My mom just got diagnosed, but I'm going to college

heatherosman Member Posts: 1
edited April 2018 in Caregivers #1

My mom just got diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Well, she was diagnosed a month ago, but she just told me now. I already knew basically, since she's been getting tested a lot and going to appointments, but now it's official. The problem is, I'm going to college in the fall. I fell in love with Tulane in New Orleans, which is 22 hours away from my home. When I sort of decided I was going to Tulane, I think I just held out hope that my mom didn't actually have cancer and didn't really let myself think about what it would be like if she did and I was 1500 miles away. Now that I know, i'm torn between going to the college I love and going to Northeastern in Boston which is an hour train ride home. I love my mom more than anything in the world and to be honest I'm the only one who can ever make her feel better or calm her down. Both of my older brothers live at home plus my dad and our home life is very messed up and stressful. I'm terrified of leaving her there without being able to come back and be with her.

I have to decide in one month, but I don't know if we are going to know more about my mom's treatment plan by then. Her mom died of breast cancer and so she doesn't want to get chemo or radiation but wants to go the natural route. That way would definetly make the journey less painful for her, but there also isn't much information about how well it works, and if something goes wrong and god forbid my mom is only going to have a few years left, I don't want to have any regrets. I don't want to go far away and not be there for her but I also don't want to go somewhere that I know isn't right for me. My family has been so messed up since I can rememebr and I've been waiting all my life for this moment, to get away, to finally have a life that isn't crazy and heal myself, but now I don't know what to do. I know that if I am just an hour away, I'll be stuck in my family's affairs and I'm afraid that I'll never get out and not let my past affect me like I promised myself. My mom is the most selfless person on this planet and obviously wants me to go where I'm happy, but my dad is saying Northeastern might be a good option to be closer. I know it sounds selfish that I'm even considering Tulane, but this is such a huge decision I never thought I would have to make. Please if anyone has any similar experiences or advice or anything at all PLEASE contribute. 


  • GingerMay
    GingerMay Member Posts: 134
    Peace as you decide

    I am sorry about your mom's diagnosis. You sound like a loving child and I bet you are already a great comfort to her.   

    I wish you peace as you consider this decision.  Whatever you decide, stay with it and try not to second guess yourself. 

    My thoughts would be to stay the course and go to the college of your dreams.  Personally, I would hate feeling that I held my child back from anything.    

    My own parents are not well and on my mind constantly with a number of needs.  They don't ask me for anything, but they struggle.  Their friends look at me with expectations to help - a few even calling directly.  I do what I can, but live far.  Even if I lived with them, I couldn't cure my mom's illness, and couldn't fix the real problem.  I understand how your love for your mom drives your desire to help. But taking on that responsibility is a heavy load and takes its toll.  (Been there.)      

    Are there ways you can help her from a distance?  Given some of the dynamics you mentioned, you may have ideas of what your mom will need now and can start to put some things in place. Just some ideas that I've done for my parents .... meal delivery service, online grocery delivery, in-home cleaning service, transportation to doctor appointments.  

    Maybe you don't have to make the decision now for the next 4 years, maybe you just make it for the first year and see how it goes?  Try to be good to yourself and keep things moving forward in your own life.  Your friends may not be able to understand, so if you can find support through a social group or online like this it may help.  Blessings to you.   


  • Mollimouse
    Mollimouse Member Posts: 3
    Your mom probably wants you to chase your dreams!

    My heart really goes out to you. I have two thoughts that may not help as you work out what to do, but want to offer them anyway. The first is that your mother probably wants you to live your life and set yourself up to be happy, successful, and functional in the long-term. Your future probably matters more to her than hers, and you are her legacy. My mom was also just diagnosed with cancer and we’ve had quite a bit of conflict because I have dropped everything to be by her side (against her wishes)... but I am in a place where I can do that (being in mid-30s with supportive bosses). So I understand the impulse to put mom first. But my second thought: my sister died of cancer last year (after being diagnosed in Nov ‘16) and three of her children were in college. i can tell you that in no way did she want them to put their lives on hold for her. They didn’t, and it was ok. It was how she wanted it. Her sisters, friends, and cousins all came together to be there for her in shifts. She didn’t feel any less surrounded by love because my nephews were out there embarking on a bright future. In fact talking about their activies in college made her really happy and proud. All she cared about was that her kids thrive and be set up for happiness and success. and I guess, having gone the other route with not leaving my mom’s side, I am slightly jealous of my nephews. Like, there are some things that are really hard to see a parent go through. I’m definitely pretty traumatized. I mean I would be no matter what, but being here each step of the way is (maybe selfishly) really hard.


