Advice - both counselling and work wise

I am not sure if I am in the right place so please forgive me if that is the case. My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in March of this year, she and us, have been very lucky (if you can call it that) that in herself she is very fit and strong so she was given 4 courses of chemo which were successful in that they reduced the tumours in her lungs slightly. She also has tumours in her lymph nodes, some in her bones and her adrenal glands. After the initial shock, horror and upset we have all got on with life as normal as possible, which is mum’s wishes, taking her to her appointments and being there when she needed it as my dad passed away 2 years ago. Three weeks ago we were told she could not have the maintenance chemo at the moment as she had fluid in her lungs, they then subsequently took some fluid to test and on 19th September she was told all was going well not to worry, they just needed to get the results of the CT scan but if that was ok she would carry on with her chemo every 3 weeks. So as you can imagine we were all over the moon. Within the space of the next 5 days my mum was called back in to see the consultant as they had the results which were devastating. The tumours in her lungs had grown and they were stopping all treatment. They have given her 12 months but as we all know this could be longer and we are all, including my mum, keeping positive. My question is, I got the phone call at 10.30 at work last Friday and as you can imagine I wanted to go see her so I took two hours out of work to go and spend some time with her, she didn’t want me to stay longer as she wanted life to go on as normal. After a weekend of trying to stay strong for all the family and telling my children what was happening by Monday I was mentally and physically drained as I had not slept well and been up early each morning as not to disturb my husband. I went in to work and just tried to get my head down with work as that is my way of coping however due to circumstances beyond my control this didn’t happen and by lunch time I was a complete mess and told my team leader I had to go. She turned round and told me I had to get over this as it could go on for a while (which I understand but a few days understanding could be expected surely - or am I being unrealistic?). She has also told me that I have to make the time up and she was extremely abrupt, which she has had feedback from lots of people about in the past. I am now off work with stress and I have to ring in everyday before my shift starts to tell them I won’t be in, I am still not sleeping, still having moments of tears, trying to stay strong for my mum as I know I am being selfish and it isn’t about me. Has anybody else gone through this, has anybody got any advice. On top of this my brother in law has been committed for a mental assessment and when we went to see him at the weekend we were shocked in his behaviour and how much weight he has lost. I also have two adult children with a genetic disorder that need additional support which I try to just get on with and work full-time but sometimes things just break me. BY the way, work are well aware of all of this

Hi Dsaun523,

Welcome to the Sue Ryder Online Community - yes, you have absolutely come to the right place, and I’m glad that you have found us.

I’m very sorry to hear about your mum’s diagnosis. It sounds as though you have an awful lot on your plate, and, yes, it is totally natural to need some time to deal with this news. It is a shame your team leader has been so unsympathetic, and it sounds as if being signed off is the right thing for the time being.

I know Macmillan Cancer Support offer advice on work and cancer (for family members as well as patients), so if you are having issues with work, maybe you could give them a ring? It’s 0808 808 0000.

You mentioned counselling in your post title - did you have any particular questions about that? It could certainly be a really good source of support, and you could ask your GP about a referral.

Alternatively, if your mum is getting any support through a hospice, they might also offer some sort of emotional support for family members. Hospices aren’t just for the end of life, they can also offer day services for things like symptom control, emotional support and complimentary therapies.

A user on this site called Mel posted recently that she plans to go to counselling. It is bereavement counselling in her case, but you might still find it useful to ask her if she has been yet and whether she could share her experiences:

If there’s anything I can help with, just give me a shout.

Online Community Manager

What a terrible time you are going through, your work does not sound very understanding at all. It’s very difficult to cope with cancer, you feel as if everyone else is leading such happy lives and yours has just imploded. I hope you manage to cope and wish you all the best.

thank you Georgina that is very kind of you

Hi Dsaun

Your work mate sounds foul. I would speak to personnel about this as a workplace bullying concern. Yes this situation may continue for a while but compassion and support is what you need not a negative and ignorant attitude. I do hope you can sort something out. As Priscilla says Macmillan are good with this sort of issue. I would also be raising with my union rep if you have one where you work.

You are not being selfish at all, stay strong.