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How do I stay strong?

GesGirl81
Posts: 8
Joined: Apr 2011

Hello! I'm new to this board. Let me tell a little bit about my mom's story. My mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Disease at age 19, I was 2 months old. My mom went through many bouts of chemo before having a Bone Marrow Transplant in 1993, 10 years after she was diagnosed. I was 12 during the Bone Marrow Transplant but while she was in the hospital fighting for her life her marriage fell apart, my mom and dad separated. I guess it was too much for him, he didn't know how to be there for her. When my mom came home from the hospital I stepped up to take care of her, I'm an only child. Me and my mom are truly best friends. My mom was cancer free for 7 years. In 2000 the Hodgkin’s came back, she went through more rounds of chemo and relapsed 2 times. When I found out I was pregnant she was over the moon about it. She felt since she was sick through my childhood she would get to make it up to my child.

After my son was born the Hodgkin’s went into remission and 5 years passed with no sign of cancer. Things seemed to finally be going great. My mom and my son are very close. They have a special relationship and since my son was born with heart problems my mother was basically a second mother to him, so has helped me so much. A few years ago my mom began having stomach aches so she went to the doctor to get it checked. After many tests the found out she not only had Colon Cancer but she also had Liver cancer, both primary cancers. She had to undergo many surgeries, but didn't need chemo. After a long hard struggle was beginning to get well again. Things were looking up once again. A year passes and she notices a lump in her neck, after testing they discover she has Thyroid Cancer. The Thyroid treatment she received seemed to have worked. A few weeks ago my mom woke up with a backache that got worse every day. The doctors ordered a CT it came back showing a lesion on her spine the Oncologist said it's either a new cancer or one of the other 4 she had before. My mom just had a biopsy and is scheduled to take a PET scan tomorrow. Over the last couple of days she has deteriorated her speech is slurred and she sleeps all day. When she has the strength to get up to use the restroom she can hardly walk. My Aunt and I are going to take her to her hospital's urgent care in the morning. I'm so afraid right now. I'm terrified that the cancer has spread, but I've been afraid of cancer since I was a child. All these years I've never felt peace. I always dread the doctor appointments fearing the cancer has came back. My mom is completely opposite; she is always positive and happy and has more faith than anyone I've ever known. As you can tell from the post I'm a negative thinker and I find it very hard to look on the bright side. How do I stay strong during this time? I feel alone. How do you get through this when you need to be strong for the person that has always been your rock.

Sorry this is so long! I just thought a lot of you know what I'm going through.

Melinda

Barbara53's picture
Barbara53
Posts: 659
Joined: Aug 2009

Melinda, I'm so glad you posted your long story, because it explains how terrified you must be feeling now. Fearing the worst seems to be part of a caregiver's job, all the while cheering on the one who is fighting hardest. And you began at such a tender age...

The sad truth is that your mother's health sounds very bad, but after so many ups and downs you're in shock that the roller coaster ride may end here. Or maybe it won't! Regardless of what each day brings, your only job is to love your mother.

I've only been at this for two years, but I've already lost count of my mother's ups and downs (ovarian cancer). But here's the thing. I've been there for her at all the right times, in all the right ways,and we're both clear on that. The important things have been done well. No matter what comes next, it will be okay.

Good luck with this difficult day.

Tina Blondek's picture
Tina Blondek
Posts: 1561
Joined: Nov 2009

Hello Melinda
Welcome to our caregivers discussion board. I am so sorry you and your mom have had to go through this journey with cancer so many times. She is one strong woman! My advice to you is to do your best to stay positive, your mom does not need any more negative energy. You both need to lean on our Lord. Give this all up to God. Communication between the two of you is most important. Let her know how much you love her. Keep in touch, and know you can always come here to vent. We always have an open ear and heart and a shoulder to lean on!
Tina in Va

Noellesmom
Posts: 1317
Joined: Aug 2010

Melinda,

Don't confuse pessimism and realism. You have a responsibility to take care of yourself and your child emotionally and that's what you are doing.

You say your mom is of great faith: Melinda, I suspect this means no matter what her cancer brings, she is not worried about the potential for the end of her life other than the impact it will have on loved ones.

Allow yourself to process things your way. That is the greatest thing you can do for yourself when it comes to staying strong. Admitting one's fears is one thing: dealing with them is another.

