Jump to content
'

Mom tells everyone she had cancer on Mother's Day - not sure how to feel


Recommended Posts

So, I am the 4th of 5 siblings. We are all grown now, with ages ranging between 26 and 43. We are all also scattered over the U.S. with one living abroad. All of us have not seen our parents for several years. Not to stereotype my family, but my family is Irish Catholic, and none of us are very affectionate. We all live very independent lives in different parts of the country, and my parents have been happy empty nesters after raising 5 kids. Over the last year (during COVID), my parents refused to allow any of us to come visit them. We all thought my mom was becoming overly paranoid about COVID, especially since they (and most of us) are vaccinated. 

On Mother's Day this year, I was the first to call my mother to wish her a happy one. She broke the news that last year just before Christmas, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which had spread to her arm. She had a mastectomy and the cancer removed from her arm as well. She went through chemotherapy, and had a biopsy thereafter where no cancer was found. She is currently undergoing radiation as a preventative measure, to ensure the cancer does not return to her other breast. She would be notifying each sibling as they called on Mother's Day. 

I am still very much trying to process this news. I feel worried, scared. I feel like I want to see her, but she insists that we not rush there. She did not tell us because she did not want to deal with 5 kids constantly worrying about her. I guess she wanted to go through the treatment in peace. It is my belief that she wouldn't have told us until she found out whether she was going to live or die. Over the last year, my mom and dad kept from us her cancer diagnosis and her treatment. I feel like I was robbed of the opportunity to be there for my mother when she was possibly in need. I feel a lot of feelings I cannot really put into words. I am thankful she is alive and I am shocked at how easily I could have lost her and didn't even know it. 

Anyway I guess my question is -- should I worry? What can I do for my mother, who is a very independent and not very affectionate woman, and who does not want any "fuss" to be made over this? I am currently thinking of trying to visit for Christmas this year, however, my attempts to make plans have been rebuffed. Should I just continue on as if nothing has changed if that is what my mom wants? Any insight is comforting. Thank you. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I'm sorry. this must have been a tremendous shock.

I think when you're dealing with a super private, independent person,  the best thing is to be there, but be low key about it.

mention you'd like to visit. What does she think? 

Give her space.  a nice way to support from a distance is to send cards. They don't have to be serious or emotional. they could be funny. The thought will be conveyed...

 it's not that she doesnt want her children around... its more she doesn't want the reminder of the seriousness of the situation. Or she us choosing to not expose you to her healing/ suffering.

My mom did that, too. She went through her treatments and didn't want us kids around.  she was sick and tired... literally. She had my dad and they went thru it together. I offered to be there and I was thru the surgeries. For both their benefit. but this was her journey. as her own person, not my mother.

It's hard to see our parents as people. Of course you have your feelings about the cancer,  how she handled telling or not telling... but it was her choice to handle it the way she wanted and what worked for her. 

So even just accepting that is supportive. 

Edited by Lambert
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

26 minutes ago, brienoch said:

I guess she wanted to go through the treatment in peace.

Sorry to hear this. Cancer is a personal issue and she needs to deal with it in her own time in her own way. She seems to have your father for support as well as whatever hospital and organization support is available to her.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you need to respect her wishes and pay attention to what she told you flat out - your worry is not welcome and not something she wants to deal with.

I can actually relate very much to your mom because I'm very much similar when I get sick. I just want to go into a proverbial cave and lick my wounds until I'm better. I absolutely hate people fussing over me and find that incredibly exhausting to deal with. Basically, I'm already sick and now I have to pacify others around me which is draining whatever energy I have left.

The best way you can be there for her is don't fuss and be normal. Bring happy energy around and something positive to make her smile. If she wants to be left alone, leave her alone. This is a case where if you act strong and normal and share good things or funny things with her, she'll probably be much more welcoming than if you act tragic, in which case she will push you away because she doesn't need that from you.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

40 minutes ago, brienoch said:

have not seen our parents for several years.

Treat her like your mother, not like a patient/dying person. That is precisely what people hate about telling anyone they have a serious illness. Try not to feel guilty, despite the estrangement.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

46 minutes ago, brienoch said:

my parents have been happy empty nesters after raising 5 kids.

And that is great Brie. Your parents show a very healthy attitude.

Your mother sounds like an independent lady, and it is understandable that she would not want any fuss.  She would wish to deal with the treatments and their effects in her own way. 

9 minutes ago, DancingFool said:

Bring happy energy around and something positive to make her smile. If she wants to be left alone, leave her alone.

