Tender Face and the 'kindness' of cancer

Tender Face

Account Closed
Mar 14, 2006
NW England
Sounds like something JK Rowling could've written as a title? :rolleyes:

In the last couple of days it has been confirmed that my mother has terminal cancer ..... I have hesitated to post publicly until now, but what I have witnessed today with mum made me feel I ought to, not least to give respect to the many many members here - new and old - who have offered me so much in way of support and ideas in helping to look after mum over the last few years.

I already sensed a week or so back that TP was maybe not the appropriate place for me any longer given, not least, it was becoming evident mum's physical health concerns were overtaking her dementia issues. I've seen many threads with discussions about either/or (of each disease) ... and a few - mine included even a couple of years ago when mum was undergoing extensive tests - all clear at the time - where both cancer and dementia played a part in concerns for a loved one's health.

I know too well how wicked cancer is ... and how many people I have already lost to it or watched, or supported their fighting their valiant battles against it (hubby included) ........ but I wanted tonight to express the sense of peace that radiates from mum today.

I have been terrified that her recent increased confusion meant she had no awareness of quite how poorly we suspected she was and has now been confirmed, and how anyone might ever break the 'news' to her. Since her recent hospitalisation when she has thought she was having an operation and then going home and I haven't had the heart to tell her that might never happen (although it's still my wish to get her home, of course) ...... but since being told very clearly by the doctors of her diagnosis and the potential - to use mum's words, bless: 'But there might be b*gger all you can do about it?' I have not seen her so relaxed and content in a long time. She is being wonderfully cared for by the staff on a quite exceptional ward in what I have known sadly for many years for different reasons is a quite wonderful hospital and we await further tests for staging / prognosis and how best now to give her quality of life. (PEG feeding has already been ruled out with contra-indication of short life expectancy and ability to even get through the procedure without complications given her general health and frailty).

A dear friend used the word 'escape tunnel' about the situation a few weeks ago .. and I think mum has seen exactly that ....... for the first time in I can't remember how long she talked about my dad today and I feel she is ready to be reunited with him ....... her lucidity is quite amazing ....... (after MMSE score of just 15 this last week). I feel she has found her peace ..... and even though it's cutting me up ... I have to be grateful for that ......

If I can only aspire to ever be as strong as her ..........

Thank you all, love, Karen, x


Registered User
Mar 23, 2008
coast of texas
for you...

I feel for you. I can't express my thoughts or emotions for you I can only say..that..find the strength within yourself. I know mine comes from the knowledge/feeling that mom will be reunited with dad. My mind goes back to a time when the two of them sat on a swing and watched the night sky together. These past years have been hard...but the journey will have been worth it for both of us when it finally happens.

My prayers go with you.


Margaret W

Registered User
Apr 28, 2007
North Derbyshire
Karen, this is so sad, but as you know, it is inevitable. It sound as though your mum knows what to expect, and that is very reassuring, cos it is a fact that we will all die, but to have someone accepting it is a blessing. My dad was the last in our family to die, and he definitely didn't want to go, and that was distressing in itself. So if your mum knows the score, well, it is a good thing.

I am glad you have stayed on TP cos we all share the same things, not just AD, but everything that goes with old age, and sometimes not so very old age. We have to face it all, and I am pleased you can share it with us. No point in covering it up or ignoring it - it is a fact.

I hope mum doesn't suffer, my dad didn't, and that you can make her comfortable for her last months. She is blessed by a loving daughter, Karen, you can only do your best, and I know you will do that.

Keep us posted, cos we are all living this with you.




Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
SW Scotland
Dear Karen

I know that you have suspected that this would be the diagnosis, but it's still a shock to have it confirmed.

You sound so calm and logical about it all, but I suspect that inside you are in deep turmoil.

It's comforting to know that your mum is being well cared for, and is at peace. It sounds as if she is welcoming the diagnosis, and that can only be good.

For you, though, there must be very mixed emotions. On the one hand, your mum is going to escape the agonies (for both of you) of end-stage dementia, on the other hand you are going to lose her sooner than you thought.

Please don't feel that TP is no longer for you. Some of us have known you for a long time, have shared emotion, laughter, grief, and the occasional spat!:eek:

But we'd hate to lose you, and would be honoured to travel this last stage of your mum's journey with you.

