Together we will beat cancer


Why is it affecting me so much more this time?

10 Jan 2018 17:48

Hi first time poster here,

My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer in Feb last year. She had the operation in March and then radiotherapy. She's been on medication since. She got the all clear around April/May. Apart from the operation day I was really positive throughout, just thinking it would be fine and almost laughing it off. When she got the all clear I just thought this was a lucky escape and a wake up call to live our lives to the full. I was fully aware it can come back but didn't really think about it as the doctors said it was only in the one place and nothing had spread to the lymph nodes. 

Last week she found a lump in her neck and shes waiting to go for a scan. I have gone to pieces since. Crying everyday ( I never cry) I can't sleep, I lie in bed with all sorts of horrible thoughts. I had my first ever panic attack which was horrible, I used to dismiss people who had them but now I know what they are like. Why am I feeling like this when at this stage the new lump could be nothing? Why have I jumped straight to the doomsday scenario? I've even started rehearsing what I'm going to say at Mum's funeral. Why am I not positive like last time and saying we are going to fight this and win?

Im scared that it's some kind of parent/child intuition where I sub consciously know something is wrong and that it's the road to the worst case scenario. My thoughts are sending me stir crazy. The tiredness because I can't shut my eyes without seeing mum. My mind going back over my life even to when I was little.

As I say I'm struggling to cope. 

Any responses most welcome 


Re: Why is it affecting me so much more this time?

10 Jan 2018 18:24 in response to danadona

Hello Daniel.  Sorry you have reacted so badly to this.  I know from experience (I am a worrier) that you can theorise far in advance of the known facts and most of the time it is unnecessary.  Does your mum know about how you are feeling?  How is she taking it?  Is she talking to you about it?  I should take her lead in dealing with this as it cannot help her to know that you are stressing yourself so much.  I guess you are becoming more aware of your mother's mortality this time round.  Talk to your friends to try to get your thoughts and fears in some order.  How are other members of your family reacting to this?  You really need to share your fears with somebody or you will drive yourself crazy.  I am glad you have made a start by posting here and I imagine others have been through the same scenario as you describe.  I would also suggest giving a ring to MacMillan cancer Support (Freefone 0808 808 0000) as thy are very helpful and experinced with all things relating to cancer.

Re-reading this I realise I am rambling a bit but I hope some of it makes sense to you.  Best wishes.

Re: Why is it affecting me so much more this time?

10 Jan 2018 19:39 in response to Annieliz


Hi AnnieLiz,

Thanks for your response, it has lifted my mood slightly by reaching out on this forum. 

No Mum knows nothing about the way I'm feeling, I wouldn't add to her stress and worry by letting her see me like that. I rang her this evening (I'm away with work) and it lifted my spirits a bit. She seems outwardly positive, she's a worrier too so is likely to be in turmoil inwardly. What doesn' help is she lost her dad and brother (My grandad and uncle) in a short space of time, not that long ago, to different cancers. Since that time I think she has felt guilty that she is the only one left  (her mum died years ago) Sometimes I think she is almost resigned to thinking the same fate will happen to her. Getting cancer brought back all the feelings of bad luck that she has.

She's seen a counsellor since and has been involved with cancer support groups. I think she felt she couldn't open up to me about it as I'm usually so pragmatic about everything. But this latest episode has really broken me. Late at night is the worst. I lie in bed torturing myself about my life and about whats happening to mum. It doesn't help I'm away with work and in hotel rooms on my own.

To try and help I'm trying to categorise things into short/medium and long term goals I want to achieve with/for mum. Reason I did this is the medium and long term ones are driving me stir crazy that it may be too late to achieve them now. I've said to myself that if I can only achieve the short term ones then that's better than nothing and i at least need to do that.

Of course we may get the news there's nothing wrong at all. All of this stressing could have been for nothing. I think it's made me see just how much I've wasted my life, the gift mum gave me. I just don't want it to be too late to show her I am using that gift properly and I how I will use it properly in the future.

Re: Why is it affecting me so much more this time?

10 Jan 2018 21:13 in response to danadona

Hi danadona; sorry I don't know why I called you Daniel - a mad moment.  I know all about late night torture when it seems that nothing will ever be all right again.  But somehow the world goes on and things are often not as awful as we think.  I think it would help you to pour out your worries to someone who understands them.  One of the things I have learned from posting and reading on this forum are people do grieve in advance of the event they are dreading.  Admittedly in your case you are grieving before you know what the outcome is going to be and I wonder - and I am no psychologist or anything of the sort - if you feel guilty about being so blase the first time round.  You know, "If I had taken it more seriously when it first happened..."  Not logical but we aren't alway logical.

