Difficulty Dealing With My Mom's Cancer Diagnosis

Published: November 11, 2013
Dear Difficulty Dealing With My Mom's Cancer Diagnosis,

Hi, About three years ago my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. Its a very soft subject as im very sensitive and seem to be extra sensitive now. My dad says it makes us stronger but my man says I don't realize how much it effects me. Basically I keep having thoughts about death (not suicide) at least once a day. I do have this thing at school called "learning space" but she referred me yesterday to a councillor but I don't know if it went well or anything. I told my dad when he got home but I should have waited until he was calm because he we started to get into a fight and he kept saying that I shouldn't need help and that I should be enjoying myself. I then replied to him saying that I can't help thinking about it other wise he wouldn't and he just said that I shouldn't need help and stuff. I ended it by saying we can talk about it later because he said that he doesn't f****** need it as soon as he comes home from work. I burst out crying again as soon as he left. I just wanted to know why i have such bad thoughts and dreams everyday (e.g having to choose between my family, choose one family member and watch the others die by falling to their room or something or mum only having a couple days left to live so i decided that when she and my dad and snowy (my 6 year old rabbit who helps me so much)infortunaly die that I want to die with them so I don't have to put up with them not being around) is there any reason why im having this or is it normal?? I really want it to stop! Thanks :)

Dear Difficulty Dealing With My Mom's Cancer Diagnosis,

TeenHeathFX thinks that it is very normal and common for children, teens, and adult children to have strong emotional reactions to a parent dealing with any kind of terminal illness. There can be significant sadness, fear, and even anger about the situation. The fact that you are feeling so distressed about your mother’s cancer diagnosis is very understandable. While this is hard enough to deal with, it sounds like you are not able to get the support and understanding you need from your father. It is quite possible that your father is having his own difficulties dealing with this situation – so he needs you to be fine and just “enjoying” yourself because he doesn’t have it in him to give you the emotional support you need right now. The problem for you is that by his not acknowledging your feelings, you are left alone which only compounds the difficult things you are already dealing with.

Given the distress you are feeling about your mom, and the lack of support from your father, FX thinks that it is very important for you to meet with a reputable mental health professional, such as a clinical social worker or clinical psychologist, who can help you to address the feelings you have about what is going on with your mom, as well as how this situation is affecting things between you and your father. FX thinks that it would be very helpful for your father to have his own supports as well – such as a support group or his own private therapist. Perhaps your therapist can help you to find a way to talk about this with him down the road as the more supports he has for himself, the more he will be able to be there for you.

FX appreciates how difficult this situation is for you – but know that there are people out there who do care and who will want to be helpful to you with this. And know that things can definitely get better for you.

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.

If you get to the point that you are seriously considering suicide or are afraid of your impulses then you need to seek help immediately. You can call 911 or go to your nearest hospital emergency room. In northern New Jersey you can also call the crisis hotline from Morristown Memorial hospital at 973-540-0100. Outside this area call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433), available 24 hours a day, or the Suicide & Crisis Hotline, 1-800-999-9999, 24 hours, 7 days a week.


For more information, read: