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Picture of Topic Friends and family


Topic Friends and family

For anyone supporting someone else with cancer

  • 156 conversations

Double whammy

Started by Anonymous on 21 December 2017 at 19:51

Hi everyone. About 8 weeks ago my Mum was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. It is a small tumour and there is no spread. She has started chemo radiation. They are hoping to operate later on. I was just coming to terms with it and have managed to plan her 5 weeks of radiotherapy around my full time job. Now just yesterday my husband has been diagnosed with a tumour on his tongue which will require radical surgery. Additionally they found a lump on his kidney and some lesions on his liver. We are now waiting for scans and a renal appointment between Christmas and New Year. I am absolutely devastated. It has knocked me for six and I am really struggling. I just don’t know what to do and I feel panicked and terrified. I need to be supportive of both of them, manage all their treatment visits and hold down a stressful job. I feel like I am drowning. How can I manage these feelings so I can be there for both of them?

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  • Picture of Tombenefits
    From Tombenefits  
    04 January 2018 at 17:21


    I think double whammy probably hardly begins to cover what you must be feeling. People often tell me - and personal experience taught me - that the time after diagnosis can odten feel the worst. 

    The shock and emotional impact of people using the C-word about you or sr someone you love, but with only some initial information to steady the rollercoasting between real hopes and despair. Often people find it starts to get easier as more tests add detail to whats happening and treatment plans emerge to give you something to grab onto with gritted teeth :-).

    And to get some sense for you as carer, as to what that actually means in practise. All a bit unknown. until patterns of hospital visits emerge as well as how treatments actually impact on your mum and husband and how much support they are dealing with.

    And as Sue wisely points out that you have got friends and family involved more to see how things could be shared or at least even if you end up as the main one, how you can feel more supported and less isolated in taling that lead

    On the financial side, talking to your employers is well worth doing. There may be limited paid leave for carers,  but at least ways of unpaid leave would enable you to keep the job open until things settle down. Or it may be quite possible to agree a shorter working week for a bit, so that you can balance any caring, work and you time to make things workable.

    If you need to take time out completely from work, many employers accept some quite genuine initial sick leave - based as much on the real emotional stress of these times . But they may then bend the rules a little and allow that to extend a bit to support you as a carer, but with paid leave.   

    Similarly if your husband has been working there may be conversations to be had about his work sick pay schemes and entitlements. 

    It can be tricky if income drops, just as cancer brings some additional costs too. Benefits can plug some of the gaps or offer extra resources. And there may be entitlements for your mum, your husband and yourself as carer.

    A lot of people rule themselves out because even if feeling a financial pinch they still have some income coming in or savings to draw on. But some benefits are not affected by income and savings at all. And those benefits that are affected, can sometimes help further up the income scale than you might imagine.

    At the moment, the practicalities of finances may be the least of the immediate worries as your head whirls to get round the sheer enormity of the whole double whammy.

    But financial world may be part of the feeling of worrying about working full time and how to fit it all in, alongside a strong urge just to keep life as norrmal as possible. 

    I will message you privately to say hello and ease any chat. But there is no pressure to reply until it feels useful to you to go through options around work or benefits. Its probably quite a tumultuous time as you graually work towards accepting a strange new normal :-) Just message me as and when feels helpful

    Best wishes,


    Online Centre Benefits Adviser


  • Picture of lorraine
    22 December 2017 at 14:47

    Paula, my heart goes out to you, i lost my mum to the same cancer as your mums but it was to far gone for anything to be done she did have radiotherapy but it never helped so i am glad that your mum will get better, as if that was not enough for you to deal with now your husband phew i really hope like sue says you can get help in every aspect that you need help with right now my husband is preparing himself for chemo that begins on january the 8th so i kinda know were your coming from ... thinking of you x

  • Picture of SusieQ
    From SusieQ  
    22 December 2017 at 10:35
    Edited on: 22 December 2017 at 10:43


    The news of your husband's cancer, just before Christmas, and on top of your mum's diagnosis, can almost feel too much to bear...

    Your heart and mind are loaded to the brim - so I'm not surprised it all feels overwhelming. You'll be trying to think of the all the practical aspects of getting two people you love through cancer treatment.

    Emotionally, you may have a myriad of questions and thoughts about the future, and what it holds for you and your family. You also may feel torn between supporting your mum and your husband - especially as they may be going through treatment at the same time.

    My immediate instinct, is, over the Christmas period, to draw on any resources you have around you - things like:-

    a) Thinking about who else there is around that can help out. Maybe friends and family - work colleagues etc. You cant be in two places at once, and your mum and husband's treatment may overlap at points.

    b) Let the family's GP's, your mum's and husband's consultant and team, know what is going on for you as a family. They need to know how much you're juggling, and your own GP will hopefully support you through this.

    c) Let your work know what is happening - and it may be that you need some time off to get your bearings, and focus on your husband and mum.

    d) Financial/benefits advise at some point might be you can always contact Tom (Tombenefits) in the New Year, and he'll be able to advise on practicalities.

    e) Look after yourself too. Your support needs are important, with everything that is going on. Use what support there may be around you - local cancer centres, Maggie's, support groups etc...

    But mainly, today,  just take things step by step. This a huge amount for you to manage. The turmoil you're feeling should ease a little once you have all the information about your husband's cancer, and his treatment plan.I'm aware that there is some logistical juggling ahead...

    Perhaps there is someone else in the family who can share some of the practical and emotional load?

    There are some tips in my blog - 'How to cope with a new cancer diagnosis' .

    I'll message you to say 'hello' too...

    Warm wishes





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