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New to this - and it’s so complicated.

New to this - and it’s so complicated.

Posted by Niffer8 on Apr 15, 2019 10:02 am

Hi. I’m new. 

My mom has had breast cancer 2 times before and now is on her third time - this time it has metastasized to her liver and bones. She’s been doing great letrizole and has been stable for 4 years. 

Last week she she ended up in the hospital with shortness of breath. There, I learned that she’s had COPD for several years and never told us. She’s been a closet smoker for 50 years and when they admitted her last week she was still smoking despite having pneumonia off and on since Christmas. Her scans show a spiculated mass - so likely a lung tumor. She also neglected to mention that there’s a huge mass in her remaining breast. She thought it was fat and hasn’t bothered to have it looked at. 

So now she’s in the hospital with multiple issues. We’ve yet to speak to a doctor and my mother is not exactly trustworthy with information. On top of that she’s hateful to my sister and me. Rude, snarky. She’s always been this way but now she’s worse. 

I guess I’m wondering if there’s anyone else out there with a loved one going through treatments who is unpleasant to their family and loads guilt on them at every possibly moment?  It’s so hard. It’s hard to show compassion and love when the person doesn’t appreciate it. It’s tearing me up pretty bad. It’s my mother. This is so hard. 

Re: New to this - and it’s so complicated.

Posted by Elizabeth06 on Apr 15, 2019 11:23 am

Hi Niffer8‍ 
i am a mom, with metastatic breast cancer.  I’m so sorry to hear your story.  My heart aches for all of you.
i can only think that your mom is just angry with life and what has been thrown her way.  And when people are angry they often lash out at those whom love them unconditionally.  You and your sister are easy targets.
she needs to find a way to acceptance, she is suffering.  but, you cannot change how she feels or behaves, you have to find your own way forward.
can you speak with the social worker at the hospital? Or find a support group?  Many cancer centres offer support to caregivers, perhaps speaking with others would provide some coping mechanisms.
you sound like you want to support your mom, despite her behaviour, and that is admirable.  Don’t take her actions personally.  Does your mom have a power of attorney for care?  Would she be receptive to setting this up or allowing the doctors to speak to you and your sister directly.  There shouldn’t be secrets, but, when life seems out of our control, we sometimes reclaim some measure of control in odd, self destructive ways.
there is a section for caregivers on this site that might provide some discussions you would find interesting or helpful.
Cynthia Mac‍ was a caregiver to her dad going thru treatment.  I have tagged her to get her thoughts on what you are dealing with.
you can tag another member by typing the @ symbol and then begin typing their user name(no space) blue boxes with similar names will pop up and you can click on the name you are tagging.
this is a very supportive, caring group and a safe place to vent.

let us know how things progress and know you are not alone.

Re: New to this - and it’s so complicated.

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Apr 15, 2019 4:17 pm

Thanks, Elizabeth06‍ For tagging me in on this one.

Niffer8‍ , as Elizabeth says, your mom is probably somewhere between afraid and terrified right now, and she could well be doing the “whys” and “not fairs,” on top of it all. You indicate that your mom’s behaviour toward you hasn’t changed from before, but it has ramped up. That’s very unfortunate for you and your sister. Are you and your sister close? If so, you two could commiserate with each other to help diffuse the hurtful things your mom is saying. You two can also reassure and comfort each other when mom’s temper flares at one or the other of you. Your Mom HAS been dealt a “bum hand,” but that doesn’t mean she’s justified in lashing out at you two.

Cathy (Elizabeth 06) raises some good points about power of attorney for care, and talking to her doctors. And definitely, if this is weighing on you, get help from the local cancer treatment centre about managing your own feelings. There are ways that you can speak to your mom that asserts yourself and can break the cycle of “meanness” you find yourself locked in. A bit of counselling can help you gain an understanding of where your mom’s head might be at right now, and give you some pointers about choosing words that could diffuse or deflect some of your mom’s poor word choices.

If you can get an understanding about why your mom is the way she is - whether it’s due to her present situation or from much further back - it will help you avoid taking what she is saying personally, and, if you can get some strategies for communicating with her, I think you’ll be able to feel stronger about your visits. Sometimes this can be as simple as saying, “Mom, I know you’re upset, but it isn’t necessary for you to speak to me that way,” instead of saying, “If you’re going to talk to me like that I just won’t come to visit.” - it can be all in the delivery. Someone once told me that when YOU change, the person with whom you’re locked in a struggle has no choice but TO change.

Sometimes, we have to give ourselves what others who should cannot. While you’re going through this, be kind to yourself and say kind things to yourself and about yourself. Please keep us posted as to how you’re doing.

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