Mum newly diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. How can I support her?

Hi all,

My mum has been diagnosed with T3N0 Oesophageal cancer. She’s just turned 61, otherwise fit and healthy and although she’s obviously scared, is in fairly good spirits considering. Advised treatment (although no firm plan in place yet) is looking like 8 weeks of chemo and then surgery around March time.

I’m just looking for ways I can support her. From things that might help her when she’s feeling the effects of chemo to things that others found helpful emotionally.

She lives on her own at the moment, would it be best to change that while she’s undergoing treatment?

I know I can’t do anything to help her medically speaking, so for me it’s just about how can I make best of the situation and all the little things that can give her everything she needs for the fight she faces. 

Thank you in advance.

  • Hi Chilton90 and welcome to Cancer Chat.

    I'm sorry to hear your mum has been diagnosed with oesophageal cancer but I'm glad she's staying positive, which I'm sure she's finding much easier to do with your love and support.

    Many of our members have supported their loved ones on their cancer journeys so hopefully some of them will stop by soon to offer their thoughts and advice but in the meantime, if you or your mum have any questions about her diagnosis or upcoming treatment, then do feel free to talk things through with one of our cancer nurses on 0808 800 4040. Their phone lines are open Monday - Friday between 9a.m - 5p.m and they'll do all they can to support you and give you the information you're seeking.

    I hope this section we have for family, friends and caregivers and this information on living with chemotherapy will prove useful as well.

    Best wishes to you both,

    Steph, Cancer Chat Moderator

  • Hi Chilton90,

    A very warm welcome to our forum.

    I am sorry to hear about your Mum's diagnosis, but glad that you are looking to see what support she'll need when going through treatment. The fact that she is otherwise fit and healthy should stand her in good stead to fight this disease. The best support you can give is to be there for her and to constantly remind her of how much you love her. When you are with her at every step along the way, you will see what her needs are. We all react in different ways to treatment and often have different needs. Drinking plenty of water is important during treatment and we sometimes have to be persuaded to drink, even when we don't feel like it. Likewise your Mum may need her food pureed to help her to swallow, or may even need some of the build-up foods, which are available on prescription. These are not always offered and you may need to arrange for this. Her laundry and general housekeeping duties will also be a struggle, as will her shopping. These are all things that you can help with.

    She is likely to feel tired, nauseous and lethargic when she is undergoing chemo and it might be best for her to have someone with her throughout this time. Most of us are scared when we get a cancer diagnosis. Your Mum might find it helpful to talk to a counsellor or to Macmillan, who offer support to anyone who has cancer. It is often easier for those of us with cancer to talk to someone with experience of this disease, instead of doing so with a loved one and risking upsetting them further. She may need reading material or music to help her pass her time during chemo sessions. Are there any people she may want to see or any places she may want to go? - if, so perhaps you could facilitate this? 

    These are just a few early thoughts. I sincerely hop that she will get her treatment plan soon and then she can start her treatment.

    Please keep in touch and let us know how she gets on. We are always here for both of you.

    Kind regards,

    Jolamine xx