Does your mum have a date for her scan yet?  Are you going to go with her?  You should try not to see further than that at the moment.  People here talk about breaking big situations down into manageable-size chunks and concentrating on one chunk at a time.  You could try that.  But please be kinder to yourself; you have had an almighty shock, bigger than it perhaps needs to be at the moment and we human beings have a need to share our emotions so even if it is only coming here to chat please vent your feelings.  You will see from reading some of the other posts that there are people who understand exactly where you are coming from.  It is some years now since my mum died and I could not bring myself to encompass the bigger picture all in one go - the opposite to yourself and with much more reason to do so as we knew my mum's cancer was terminal.  But we all cope differently.

If you wish to keep posting - and I hope you will - it would be good to know your mum's scan date and how it goes. 


Re: Why is it affecting me so much more this time?

10 Jan 2018 23:03 in response to Annieliz


Hi AnnieLiz,

That's quite alright my name is Daniel, danadona is my username lol, that's the first time I have lol all week btw.

I think you've hit the nail on the head about the guilt thing 

1. Guilty about taking it so blase the first time around 

2. Guilty that I wasn't really there for her the first time around because of this stupid job of mine where I am away all the time.

3. Guilty for the same reason as above for not being there enough when she went through the bereavements. 

3. Guilty that she has spent so much time on her own in the last 5 years and  has  spent long lonely nights alone. Perhaps the stress has made her ill? Why didn't i pick up the phone more?

4. Guilty that I have wasted large parts of my life, the gift she gave me. 

5. Guilty for always moaning about the things I don't have rather than cherishing the things I do, like her.

6. Guilty for blaming her for things in the past and giving her a hard time when she's been the only person on this earth who's ever loved me. 

7. Guilty that she has had such a bad stressful life at the hands of my father  (alcoholic) brother (autistic) her job (stressful and treated her terrible), then the bereavements of family members one after the other and then getting ill herself. If life was fair surely she should be living in peace and relaxing now not fearing she is going to die?

8. Guilty that she may never see me settled. I'm not married and I don't have children. Kills me that she may never see me happy like that and that my potential children will never see her and experience what a great woman she is.

9. Guilty for not telling her how much I love her.

10. Guilty for not simply calling her mum. 

So yeah that is a whole lot of guilt isn' it? That's come to a head in the last few days. Things that have probably been inside me for years that have come bursting out. 

Her scan is the 23rd Jan. Yes I am going. I have been to stuff in the past when I can, but I'm fed up of her going to things on her own. If i have to take time off unpaid this time I will go to everything. 

Sorry to hear about your mum. 

Thanks for listening tonight it's been good to write all this down.x

Re: Why is it affecting me so much more this time?

11 Jan 2018 07:47 in response to danadona

Hello again.  I was saddened that you had such a long list of guilt.  I didn't even mean to suggest that your guilt over your mum's cancer was necessary or justified only that you may have felt it was.  I am a mother with one son.  He went off to New Zealand some years ago and now lives there.  I am happy that he is well and happy,  I don't want him to worry about me or feel obligations to me.  I am pleased with him and would hate him to feel bad about anything that was happening to me.  He is a lovely son and keeps in regular touch with me but I want  him to live his own life and leave my own worries to myself.  I think most mothers feel this way and I am pretty sure that your own mother would be saddened to think that you owe her so much.  The best gift you can give her is to enjoy your life and fulfil your dreams.  Yes, do tell her often how much you love her.  My son always ends his phone calls with "Love you Mum" and that is quite enough to make me happy.  I think my own mum felt the same about me; I spent a lot of time travelling around the world when I was young and although I expect my mum worried about me when she got postcards from places like Afghanistan one week then from Australia a week later she would never have dreamt of sharing her anxieties with me or expecting me to curtail my activities on her behalf.  (Not that she knew half of the things I was doing but you don't tell your mum everything!)  Mums are like that; they love you unreservedly for what you are.  Admittedly if she had become seriously ill whilst  I was away I would probably have felt guilt too about being away so much and would of course have returned home but she would never have wanted me to feel guilt.

I am sure your mum will be very appreciative of the help you can give her now as it is given freely and with love.  I very much hope you can feel a bit of equilibrium and make peace with yourself.  Please be kind to yourself.