I second what DF says. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, brienoch said:

So, I am the 4th of 5 siblings. We are all grown now, with ages ranging between 26 and 43. We are all also scattered over the U.S. with one living abroad. All of us have not seen our parents for several years. Not to stereotype my family, but my family is Irish Catholic, and none of us are very affectionate. We all live very independent lives in different parts of the country, and my parents have been happy empty nesters after raising 5 kids. Over the last year (during COVID), my parents refused to allow any of us to come visit them. We all thought my mom was becoming overly paranoid about COVID, especially since they (and most of us) are vaccinated. 

On Mother's Day this year, I was the first to call my mother to wish her a happy one. She broke the news that last year just before Christmas, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which had spread to her arm. She had a mastectomy and the cancer removed from her arm as well. She went through chemotherapy, and had a biopsy thereafter where no cancer was found. She is currently undergoing radiation as a preventative measure, to ensure the cancer does not return to her other breast. She would be notifying each sibling as they called on Mother's Day. 

I am still very much trying to process this news. I feel worried, scared. I feel like I want to see her, but she insists that we not rush there. She did not tell us because she did not want to deal with 5 kids constantly worrying about her. I guess she wanted to go through the treatment in peace. It is my belief that she wouldn't have told us until she found out whether she was going to live or die. Over the last year, my mom and dad kept from us her cancer diagnosis and her treatment. I feel like I was robbed of the opportunity to be there for my mother when she was possibly in need. I feel a lot of feelings I cannot really put into words. I am thankful she is alive and I am shocked at how easily I could have lost her and didn't even know it. 

Anyway I guess my question is -- should I worry? What can I do for my mother, who is a very independent and not very affectionate woman, and who does not want any "fuss" to be made over this? I am currently thinking of trying to visit for Christmas this year, however, my attempts to make plans have been rebuffed. Should I just continue on as if nothing has changed if that is what my mom wants? Any insight is comforting. Thank you. 

She should have shared this with the kids.  I was very frustrating.   My parents used to pull this on me, as they thought they were sparing us.  Nope.

Early stages of breast cancer are  very survivable.   This sounds like what she has.   My mother had her breast removed 35 years ago and has been doing great.   I suggest that you do some research as it will put your mind at peace.   It is also great that they did not find any in the biopsy.

Treat her as you would if she did not have cancer.  Stay positive.

Edited by Hollyj
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cancer affects everyone in the family and has a ripple effect. One thing I regretted not doing was going for more counselling (privately) while my mum was battling cancer. It would have saved a lot of headache and turmoil I felt. Your mother already told you what she wants: not to have all five kids rushing out there or reacting at once so be the calm and collected one and hold yourself together. 

If out of the five of you, you end up being the strong one, so be it. Just keep it together and be there for your siblings and parents. Talk with your brothers and sisters and do not be afraid or ashamed to look for counselling in your town/city so you can manage your emotions privately without bombarding anyone else. You are allowed to feel and to grieve, to worry and have an outlet. Just make sure they are healthy outlets.

Don't bottle it up.. there's nothing that can stop this illness if she is too far gone or if the cancer comes back. Like DF, I tend to keep things private to myself but also tend to look far ahead so whatever I could do to gather as much knowledge as I could, I did. I knew what the possibilities were and the chances were for survival. I also knew what to do in the event she passed, before anyone else. Be kind to yourself. 

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, brienoch said:

Anyway I guess my question is -- should I worry? What can I do for my mother, who is a very independent and not very affectionate woman, and who does not want any "fuss" to be made over this? I am currently thinking of trying to visit for Christmas this year, however, my attempts to make plans have been rebuffed. Should I just continue on as if nothing has changed if that is what my mom wants? Any insight is comforting. Thank you. 

I don't think visiting her for Christmas is "making a fuss".  I think it would be a very nice thing to do.

It is normal and human to worry.  Between now and Christmas simply make regular phone calls - don't overdo it and don't only focus on her health issues.  If you have always kept in touch regularly then carry on that way. I don't see this as "making a fuss". 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You imply that the reason you are not affectionate is because you are an Irish Catholic family.  On the contrary, many big Irish catholic families are affectionate and close.  This dynamic is your family's individual dynamic

What about looking further. Your mom feels that she has to pick herself up by her own bootstraps, she could be stubbornly self sufficient.  I think worrying does no good - radiation is standard protocol as a preventative measure just in case they didn't get it all / to deal with the margins they could not get.  

I would visit your mom to visit your mom and don't make a fuss about the cancer.  Don't have the view that you are seeing your mom because she might die and you will have regrets -- sounds like she has a good prognosis

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...