20 year old College student, mom has brain cancer

I'm currently a Sophomore in college. My mom was diagnosed with a primary malignant glioblastoma (GBM) during the last week of my senior year in high school. She had the tumor successfully removed and has been doing a variety of treatments ever since. The doctors told her she had around a year to live, and it's already been nearly a year and a half. She has been extremely optimistic and positive throughout the whole situation. 

I decided to go to college despite my mom's diagnosis, in order to make my mom happy and proud. I pretty much spent that first summer and my whole freshman year of college in denial. I'm finally starting to come to terms with the situation, however it still doesn't seem realistic to me. My mom acts like everything is fine, but I think she's just trying to keep me from worrying about her. I haven't seen her shed a tear throughout the whole situation. I think the part of her brain that was affected by the tumor may have also affected the way she experiences/expresses emotion. However, lately she has said a few things that really scare me. She talked to my brother and I about how she is going to get a large sum of money "when she dies." She said she wants my brother and I to use it for a down payment on a house. The idea of her passing away anytime soon just feels incomprehensible to me. I can't even think about it for too long without putting myself into tears. Maybe I'm still in denial? It doesn't feel real.

My whole family tends to push things under the carpet, and act like everything is fine. My brother and my dad both seem really depressed. My dad is an alcoholic, and his alcoholism has gotten much worse since my mom's diagnosis. My brother is addicted to marijuana, and smokes everyday in order to cope. I'm the only sober one in my family, and I feel like I have no one to turn to. On top of worrying about my mom, I'm constantly worried about my brother and dad and their substance abuse. 

It's hard for me to accept that my mom probably doesn't have many years left to live. She's a special education teacher and the sweetest, most selfless person I've ever known. She's only 49 years old and she's the last person who deserves this. Since her diagnosis, she has continued working as much as possible because she love's her students and is committed to helping them.

I have managed to get good grades in school, but it hasn't been easy to focus on school. I think I've been mildly depressed. My school is about 5 hours from home, and I don't have any good friends here. I have isolated myself. I spent most of my time alone. I have no desire to go out and party or socialize. Next year I plan on transferring to a University that is closer to home.

I guess I just felt like spilling...I'm not one to post on websites like this but like I said, I feel like I have no where to turn to. Is anyone in a similar situation, or does anyone have advice for me...?


  • Tubbs
    Tubbs Member Posts: 51
    First off, give yourself a

    First off, give yourself a big hand.  You sound like you are coping very well and you should be proud of yourself.  I know your mom must be.  I don't have much advice other than to tell you that you're not responsible for your dad or brother.  You're responsible only for yourself.  Give yourself that priveledge.  I know that doesn't sound like real practical advice, but it's useful.  My wife passed away from brain cancer a few months ago, so I know a little about what I'm talking about.  Fortunately, I had a pretty good support system.  All of the focus was on my wife.  You can't fix your dad or your brother...they are going to do what they want to.  You need to ultimately take care of yourself.  It's okay.

  • grandmafay
    grandmafay Member Posts: 1,633 Member

    You are in a tough place but seem to be handling it fairly well. I'm glad you decided to go to college. I'm sure your mother is, too. My husband died from colon cancer. When he was first diagnosed, the literature for stage 4 colon cancer showed a 22 month survival. He made it for 6 years. We learned that life still goes on, and that we shouldn't just wait for his death. Instead, we made memories. Had we put off making plans because he had cancer, we would have missed out on so many things. I agree that your dad and brother are not your problems. They will only stop abusing drugs and alcohol when they decide it is a problem. You might consider going to an Alanon meeting. They are for people who are dealing with addiction of family members. You can't change their behavior, but Alanon can help you deal with it. Saying not to worry about it is not reality. You are going to continue worrying about them. You will worry about your mom, too. Colleges usually have  counseling services. It wouldn't hurt to find someone to talk with as you deal with this. Hang in there. You are doing well. Come here when you need support or want to vent. Take care, Fay

  • oregonstudent
    oregonstudent Member Posts: 4
    Okay, wow where too

    Okay, wow where too start...

    I am a college student who is going through a very similar thing as you! I was getting really lonely and tired of feeling like I'm the only one going through something like this so I Google'd cancer discussion boards and came across this...I'm a freshman in college and my Mom has stage 4 breast cancer since I was in high school. She's been through countless amounts of surgery, chemo, and radiation but the cancer had been relatively stable.But then I recently found out it has been spreading to many new places in her body such as her liver. I know what you mean when you say she tries to act fine but in reality, I think she hides everything from me and its actually a lot worse than it is.. And about that whole sum of money thing, over winter break my mom was getting rid of all her jewelry to get money to give to me and my siblings..and shes always talking about making sure to pay the house bills and it's really sad because I feel like I'm the only one who is still in denial. I am also going through the hardest decision of my life whether to stay here at college or move back home and go to a college there... I also feel so alone in college and don't have good friends. I'm just not that happy here because a big part of my life is missing and people just don't understand what it feels like to hurt. Everyone just wants to party and go out. Although my family isn't into alcohol and marijuana, I do know what it feels like when you have no one really to talk to. My Dad just doesn't like to talk about it and my siblings aren't really there for me to talk to...


    I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone and this was a great day for me because I finally learned that I am not alone :)

    Keep your head up and stay strong.

    I wish you and your family the best!