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Two cancer patients, two different paths
1 Posts
Hey everyone. Let's jump right into it, shall we? Both of my parents received cancer diagnosis' in the last year and a half. This is my father's second round of lung cancer that has also spread to his brain, causing lesions. My Mum started out with breast cancer that, with tests, showed she also has an unrelated lung cancer with spots of concern dotted around her abdomen. I am their main caregiver as my brother is struggling to manage his alcohol addiction and dependency and we have no other family in Canada. I was never a problem solver but, when both parents get diagnosis' like that, you do what you have to do. But now, I am really struggling to know what is next. My father in a hospice and my Mum is stable. She isn't getting any worse but, she will never beat what she has. I guess, what I am trying to get at is; I have never felt so alone. I never thought this would happen to the both of them at the same time. I'm trying to be there for them and my brother but, I just don't know how much more I can handle. Any one else feel this way?
7 Replies
2007 Posts
Hi EllenMc07

Your plate is full and you are understandably overwhelmed.

You have your needs, the ongoing support o your brother and now the double cancer diagnosis of both parents. Do you live with your mother and brother? On one hand it makes things easier, but on the other, it can be difficult to find time and peace for yourself.

Taking care of the caregiver is a resource from the Canadian Cancer Society.It offers suggestion for coping, realizing we all have limits and need to find other resources to help us deal with what we have in front of us. Do you have any assistance coming in to help with your mother and brother? Is your brother part of AA or in any type of counseling? Does he have any contacts to help him keep on the straight and narrow?

Do you have any outside agencies coming in to give you a break that could sit in and help with your mother? Even if it's getting out for a walk, a drive, shopping to give yourself some diversion? With Covid 19, that limits a lot of things we can do to distract ourselves when needed as well.

Know that you are not alone with your thoughts and feelings. Being tasked to take on looking after your whole family is a huge weight on your shoulders. Set some limits and me or down time for yourself. We all need to recharge our batteries and have something to distract ourselves regularly. Hearing from and posting here on the site is one way to seek out some ways to cope for yourself and also important - realize you are not the only one going through your situation and feel the way you do.

A good first step is your reaching out here to share what's going on and release some of this stress that is building. The hospital your parents are being treated at may have some therapy for you as well. Social workers to talk with and get out what is going on in your life. Also they are a good resource to help get you some assistance for your parents and give you some needed downtime as well.

We can't do verything ourselves, we all need assistance and some "me time" to recharge ourselves.

Hope this helps and makes you feel a lot less alone.

Keep well

EllenMc07‍ You certainly have a lot on your plate or should I say platter?

As you said, you basically do what you need to do to get through it all; however, unless you take care of yourself you can't take care of others.

Cynthia Mac‍ has been a #Caregiver to her father and may be able to help you from that perspective. WestCoastSailor‍ has a slightly different twist to your situation. Perhaps he can provide some insight.

Hang in there seems so inadequate. Please get the support you need. Remember that you are important too. You have to make time for yourself.

You are not alone. Reach out to us on the site and we will provide you with some level of support. ACH2015‍ has provided you with a lot of great resources.
Cynthia Mac
3080 Posts
Oh, EllenMc07‍ I’m so sorry that this is your reality.

The others are right: you need to find some way of getting some self care, as soon as you possibly can.

It sounds as though your brother doesn’t live with your mom, and while he might need your support right now, I’d venture to say that you need support more. You mentioned that he is “struggling to manage his alcohol addiction,” and he may have to do that while you deal with these other situations.

My mom passed away just months before Dad got his cancer diagnosis. It was a lot to take in, so I can certainly understand why you would be struggling. I’m glad you found this site: hopefully we can help guide you to some resources or at least make you feel less alone. All you need to do is ask.


I've spent the last 15 years involved with folks in alcohol recovery. ACH2015‍ mentioned AA and I can vouch for the effectiveness of these programs. That was the part of the picture that really caught my attention. But I can tell you that while you hope for the best in recovery, plan for the worst. It is often circumstances like this that prove to be the breaking point. Keep expectations to the minimum.

Developing a group of people that you can lean on can be important. The support/caregiver side of AA is Al-Anon. For many people in these circumstances it can be a lifeline for finding serenity and peace in the midst of chaos.

Is there a spiritual community that you can reach out to? These organizations are often prepared to help in all sorts of practical ways. Whether it is as simple as some frozen meals or as complicated as a listening ear as you try to articulate the grief at losing both parents.

Fair winds as you sail these uncharted waters.

428 Posts
Holy Pressure Cooker!! EllenMc07, you are a warrior!! It is wonderful of you to write to us on this website and bare your soul....as a caregiver, and the daughter of both stricken parents, you have taken on quite a huge support task. As your brother is not able to assist to his fullest, you must remember to find ways to take time out for your own strengthening tactics....easier said than done, right?
As WestCoast Sailor Angus, Cynthia Mac,, ACH2015, and cancertakesflight have mentioned...you must take care of the caregiver.
I can't add any profound comments, so I just want to say Bravo, and how much you are admired and loved.
961 Posts
Hello EllenMc07‍ - I have always found that one of the best self care tools is to talk about your situation with others who have been there or are going through similar difficulties so coming here is one of the many things that will make you feel better. When I have felt at my worst I found solace in private groups. The Ontario Caregiver Organization is the only non profit that focuses on the needs of caregivers ( unpaid caregivers such as family, friends or neighbours ) which is what you are. Their services are free and teach us that we have a circle of needs that have to be met for us not to burnout. Burnout is what happens when we are overwhelmed for long periods. Your social, emotional, physical and spiritual needs among others are needs that we can neglect as caregivers but are important.

I have, like you, felt unsure if I would be able to handle the number of things that were happening at the same time. My 85 yr old mother died suddenly of an illness while I was visiting at Christmas. We had to place my 91 yr old dad in a nursing home the day after she died. When I got home my friend and co worker I rented a suite from was in hospital dying of ovarian cancer which was just diagnosed while I was away and she did not want to tell me so my work supervisor called me to tell me. My adult children’s father had been in hospice for 8 mths with untreatable brain tumours at this point and I was trying to support them over the provinces. I had to move within days of returning home because my friends family were taking over the home. There was no place to move to. It took months for me to get sorted out from that.

You will survive this but it will be hard so practice what I call critical self care. Talk about what’s happening with others who have been there and take this course for caregivers.They have therapists with experience in working with caregivers, which will also help and it’s all online or through the phone. You will meet many caregivers (if you join the support sessions after each class) with a variety of illnesses etc that are being cared for but I found we all had the same concerns and cried the same tears. Alanon will be the most helpful group for how to be there for your brother in the most helpful way without hurting yourself.

My Nurse Practitioner was also very helpful. Talk to your doctor if you are feeling depressed, high anxiety and not sleeping.

You are not alone. There are many of us out there.

Warm hugs
961 Posts
You are so young. All the more reason to practice really good self care.
Here is a link to a thread with other caregivers of parents.

Also a thread with other support groups.
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