Come back here often. There are many people who have been where you are and they have a lot to offer.

Hugs.

GesGirl81
Posts: 8
Joined: Apr 2011

Well after a long day at the doctors they come in and say the biopsy came back negative, we were so happy. Then they are like wait a minute let us check the PET Scan and then they come back and say it has spread everywhere. The cancer is already in all her vital organs and they sent her home, going to start hospice soon. We were surrounded by alot of family today we were all laughing and remembering the good old day. Now that everyone is gone I feel both numb and broken. I want to crawl out of my own skin, but at the same time hoping for a miracle while telling myself to just face reality. My mom still has a great attitude and is not crying for herself but crying for us. My Grandmother and my Uncle died of cancer and I seen how horrible it is, how can I watch my mother.

Melinda

Tina Blondek's picture
Tina Blondek
Posts: 1561
Joined: Nov 2009

Hello Melinda
So sorry of your recent bad news. What a way to go....first happy that it is negative...then the results of the PET scan (which they should have looked at first!) Put this in God's hands. He is the one in total control. I pray that God grants you and your family the strength and peace you will all need at this most difficult time. Hospice will be of great help to you all. They will take you step by step and teach you how to handle these days to come. I watched cancer take my father a year ago March. I look back now and realize it was a blessing that he passed. Here on earth, he no longer had a quality of life. He was in constant pain. Now he is free. May your mom go in peace.
Tina in Va

Noellesmom
Posts: 1317
Joined: Aug 2010

Melinda, I am so sorry for the way the news came to you and your family. To be told a biopsy is negative (the news we all want to hear) and then moments later to find out it is not useful knowledge and have the world changed with just a few words - that's just wrong and I'm sorry it happened that way.

You are correct, though, that reality is just that.

The way your grandmother and uncle suffered with cancer does not necessarily have to be how it goes for your mom. There are good doctors with good treatment plans for pain. Hospice is a terrific resource in dealing with many issues and pain control is one of them.

Your mom sounds like a very strong person - that is not likely to change during the process of death. Encourage each other, lean on each other and come back here often.

There are many strong voices and people who will reach out to you during this stressful time.

Hugs.

GesGirl81
Posts: 8
Joined: Apr 2011

Thank you all for your kind words. I will be back here often. I really hate cancer and I keep getting panic attacks. I don't know if I should tell my kids, my mom wants me to wait a while, but they keep asking me why everyone keeps crying. I don't know when or even if I should discuss this with them.

grandmafay's picture
grandmafay
Posts: 1629
Joined: Aug 2009

I am sorry that you and your family are going through this. Hospice can be a real help. They can even give you help with explaining things to your children. They are there for both the patient and the family. My thoughts are with you. Cherish what time you have. Just tell your mom you love her and that you will always keep her memory in your heart. It is good that you have family to share those good memories. Take care, Fay

Noellesmom
Posts: 1317
Joined: Aug 2010

And I would want to be the person to tell him if I was very sick, had cancer/expected to die in the relatively near future.

Talk to your mom about her feelings on this, too. It may be something you want and can do together.

Burdens are meant to be shared and this is a good one to consider sharing with your mom.

There are some wonderful books for children and hospice has materials, also, on helping children prepare for and experience grief in a way that is appropriate for their age and circumstance.

Hugs.

3Mana
Posts: 829
Joined: Aug 2010

Melinda,
OOps, hit the button too soon. It sounds like your mom is a very strong person and has been fighting cancer wherever it flared up. So you have to try and be strong like her no matter how hard it is to see her like this. Just be there for her and cherish every day you have with her. It sounds like this isn't going to go away and it's going to be a rough road, but you'll make it. We've all gone through this with our loved ones and with all the support on this site, we've made it. So keep coming here and let us know how you're doing and how your mom is. Be strong Melinda!! Carole

yv1214's picture
yv1214
Posts: 72
Joined: Feb 2011

I am so sorry that you are going through this with your mom. I too am dealing with my mom's cancer and we have just incorporated hospice to our lives. She is sad that she is leaving my sister and I, as well as her two grandchildren. Staying strong isn't easy I should know, since there are times when I crawl in my mom's bed at night to sleep with her (mind you I am 39 yrs old) and I just want her to hug me so I can cry.

