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    DD, Aged 17

    When people would talk they didn't know what to say which was understandable.  more...


    Mimi - 15 years old

    I lost myself doing stupid things, angry and sad and depressed at everything. I ended up failing my classes, not caring about school, and getting into fights.  more...


    Chelsea - 14 years old

    I stuck my head round the door in the room mum was in, and she looked really ill. I couldn't understand what was happening - one minute my mum was fine and the next she was ill.  more...


    Clair - aged 14

    Something I wish is I could just have one more day with my dad! - to tell him how much I love him and how sorry I am for all the bad things I have said and done to him!  more...


    Nicole - 17 years old

    This time the doctors are unable to operate. He has already had 6 sessions of chemo and is having another 6 sessions. I cannot help feeling I may lose him.  more...


    Rirrif - 15 years old

    I have been staying with my dad because my mom doesn't want me around when she is sick, which is all the time. My dad works at night so I spend a lot of time alone since I'm not with my mom. I'm afraid she is going to die and I'll blame myself for not being there more. more...


    HT - 13 years old

    She has been so strong about this and is keen to put it all behind her.  more...

I don't know where to hold her and hug her? or how to support her?

my mums got a neck cancer and she's just had her operation to have it removed, she's back at home now but she still has a feeding tube in her stomach. she's now got to keep it in her stomach for six weeks whilst she's having radiotherapy (five days a week).she also has a 3 inch scar on her neck filled with metal clips. I don't know what to say or do to help her? I don't know where to hold her and hug her? or how to support her? what can I do to make her feel better ? and how do I motivate her

I’m sorry to hear about your mum and I’m glad that you got in touch with us. My name is Hilde and I have been a cancer nurse for many years.

I can imagine that it has been really hard for you after your mum got diagnosed with neck cancer. It is such a huge shock when your mum gets cancer when you’re only 12 years old as you never think that could happen. I’m pleased to hear that the cancer has been removed now and I saw from the story you submitted that thing seems to be going well with regard to the cancer itself.

But even if the cancer is removed, your mum isn’t going to be well again straight away and with her scar, her feeding tube and radiotherapy treatment – I can see how all this is a bit overwhelming for you. It is very common to feel helpless in situations like this and many are afraid of saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing and not knowing what is the right thing to do and say.

The good thing is that there is no right or wrong thing to say and there is no right or wrong way to deal with this. Your main worry seems to be how you can help and support your mum, how you can motivate her and make her feel better. By asking these questions I know already that you are a loving and caring daughter who loves her mum very much. Your mum will already feel supported just by knowing what a wonderful daughter she has and I’m sure she will be worrying about you just as you worry about her.

Because there is no right or wrong way – the best thing you can do is to talk openly to your mum about what you feel and think. You have expressed it so well in your message to us so perhaps just tell her exactly what you’ve told us. Tell her that you want to help her and support her but that you don’t know how to and tell her if you’re worried about doing anything wrong. Perhaps you’re worried about hurting her or damaging the metal clips in the scar or doing something to the feeding tube if you give her a hug…? I can imagine that metal clips in a 3 inch scar may look a bit scary and I understand that you wouldn’t want to do anything that could make them come off or hurt your mum in any way. Usually these things are fastened very well but you could ask your mum what you should be extra careful about and then give her hugs in ways that don’t disturb the scar and feeding tube. Your mum will help you with this I’m sure as there's nothing a mum wants more than hugs from her children!

Perhaps even more important to you is your question about how to help and support your mum. As I said above, I’m sure you’re already being a huge support to her by being such a considerate daughter but you may want to do specific things for her. It’s difficult to say exactly what because people are different and everybody’s situation is different. This is why it would be good to ask your mum how you can best help her. Perhaps there are some practical things you can do for her that she has difficulty doing herself right now…Or it could be that she’d just love to spend time with you and talk to you about ‘normal stuff’ or perhaps make something together or play a game together…? It may also be that what your mum wants most of all is for you to have as normal life as possible and spend time with your friends and being able to keep up at school.

So my advice is talk to your mum about what’s on your mind. I can sense that you want to be strong for your mum but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t talk to her about how you feel. It’s great that you want to look after your mum and support her, but remember that you also need support and talking about your own emotions will help you get that. Often when we don’t know what to say to somebody we try to avoid ‘talking situations’ and we chose to only talk about ‘safe things’ such as the weather, the school, shopping, dinner etc. But we need to talk about the important things in life too and right now your mum’s illness, treatment and supporting each other are things that are important for you to talk about. I’m sure it will be good for your mum to talk about this too as she may be hesitant bringing things up in fear of you getting upset. So therefore, talking to your mum is also a way of supporting her.

You’re not mentioning any other support in your life or whether your teachers know what is happening at home…? I can imagine that it’s hard to concentrate at school and homework and exams can be really stressful at times like this. If your teachers know your situation they can help you with extra support and perhaps reduce your homework if things are particularly difficult at home. This may not be necessary but something to think about if needed. Also, if you feel it could help you to talk to someone face to face I can help you find support locally, just get in touch and let us know.

I hope this helps but you are of course very welcome to write back to us anytime to talk things over or ask any questions. If I am not here you may also come across Robyn and Sue who work with me in the riprap team.

Warm wishes