Re: Why is it affecting me so much more this time?

12 Jan 2018 16:30 in response to Annieliz
Hi Annie That's a good outlook you have in regards your son. Mum is the same she has never stopped me doing anything and would have supported me had I wanted to move as far away as NZ. It's just not very nice to think that Mon-Fri she is there on her own. It's bad enough doing that in good health, but to have gone through something like that last year, I'm determined I'm going to be by her side from now on. I've spoke to my boss and asked to do local work, at the very least till we know what's happening. My mood has improved a bit since I've reached out. I'm not crying all the time now, and the feelings of despair and panic are probably more disappointment and frustration now. I'm on the train home now. It will be great to see mum and take every opportunity I can this next little while to say a few of the things I want to say. Like about not worrying about the future. I hope by the 23rd my mood goes back to one of defiance and fight like it was last time. I suppose till then it is one day at a time. I swing from happy to sad. The slightest thing can make me feel sad. It has been good to get everything down in writing. I do like the idea I came up with of short/medium/long term goals. I've come to accept some of the long term may not happen. As long as I can do as many of the short then that's ok. I'm trying to do something positive for the future everyday and will tell mum about it so hopefully that will give her a lift. I suppose it's kind of no man's land now until the test results. That horrible space of not knowing and the underlying fear. One day at a time.

Re: Why is it affecting me so much more this time?

12 Jan 2018 17:02 in response to danadona

Hi again.  Keep yer pecker up (or something like that).  So pleased you are feeling a bit better.  I think it is normal to have mood swings in these circumstances but at least you are now having ups as well as downs. I am sure you will have a great time with your mum which will leave you both feeling better.  You are in a horrid situation and it is normal to worry; as long as it doesn't get out of hand in which case you may need some help.  Glad it appears you have a sympathetic boss; really although you may not recognise it you sound to be getting your act together and will be a great comfort to your mum.  It would be nice to know how it goes on the 23rd but it is of course up to you and how you are feeling. 

Re: Why is it affecting me so much more this time?

12 Jan 2018 18:02 in response to Annieliz


I think reaching out has relieved a bit of the pressure and has been like releasing a valve. Getting it all written down is a great way of mulling through it. I was going stir crazy. If I'm busy tapping away on my phone I'm concentrating on that rather than anything else. So would definitely recommend this forum, and will be looking to reach out and help others. I do really believe in it, I'm so glad I've found this chat room. Great thanks to you Annie for helping me. 

It's an emotional rollercoaster. I'm feeling a bit anxious now I get nearer home. 

Get busy and one day at a time. 

Re: Why is it affecting me so much more this time?

13 Jan 2018 12:17 in response to danadona

I feel a bit flat today. It's been good seeing mum and having a chat about everything. She's running around doing stuff as normal, but I cant help but thinking she's showing a lot of symptoms. In particular weight loss. 

Re: Why is it affecting me so much more this time?

13 Jan 2018 12:39 in response to danadona

Hi.  It's me again.  Hopefully others will also post with different thoughts and ideas - I am not monopolising you deliberately!    I don't know how long it is since you last saw your mum and/or whether you are looking for signs that she may be unwell.  Weight loss could be a result of her own worries?  Has your mum got a date for her scan yet?

You are with your mum now.  Try to relax a bit and both enjoy yourselves.  Don't treat her with kid gloves - that gives all the wrong signals.   THis cannot be easy for you but I am sure you will what you can to preserve normality at this time. 


Re: Why is it affecting me so much more this time?

13 Jan 2018 15:29 in response to Annieliz


Hi Annie

I think it's just because I've been through this with other family members and I know how quickly these things can become a runaway train. 

23rd is the scan.

I think I'm just gonna stay in tonight. I was going to go down the local pub but I don't know if drinking during this period is going to make me feel worse. I should just enjoy these nights in front of the tv with mum really. Will pine for them one day I suppose.

Re: Why is it affecting me so much more this time?

13 Jan 2018 16:05 in response to danadona

Hi Daniel. Isn't Annieliz great! She sounds so wise and I think her advice is excellent!

Hopefully your mum will in fact turn out to be fine after the scan, and I shall cross everything I have that that will be the case. You sound like you love her very much, and, I am convinced she will know that already (we mums just do). So I should imagine there's absolutely no need to beat yourself up about anything.

