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MilliemooMilliemoo Posts: 1
edited March 2020 in Carers Corner

My mum had breast cancer 6 years ago, had a mastectomy, and was given the all clear last year. She had also been looking after my dad for years because of strokes etc. He declined really quickly at the end of last year, and we sadly lost him in March.

She was looking forward to having a bit of life, do a bit of travelling etc, because she'd looked after him for 28 yrs. She didnt look after herself though. She kept saying she had pain in her right rib but wouldn't go to the doctors while Dad was still here. Once he'd gone, she finally went in April, they found abnormalities in her liver, then she had a thorax scan. She saw the oncologist last week (three months waiting was far too long), who told her the cancer had reappeared from the site of her mastectomy, spread to her liver and bones, and there are also signs of kidney problems. I only found this out last night, when I spoke to my daughter who lives close to her and goes to hospital appointments with her. I was shocked to say the least. They cant offer her anything except this new hormone based drug, but its palliative. I spoke to my aunt earlier, and she didnt know the full extent either.

My mum just will not discuss anything - about her wishes, her treatment, nothing. She has totally buried her head. Whilst it's fine my brother and I will get updates via my daughter (we both live 300 miles from mum), if we ask her something, she will just say "I dont want to talk about it". The medical bit is covered by my daughter, and that's fine, but it's her emotional state I'm worried about. I know shes really angry that life could be so cruel twice in the last 6 months. I've suggested she talks to her MacMillan nurse about how she feels, but I know she wont. She will suppress everything, because that's all she has ever done.

I am at a loss of what to say to her, as are several other family members who live far away from her. Ive suggested to just keep conversations light, especially on subjects she likes, and I will just pass on anything that needs to be known to our family. But there are practical matters too, and I dont know how to approach the subject of wills, insurance, her end of life wishes. We know we havent got long with her. She has a chest infection now, and fluid on her lungs. She's normally such a practical person, and if Dad hadnt died not long ago, she would be onto all this, but shes grieving for him, as we all are.

Any suggestions on how to bring up delicate subjects?


  • RobertARobertA Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Hi @Milliemoo

    I am so sorry to hear about your Mum, it must have been devastating to get the news so soon after losing your Dad and I feel for you and all of your family. It must be particularly hard for your Mum to get this news at a time when she might have expected to look forward to some travelling and have a bit of fun. I might just mention for what its worth, that palliative care isn’t just for people who are terminally ill. It is part of the treatment plan from the time of diagnosis of an illness through to end of life.

    It is a shame that your Mum will not talk to the MacMillan nurse. MacMillan are so supportive and can often help with all of the practical matters you have mentioned. I wonder if it is possible for you to go and visit your Mum in person as I guess it would be easier to talk to her about those difficult subjects in person.

    I wonder also, if your Dad left a will? It might be helpful if you knew which lawyer he used as they may also have information concerning any insurance policies still in place. You can in any case check whether he made a will with the County Probate Court records in the County in which he died as they will have this information. My wife and I made wills together and our wills are complementary. If your parents did that, your Mum may already have a will in place. If you have any of this information, you may be able to avoid questioning you Mum too much.

    Thank you for posting, you are in my thoughts.

    Rob x

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