I know this is hard for you and your family therefore, I will I pray for you all to find peace and strength with what is to come. We are here for you, and if you need anything please just send me a note happy to help anyway I can.

Hugs,
Yessy

GesGirl81
Posts: 8
Joined: Apr 2011

Thanks for all your kind words! We have been back and fourth to the doctors my mom has taken so many tests and still they don't know what cancer it is. She is getting weaker by the day and mostly sleeps. The times she is awake she hallucinates and keeps asking for my grandmother who has been dead for 11 years. I'm still so scared, I've accepted that the end is near but the rest of our family seems to be falling apart. My mom has 3 sisters and they are very close they see eachother everday. My mom is the baby of the family so they have always spoiled her and are there for anything she needs. Now that my mom is slipping away they are bascially nowhere to be found. During the whole week they only visited her 1 time and only for about 15 minutes. I feel very angry at my aunt's right now because they just call and criticize me. It's just me and my boyfriend and our kids, my mom didn't want me to call hospice because she felt like it was giving up. I'm going to have to call on Monday, it's the best thing for her and I have to do what's best for her now, even if her sisters get mad. They don't want me to call hospice.

mswijiknyc's picture
mswijiknyc
Posts: 421
Joined: Oct 2010

Your aunts are not there. I can understand their reaction, but it still doesn't make it right or fair. Right now it's about helping your mom and helping you and your family. No regrets.

Noellesmom
Posts: 1317
Joined: Aug 2010

April is right: your aunts are not there and, if they were, I'm sure they would want the best for their sister.

The decision for the end to be so soon is not yours. By calling hospice you aren't invoking your mom's death: you are helping prepare for a reality.

And this is your mother: she may be their sister but in my world, you are the one to make the decisions, right or wrong.

Hugs.

GesGirl81
Posts: 8
Joined: Apr 2011

Well my mom was on Hospice for 3 days and passed away Wednesday night. I was holding her hand the whole time it was the hardest moment in my life but her last few breathes were peaceful. All the rest of the family is falling apart now everyone is fighting and people are already asking me for some of her stuff, it's disgusting. Her funeral is on Thursday and a couple weeks after that we are moving out of this house I've lived at with her since I was a child. We are going to move about 2 hours away and it makes me kind of sad that I won't be able to take her flowers every week. I feel like if when I leave this house, I'm kind of leaving her. However I'm going to be buried with her when it’s my time to go. I know she is no longer suffering and is in paradise but the pain I feel is so difficult. When I see her picture, sweater or even her slippers it just makes me weep like a baby. Thank you all for your words of encouragement they have really helped me.

Melinda

karenbeth's picture
karenbeth
Posts: 194
Joined: Sep 2010

I'm sorry to hear about your mom. I'm glad she went peacefully and with you by her side. It's sad that your family is fighting, you certainly do not need that now. Keep your head above the fray and just keep loving your mother and her memory.

Karen

mswijiknyc's picture
mswijiknyc
Posts: 421
Joined: Oct 2010

Everything Karen said is right on. Your mom is with you where ever you go, but I understand how hard it is to leave the house you grew up in and spent time with her in.

Your mom is proud of you and how your handling yourself. No second guessing needed.

Loves,
April

DrMary's picture
DrMary
Posts: 527
Joined: Nov 2010

but she wouldn't expect weekly visits, I'm sure. When we moved to Maryland, I missed going to my father's grave in CT, but it did make it more special to go by when we went to see other relatives - usually at Christmas and in the summer.

And he was there for me during family tragedies (the rest of the family lives in CT, so of course that's where I end up when someone is sick or dying). During some particularly trying times, it really helped to duck out and talk to him.

I'm sorry for your loss and am glad you have the comfort of having been with her to the end. I'm very sorry the relatives are nasty and grabby - it always happens. You can always use the "it's too soon to do this" line and put everything in storage.

I know it's hard now, but it will get better - April is right; you did very well and I'm sure your mother is proud.

neverquit
Posts: 221
Joined: Oct 2010

Melinda, First of all, I am very sorry that your Mom has passed away. Secondly, Karen, April and DrMary are all right. Try to hang in and remember the good times you had with your Mom. And especially remember that you were there for her in her final moments; for that your Mom will be eternally thankful. And even though you will be physically away from your Mom's grave, you have a spiritual bond with her that will always keep you close. Peace and hugs to you.

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