someone is always with your mom with drs appts. My prayers are with you and your family and my heart goes out to you.
Take care of yourself, if you dont you cant help mom. Walking helped me, still does.
N. H.

my grandmother had it. she was diagnosed in her 60's and chose to do nothing about it. her husband (my grandfather had passed of a heart attack when my mom was still a teenager. He had been gone many years. 20 i think. however.. when it finally started to bother her she went thru what most people go thru with cancer. she had series of radiation treatments and chemotherapy. it shrunk the tumor just enough so that the docs could remove it by surgery. it was basically in her anus. they could not help her with that she had to get a colostomy. that is when they attach a tube to your colon, thru your abdomin and attach a bag to it so she "poops" in the bag. Her anus was sewed up. When she finally wanted to do something about it, she was in her 70's. she passes away at 75, but of unrelated issues.
I am assuming your mom is in her 50's ( I am guessing this because you and I are about the same age) If she is a healthy
woman and its in early stages she can totally beat this.

you have to give yourself time to grieve. this is a normal process. and its good to be sad, because it shows how much you really love your mom. and as much as its going to suck to tell your younger sister, you are going to have to.

after all that.. just focus on your mom. since my grandmother was older I took her to doc appointments, usually once or twice a week. and just make more of an effort to be with her during this time. however, make sure she is handling it ok, and give her her space when she needs it.

My heart goes out to you S....

My Mom had breast cancer twice...just love her...support her in the decisions she makes...help her with research...and finding people who have the same thing to talk to...Don't forget she is still a woman with a woman's needs...touch and sharing space is very vital to who we are...allow her to work through her own feelings...be the brave soldier...cry on your own time...This is a path of huge growth for all involved...T.

I'm so sorry and I wish I could give you a big hug. My mom died when I was just 5 years old, not from cancer, but I don't think it really matters how the parents were taken, just that they were taken.
I think your feelings, no matter how they are expressed are completely legitimate. I would suspect that you need to be strong with your mother, but certainly allow yourself to express your true feelings with your sisters. You WILL need some sort of outlet. The youngest needs to be told.
I have studied a little bit about natural cancer treatments...email me if you are open to the idea or would like some sources to read. If not, I wish you the best and allow yourself to grieve should your mother pass. Use this time to spend with her the most and in the best way you can.

I dealt with this myself more than 10 years ago. Colon cancer sucks. It was something his father and sister died from. Now, however, I'm happy to report that my dad is more than 10 years cancer free!

First, let me tell you that this type of cancer has a HIGH cure rate. It depends on the stage. Whatever the case, your mom needs to know you'll be okay and the others will be okay regardless of the outcome or her decision of what course of therapy to follow. If she knows you all are dealing with it healthfully, it will give her the freedom to deal with it herself plus she'll feel free to keep you in the loop. Being "okay" with this situtation does not mean that you guys put up a brave front. It does mean that you need to show her that you all are dealing with things healthfully and you have the support you need. Be there for each other. If you just hide your fear/pain, she's going to know you're NOT handling it and will add stress to her. The best gifts you can give her right now is (1) your love and support (2) feel what you feel but be optimistic and (3) knowing you'll make sure to be checked yourself at appropriate times. As to the last, I have a scope on Wednesday! Hang in there!

I am so sorry. My mom is a Breast Cancer survivor of 2 years. My advice is to be as loveing and supportive to your mom and the rest of the family as you can be. You might also want to find a support group. My mom went to a support group and she said it made all the difference to her. I hope your mom gets better.



I am sorry to hear your news. My Mom is a brain cancer survivor of 5 years. All the reading on the internet told me my mom would not live through the chemo and radiation after her sugery for longer than 6 months because of the location of her tumor and the late stage. Just remember that the stats are not individualized for your mom's case, so you can't trust them to apply to her. I think that if you and your family (mom and sisters) are already used to expressing your feelings, then by all means keep on talking about your fears and hopes and options. Lots of luck to you.

Hi S.- I'm sorry to hear this news. Don't start panicing until you have all the facts. I've had to deal with cancer in my family and my best friend. It is not fun, but you have to face it and deal with it. Wait until you know all the facts before you spread the news. You don't want to panic everyone into thinking it is terminal when you don't know if it is in its early or late stages. In its early stage there is a lot that can be done and your mom will be fine. Don't hide your feeling or feel you have to be strong for everyone, just go on with your life in the manner you feel you should. If your instinct is to be with your mom do it, if it is to find balance between visiting your mom and your family do it. I caution you to remember your children. What you do and how you act has a profound effect on them. Make sure you continue to treat them and spend time with them like you always have. Again, stay focused on the facts, don't imagine the worst and wait til you know what the cancer is doing and what the plan of attack is. You will find it will be easier to get through this is you go step by step. God Bless you and your family.

Dear S.,
I am so sorry to hear of the news about your mom.
My maternal grandmother passed away from breast cancer at 52 and I was always so terrified the same would happen to my mom. I am 45 and was very little when all this happened. Back in the days where all they knew to do was give you cobalt treatments. My mother is healthy, and will be 66 in August.
However, my father got cancer. Kidney cancer. Two years ago. Everyone said it was a death sentence. But, my father refused to believe that. It may sound weird, but my dad's illness actually brought us closer together.
The main thing is, the person who is sick does not want to upset anyone else. I freaked out and my poor dad was worrying more about me than himself. It made me feel very selfish although he never said those words to me. So, I still had my feelings and my fears, my belief that I could not survive if something happened to him, but.....everytime we talked, I tried to be my usual positive, funny, encouraging self. I wasn't the one who was sick. I didn't need to change the person I always was because that wasn't going to help anything. He needed me to be his strong, silly, spiritual, "always look on the bright side" daughter. He needed me to be the all the things that he had always adored and been so proud of. He needed to be able to lean on those things not changing. Oh sure, we have cried and prayed our heads off, had some of the most wonderful talks of our lives. And he's still here. In fact, I talked with him just yesterday. Two years ago, I was too upset to even imagine it. But then I started believing. I started believing that he really wanted to be strong and he needed me to help him with that.
There is no way for any of us to know how to measure our length or number of days on this earth. But we can control the way we spend the ones that we have...at least as far as our attitudes.
Please let us know when your learn more about your mom's diagnosis. If it's okay with you, I will say some prayers for your family.
Just remember that if you fall apart, you won't be able lift her up and she really needs that from you right now.

