My mom has cancer…now what?

When I found out my mom was diagnosed with cancer ten years ago, I was scared.

I was only 11-years-old.

Other girls in my class were afraid of puberty and seeing their bodies change; afraid of getting their first period and not knowing how to insert a tampon. Or watching their breasts develop and having no idea where to get a bra or what size would fit.

But I was afraid of my mom dying.

I was scared; confused. sad. angry even. I needed answers. And I needed them now.

When my mom was re-diagnosed in 2016, all those feelings came rushing back.

Suddenly I was 11-years-old again. Only now I can say I’ve successfully learned how to insert a tampon and pick out my bra size, but those feelings of fear, confusion, sadness, and anger…

The exact same.

Learning that your parent, sibling, relative or friend has cancer is terrifying. You feel overwhelmed, sad, confused, and you really have no idea what to do next.

Based on my personal experience, these are five things I’ve learned to consider when hearing the news for the first time:

1. Remember that many people survive cancer
  • The moment I found out that my mom has cancer, I instantly thought of her dying. But just because someone has cancer, does not mean they are going to die. Especially when you’re just finding out for the first time, it’s too soon to tell what’s going to happen. So, in the meantime, just remember that cancer does not always mean death. Patience is key.
2. Do not make an appointment with Dr. Google
  • When you first find out that your loved one has cancer, you want all the answers. But I can guarantee that using Google to answer your questions is not an accurate source – you’ll often find false information or information that you don’t want to hear. If you have questions, ask a doctor. Google is not a doctor.
3. Do not blame anyone, especially yourself
  • It’s easy to try and put the blame on someone when we feel sad or confused and need answers. But cancer is a disease with various causes, many of which doctors don’t fully understand. It’s no one’s fault – not the patient’s, the doctor’s, or your own. Don’t feel like the world is punishing you because someone you love has cancer. You can’t blame anyone, especially yourself.
4. Try to maintain a balance
  • I used to find my mom’s cancer always on my mind, but it’s important to strike a balance; you can worry about your parent’s cancer while having a normal life. And don’t feel guilty if you’re not sad all the time – trust me, they want you to have fun and not think about their cancer 24/7.
5. Most importantly, remember you are not alone
  • When you find out your parent has cancer, you feel like no one else in the world knows how you feel. But there are people like you going through the same thing – or at least something similar. You just have to find them and know it’s okay to talk to others about your feelings.

Remember to stay positive and keep smiling.

6 thoughts on “My mom has cancer…now what?

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  1. I love your blog, Sara. I’m sure it will help many others who are going through what you are. Check out the website The Power of Positivity – I forward a lot of quotes from there on FaceBook. Looking forward to seeing all the family on the 13th – it’s been too long! Love and hugs. Aunty Pam. XOX.

  2. Sara, this is beautiful. While your mom was diagnosed with cancer, it is also an emotional journey for you. I think the points you’ve outlined here are SO important and I would assume many individuals going through something similar do exactly what you’ve described. The one that really stood out to me was do not make an appointment with Dr. Google. I know I am guilty of doing this when I want an instant answer, but like you say it is not always the correct information.
    I like your use of tags and would encourage you to expand them. Other examples you could include would be balance, survivor, self-care and self-love. This blog can have such an impact on other family members going through a similar experience and provide much needed advice/tips/insights. Sending positivity and love towards you and your family.

  3. I love that you can insert little bits of humour into a post about an emotional and serious topic (I choked on my cereal at the mention of tampon insertion–grade six was really a time). Your vulnerability and openness about your experience is courageous and commendable. Maybe identify that you’re discussing your experience of your mother’s cancer journey in the tags; some parents who are looking for blogs of parents discussing their children’s journeys may be confused by the tags simply saying daughter and family, ja feel?

    I’m excited for your next post and wish you a wonderful thanksgiving with your family 🙂

  4. To start, I really want to thank you for sharing your story with us. I can’t imagine that it is easy but I think your blog and this post specifically will be will helpful for those going through the same experience that you did. The fact that your voice through your writing is so unapologetically vulnerable really gives myself the ability to try to understand your experience, although I have not experienced it myself. I think the common theme that I discovered was positivity. I really like that your tips are clearly outlined and that it was clear that these are tips that you have been able to form from personal experiences and not by just googling it (which you mentioned, can be so inaccurate). Your post has really reminded me that we truly have a lot to be thankful for. Sending love & light to you and your family. Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Your blog has me in my feels, which you know is something that is very hard to do. I agree with Joanna–I love how, through your writing, you are able to put a humorous spin on such a serious topic. In doing so, you are teaching your readers to remain lighthearted even in the darkest of times.

    I love the photos of you and your mom together because they help to make your blog personal and relatable, even for those who have never experienced what you have. I like how you were able to synthesize your many years of experience into a concise and easily readable list of tips. As someone who has watched several relatives battle cancer, your tips resonate with me, especially number four. At first, you feel guilty for going about your daily life or experiencing moments of joy when you know someone close to you is going through such a hard time. You remind us to get passed that mindset and enjoy your time together with a positive outlook.

    I agree with Rachelle’s suggestions and would recommend adding “advice,” “guide,” and “self-help” as tags. Looking forward to your next post!

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