Love and prayers for you, your mum, and your family.


Registered User
Sep 16, 2005
Well wishes

Lots of love to you and your mum Karen. My wish for both of you is that the peace continues.



Registered User
Aug 9, 2007
HI Karen


What a time you are having of it. I don't think that you should ever feel that TP is not a place for you. I think that here you will find lots of understanding from people to help you.

I remember only too well when Mum underwent surgery for a burst ulcer the mixed feelings that I had. Did I want her to survive, given that I knew she had dementia and what the inevitable outcome would be? It is so hard.

For you, knowing the diagnosis now it has given you and your Mum I feel a sense of peace. I sometimes think that the unknown is more frightening than being able to face up to what is wrong and deal with it.

Your Mum sounds like my Mum, who although very very confused towards the end had made her peace. I looked back on my posts recently over that time and can now see more clearly than I ever did at that time.

I think you will find that, like your Mum, you are also a strong lady and you will cope becuase your Mum copes with it all. It will cut you up. It is the "flip" side of loving as if we had never loved we would never hurt the way we do.

My thoughts are with you.




Registered User
May 14, 2006
Dear Karen,
I'm sorry to hear that your mother has developed cancer, but it must be a relief that she has reacted so calmly to the situation. It seems to be so much easier for health professionals and ordinary people to deal with a visible physical illness or problem, rather than a mental health or dementia condition, which may be less obvious.

All the help my Mum received from social services and the NHS, was for her physical health problems. She was supplied with aids for her deafness, pills and mobility aids for her rheumatoid arthritis and her Attendance Allowance was awarded because of her physical condition. She had no help for her Vascular Dementia at all and the social worker couldn't even see what the problems were.

Mum was fully self-funding for her Care and Nursing home fees. I really don't know how we would have coped, if we'd had to hang about for the social services, as Mum would have probably fallen in her own home and hurt herself badly. She was terribly confused about times of day or night and frightened by her hallucinations.

It has been a year since Mum died suddenly from a heart attack and it doesn't really get any easier, but at least her suffering is over. I still find it hard to come to terms with Mum's confusion during her last few years of life, especially when she didn't recognise me sometimes.
I am beginning to remember the good times we had together before she became ill and perhaps in future the bad times will seem less prominent.

My thoughts are with you and everyone who is caring for a loved one with dementia.

Best wishes


Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
Toronto, Canada
Dear Karen,
So sorry to hear about the diagnosis. But I'm glad to hear that your mother is content and clear and less confused than she has been for a while.

Yes, if she has found her peace, be grateful. Life is good. Enjoy your time.



Registered User
Nov 28, 2005
Dear Karen:

After reading your tender post regarding your Mum's diagnosis I know see the signifance of your TP name.

Thankfully you have seen a lucid phase where your Mum is accepting the situation and is content and relaxed. That must help you but at the same time be emotionally draining.

You have been a great support to many, please stay on board and let others see you through this very difficult time.

My thoughts are with you. Love Jan


Registered User
Mar 27, 2008
Dear Karen

but I wanted tonight to express the sense of peace that radiates from mum today.
Just caught up with your thread Karen and wanted to send my very best wishes and to thank you for sharing this part of your life. Thank goodness that you've experienced mum radiating that peace - this will help a little on the journey you have to take.

Love and best wishes


blue sea

Registered User
Aug 24, 2005
Dear Karen
My thoughts are with you as you enter this new stage of caring for and about your mum. Accepting the death of a parent is a rite of passage most of us have to go through. It is very hard and painful, whatever the cause of the death. You are able to comfort yourself with knowing that your mother feels at peace with herself and that she will be spared the final indignities and suffering of last stage dementia.
As for leaving TP, why do that when you perhaps need the support more now than ever? My own father died over 2 years ago, but I still post occasionally and feel part of the 'family' because of my past experiences. The marvellous thing about TP is that it is there as a constant for everyone who has experience of the illness of dementia. The people who post change over time, but the source of support remains and we can each draw on or contribute to that according to our ability and needs at any particular time. At present you do not need advice / information about dementia, but you do need the reassurance of love and friendship from those who have grown to know you through your contributions to this site. And you still have so much to offer others. So keep posting!
Blue sea

Tender Face

Account Closed
Mar 14, 2006
NW England
Thank you all ... of course, today showed a completely different story - mum agitated and confused ... unaware of the reality ...... how stupid of me to think the rollercoaster may have stopped?

