How to best help my Mom.

Melissa A
Melissa A Member Posts: 1
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
My AMAZING Mom was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy and is currently undergoing chemo every 3 weeks with radiation starting after in December or January. My Dad just recently (August) passed away. They were very happily married. Needless to say, it has been a hard time. I would like some advice on how to help my Mom. I think my sister and I have the tasks down pat and enjoy doing. We both live out of town. We have prepared meals preportioned and stocked her freezer with what has sounded good, we scrub the house down especially when her white count is down, satin pillow cases (pink of course), yardwork, etc. Where I dont know how to help is the emotional support. She is very independent and as good as our relationship is we dont talk a lot about feelings. I know she is scared, I know she is sad. I expect she is lonely but if she is, she has denied that vocally. Any recommendations on somethings that could help? I want her to feel loved, needed, safe, peaceful, hopeful, and eventually happy again. Any ideass would be appreciated. Thank you for you consideration, time and this spectauclar website.
Melissa

Comments

  • RE
    RE Member Posts: 4,591 Member
    Guarded emotions
    Hi Melissa, it sounds like your sister and you have covered a lot of the bases in the area of physical needs. I am wondering who will be taking your mom to her chemo sessions and if there will be anyone there for the first few days afterwards. Each of us is different and we each react differently. That said I think most of us are terrified the first chemo and for me having someone I loved there was a great comfort. Some of us feel fine the first day and less fine the second and third day. As your mom have additional chemo sessions she will become more tired and the effects will last longer, she may not want to ask for help or admit that she is lonely but I would think having someone there during those first fews days would be a great comfort to her.

    I had a sister who lived out of town and to let me know she loved me she would send letters and surprise packages to cheer me up. I would go to the mail box to find a box with a movie, chocolates and popcorn so I could have my one movie night. Once she sent a music box another time a warm and pretty scarf for my head. It is the little things we do that seem to matter the most, just being there for your mom and all you have already done are great expressions of your love. In addition to these things it would be good if your mom had a trusted friend who could go to her onco apt with her as we tend to get chemo brain and not be able to recall all the doctor tell us. For instance I could never recall when to take my meds so my doctor wrote it on a big piece of paper that we photo copied and place on the morning mirror, on the refrierator, and on the wall in the downstairs living room as a constant reminder so I would not forget to take them.

    I too had a mom and sister on chemo, just being available when they need you speaks volumnes. I wish you all the best as you venture through this and please accept my condolences on the loss of your Father. I hope your mom will come here too as there is a huge amount of love and support on this board.

    Hugs,

    RE
  • roseann4
    roseann4 Member Posts: 992 Member
    RE said:

    Guarded emotions
    Hi Melissa, it sounds like your sister and you have covered a lot of the bases in the area of physical needs. I am wondering who will be taking your mom to her chemo sessions and if there will be anyone there for the first few days afterwards. Each of us is different and we each react differently. That said I think most of us are terrified the first chemo and for me having someone I loved there was a great comfort. Some of us feel fine the first day and less fine the second and third day. As your mom have additional chemo sessions she will become more tired and the effects will last longer, she may not want to ask for help or admit that she is lonely but I would think having someone there during those first fews days would be a great comfort to her.

    I had a sister who lived out of town and to let me know she loved me she would send letters and surprise packages to cheer me up. I would go to the mail box to find a box with a movie, chocolates and popcorn so I could have my one movie night. Once she sent a music box another time a warm and pretty scarf for my head. It is the little things we do that seem to matter the most, just being there for your mom and all you have already done are great expressions of your love. In addition to these things it would be good if your mom had a trusted friend who could go to her onco apt with her as we tend to get chemo brain and not be able to recall all the doctor tell us. For instance I could never recall when to take my meds so my doctor wrote it on a big piece of paper that we photo copied and place on the morning mirror, on the refrierator, and on the wall in the downstairs living room as a constant reminder so I would not forget to take them.

    I too had a mom and sister on chemo, just being available when they need you speaks volumnes. I wish you all the best as you venture through this and please accept my condolences on the loss of your Father. I hope your mom will come here too as there is a huge amount of love and support on this board.

    Hugs,

    RE

    I am so sorry..
    I am so sorry for the loss of your dad and I'm sure you are frightened that you might lose your mom as well. The best thing you can do for your mom is to keep her involved in life. She is not her cancer. I agree that she should not be alone for treatments but if you can plan activities that aren't about cancer that would be great too. Mothers are givers by nature so don't stop asking her for advise and don't treat her like an invalid. She will need to be needed. I'm a mom with breast cancer so I can tell you that I still want to contribute and not just be on the taking end of the situation.

    I would also recommend that you talk about your dad. Often when someone dies, we feel we will upset each other if we talk about him/her. Those memories can be very healing for your mom.

    God bless you and your family during this difficult time. Encourage her to participate in this website.

    Roseann
  • New Flower
    New Flower Member Posts: 4,294
    roseann4 said:

    I am so sorry..
    I am so sorry for the loss of your dad and I'm sure you are frightened that you might lose your mom as well. The best thing you can do for your mom is to keep her involved in life. She is not her cancer. I agree that she should not be alone for treatments but if you can plan activities that aren't about cancer that would be great too. Mothers are givers by nature so don't stop asking her for advise and don't treat her like an invalid. She will need to be needed. I'm a mom with breast cancer so I can tell you that I still want to contribute and not just be on the taking end of the situation.

    I would also recommend that you talk about your dad. Often when someone dies, we feel we will upset each other if we talk about him/her. Those memories can be very healing for your mom.

    God bless you and your family during this difficult time. Encourage her to participate in this website.

