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Supporting Your Mum Through Cancer

What to do if your Mum has cancer: a practical guide to supporting her journey  

Photo of Carina Gallegos

Carina Gallegos is our Support Angel and Customer Love Manager at Support Crew.

Carina explores the challenge and heavy emotions that occur when your Mum is diagnosed with cancer, and how to love and support her during that incredibly difficult time. 

Dealing with the news that your Mum has cancer can be overwhelming and emotionally challenging. Suddenly, the roles seem to reverse, and you may find yourself wanting to protect and care for her in every possible way. In this article, we’ll explore some practical steps to take while navigating this difficult time. Remember, you don’t have to have all the answers, but being there for your Mum with love and support can make a world of difference. 

Take one day at a time 

The moment you learn of your Mum’s cancer diagnosis, fear, sadness, and uncertainty can flood you, making it hard to know what to do next. The key is to take things one step at a time, one day at a time. This journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t pressure yourself to solve everything at once or feel a certain way. 

Start by being present in the moment and acknowledging your feelings. Allow yourself to grieve, cry, or be angry if you need to. It’s okay not to have all the answers, to feel overwhelmed and scared. Sometimes, just being there to hold her hand or listen can mean more than trying to fix everything. 

Ask her specifically what she needs

Everyone copes with a cancer diagnosis differently. Some may want to talk openly about their feelings, while others may prefer a more private approach. The best way to support your Mum is to ask her what she needs, specifically. Perhaps she needs help with household chores, such as cooking or cleaning. Or maybe she wants someone to accompany her to medical appointments. It could even be as simple as having someone to watch her favourite movies or take a leisurely walk together. The key is to be receptive to her needs and show that you are willing to be there for her. 

Respect her journey

As much as you may want to help, remember that your Mum is going through a deeply personal and challenging experience. Respect her journey and allow her to make decisions about her treatment and care. Offer your opinions and suggestions, but ultimately, let her take the lead in her health choices. 

Every person’s cancer journey is unique, and what works for one individual may not work for another. Avoid making assumptions about what she wants or needs. Instead, be a supportive and understanding presence in her life. 

Take care of yourself

Supporting a loved one with cancer can be emotionally draining. It’s crucial to take care of yourself during this time as well. Ensure you’re getting enough rest, eating well, and finding ways to relieve stress. Seek support from friends, family, or a counsellor to help you navigate your emotions and cope with the challenges. 

When you take care of yourself, you’ll be better equipped to be there for your Mum when she needs you the most. Remember that it’s okay to take breaks and ask for help when you need it. 

Enjoy quality time together

Amidst the difficult moments, try to make time to cherish special moments with your Mum. Make an effort to create positive memories and experiences together. Take the opportunity to do things you both enjoy, whether it’s cooking together, going for a walk, or sharing stories from the past. 

Laughter can be a powerful medicine, so don’t be afraid to create occasions for enjoyment when and if possible.  

Give her words of encouragement and love

Never underestimate the power of kind and encouraging words. A simple “I love you,” “I believe in you,” or “You are strong” can uplift your Mum’s spirits and provide the emotional support she needs. Let her know that she’s not alone in this battle and that you’ll be by her side. Your presence and love can make a significant difference in her emotional well-being and overall journey through cancer. 

Cancer can be a daunting road, but your love and encouragement can be a guiding light during her darkest days. Remind her of her strength and resilience, and celebrate every milestone, no matter how small. 

Supporting resources

Remember that you don’t have to navigate this journey alone. There are organisations and resources available to help both you and your Mum through this challenging time. Cancer support groups can provide valuable emotional support and connect you with others going through similar experiences. Additionally, professional counselling can offer a safe space to express your feelings and concerns and Cancer Society provide free counselling services for patients and their whānau so it’s definitely something you can access too.

Financial planning is another essential aspect to consider during this time. Managing finances after a serious illness can be challenging, and seeking guidance from experts can help ease some of the burdens. Cancer Society of New Zealand and SORTED offer valuable resources in this regard. 

Summing it up

Supporting your Mum through her cancer journey is an emotional and sometimes overwhelming task. But by taking things one day at a time, respecting her choices, and being there with support and empathy, you can make a meaningful difference. Remember to take care of yourself along the way and seek support when needed.  

Most importantly, remember that you don’t have to do this alone. Reach out to support groups and seek professional advice when necessary. Together, you can navigate this challenging path and show your Mum your unwavering love and care. 

How Support Crew can help

With Support Crew, we’ve made it  easy for people going through tough times to co-ordinate help and communicate with friends, families and colleagues.  One way to support your Mum and yourself through her cancer journey is to create a Support Page or an online help roster.  That way you can co-ordinate the specific help that your Mum needs, and also to help make sure it’s not all on your because they will likely be lots of friends and family wanting to help – they’ll probably just not know how.  Plus you don’t want your Mum to end up with a freezer full of lasagnes, when what she really needs a hand with is getting to a medical appointment.

All you need to do is set-up a Support Page, invite friends and family, create the help roster with what your Mum needs – anything from meals to cleaning to transport.  Or set it up, and then get another close friend or family member to help manage it with you.  And if you need a hand with getting started, or have any questions, just get in touch at 

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Support Crew is an online support platform that helps those dealing with life changing events to easily co-ordinate the meals and support they need from their support network.

Phone: + 64 211 566 566