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STRESSED OUT!

struggling sisters
Posts: 5
Joined: Aug 2011

Hi everyone, I'm new to this site and have actually never posted anything online before, I am a newly single 42yr old mother of 4 boys and my mom who is 58 went into remission from breast cancer over 2yrs ago, 6 months ago we found out she has metastic bone cancer (leg,groin and rib) and now 3 weeks ago was diagnosed with metastic brain cancer, she has chosen chemo and within those 3 weeks she is no longer walking on her own, can not drive and seems confused at times. It is just me and my sister here in Georgia with her, all my other relatives are up north, I work full time to support my kids, and I am stressing out, me and my sister have no idea what we are doing, everyone says do this and do that and get a power of attorney quick but how do we do these things? We have never been close with out mother, she was always mean and nasty to us even as children and now she needs our help, we have been trying but I'm physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted after just a week of having to get her to her doctors appointments, getting her to the toilet, getting her food, getting my sons to carry her upstairs so I can put her in the shower and after all that going home at 2 in the morning so I can get up and 5a.m. to go to work all day. I'M EXHAUSTED!! I am angry one minute (because she is still mean and nasty although she can't do anything for herself), crying the next minute because my mother is suffering and dying, and laughing with friends the next, I am a complete mess! Her physical therapist told me and my sister that she is deteriorating because of the chemo and to stop it, is this true? Does anyone know? Her doctor told her last week that her liver is almost completely destroyed, what do we do?! Please help, any advice, she lives alone, my sister is an hour away, I am at work all day so I go over for a couple hours a day only, please help, I'm freaking out! Thanks for listening.

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1089
Joined: Jul 2009

That is alot and way too much for any one person, all that you are doing I mean. Hello, I am a 24 year cancer survivor but I have chatted with people who are on all sides of the cancer journey from caregivers to survivors to new patients and those still going through treatments. Most on here have alot of experience with cancer from all angles so you have come to the right place - we have all been there.

First of all you need to speak with your Mother's doctors or nurses who can help you find some type of respite for you Mother. I don't know if you live in a big city or not but still you need help with your Mom and she needs the care too that only trained medical folks can offer, by the sounds of it. If your Mother is not at the stage of hospitalization then you need to have respite come to her home to check on her on a regular basis, hence taking some pressure off you, and as well giving her any medical attention she might need. The nurses or doc in oncology should be able to guide you through the process of getting help in.

Also you could contact your nearets American Cancer Society site, there is a general phone number for them somewhere on this site I believe and they can probably guide you as well. Just a couple of phone calls for help from both or either of these places could get you on your way to relieving some of your stresses and pressures. You can't do this alone. No one can.

As far as taking her off the chemo is concerning the only ones to make that decision are the docs together with you and your Mom. No one will tell you what to do, or shouldn't, outside of the medical profession cause they know your Mom's case the best but if they feel that the treatments are just making her worse and that there is little to no chance of survival then you might have to consider that. You need to have a serious heart to heart with her oncology team though and sooner rather than later. At the same time you can tell them you are burning out and have 4 boys to care for alone and you need respite for your Mom or maybe they will even suggest hospitalization at this point I don't know.

You can also post your questions under the Caregivers section on these discussion boards for that point of view and suggestions but really bottomline as it appears to me is that you need help and now.

If you belong to a church or if your Mother did you can also contact the priest/minister there and often they have volunteers who might be able to provide some respite care for you as well just til you get professionals in to help. Again I don't know if you live in a big city or not so some of this could be harder if you live out in the countryside or something but it's not impossible.

Do write back and post how things are going and I wish you all the best.

Blessings,

Bluerose

struggling sisters
Posts: 5
Joined: Aug 2011

Thank you so much for the advice, it really helps, it lets me breathe at least a little, I will update you with everything asap, again thank you.

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1089
Joined: Jul 2009

There are many people on this site who will weigh in and help with your situation so keep posting your questions and give you the support you need but I do hope you will look around and find help with respite as well.

Blessings,

Bluerose

jasminsaba
Posts: 149
Joined: Jul 2011

Hi BlueRose ... my mother is currently undergoing chemo treatments for Colon cancer. This was a very VERY tough week as she had a 3-day hospitalization due to the chemo.

I was just starting to get on my positive hat before this episode but now, I am drowning in sadness ... sadness that our lives will never be the same, sadness that my mother has to go through this awful experience. I was scanning through the posts today on here looking for hope - for positivity - for people who have Survived this awful disease. Unfortunately for me, a few of the posts I have picked have all been negative until I came across your post ... you mentioned you're a 25 year survivor ... would you mind sharing more with me about your journey? I am looking for ways to draw enough strength to get through this.

Thank you.

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1089
Joined: Jul 2009

You asked about my cancer journey and sure I can share it with you.

I had non hodgkins lymphoma twice close to 25 years ago and have been considered cured for many years now. I do have side effects from the treatments but the treatments weren't what they are now back over 2 decades ago. I had a bone marrow transplant all those years ago and got through but it was rough, that's an understatement. I was only 39ish when I was diagnosed and realitively healthy but the one thing that became clear as years have gone by is that no two cancer patients/survivors are the same. Everyone gets through treatment differently and what works for one may not for another - too many factors to second guess. I tell you this because you mentioned that you read some disheartening things in the posts but none of that might happen in your loved one's case.
Everyone is different.

Chemo is rough on many people, no doubt about that and hard to watch a loved one suffer through it but you have to remember the reason for it and that is to kill off the cancer cells which pus the body in turmoil so it's no wonder the patient feels as we do in treatment. You have to try to look to the future and envision the day all her chemo is over and you can get back to doing the things you loved together. There is hope, lots of it these days with new treatments and support all around. When I was diagnosed there were few validating voices for cancer patients, nothing like today with sites like this and much sharing of information that empowers caregivers and patients alike.

