Advice needed

andreae Member Posts: 236
edited March 2014 in Colorectal Cancer #1
And the battle continues. Appointments are lined up, I have undergone a PET scan, John Hopkins is reviewing my case, and I continue to research. Unfortunately, this turn of events has impacted everyone aroud me - ESPECIALLY my mom. She is crying all the time and I'm REALLY concerned. To further understand the situation, I have to supply some history. In 1991, my father was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocitic Leukemia. This too came as quite a shock because he was young, ate well and was a gym teacher. After a lenghthy battle with the disease, he died in 1997. And now, not even 5 years later, my family is struck again with cancer. My mom is a single mother, taking care of an aging parent (my grandmother is 91), looking after a very demanding son, working a full-time job and she has me to worry about! I am concerned that she is overdoing it and stressing too much. I'm very worried that something is going to happen to her and it will be all my fault. She was a real trojan when I was so sick and going through all my treatments. She managed to hold everything together and meet all the demands. But we have had such little reprieve from my illness... My last chemo was in mid-September, and now I have relapsed... I just don't know what to do or how to help her. I'm trying my best to make this easier on her - since I'm feeling well, I insist on going to the doctors by myself, I do the research on my own, etc. I just can't stop her worrying. And everything just seems to be deteriorating... My 17 year old brother has recently dropped out of school and he's drinking, overeating and refusing to help out because he figures "What's the point?". Who can blame the kid when he saw my father and I do everything "right" and both of us got cancer. I guess I just feel that I'm the catalyst of all the problems... I was thinking that I was finally at the age where I could begin to help my mother out and give her a break and, now, I'm simply a bigger burden. Any advice on how to help my family??? Caregivers, any tips on how to make my mom feel better?


  • Hi Andrea:

    I'm not going to pretent that your mom sure doesn't have a load on her back, but take comfort in that mother's, somehow, someway, find the strength. I'm a mother too and despite everything, when my son needs me, I'm there for's really as simple as that.

    As a caregiver for Bert, he is very, very concerned for my welfare as I deal with his diagnosis as well as having my mother being diagnosed last year with inoperable stage III lung cancer. So what Bert and my mom have both discovered help me out tremendously is to keep smiling and to convey an "I'm certainly not giving up attitude." In my mind, when I see the two of them smiling and hanging tough, how can I possibly let the ball drop and I feel much better and comforted.

    You asked what is needed from the caregivers point of view. That's all I need....their reassurance that they won't give up. I have no siblings, my dad died 12 years ago, so it's just me and I come to this board a lot and post.

    Andrea, keep smiling, don't give up, and whatever little things you can take care of yourself, do them. It will only reinforce your I won't give up attitude. I hope this helps a little and please do take that attitude to heart. Anything is possible...don't give up.

    Hugs and prayers your way,
  • spongebob
    spongebob Member Posts: 2,565 Member
    Ahoy, andreae -

    Gosh... where to begin? I guess with a little background of my own...

    In July of 2001 my step-dad, my mother's husband of 35 years, lost his fight to cancer. I spent two weeks with her, helping her settle his estate, taking care of funeral arrangements, etc. I left and went "home" (that's another story entirely) on a Sunday. Two days later I was in the hospital and the day after that I was diagnosed with CC. Probably the worst part about it for my mom was that the symptoms all indicated that my cancer is hereditary (yep, I got ****-gene syndrome, too). Worse yet for my mom, I got the genes from her (genetic testing has subsequently confirmed all of this). SO her perdicament was; my husband just died of cancer and two weeks later my only son has cancer which I vicariously gave him. UGH! Poor woman! I asked her why she didn't give me the blonde genes, or the tall genes, or the smart genes. Why, of all the possible genes she could have given me, she had to give me the crappy ones? Fortunately, she saw the absurdity in that and doesn't blame herself.

    My point here, Andrea, is this: you have NOTHING to blame yourself for. You are a very strong, courageous woman and you are fighting the biggest event of your life. Focus on your fight right now. That's where your energy needs to be. Two things Monika said are right on the mark: (1) You need to demonstrate for your family that you will not give up and that they are cheering for a winning team, and (2) your mom will be OK - it's in a mom's genetic make-up to be resiliant.

    Oh, and smack your brother for me. I don't mean smack him in a bad way, you're right. He HAS been through a lot. But smack him nonetheless. He has a responsibility to the rest of your family to take care of himself, and he's being selfish. Overeating and drinking are cries for attention. I suspect he feels that your mom is focusing too much on you and your issues right now - and rightfully so. Perhaps your mom needs to spend more quality time with him. That would (a) give her a respite from worrying about you and (b) give your brother some of the one-on-one attention he seems to be demanding (oh, and (3) it will give you a bit of a BREAK!)

    Johns Hopkins is a great medical teaching hospital - right down the road from me in Baltimore (the locals pronounce it "Bahlmer" - don't ask me why, but now when you come you can sound like a native, eh?)

    Be well. Now, go smack your brother.

    - SpongeBob
  • KrisS
    KrisS Member Posts: 229
    Andreae- If anything, you are one of the most courageous people here, not the cause of your family's problems. Although I have been in a similar medical situation, I have more than a few years on you. Your energy in searching out help for yourself doing so much on your own is impressive. I am so hoping that people at Hopkins will have some suggestions for you.

    I am sorry to hear your Mom and brother are having such a tough time. Having someone close to you with serious illness is incredibly hard, but some people have more resources-family friends, time- than others. Are there any support groups or volunteer agencies that could help your mother by providing some respite care to your grandmother, so she can have a bit of time for herself? Often social workers at hospitals, or oncology nurses have such information.

    One would hope that, at 17, your brother would be able to realize that just because you are ill, does not mean that he should give up, rather than taking responsibility to be the best that he can be. Unfortunately not all people at that age can see that. Once again, perhaps someone through the school system, or a social worker could provide some suggestions of someone who could provide counseling, support, or other intervention that perhaps would get through to your brother.

    Take care,

  • andreae
    andreae Member Posts: 236
    Thank you everyone. I needed to vent and someone's reassurance and advice were needed.

    Monika, thank you for the caregiver's perspective. I needed to hear that my mother will be o.k.. It must be tough to keep the ball rolling with both your mother and husband sick, yet you manage to keep it together. You are a real angel and Bert and your mother are lucky to have you.

    SB, THANK YOU! I really needed to hear that my brother needs a smack. I feel that way to... But then I feel bad because (as my mother keeps pointing out) "everyone deals with the situation in their own way and his way is to deny and avoid". However, the bottom line is that he's creating more problems as opposed to helping out and maybe it's about time that he get with the program... I feel that if there was ever a time that family should be supportive and helpful, it's now. I'm sorry about your step-dad - it must have been a tough time for you and your mom. You have such a great attitude and sense of humour, you really offer inspiration. Thanks for all the great advice.

    Kris- thank you for all your practical suggestions. We really should be getting more outside help and relying on other resources... I guess my family's so use to doing things on our own it just doesn't occur to us - but some outside help would help give my mom some respite.
  • gastco
    gastco Member Posts: 1
    i also had colon cancer my mother sufferd a lot it is not easy ihave been taking omega 3vitamin with prevents reencurrence of coloncancer inever feltthe same after this illness i also take sellenium 200 which also figts other cancers also start taking green tea aaof this i have read in some articules good luck