I’m 22 and my mum has just been diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. I don’t understand how this is happening as she’s so young and still has her whole life ahead. It’s awful just watching her deteriorate slowly when we all inevitably know what will happen in the future. I’m struggling to process everything and I’m an emotional wreck at the moment because I can’t imagine what life will be like without my mum. I have to break the news to my younger siblings but I don’t even know how to get on to the conversation. Does anyone have any advice for telling young children their mother is ill and is incurable?
Hi lohly, this is such a sad situation that you find yourself in. My husband has stage 4 lung cancer but our children are grown up and it was upsetting for them our little grandchildren were old enough to know grandad was ill but we never mentioned cancer as it's hard to understand from a child's viewpoint. So we said he was unwell and needed medicine that would help him but would make him more poorly to begin with and they accepted that. So it may be easier to start off small and as things progress just be a little bit more honest and answer their questions as they ask about Mum's health. So is she incurable or terminal, there's a diffence, incurable means will never be cured but the treatment will prolong life. Terminal means that it has progressed too far and palliative care will be given. Mum should have McMillan nurses, speak to them about telling your siblings. They have done this numerous times and can offer professional advice, mine is just how we dealt with it. Just keep posting if you need help, lots of us have been through it and can pass on our coping strategies. Best wishes, Carol
Hi Carol. I’m really sorry to hear about your husband, I can’t begin to imagine what you’re going through. I just can never find the right time to tell them, I pluck up the courage to do it, but then I can’t get the words out. Thank you for your advice, I will definitely just start off small and then let them ask the questions. I was told by a family member that mum was terminal, however from your description it sounds like she’s incurable as she is due to start immunotherapy within the next few weeks. Although she has been taken in to hospital with an infection so we’re unsure on when the treatment will start. I’ll amend the main post to say incurable. Thanks again x
I'm pleased to have helped a little bit. If your Mum gives her permission to allow you to talk about her case to the McMillan nurses you can ring them directly if you have concerns or questions that need answering. Infections are common in lung cancer, so try to keep her away from people who are unwell, obviously with little ones it's difficult but it will help. She will be checked before treatment starts by blood tests to ensure she can withstand the treatment. Carol x
Sorry to hear about your Mum's diagnosis. It's hardly surprising that you're an emotional wreck.
Breaking news like this to children can be really difficult.
I notice your post was a few days ago, but there's some information about talking to children and tennagers about cancer from Macmillan here that you may find helpful.