There are lots of positive and hopeful posts on these sites and good people who will share their experiences as well. You have to acknowledge the down times and give yourself time to cry and grieve the loss of your Mother's health right now but at the same time make sure you continue to reach for the hope that is always there.

I went through all the stages of grief when I was diagnosed and through the years have gone through it again over and over and still face times of doubt now and then but I still have hope. The cancer has never returned and I do my best to continue day by day, one foot in front of the other. It's all we can really do.

I hope you have a strong faith to guide you through this difficult time. I don't know what stage your Mother is but remember that not only is there endless hope but miracles can happen, they have happened on this site many times, including to me.

All the best. Treatments will be over and you will hopefully all then be able to start the healing process together.

Blessings,

Bluerose

grandmafay's picture
grandmafay
Posts: 1622
Joined: Aug 2009

I agree that you need to get help. Talk to the doctors. It sounds like your mother is very difficult to work with. You and your sister need to let her know that you are not able to give her the help she needs. Insist on home health care. Don't let a feeling of guilt push you into doing more than you can. The number one rule for caregivers is to care for yourself first. You are not going to help your mom in any way if you you totally wear yourself out. Call the doctors, talk to the chemotherapy nurses. Then work with your sister to plan for your mother's care. When the time comes, if it comes, contact hospice. They are very good at working with both the patient and the caregivers. Hang in there. Get the help you need and come here when you need some support. Fay

struggling sisters
Posts: 5
Joined: Aug 2011

Thanks, the support is really great, it helps to know you are not alone, I will take all of the suggestions given and try to get some help, thank you for caring.

soblest6
Posts: 12
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi, I am a cancer survivor, but I was also a caregiver for my mom during her own battle with cancer, and for my Dad when he was terminally ill. I was 28 with a new baby, my first, when my mom had a recurrence. She was a fighter and a lover of life, and she wanted to try anything to live. THe chemo they gave her toward the end, I didnt want her to take it, it was still experimental back then. (over 15 yrs ago) She took only one round, lost all her hair, was deathly sick, and her white count never came back up high enough to take the next dose. At the same time, my dad had a horrible surgery and didnt heal well, lost his leg, was almost total care, and was getting physical therapy wound care twice daily. My sister, who had 3 children at home, would take turns with me, I would split my workday up, take a 3 hour break and take one parent to chemo or therapy, she would take the other. This meant I had to work till 7 pm, then go home to stay up all night with the new baby. Before long, we also took turns staying up all night with mom, who required total care. I tell you my story to say this: USE EVERY RESOURCE! Moms doctors were great, when it got too much for us, they put her in the hospital for 24 hrs just so we could SLEEP for a night. Let your friends at work, your childrens' school, church, etc. know whats going on, and let them help you! It will make them feel good to help, even if they just bring you a casserole or get their teen to help with your laundry. I know you may be a private person, but sometimes you just have to ask for help. I remember when my own cancer battle began, I had all 6 of my children in school. I went to the school on the day before school began, told the principal what was going on in my world. He said, We have a teachers meeting in an hour, why dont you talk to their teachers then?" So, for the first 5 minutes of the teachers meeting, I stood up, told them my medical issue, and said, "I cant do it alone. Yall see my kids every day. So please help them through this..." My kids were spoiled rotten all year! They got to go to ballgames, got help with homework, got fed great! So dont be afraid to ask for help. You will be doing EVERYONE a favor, including your mom and yourself...God Bless YOU!

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5894
Joined: Apr 2009

Don’t stress out as it might lead to depression and then you will not be able to help anyone. I know the feeling of everyone wanting to tell you what to do, tell them great advice please do just that and get back to me as soon as you can. You need help and the only way to get it is to start asking people to stop giving advice and start helping.

Wishing you well
Hondo

palmyrafan's picture
palmyrafan
Posts: 398
Joined: Mar 2011

Sister, what you need is more hours in the day, but God only gives us 24 hours a day because he knows that is all we need. However, you are running on empty and you are about ready to collapse.

Blue nailed it. You need to check your town or cities resources and see what you can find out to help your mom. Also, tap those relatives who are up North and start asking them to help out. I had the stepmother from hell but even so, with us 4 kids, when she needs medical help or money for her bills, we all step up to the plate, even though I can't stand her and the way she treated me. It's what you do.

Also, check with your mom's local clergy, neighbors, etc. and see what they can do to help. You might also consider hiring a private nurse or companion to be with your mom during the evening hours, say from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. when the neighborhood and clergy resources (among others) could kick in.

You need to take time for yourself and your boys. They are still living at home? and still need their mom. And you need time for yourself to think, regroup and relax.

As far as Power of Attorney? I would say yes you need one. Try LegalZoom.com where for minimal money, you can print one out and have it be legit. Or try a local office supply store where they also carry some of those things. You also should get a Living Will and Advance Directive. Not difficult to fill out and you need witnesses and a notary, but other than that, not much else. It will also make the decisions at the end a lot easier knowing they have been made ahead of time.

Good luck sweetheart, you are in my prayers.

Teresa

scuttlebug11's picture
scuttlebug11
Posts: 175
Joined: Jun 2011

Talk to the social worker, at the hospital. I did this, and there are programs that your mom may be eligable for, like someone coming in to her home several hours a day, to help with the house, laundery, and cooking. They can even take her to her doctors appoinments, or go shopping for her.

~Blesssing's Denise (:

Narney
Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2011

I sure hope you have found some support to help you through this difficult time. So many things on so many levels. There are quite a few resources out there. How is your Mom doing? Most importantly, how are you doing? Just wanted to check up on you.

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5894
Joined: Apr 2009

Just a word of welcome to you and glad you found CSN.

Hondo

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