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How can I help my mom as an expat?
beehime
3 Posts
I learned two days ago that the doctors are pretty sure my mom has lung cancer. She still has to do tests to determine which stage it’s at, if it’s only localized, and what treatment options will be available to her. I moved to another country 2 years ago because I managed to land my dream job. I’m really really close to my mom and I want to help her as much as I can, but if I quit my current post there’s pretty much no way I’ll get such an opportunity again career wise. She told me already that she doesn’t want me to jeopardize my career for her or for me to worry too much, but how am I supposed to do that? I’m so terrified to lose her. I’m 28, but to be honest I’ve been feeling like I’m 5 again since I got the news. I’m trying to stay positive during our calls and to be the rock that she has always been for me, and I already arranged with my work to come back for about a month around Christmas, but in the mean time I’m at a lost for what to do. Anyone else here an expat? What did you do to help a sick parent/family member?
9 Replies
Trillium
1568 Posts

Hello @beehime - I want to welcome you to this community and tell you that I am so glad you have joined us. I did not have a parent with cancer but my adult kids had a father with cancer. Others will be along soon to support you and answer your questions or just be a listening ear as you travel through this emotional time.

Many of us have learned how to take things one day at time and try not to assume the worst until we need too. Lean on all of your family and friends for support. If I were your mom I would feel the same way about you changing your work or where you live if it will have a negative impact on your life. Many of us have also found that having our family member take the lead in there treatment and decision making is what most people diagnosed with cancer want.

Below is a link to the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) and their guide for caregivers. The next link is to the CCS guide on lung cancer which you and your mom will find helpful.

https://cancer.ca/en/living-with-cancer/helping-someone-with-cancer/caregiving

https://cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-types/lung

Take some breaths and know that all of the emotions you are feeling are what we all go through and taking things one day at a time helps us get through this difficult time.

Warm hugs

Trillium

Trillium
1568 Posts

Some more links for you @beehime. The first one is to a thread about how to help a parent diagnosed with cancer where you can read about many experiences and tips from others and the second is another informative guide for us caregivers.

https://cancerconnection.ca/discussions/viewtopic/35/57052#coping-with-a-parent-s-diagnosis-

https://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/living-with-cancer/your-relationships-and-cancer/adult-children-of-parents-with-cancer/?region=on

Trillium
1568 Posts

Hello again @beehime 🙂. I also want to introduce you to other caregivers your age. @GabbyH28 @Victoriamaitland1997 @annagabrielle @FlowersWillBloom Will hopefully have some tips to share or feel up to just sharing their experience. You can also connect by private message on your profile page to the folks here on the forum.

Brighty
7483 Posts

@beehime im so sorry for your moms diagnosis. It must be so hard for you . There a a lot of ways you can support from a distance …. Daily phone calls,zoom meals together, texts…send care packages of things she would like, arrange for grocery deliveries, arrange a cleaning service ,keep in touch with her and her primary caregiver daily, keep in touch with the health care team and perhaps be on conference calls during appointments if possible….who is taking care of her? You can arrange with that person all of the things I mentioned above.. perhaps zoom meetings together just to have card nights or game nights together.. things like that would mean the world to her. Again so sorry for what you are going through .let us know how you and your mo are doing.

Faye
229 Posts

@beehime , first I’m sorry for your moms diagnosis. I’m going to answer as a mom who was diagnosed with lung cancer. I know this is uncertain times until she is fully diagnosed with type and staging so keep in close contact until that time then it will be easier to make a decision as to what you want to do.As a mom I definitely would not want you to make any decisions regarding your career until you have the information to make those decision. I believe it will be so depended on your moms prognosis, does she have other support system, a spouse, other children or siblings that can offer caregiving.
My treatment was aggressive with simultaneous chemotherapy and radiation, so about all I wanted when I was going through the hard days from my kids was a quiet Visit, and phone FaceTime contact. Don’t worry that you need to entertain her during that time, that can come later. It seems to me a visit at Christmas would be an excellent time to come. If the prognosis is not so good then you may have to make different decisions.

I want you to know there are good treatments for lung cancer, I am a 5 year survivor. Depending on the type and stage immunotherapy is often the choice with not so severe side effects. Sending you and your mom strength for the days ahead.

@beehime

I, like @Faye am responding from the parent side of things. My oldest son was working on a contract in Holland and I got to break the news to him over a crappy WhatsApp connection. Not good. Fortunately when he discovered what an urgent ticket was going to cost, he stayed put and finished out the contract. By the time he made it back I had a lot more information and though the picture didn't look good, we were able to spend a weekend camping together before I started treatment. We talked about dying, and what my expectations were.

Now three years later, I'm stable. Still a metastatic lung cancer patient though I run 5K a couple of times a week. Again as Faye says lung cancer isn't the immediate death sentence that it used to be. Still life limiting but I have a pretty good quality of life with an expiry date is all.

In terms of supporting I think the most important thing is to stay in touch. @Brighty had some good suggestions as well. I'm in a funny place but I think everyone should lesson to this set of podcasts about life limiting illness. https://cancerconnection.ca/discussions/viewtopic/68/69232 The Waiting Room Revolution has literally changed my life, how I relate to my doctors, and as they call them “my crew.” Great stuff.

Hope the path improves as it becomes clearer. Stay in touch.

Angus

beehime
3 Posts

@Trillium @Brighty @Faye @WestCoastSailor thank you all so much for sharing resources and experiences. To be honest I’ve been feeling quite overwhelmed emotionally in the last few days so I preferred to wait a bit to check your comments, but reading them made me feel a little reassured and much less alone.

My dad is still alive and healthy so he’ll probably take the brunt of the caretaking. I don’t have siblings and my mom only has one brother left (the other died of bones cancer in April this year) who will surely help too but who is also a business owner who is generally very busy (his restaurant is quite popular).

Her next appointment is tomorrow (ultrasound as preparation for the biopsy) and we are all really nervous about it. I really hope it’ll go well 😣😭

Brighty
7483 Posts

@beehime Totally normal to feel overwhelmed. I'm glad that we can support you though. That is what we are here for! Please let us know how tomorrow's appointment goes. Whatever happens we are here to support you. How is your dad coping?

beehime
3 Posts

So, here is what my mom told me about the ultrasound: there is definitely a mass at the bottom of one of her lungs. She didn’t tell me how big or how it looked like (smooth or jagged). I’m not sure if the technician told her anyway. There’s also something going on with two of her ganglions (one in the neck, one near the shoulder). They will do a biopsy on the ganglion in her neck, but the appointment hasn’t been scheduled yet. In the mean time, the doctor prescribed her medication to calm her down a bit and help her sleep.

I’m not quite sure how my dad is coping to be honest. Because I can’t talk to him one on one (when I videochat, it’s most of the time with both parents at once, or just my mom) I can’t really ask him how he’s feeling because we both tend to hide it to reassure my mom. I’m sure it must be hitting him hard (they’ve been married for more than 40 years at this point), but he’s more the type to try to wait and see what will happen then make plans/take action. He’s also the only one of his siblings who didn’t have cancer yet (all 5 of my uncles/aunts had some type of it at some point - 3 skin, 1 ovaries, not sure about the other one - all fortunately caught early and all survived with no effects on their quality of life) so he has more experience than me (it mostly happened when I was in elementary and high school and my parents shielded me from the worse of it). My mom and I both have GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), but the older I get the more I become like him. However, the distance makes it really hard to actually take action in a concrete way right now 😣

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