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Coping with my mothers lung cancer diagnosis

Coping with my mothers lung cancer diagnosis

Posted by Tiredmommy on Dec 16, 2019 11:18 am

My vibrant, spunky 53 year old mother was diagnosed with stage 3 “non” aggressive lung cancer in January 2019. We were told it was a larger mass but the cells inside the mass were slow growing and there was a chance to cure. Unfortunately she also had a heart condition that was discovered the day after her diagnosis. 3 months later we took her 3 hours away from our community for her to receive aggressive chemo and radiation. For 6 weeks she slowly became weaker and more tired due to the treatment. When she was done she came home and ended up in the hospital with complications of chemo and we nearly lost her due to an infection. She was in hospital for 3 weeks and was discharged the beginning of July ... and made it to my wedding the end of July. The end of September she began having difficulty walking and was left undiagnosed with metastasis to her right hip for 4 weeks. Now we are here... I’m off work and taking care of her full time along with my 4 year old. My family has been split up, my new husband remains in our community an hour away. I’m stressed, I’m tired and I’m afraid. My heart hurts and my head is spinning because there has been too much change in a short time and I have no adjusted well. My mother is suffering daily and even though I have a brother, sister in law, and my father all in the same community with us I feel like we have little support. I’ve been a nurse for 10 years and I know this is only going to get uglier but I’m still trying to put on a brave face for my mother. I just needed to get this off my chest as I feel there are no one around me who understands. 

Re: Coping with my mothers lung cancer diagnosis

Posted by Lacey_adminCCS on Dec 16, 2019 11:44 am


I'm glad you got things off your chest. You can share with us here anytime.

You sure have been through a lot in a short time. Your mom is very lucky to have you by her side. I can relate to the feeling of your heart hurting and your head spinning. When my Father was diagnosed with stage 4 tongue cancer I felt like I was walking on egg shells waiting for the other shoe to drop. I got through it by talking to my support people, going easy on myself and recognizing I was doing the best I could, and focusing on one day at a time. Now 4 years later I look back and feel at peace with how I handled the situation. Keep in mind you don't always have to have a brave face on. Maybe Mom is getting tired of having a brave face on too and you can support each other. 

Even when we work in nursing or social work we still need support for ourselves ( I learned this). Have you considered talking to the Social Worker at the hospital?

We are here to listen anytime.


Re: Coping with my mothers lung cancer diagnosis

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Dec 16, 2019 11:44 am

Tiredmommy‍ , I am so sorry to hear about your situation. And your Mom’s.  I’m caregiver for my Dad, (metastatic lung cancer), and so far, he’s done fairly well. Like you, though, I know there are “uglier” days ahead at some point, and those are daunting, to put it mildly.

What are you doing for self care? Do you get to spend weekends with your husband? When you say you don’t “feel like we have support,” who are “we”?

You can only put on a brave face for your mom as long as you have your inner strength. As you are a nurse, I’m preaching to the choir when I speak of the importance of self care.

You’ve found a place where people can listen, commiserate, and support. You can vent here anytime!

If you need supports in your parents’ community, you can call the help line 1-888-939-3333, or visit the Community Services Locator site, https://csl.cancer.ca/en
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: Coping with my mothers lung cancer diagnosis

Posted by Tiredmommy on Dec 16, 2019 1:25 pm

In we I mean me and my mom, my brother, dad and sis in law all go about their days like everything’s normal and I’m not given the opportunity. I’m not bitter about it because I’m spending every moment with my mom but sometimes I would like to go to my own home and spend a little time alone with my husband and son without worrying every minute that my mom will be left alone. She’s occasionally confused and very depressed so she can’t be alone. I don’t do any self care honestly, i left work and since leaving work the end of November I’ve been living cancer. When I want to leave my mom follows me crying asking me to stay and instead of supporting me my father gets very angry at me. Maybe I’m selfish, I don’t seek help from the local hospital and I’m not comfortable speaking to coworkers

Re: Coping with my mothers lung cancer diagnosis

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Dec 17, 2019 11:18 am

Tiredmommy‍ , Oh, no no, you are not being selfish. (Had to get that out there right off the top.)

