I'm a college student and my mom has cancer

levigurl481 Member Posts: 5

So, my mom has cancer. She hasn't been fully diagnosed with a particular type but it is cancer. While she was in the hospital, there wasn't much I could do. I am trying to maintain my classes, help my family, and maintain a semblence of a life. But more and more, I feel like im slipping away in all of the daily living. When I'm not in school, I'm home cooking and taking care of my mom. When I'm not at home, I'm trying to study. I have midterms and constant assignements, which will not go away- I understand that. I guess, I am having a hard time balancing it all. I feel spread very thin, even if I am not taking on that much. My mom was in charge of the house before she got sick, so trying to fill in for her, while being a student is very difficult. I don't know if I can do it all and I'm afraind of letting something slip. My dad helps, but not much. His idea of contributing is doing dishes once a day and making coffee. My mother finally got on him about helping more but that was only one day. Most of the day-to-day activities fall on me. My mom is gracious about it, knowing that I am struggling to find balance, but it still all seems overwhelming. I am also trying not to make excuses for myself or my behavior. I don't know how to cope with all of this. I am constantly exhausted, falling behind in my classes, and losing my drive to keep pushing forward. I could really use come advice. By the way, I also work part-time (4 hours a week), and took a leave of absence from my research position.


  • lisat5
    lisat5 Member Posts: 2
    edited December 2016 #2
    Hang in there and take care of yourself

    Hi - I'm so sorry you're going through this, and I know it can be so difficult to balance. My mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in college, working part time, and participating in a college sport, so I understand how hard it can be. I lived close enough to her that I was able to help with her care in my "free" time, but that left little for myself - sounds like that's what you're going through, too. Also, a cancer diagnosis and treatment can be scary and uncertain, resulting in a lot of emotional stress, too.

    If I could offer a suggestion, it would be to be sure you're caring for yourself and asking for help when you can - family, friends, professors, school counselors, etc. - if you let yourself get too rundown, you won't be able to help when needed with your mom, and I'm sure she would want to be sure you're doing what you need to in order to keep up with school and stay healthy physically and emotionally. Take it day by day, and ask for help when you need it - and perhaps find an outlet for stress or a friend who you can rely on to just listen and help you process everything going on. My dad was also not the greatest help - I found that sometimes I just had to give him very specific instructions on things to do because he just wouldn't think to do it on his own (plus, he is probably struggling too to deal with the diagnosis etc.).

    I'd be happy to be an outlet for you if you ever want to private message just to vent or unload the burden you may be feeling. Thinking of you and wishing for the best.


  • Teach76
    Teach76 Member Posts: 351 Member
    edited December 2016 #3
    Finding a balance

    During my 13 months of treatment my daughter was a grad student living at home.  That meant she needed to study, work in the research lab, and TA 2 labs.  What I most appreciated was the "little" time she could spend WITH me. As your Mom continues through treatment, don't be frustrated by all that you can't do that you think you should do.  Really, have a meal with her, take a break from your studies and give her a 5 minute call.  Your Mom may be upset that she is too weak to do everything around the house, and Dads just don't know "how to make it all better."  I used to say as long as there is food in the house and everyone has clean clothes, we're ok.

         Hopefully you are moving into the end of your semester and you can have some time to relax.  I would also suggest that you speak to your professors.  They are people, some of whom may have experienced Cancer treatment of loved ones themselves.  As a teacher myself, I remember saying to families, "If I had known what your family was going through, accommodations could have been made."  I would allow projects to come in late, or tests to be made up if a parent was going through a treatment on a test day.  But you have to communicate.


       Your Mom wants you to succeed - do that for her!


    peace and prayers,


  • nj55
    nj55 Member Posts: 25
    edited January 2017 #4
    Accept help

    I don't know if your family is as fortunate as I am to have support from community and church.  Let those close to you know what you are going through.  I have people offering to cook meals for us, and I have helped provide meals for other families in the past.  It is wonderful to receive a home cooked meal ready to eat and even if your mother cannot eat all of it, you and your father will have more time and energy for her.  Accept help with lawn and housework.

    Talk to your professors.  I used to teach college and professors are ordinary people with families.  Most of them will understand and help you make accomodations on deadlines and test dates.  The key is to talk to them before you are in trouble and sound like you are making excuses.  I have often rescheduled tests for students who needed to transport family members, or extended deadlines to accomodate those schedules.

    Most of all, just be there for your mom.  I will be praying for you and your family.

  • jessica001
    jessica001 Member Posts: 2
    Oh.. That's really sad what

    Oh.. That's really sad what you have to go through. 

  • College
    College Member Posts: 5
    In a similar boat

    My Mom was diagnosed in November 2016. I attend a college about 2 1/2 hours away. She has a significant other and friends, but I feel guilty every day that I am not with her. I go home on weekends and was with her when she had pneumonia in the hospital. It's the hardest thing. I cry every day and can't think about anything else. I find comfort in my boyfriend and friends, and know that at the end of the day this is bringing my mom and I closer and making us stronger. She is almost done with treatment, and I can't be more thankful. I have a chronic fear that the cancer will come back. I still don't know how to get rid of that fear, but maybe one day I will. Wishing you all the best, good to know we aren't alone. 

  • vv85
    vv85 Member Posts: 3
    Hang in there

    I agree with others, talk to your professors and let them know. Maybe they can give you extra time to hand in the work. Also know you are not alone. My mum was just diagnosed and lives in another country. She wants me to move there. I just finished college and was so looking forward to starting my life and career. I am so angry. Anyway, what else can we do? Sending you much love.