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Mom has given up
2 Posts
My mother was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. She has hidden the lump in her breast from all of us for many years and also did nothing about it. So many years that it has opened up. She is 85. She is still very physically able and it is important that she is active for her continued quality of life. But, she just stays on the couch. She doesn't want the family to push her to move. It is difficult to understand how she can just give up. My father is 88 and also very physically capable. But her giving up will also affect his health. He doesn't cook much. She won't. The more she doesn't move, the more she can't move, the more her mental health is affected. She has stated that she wants her independence and if something happens to dad, she wants to stay alone in their home. But she isn't working towards that goal. It is difficult for the family to give her what she wants -- to be left alone about it. I am determined to do so, but I'm struggling.
9 Replies
7042 Posts
Maris‍ I'm so sorry....your mom could be severely depressed and in denial. Is there any chance she she would agree to talkj with a therapist? Would you and your dad consider taking to someone? Oncology social worker is a fabulous resource. I'm not sure the reason for her keeping it secret...could be a many number of reasons....trying to protect the family... not wanting to be a burden...denial,depression but sure sounds like she could use an objective shoulder to lean on. I hope you can get in touch with the social worker in oncology who will have some suggestions as to what you are able to do to help her and your dad
743 Posts
Maris‍ , I was 59 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I have two grown children and a mom who is now 90.

When I was first diagnosed, I told my husband that I did not want to tell the kids or my mom. I think there were a couple of reasons for this. One, I was dealing with the diagnosis myself and trying to wrap my ahead around it. I wasn’t in a place to deal with how my family may react. Two, as a mom, you always want to protect your children from the icky stuff, regardless of their age. I also wanted to protect my mom. I didn’t want them reeling like I was so it was important to me to have a plan that I could share with them.

It may be helpful for both your parents to talk to the social worker at your mom’s cancer centre. They can help them both with the emotional side and the logistical side of dealing with your mom’s diagnosis.

It may be helpful to have a conversation with your parents about what they want and how they feel they can achieve their goals. Then ask what you can do to help support them to meet their goals. Their goals may be different than yours so you need to be prepared for that.

Your parents are lucky to have you in their corner.

There is a Caring for Someone with Cancer forum available that you may find helpful and get some good information and support. It can be found at the link below:


Know we are here to support you.
2 Posts
That is interesting that you want to protect your children. To me it feels like I'm not a good enough daughter to share with. I would much rather know everything and be able to deal with it, then not know. It really makes me feel like I'm not a good daughter. I know that isn't the case, but that doesn't stop the feelings.

For anyone wanting to protect their adult children, think about that as well. Because if you die of cancer and they find out that you had it for years, that is a very awful feeling that will be very difficult to deal with.
1536 Posts
Maris‍ Im sorry for what your family is going through, it’s so tough to see someone you love dealing with a serious condition.

It sounds like your parents are independent people who want to deal with things themselves, and I wonder if the approach you need enables that to happen. They will have some practical issues to deal with and maybe they don’t want their children to help, but perhaps they would allow someone else? That’s where I think the social workers can help. They are available for you as well as your parents and they are a great resource who could reach out to your parents and offer assistance and advice. The experts are well-used to dealing with these issues, and have many things in their toolkit for helping.

How do you get Mom to move from the couch - that’s a really hard thing. She’s had a shock, although if she knew the lump was there she may have had her suspicions so it could be she’s dealing with all kinds of feelings including guilt and despair.

If she is seeing an oncologist for treatment, she will be being assessed for things like depression, and they will be probing her with questions about what she is eating and monitoring her weight, and they have access to dieticians to advise too.

And there are palliative care teams who could address so much of this, if your Mom expressed interest in their help. They deal with the physical, emotional and mental sides of dealing with cancer for the patient and their family at any stage of their care. You can find out more at https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/palliative-care.html and https://www.virtualhospice.ca/en_US/Main+Site+Navigation/Home.aspx

You’ve come to the right place for support and help - we are here for you. Essjay xx
2 Posts
Hello Maris
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019, and I did not tell my parents but I told my children. Parents would just worry yet unable to help. But I think kids need to know for their own sake. They need to know their family medical history. Very important I believe.

Your mother must have had her own reasons too. I think she has been in a denial and cannot move on. I'm so sorry. It must be very difficult for you and the rest of your family.
There is no person who could provide you or your mom with the right advice. There is no fair game with a cancer. :(

Take care.
I wish for your mom all the best.
1369 Posts
Hello Maris‍ - if it were me, I would just use some of what you wrote here starting with “I feel” and just straight up ask her why she does not talk to you. Get it straight from the horses mouth then you will know how to proceed. One of the reasons my family member did not seek help from a doctor is because she had so many things that made her feel unwell like old age, diabetes, heart condition and thyroid condition, so she thought it was to normal to feel unwell. Also, she did like going to doctors. With my father the answer was dementia.

Hope you get some answers soon. What kind of things do you do to help you relax? Please keep us updated.


I've been thinking about this post since I saw it. Part of me wants to scream "but you're not dead yet." But another part of me understands completely.

I too had a lump in my breast for about six months before I went to the doctor to get it dealt with. Denial? Maybe. I don't think so though. My brother had had it. My mother died of breast cancer so I was pretty sure I knew what it was. I just wasn't sure I wanted to go through all that I envisioned treatment being. Funny thing is the male breast cancer turned out to be nothing. It's another primary cancer, lung cancer that is going to take me out.

Getting old is hard. I can't do the things that I was able to do easily when I was younger. I've turned my interests to other less physical things. Still listening to my siblings talk about my father dying, I didn't make it to his side before he died, I believe he too gave up. I think he felt he had led a good life, full of adventure and usefulness but there came a point when there was a lot more pain than he had bargained for. And so he let himself slip into death.

Do I miss him? Terribly. I found his advice and love invaluable. But I had had a visit with him a few months earlier and I was able to have a phone call with him in his final hours. And I was at peace with his dying. I found it hard to accept that he was gone for awhile. He had always been a safety net in difficult times. I think that sometimes we think our parents are going to live forever but in the natural order of things that's not how it happens.

Spend time making memories. Make sure that the questions that only she can answer are answered. Make her life comfortable, as comfortable as you can. I think acceptance will go along way to easing your relationship.

353 Posts
Cant you just accept her way she is preferring to be ❓if she is eating🥑🍑🍋🍲🍧🥛🍹🥛🧋 bathing 🧽 and sleeping 🛌 in bed enough hours alert . And able to carry on a conversation responding and dressing + grooming 💕 with some interest . Let her live life left as she wishes .
14 Posts
It is about protecting the children. You have your own lives going on and a lot to deal with. This is overwhelming and can be all consuming. I wanted my children left out of the conversation but I wasnt given a choice
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