That’s what I was afraid of - the old “she’s not working, she can do all of it.” I have experienced that myself. I have 3 siblings, and apart from one of them doing an odd grocery run, and covering me for all of 2 appointments and one overnight stay in the last 2 years... well, you know.

One of my aunts observed, “It always fall onto one. It isn’t right, but that’s what happens.” It also always seems to happen to the one who is going to give the least amount of push-back. Hello, you.

I’m afraid you’re going to have to assert yourself and set some boundaries. You need a break and your child deserves time away from your mom’s situation. Does your brother think it’s fair that his 4 year old nephew be living this way, watching his grandmother in this condition and being away from his Dad for such long periods of time? 

Remember that part of your Dad’s reaction is coming from fear. I suspect that he doesn’t know what to do when you’re gone, and you are “the one” in whom he is placing all of his faith. That doesn’t make it any easier for either of you, but it can help you with developing an appropriate approach to him. 

I would advocate for a family meeting, but I know how successful that would be in my own circle. Still, my situation isn’t your situation, and you might be able to get at least some respite by having a gathering where you explain what you are going through. Your sibling and sibling-in-law need to be made aware of the impact this is having on you, your child, and your marriage, with great clarity. If they shrug that off, well, then you will need to seek resources from outside the family circle, such as the ones suggested in this thread. At the very least, you should be able to get home on weekends. Every employer knows that it’s important for staff to have coffee breaks and vacations.

I do hope that you will find some way to get some self-care time. I sense from your post that you are “hitting the wall,” and that won’t serve you, your mom or your dad well in the long run. 
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: Coping with my mothers lung cancer diagnosis

Posted by Deb1313 on Dec 18, 2019 9:36 am

Tiredmommy‍ Wow! So many of the things you wrote in your initial post mirror what I just went through with my Mom.
First though, I want to say how sorry I am that you are going through this with your Mom when she is so young and you are too. When I read that you are a nurse, I felt some relief for your Mom that she is not only getting full time nursing care, but the difference is that her nurse lives her immensely. 
I lost my Mom to stage 4 lung cancer just over 5 weeks ago and I was her caregiver     for the last year if her life. While my mom didn’t need full time care until the end, I still cooked for them a few times per week, cleaned for her, and was the one person at every heartbreaking oncology appointment, infusion, emerg visit and on and on. I have 3 siblings and a father who all seemed to think she would just carry on and my father was in denial until Mom’s last breath.
Vent away whenever you want - I did. If there is a community that will understand every aspect of cancer, it is this one. Even when I didn’t post, I read every day and it gave me strength knowing that there are many others who are walking this as a patient, or caregiver or whatever, or who have walked it and because of their words, I knew I would survive. 
The waiting on pins and needles for the next bad thing to happen is something that didn’t go away for me until Mom passed. Every day I would wake up and look at my clock and think “Lord, what is in front of me today that I don’t know about yet?” 
My Mom was a pillar of strength throughout her illness and I mean every world of that. I was amazed daily at what she could do and did despite how weak and sick she was. I, on the other hand was an emotional disaster but I was an emotional disaster that kept putting one foot in front of the other. 
Since Mom passed, many people have commented to me how well I am fairing and that I am not in a crumpled heap (including my husband). I get my strength from my faith first and second, in a weird way, I feel like by carrying on with dignity, I am honouring my Mom because I am acting the way she acted when her Mom passed. Again, strength she portrayed that one rarely sees and I am trying daily.

Despite the fact that you may not feel it now, you are stronger that you could ever possibly imagine you would or could be. I too quit my job to help Mom and saw it as a full time bonus in getting to spend the most time with her. This, you will never regret, nor will you regret possibly being the only one who actually knows how sick she is and responds accordingly. I see some of my family members living with the regret of “I wish I did more, or spent more time.” I don’t have to carry that and neither will you. Let me tell you, that is a huge load to not have to carry.
You are doing fantastically and your mom knows it and you also have the eyes of a little 4 year old witness who is seeing her Mom show incredible love and selflessness despite her sadness and fatigue. Although only 4, you may be very surprised at what she remembers from this and imprints things she learned from you.
Come back and read again and again even if you don’t post. It will help you.