 I have terminal breast cancer myself. And I have three grown up kids (two sons and a daughter). They're all in their twenties now but the turmoil they went through at the start of my fight with "terminal" cancer nearly seven years ago was astonishing. But I insisted they all complete their education, and they have pursued their carreers away from me with my full support. It makes me very proud that they have continued to live their lives to the full despite everything...

I like to live with some hope in my life that I just might not die! It was too easy after diagnosis, in the panic, to jump straight to the worst case scenario. I spent so much time worrying about what was going to happen that I forgot to live each day to the full. Now I focus on keeping myself in the best possible health to fight my disease and....I'm not dead yet!

So, take a deep breath. Pace yourself. Enjoy each day as it comes, and you never know things might just turn out well. (And in all of my imaginings I never once imagined a scenario correctly so I don't bother any more as it just causes me distress).

I'm here if you want to chat to someone who has been given the worst case scenario, I know what it's like, but even bad news doesn't necessarily mean that's the end. I check the email most days but my phone is too old so I have to be at a computer. 

Oh...and by the son never used to tell me he loved me....but of course I knew he did. And now, so many years after my diagnosis, he tells me often. And my grown up daughter has started to call me "mummy". I wonder if they had similar feelings to you? Your mum knows you love her anyway, and that's what matters. And she will probably be stronger than you imagine as she's been through so much in her life so don't fret too much. You can only do what you can do. You do not have to be superman! I wonder if you can think of some stuff that will make you both laugh? Laughter really can be the best medicine! 

Waffling now, sorry... Take care of yourself cos you will want to be strong for your mum.

Re: Why is it affecting me so much more this time?

13 Jan 2018 21:15 in response to danadona

Mare is too kind.  Any advice I can give usually comes as a result of things I have learned the hard way myself until they finally reached my brain for future use.  It is these good people who have experience of cancer who have been teaching me so much since I came onto this site and I am a firm believer in sharing experiences and helping each other out. 

I don't think the odd drink whilst socialising will do any harm; don't cut yourself off from your own pleasures - they will help you relax.

Re: Why is it affecting me so much more this time?

13 Jan 2018 21:30 in response to mare
Hi Mare, Thanks for your post, agreed AnnieLiz is amazing! and has been helping me through what has been my lowest ebb this week. Really enjoyed reading your post. I was interested to hear that someone could be diagnosed with terminal cancer and still be here 7 years later?! that's great news that you've been able to do that. I must say one of my biggest fears is feeling that the end is so near, so it was good to know that even if it is bad news it doesn't mean it is the end. I think I've said previously, because it was so quick with other family members I panic that same thunderbolt can happen. In previous times it felt like being part of a very bad film. Where we play ourselves as the characters, subconsciously know what the plot and ending is, and can't really do anything about the script. Once you get on that downward slalom it can be hard to get off. I think one of the other problems these days is we can jump on our phones so quickly and start looking at lots of different information. Then you start reading into symptoms. You put two and two together and come up with five. It's possible to argue for and against her symptoms being cancer. In regards to how your children changed after diagnosis, I think its come at such a bad time for me, as I haven't been in a good place in my life the last few months. I'm 34. I have not ever been in a serious relationship, not happy at where I am career wise, and generally feel I've allowed my life to drift along without being decisive enough. Putting things off, avoiding fear, running away. With this latest scare I have been forced to look into the future and I don't like what I see, I see an abyss. I will be essentially on my own. It would be a case of losing the only woman who's ever loved me. I think when we think of someone dying we just hope that everything is sorted out before they go and they have peace of mind everything is going to be ok when they're gone. I'd hate for my mum not to see me settled in life before she goes. I'd like her to see me truly happy. Likewise, I can't imagine doing big life events without her, i.e. wedding/children, I feel so stupid to have not done this already, and dread it will be too late now. While I was busy procrastinating there was a life that needed living. I can't change the past, I just pray for some more time to make good the future. Those feelings were overpowering me, but I've come to accept the things I can and can't change. If I can achieve the short term goals then that will be something. I think its hard generally for men and feelings, it's getting better, but it's still tough for us. We're not a lovey dovey family either, we're not always saying 'I love you', I think we do it more through our actions than our words. I think you're right subconsciously she will know my feelings for her. I've been trying to drop into conversation little things that uncover my feelings, just little things like putting an x at the end of a text. I just feel every little helps. I've never lived in this world without my mum, and until this week, it never felt like it was close. It's dredged up years of pain and emotion. I suppose it's a major life lesson, don't keep putting things off till tomorrow. Life is short.