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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...

My mom had cancer, is there a higher chance of me getting it?

hi my mom had cancer. Unfortunately she died last October it is still hard for me. But what i would really like to know if it is do i have a higher chance of getting cancer?

I’m so sorry to hear that you lost your mom last October. I can only imagine how devastating that must be for you and it is completely natural that you’re still finding it hard. The grief from losing a parent when you’re just a teenager will always be there, but as time goes on you will hopefully find that the intensity of the grief gets less painful. Gradually you will learn to live with the loss of your mom in a way which does not dominate your life although she will always be in your thoughts and in your heart.

Your question about whether you have got a higher chance of getting cancer because your mom had it is an understandable question. My immediate answer would be that most likely you do not have a higher chance. You may have heard about cancer running in families and how some illnesses can be inherited from our parents via faulty genes. With regard to cancer, in most cases there is not a higher chance of getting it because your parent has had it. From what we know today, only 2-3% of all cancers develop because of gene faults that are inherited from our parents. Unfortunately, cancer has become a very common illness and during our lifetime about 50% of people will get it at some point in their lives. Part of the reason that so many will get cancer is that people live to become much older these days so the cells in our bodies get more worn out and can become faulty so that cancer can develop. But although most people who get cancer are older, there are still many younger people developing the disease and sadly it happened to your mom. (You can read more about the genetics of cancer in our knowledge section).

There are a few types of cancer where they have found that faulty inherited genes can increase people’s risk of getting it. But as I said, this is very rare. This would have been tested in your mom if she had any of these types and the family would have been told and offered some kind of gene testing if that was the case. So, although it is natural to worry about it, you should be reassured that your chance of getting cancer should not be any higher because of your mom having it. You didn’t say what type of cancer your mom had and whether several other people on your mom’s side of the family have also had cancer when they were not very old… Perhaps if you email me back to let me know about that, I would be able to reassure you even more that you shouldn’t worry about having any increased risk of getting cancer. If you are still worried, you should talk to your GP (or your mom’s GP) about it so that you can get the information you need to be reassured.

I’m aware that your question was about increased risk of getting cancer. However, as a help with your grief, you may want to have a look at a couple of websites from bereavement organisations for young people. You might want to have a look at the Hope Again website which is the young people’s section of Cruse Bereavement Care and there’s also a charity called Winston’s Wish that supports bereaved children and young people. They have a separate section for young people and you’ll find that here.

I hope this can help reassure you but please feel free to get in touch again anytime.

All good wishes


Page updated 30 November 2016