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Finding my mum difficult to deal with


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Although my mum hasn't officially been declared NED, her tumour is gone and the doctor said there's a tiny area which is hard to see left behind which is either cancer cells or inflammation. He said if it's cancer cells, then the immunotherapy should take care of them. The doctor said that my mum's response to treatment has been excellent and the scan was excellent. He told my mum that she should celebrate.

My mum is understandably upset as she wanted to be NED, but this is her first scan since May, which showed that the tumour had reduced by half! She had a PET scan at the beginning of August which showed that the tumour was all gone apart from the tiny area, which he doesn't seem concerned about. This is her first scan since starting immunotherapy. 

My mum still seems to be quite depressed despite the good news. She has her good and bad days which is understandable. Today she was really negative. My brother and sister-in-law came around we were talking about summer being almost gone and next summer. My mum was like, "if I'm still alive next summer." It really upsets me that she thinks like this and she has no reason to think like this. I know that cancer is scary and there's a fear of death, but there's no evidence or anything that the doctors have said that indicate that she doesn't have much time left. The doctors are positive and have been from the start.

I tell my mum that I don't want to hear such things especially as there's no evidence for it, but she just tells me off saying that I don't understand anything. I often feel alone, that nobody cares about my feelings. My mum wants me to go to therapy, but I don't want it. It's just more money and I've had a lot of therapy in my life. I feel that there's nothing that a therapist can say or do to make me feel better. When people suggest therapy, I almost take it as an offence as it's an excuse for people not to want to listen or care about me and it's just palming me off onto somebody else. Sorry for the rant. I just feel so alone sometimes and that my feelings are not valid.

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My advice is to let your mom deal with her feelings about lung cancer the way she needs to - as long as she is not harming herself or others.  She is relatively new to lung cancer (if I am remembering correctly) and it takes some folks longer than others to get over the negative effects of a lung cancer diagnosis.  In the past 10 or so years, my family has had one death after another and then on top of it, my mom's lung cancer diagnoses.  With all of the turmoil in our lives, my mom decided to see a counselor.  During the first meeting, the counselor informed my mom that she was grieving - she was grieving the loss of her old life, a life before lung cancer and a life where her parents, brother, and best friend were alive.  This made total sense to my mom (and to me).  Your mom is likely grieving too and with grief comes negative emotions and thoughts which can result in undesirable behaviors (negative statements, no patience for anything, etc).  I know you are just concerned for your mom, but as long as she isn't harming herself or anyone else, maybe you should let her be and come to terms with her situation.  You can't change the way she is feeling or what she says.  But you also don't have to let her actions and statements upset you.  When she says that you don't understand, you probably don't. I don't either because I have never had lung cancer or any other major cancer diagnosis.  At the end of the day, none of this is about us.  This is about supporting our loved one during a very trying time.  

Hope this helps,


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Hi Catlady. Rant away! This is a good place to do it. Steff is right that you probably don't understand what your mom is going through. And she probably doesn't understand what you're going through, because the experiences and feelings on each side of this are different. I lived at a distance from my mom and when she broke her hip I went to stay with her and support her. At times she drove me up the wall, so I know how hard it can be to be a  caregiver and not to feel appreciated or understood. 

Steff has had long term experience as a caregiver. Her take on this is excellent.

Come here and rant or vent when you need to. We're here for caregivers as well as patients.

Bridget O

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Great advice from Steff x 3!

I don't mean to sound harsh as I realize how hard it is for you as well. You mum is the patient though and the one with cancer.  Even declared NED, as a cancer survivor (I hate that word) myself with a good prognosis there are still many times where we are just waiting for the other shoe to drop.  When my husband was diagnosed I told my chidren (ages 34-27) to please just let Dad feel what he is going to feel.  It worked.  We were all pretty positive right up until the end.  I believe this is why God gave me cancer first.

Value your time together with positivity and don't try to dictate to her how she should feel.  Many blessings to you!

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I can relate to catlady91's mom, as I lived through those dark days when I was at my lowest. Honestly, it was reading all the survivor stories on this forum (and progressively good scans) and also physically feeling better that changed my thinking. I have a disease that today is being managed well. 

I think that after treatments are finished, you can feel sort of lonely and get into your own head with negative thoughts. No one else can really understand, even your closest loved ones. It will take your mom's mind a little time to catch up with the success of her treatments. Be patient with your patient. :-)

All the best, Judy

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's a rough thing to be a caretaker.  Especially when it comes to a disease that is sneaky and can come back at any time.  So, your Mom's fear is understandable.  On the other hand her best chance of staying well is to adjust her attitude so that she can maintain the best health possible.  You may want to speak to your doctor for a referral to someone who she can speak to that is experienced in dealing with cancer patients.  Perhaps she might take advice from a counselor that she won't take from you.  It might just be worth a try.  But you can give her some space to work through difficult feelings and give yourself grace for any frustration you feel in dealing with it.


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