    Roseann

    Be connected wit your Mom
    All given advices are very good. In addition, you can do a lot of simple step:call her every day and ask for advice on your daily life situations, go and talk to her oncologist at least for her first Chemo, meet with her friends and neighbors and ask them for help and emotional support. She needs someone to pick her up after the Chemo and be around for a couple of days after the infusion. You could arrange for visiting nurse to see her every several days. Clinical social worker could be helpful with social services.
    Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming , so plan to be with her during holidays as well.
  • outdoorgirl
    outdoorgirl Member Posts: 1,565
    Welcome Melissa,
    I think you and your sister are amazing for being there for your mom and helping her! And for finding this board and caring enough about her to ask our advice! If I had a daughter,it would be nice if she was someone like you both!
    I'm sure your mom is thankful for all that you both do!
  • ppurdin
    ppurdin Member Posts: 1,181
    Help for Mom.
    Just keep doing what your doing.Somedays I don,t want company and my daughter just talks on the phone to me.Just like your doing let her know that she can ask you for help or anything at all.I can,t imagine lossing your husband and going through BC.I will pray for your Mom and you girls.Keep us posted please.(Pat).
  • denisekay66
    denisekay66 Member Posts: 1
    Melissa, you are an extraordinary daughter. I, too, am a Mom who is a 6-year survivor of breast cancer. As a mother, I felt that I should be strong for my daughter. When I was diagnosed, my family was so supportive, but I wanted to talk to someone who had been there and survived. I was afraid to tell my family how frightened I was and it would have been good to talk to a survivor. That is why I am now a volunteer along with a great group of ladies who participate in "Reach to Recovery". Reach to Recovery is a program sponsored by the American Cancer Society and is made up of breast cancer survivors who mentor breast cancer patients throughout their diagnosis and treatment. Please call your local ACS office and get your Mom linked to a Reach to Recovery volunteer. It is totally free. My condolences to you and your family in the loss of your Dad. I will be praying for your Mom and for you and your sister.
  • spunky56
    spunky56 Member Posts: 12
    You are doing wonderful things
    You are doing all the right things, just like the others are expressing. My mom died from brain cancer Aug 07. I lived in the same town. I had and made the time to go to dad's a few times a week if not more. I just kinda hung around, we would go have dinner or I would teach him how to fix a simple meal. Just spent TIME doing nothing. And pretty soon, he just began opening up to me emotionally. I also had other siblings in town, but they were not visiting as much and I found out, he was not crying with them-or telling them things he would tell me. If I would not have visited him so much, sure he would have handled it. He would have made it thru. But just being there, and being available, not questioning him, but just spending TIME with him made all the difference. Then when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 08, I was so afraid to tell my dad as it would trigger all those emotions. Yes, we have cried together, yes it has been hard on him. But we are close in a way that my siblings are not. My best advice: Give her your TIME. Of couse she doesn't want to worry you, but in Time, she will Lean on you. She needs to be able to Lean on someone! Accomplish that and you have it ALL Covered. Good Luck. I will keep you and yours in my prayers.
  • zahalene
    zahalene Member Posts: 670
    This is all .....
    excellent advice and wonderful suggestions.
    I just want to echo what Denise said. Your mom definitely needs some counseling and emotional support from outside her circle of family and friends. She needs encouragement and counseling from someone who is disconnected emotionally from her situation so that she does not feel she is adding to that person's own grief. She can't get in the boat with people she is closest to for fear of sinking the ship. But she can take her baggage onto a boat that is there just for HER. And though the voyage may be rocky at times, calmer water will soon be in sight. :)
    God bless.
  • Wolfi
    Wolfi Member Posts: 425
    Post
    Melissa,

    Print out what you posted to us here and give it to your mom. You explained very well how much you and your sister care about her and how much you want to help.

    Keep the lines of communication open and try to hear what she does not say. I would agree with you that she is most likely scared, sad, and lonely. It is tough to ask for help when you are independent, but your mom needs to get past this somehow and learn to accept the help of others so she can conserve her energy and get better. I'm sure it is twice as tough for her since your dad is no longer around and she may feel that she needs to stay strong for her girls.

    I hope everything gets better for all of you. You are doing a good job and have been very helpful to your mother. Keep us posted.

    Wolfi
  • lolad
    lolad Member Posts: 670
    Melissa
    I first want to tell you what a wonderful daughter you are. I also want to take a second and tell you im so sorry for the loss of your father. I am 36 and a mother of three children. I was diagnosed in april and went through a double mastectomy and chemo. Just finished my chemo last week. I think its wonderful how you have been there so far in helping your mom with preparing things for her and everything else. As far as the emotional part of everything. Your mom might not be ready or want to share her emotions yet. I know it took me a while. I was very strong at first and kind of in a denial about my true feelings on my diagnoses and surgery and treatments. I didnt share or show my fears, sadness and anger at first. It took a while for that all to come out. I thought i just had to stay strong. I was afraid that if i broke down and cried about it that i wouldnt stay strong enough to be able to fight it. It all hit me one day though and i had to break down. Just keep letting your mom know you are there. Buy her a card or write her a letter and express what you feel about her being diagnosed. She probably just isnt ready or too scared to share or show her emotions to anyone. I know i felt like if i did then they would think i was too weak or something. I just had to prove i was strong and handling it all good. Give her some time, she may start sharing. She might not start sharing though too, i dont know. Just continue to be there like you have. You are a wonderful daughter and i can tell you want to do everything you can to help.

    take care and keep us posted
    laura
  • CypressCynthia
    CypressCynthia Member Posts: 4,014 Member
    laughter
    I know you are an amazing daughter too. What helps me most personally is to hear of the happy stories and I love a good joke. My daughter (now 27) was 4 when I was first diagnosed. I cherished her honesty and spontaneity. She told me that my reconstructed breast (without nipple) looked like a plop of mud. I loved that! Don't discount the power of humor. I believe it has kept me strong.