    So all that is to say that i really believe that all your mother wants for you is for you to be happy and chase your dreams. who knows where the cancer journey will go, and I hope it’s better for your family than mine(!), but you *definitely* have a future ahead of you... one your mom sacrificed for and is excited for. 


    Does your mom have close friends that can take charge of ensuring she gets to doctors appointments and is communicating with drs to stay on top of symptoms to make sure she’s comfortable? My sister didn’t have a husband (and as I said she made sure her kids were shielded from everything) but she was well taken care of and loved all the way through! 


    good luck, my thoughts are with you, and congratulations on Tulane! 

  • k2oly
    k2oly Member Posts: 13
    it doesn't sound selfish to ME. sounds like a gift for her!

    you say " I know it sounds selfish that I'm even considering Tulane". but i see it different. i see it as a gift to your mom. if she really does want you to go to your #1 choice school, isn't it a gift to her for you to do exactly that?

    my step-mom (one of my favorite humans of ALL TIME) died when one of her sons was far away at college & i was living on the opposite coast, too. what worked for us might not be what works for you, but... i'll share in case it helps.

    mom was also one of those people who was selfless to an extreme and got far more pleasure out of giving (esp to her kids) than getting. knowing that she wanted my brother and i to continue planning for our futures was difficult for me to accept. although she knew she wouldn't be there with us, she absolutely LOVED dreaming about the possibilities in our futures. (fwiw, by the time she was diagnosed it was terminal.) she was not someone who said "do what YOU want" and meant the opposite. like your mom, our mom said "do what YOU want" because that is truly what SHE wanted. with that in mind, we thought that doing our things far away from her was actually a gift to her. painful for us to miss out on more time with her, but the emotional pain of it for us was not that much of a priority when we knew it was what SHE wanted. we wanted to give her whatever support and comfort we could, and in her case that meant forging ahead with school and careers.

    my brother made more frequent trips on long weekends and school holidays. he called almost daily. this happened long before internet was in every household, but i'm certain they would've used skype a LOT if it had been invented. :-) mom got LOTS of joy hearing about what he was studying and experiencing. she enjoyed thinking about his future. she liked knowing that he was in the process of building a foundation for his future. she liked knowing that his life would go on after she was gone.

    i couldn't afford to travel back as often. but i did make a couple of long trips to see her before things got really bad for her. why? that's what SHE wanted. she enjoyed hearing about my experiences as i was just starting off in my post-grad career. we enjoyed talking on the phone together (boy, do i wish we had skype) and when i visited we enjoyed our time together. at the end of my last trip, saying goodbye was completely heartbreaking. absolutely awful. we all knew it was probably our final goodbye. our final hug. dang, that was awful. but she wanted me to keep forging ahead with my own life.

    our mom was also someone who didn't want to see us looking at her with sorrow in our eyes. i think being away meant she wouldn't have to see our painful expressions, especially when we said goodbye. and she was very clear about telling us that she didn't want us to see her deteriorate a lot at the end. despite that, my brother did rush back when we knew the end was in sight. he knew that he'd regret it if he wasn't there. and he has been quite glad that he made that trip.

    not sure that helps, but... there it is.

    peace to you.

  • Liver cancer
    Liver cancer Member Posts: 52 Member
    I hope you went to college

    She needs news that has nothing to do with cancer to encourage her to live, my family kept living their lives because I didnt tell them. It was great hearing about the new babies and jobs and life moving as it should. I won on 5/24/2018, and hopefully the only resentments against me are still the old ones.