Our journey with dementia is far from over ... and how to manage the 'palliative care' she would have for her physical problems alone alongside her 'dementia needs' is going to be a challenge in itself ..... I don't know that anyone on TP has gone through this scenario before? (Someone please correct me and I will go off and do my homework)...... or else perhaps sharing here will help someone else who finds themselves where I and mum are at now ...... ?

I wouldn't dare pretend I don't need all the help I can get right now .....

Thanks again, xxxx


Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
SW Scotland
Not stupid, Karen! We all have our hopes raised after a good day, though rationally we know there will be a corresponding low.

Glad you're staying with us, anyway.



Registered User
Mar 23, 2008
Hi Karen
So sorry to hear about your news but I can identify with your situation as my mum has terminal cancer and vascular dementia too.
February 2007 we were given a 6 -8 weeks prognosis and we took her home to live her last few weeks as comfortable as we could.
Somehow, she is still with us, to the amazement of the consultants. They have no answers and will no longer give a further prognosis (surprise!)
The palliative care team are only a phone call away and the last few days she has been quite poorly but how do I know if it's because of the cancer or the dementia. Frankly, I don't but I do the best I can and hope that it's good enough.
When mum is lucid, she is aware that she has cancer but on the bad days she is in complete denial and will get quite stroppy if it's mentioned. One consolation I have is that on one of her good days she told me that she has no regrets about her life and I hang on to that fact.
Your emotions at the moment will be all over the place as mine were when told the news and for that reason alone TP will be a comfort for you even if it's only for the fact that you are not alone in your situation and other people like myself know exactly what you are having to face.
Please stay in touch.
Love Liz x

Tender Face

Account Closed
Mar 14, 2006
NW England
Dear Liz

Oh bless you and thank you so much, Liz. Mum has a history of cancers going back 20 years .... you can imagine how cross I was thinking she had battled through all that to develop dementia?Some reward, huh? She has always been a battler ... and I suspect whatever prognosis we are given after tests are completed this week she will continue to amaze and defy ... as so many do!

My big fear now is her being unable to articulate her symptoms or pains ..... conversation at visiting today: 'Are you still getting those pains, mum?' 'No, not really.' 'What did you have for lunch?' 'No, not really.' I am sure you and others will know that well.

I have been trying to comfort myself that these two evils are actually working together to help mum now ...... the cancer's reoccurence (and spread) saving her from what might have lay ahead with her dementia - the dementia perhaps blocking out some of her pain and understanding of what the cancer may bring? Clutching at straws maybe ...... but sometimes I guess that's all we can do.

Thanks for the inspiration and understanding, love Karen, x


Registered User
Jan 4, 2006
So sorry to hear about your mum Karen...but i think your point about two evils working together is a good one...hopefully she will be protected from the extremes of both illnesses, and will find peace.

I hope too that you can find some peace amongst the busy-ness of caring for mum and other family....let hubby,son and friends support you.....yes the responsibility will ultimately be yours, but let them hold you...you are not alone.

Love Helen


Registered User
May 19, 2006
Dear Karen,

sending caring thoughts and wishes for mum's journey, and yours and your family's, that it may be peaceful with lots of help and support from the hospital which seems to be doing a sterling job.

Much love,
Tina x


Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
SW Scotland
I have been trying to comfort myself that these two evils are actually working together to help mum now ...... the cancer's reoccurence (and spread) saving her from what might have lay ahead with her dementia - the dementia perhaps blocking out some of her pain and understanding of what the cancer may bring?

I'm sure you're right there, Karen. And if the two evils work together to shorten your mum's suffering, that can only be good, for her at least.

And for you? Well, inner turmoil, as I said before. But given the choice of short and kept comfortable, or long and agonising, I know which I'd choose, every time.

May God give you the strength to get through this.



Registered User
Jul 2, 2006
Newport, Gwent
Karen honey, I feel the same as you, if our mum's can beat the end stages of AD by some other route, this must be better for them.

We have also both been blessed to find wonderful places for our mum's, what more can we ask for now.

Be proud of all you have achieved for your mum, you have been such a wonderful daughter, try to enjoy what time you have left, make some good memories to keep if you can.

Cate xxx