Struggling with mum's Stage 4 diagnosis

My lovely mum had the all clear from cancer 10 years ago, earlier this year she had a recurrence which at first they thought was localised and could be dealt with by surgery and preventive chemo and radiotherapy. However a scan revealed it had unfortunately spread to distant lymph nodes making her stage 4 incurable. 

Obviously we were all devastated but she started chemo straight away which she tolerated well and a CT scan in August showed no further growth or spread and I was over the moon and began to think that if the chemo was working things might not be as bleak as they seemed.

Today we got the news that the cancer has now spread to her hip bone, I am absolutely distraught and cannot stop crying and googling. They have come up with a new chemo plan and plan to do a hip pin to prevent fracture but I can't stop thinking that this is the beginning of the end. I have a 2 year old and she is the most fantastic grandmother and I can't bear the fact that she won't see her grow up. 

My partner is supportive especially as his own mum overcame oesophagus cancer a couple of years ago which was quite advanced but I think sometimes he doesn't know what to say when I'm so emotional. My mum also is quite a closed book and doesn't like to talk about things in fear of upsetting us and herself.

Can anyone recommend any coping methods or places to seek support from for situations like this? 

  • Welcome to Cancer Chat, amethyst24.

    I'm sorry to hear about the challenges your mum is facing, and the emotional toll it's taking on you. It's a lot to handle, and your feelings are completely valid. It's positive that the new chemo plan and hip pin are being considered.

    It's okay to lean on your partner, friends, and family for support, even if they're unsure of what to say. Sometimes, just having someone to listen can make a significant difference. Take small steps, and don't hesitate to prioritise self-care during this time.

    I hope other forum members who can relate to what you're going through will come along shortly to offer support and advice, in the meantime, there is a page from our website I wanted to share with you that covers protecting our mental health while looking after a loved one with cancer and I hope that can help a little.

    Wishing you and your family all the best,

    Renata, Cancer Chat Moderator

  • Hi Amethyst,

    My mum was diagnosed 4 years ago with terminal secondary breast cancer. I was too, absolutely distraught. I was only 21 at the time and the thought of not having my mum around for various life events was terrifying. I spent months of sitting at work crying all day every day, Googling anything and everything. It does not help. Please try and avoid this if you can, I know how difficult it is.

    I was fortunately, able to access counselling through our local hospice. They were great and actually provided me with free, fortnightly sessions for 18 months. This really helped me, just to talk through my problems with a professional, who truly understands what I’m going through.

    I also used these forums regularly, not necessarily posting, but just reading others advice and circumstances really helped me weirdly. 

    I’m sending lots of love and positive vibes to both you and your mum. 


  • HI Amethyst,

    A very warm welcome to our forum.

    I am so sorry to hear about your mum's latest diagnosis and know first-hand just how difficult this is to cope with. My own mum had a primary breast cancer diagnosis and then got a secondary diagnosis 12 years later. By this time the cancer had spread to her liver, lungs, bone and brain. That was 26 years ago and there was no treatment offered at that stage. It is fortunate that they can do so much more now and I am glad to hear that your mum's care team is considering a new chemo plan, as well as inserting a hip pin to stabilise her hip. 

    My mum was a closed book too, fiercely independent and didn't want to upset the family by talking about it. I am her double and have since had 2 bouts of breast cancer myself. When mum was alive, we didn't have the resources that we have now. I was diagnosed 14 years ago and by then, I was fortunate that so many cancer charities had sprung up. I saw a counsellor at Maggie's, which was extremely helpful. I also attended for some of their relaxation therapies and classes and occasionally popped in for a cuppa and a blether with other people who had cancer, MS or other life threatening diseases.

    I joined a weekly pain management class, which was also helpful. I also attended the Lymphoedema clinic, where staff have managed my bilateral Lymphoedema for the past 14 years, I also found the Haven, another cancer charity, which offered similar services to Maggie's. The nurse there had some helpful coping strategies too. Getting out and meeting people who were in a similar situation to myself made such a difference to how I felt. If your mum is not fit enough to go to anything, you can still attend. These services are there for people with cancer, but also for their families, as a cancer diagnosis affects the whole family. Macmillan will also come out to chat with your mum or speak to her on the phone. I found talking to a stranger with experience of the disease, was much easier than talking to family and I could be truly honest about my own thoughts and feelings, without fear of upsetting someone. Maggie's have a number of centres throughout the country. If you don't have one near you, there are a lot of other charities, which offer similar services. There are also a number of support groups for people with secondary cancer dotted around the country, where people derive support from one another.

    The main thing is to ensure that your mum is well cared for, that her pain is well controlled, that she knows that she is loved and that you are there to support her. Try to make what memories you can with her, for the sake of your daughter.

    There are a number of other contingencies that can be put in place, as the disease advances, but there is time enough to worry about these, when and if you need to. Besides, the palliative care team will help to put these in place for you.

    Please keep in touch and let us know how your mum gets on with her treatment. You are in my thoughts and prayers and we are always here for you.

    Kind regards,

    Jolamine xx