God bless you.

Dear S.,
I'm so sorry you are having to go through this. My mother also has dealt with colon cancer. In her case, it was quite dramatic with emergency surgery, infections, multiple attempts at treatment, etc. (And she lives in Southern California, which made it extra difficult!) She is currently doing chemotherapy to try to eradicate any cancer that might be left. But we have a friend whose colon cancer was discovered much earlier and went through "easier" treatment, and it was still very hard on the family, especially emotionally.

I found with my mom that it was ok to show my feelings and talk about what was happening. (Not crying and distress feelings--I share those with my husband. She didn't need to worry about me as well as herself. But to be there with her, go to doctor's visits, and talk about treatments, and share how God could be working in us through this tough time.) It was also ok to just sit with her and chit chat about everyday things, or watch a movie, or talk about a good book, or brush her hair for her. Even though it's a BIG thing, it helped to not treat it like the ONLY thing.

The main thing, though, that helped me through it was my faith in Jesus. I don't know if you are a woman of faith, but the Scripture that kept me through this time was Philippians 4:7 "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." I imagined God's peace as a soldier with a large sheild standing guard over my heart, helping me fight off all the sadness and uncertainty and fear.

Please find a way to tell your sister soon. I'm sure she would not want to be kept in the dark. (At least if you are a close family.) And for your boys, they will be able to sense that something's going on. For my children (who were about 2 and 4 when it started), I told them that Grandma was very sick and that we would pray for her and the doctors would try to help her too. I didn't go into specifics unless they asked. But they needed to know why Grandma was in the hospital, why they couldn't go in the room to see her, why Mommy was sad, why Grandma looked different, etc.

I feel for you, and pray that you will have all the strength and peace that you need. Please feel free to write back any time if you have questions or need someone to talk to.

OMG... cancer is such an ugly disease... I'm so sorry you have to go through this. I lost my dad from lung cancer, my brother recently from abdominal cancer and my sister has leukemia.

Crying is good. I find the more I deal with something early on, the easier it is. From experience, I would say talk about it... it's there and it's good to keep up on what's going on with your mom. Be there for her as much as you can. With my dad, there are 4 of us kids... one lived by him and then on the weekends, the others took over.

I do know that they have made a lot of advances since my dad 12 years ago. My brother had successful surgery but passed from complications. It may be that they can do surgery and chemo and take care of it.

What I do is go on the internet and learn as much as possible about the disease... pros and cons and the reality of it. I find that helps me deal with it... I don't like surprises when it comes to this. With dad, I contacted the Cancer Society and they sent me info.

I don't know how close or emotional your family is but I would say to try not to cry around your mom if possible and be as positive around her as you can. I would do things for her... extra things like bring her fav flowers or whatever makes her happy especially since you don't know the outcome. Is your dad around... if so, I would be sure to be very supportive of him.

You will be in my thoughts and prayers... C.

my father in law was diagnosed with prostate cancer several years ago. There are a lot of different treatment options for things now especially if it's caught early. My father in law had surgery, and is now on a special diet and medication and such and I think he's in remission now. Just try to stay calm and get as much information as you can about what's going on with her medically. The more you know the more you'll know what to expect. I'm not sure how young your youngest sister is but if she's old enough to understand it's important that she be told. If she's really young then maybe tellin her in simpler terms might be easier.
Hopefully the cancer is in the begining stages and can be eliminated entirely and quickly. I wish your family luck and the best.

S., I'm sorry to hear such news about your mom. I lost my mom on Oct 23, 2002. She had a very rare type of cancer. Neuroendocrine cancer. She found a lump in her groin area that was removed and found to be malignant. She also had a tumor in her rectal area, but it was not colon ca. My mom was all I had (and my dtr).I cried when I first heard the news that she had cancer, but never in front of my mom. I never wanted her to know how scared I was for her. I cried in front of friends too. I think it is ok to express your feelings in front of your sisters. You are only human. If I were your youngest sister, I would want to know. I don't think hiding the truth could help matters, esp. when others know the news.

I'm sorry to tell you such a horrible story, but I do have one with a better outcome. My (ex) mother-in-law was dx'd with colon ca about 17 yrs ago. She ended up with a colostomy. I believe she had radiation and/or chemotherapy. She is now 77 years old and still takes care of everyone in the family. She enjoys watching her grandchildren and is always on the go. She has been cancer free ever since her operation. Usually, if the cancer is caught early, they take out the cancerous section of the colon and if possible, just reroute the rest of the intestines or like my mother in law, she will have to live with a colostomy which is a hole in the abdomen where she attaches a bag that catches the "waste".

I wish the best for your mom, you and your family.

I'm so sorry for your family. I wish I had some miracle for you other than prayer. But I will say a pray for your family.
I hope she will recover fully. God Bless, your family will be in our thoughts.....Lisa

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