Feel guilty for living far away

annie00 Member Posts: 1

When I was 24, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. After surgery, chemo, and radiation, the cancer went into remission. But the cancer came back. We found out about two years ago that my mom has metastatic breast cancer, and her health has been up and down ever since. She was OK for a while, but the past 6 months have been rough. She could barely sit up when I was home for Chrismas, but she seemed to be getting better with new medication and physical therapy. Last week we just found out the medication wasn't controlling her cancer as well as her doctor hoped, and the doctor has switched her to chemotherapy.

I'm struggling with feelings of selfishness and anxiety. My dad has shouldered most of the caregiving, and he'll fill me in when I ask about my mom's health, but I feel disconnected. I live about 8 hours away from my parents, and I feel guilty about living so far away. Yet the idea of upending my life to be closer to my mom is also tough to contemplate. I have supports where I live that I can't imagine leaving, including close friends, my therapist, and my church. I also have a new job that I love.

I know I'm getting ahead of things. My mom isn't actively dying, but I can't stop thinking about how her cancer is ultimately incurable. I get upset every time she changes treatment because I know that means we are slowly running out of options. I don't know how to support her while staying on top of my own self-care. I'm worried I'll make the wrong decisions as her disease gets worse. I know my mom wants me to be happy and live my life, but I can't help thinking that a better daughter would drop everything to be with her. I'm worried she's lonely and that I'll regret not spending more time with my mom before she's gone. Does anyone else feel this way? Is it normal and OK to juggle your life (marriage, job, etc.) while also trying to support a parent with cancer long-distance? I'm 29 now, and I feel totally unequipped to handle this.


  • ClaCla
    ClaCla Member Posts: 136
    Don't Give Up the Life You've Made

    No, Annie, you're not supposed to give up the life you've built for yourself.  Certainly you have to continue to work and live your life.  Don't put this guilt trip on yourself; I'm sure your parents want you to continue living your life.  Just do what you can do to help without totally uprooting your life.  Your dad is the one who is and should be helping her.

    I hope your mom improves by switching to chemo.  God bless you and your family.

  • MrsYo
    MrsYo Member Posts: 11
    Understand your feeling...

    Annie, although I'm a wife to new cancer patient, as a mother with two adult children living 3,000 miles away, I can honestly say - I do not want my kids to disrupt their lives by moving back home.  Your mom probably feels the same.  This is the time to perfect your communications and consistent and steady connections.  In other words, speak the truth; love, care, emotions, guilt and emotional pressurs you feel.  Visit for weeks at a time and relieve your dad, when possible.  Stay connected, even when mom & dad seem distanced. 


  • GNT1981
    GNT1981 Member Posts: 11 Member
    Been awhile for postings here

    Been awhile for postings here but I can only relate to what my wife told all her children when sne was diagnosed stage 4 lung cancer that spread mets to her brain in form of 20 tumors. My daughters/sons all above or close to 30. My son and daughter lived 6 hours away with other 2 closer. But she said to all throughout her only short 2 months. "you have lives of your own so take care of what you have to and your Dad and I and whoever will have this covered here. She never wanted any to drop anything for her and that was always her way. To her end she cared more about everyone else than herself. If that is her expression than that is her will. I can fully understand the guilt that would come with it but again its all about what could you possibly do and what would the consequences be if you left? My wife never wanted to see her childrens work life interrupted to the point where it would cause any problems. She also believed in their personal life too if married/kids or not- as she would say "you have your own life to live. I see its awhile since last posting so hopefully you were able to work it out for yourself. Its a tough call but when you feel you will need to make a decision I am sure it will be the one you want and you can never feel guilty about any repercussions. Yes easy to say-hard to do. My wife passed in August and nothing but guilt consumes me - but with regards to her wishes-all did what they could in accordance to what she wanted and she was good with that.

  • RTJ2651
    RTJ2651 Member Posts: 1
    edited May 2019 #5

    Annie, I am right here with you.  I grew up without my father in my life; and I'm a 43 year old man with a wife and kids now.  At the age of 38, my father and I connected and decided to make the best of it.  I invited him into my world, and he shared his life with me. He has now been dianosed with Stave IV Lung Cancer, and it has made it into his bones.   I have lost many family members to this dreaded disease. Mom, my Grandfather, my other Grandfather, the list goes on.  It comes down to what you are comfortable doing and not doing.  My dad lives 10 hours away by car.  I don't see him enough.  now, my clock with him is ticking.  It doesnt mean I get to throw my life to the wind, (Engineering Job, young kids, wife with fibromyalgia, crazy ex with a co-parenting problem, and a shared daughter who needs counseling.)  My dad is and remains, independant.  But his life is about to drastically change.  My sister and I have decided to support whatever decisions he is going to make, within the confines of reason.   He is alert, and of sound mind.  For now.  It doesn't make it any easier, and remember that you will have a life that remains after they are gone; use caution when throwing it all to the wind to rush to be there by their side.  You have a life you have built, and it will go on, with or without your tending it.  If you can afford to spend more time, do so.  I will never get back the time I could have spent with my Mother, but I rest knowing she is pain free now, and has shed her human form that caused her so much pain until her passing.  I cherish memories, and I get up and go to work every day.  My world I built demands I feed it with effort and economy.  My dad, proud man that he is, will not ask me to drop everythign to rush to be at his side in these last moments.  That choice will be entirely mine, and he and I are both good with that.  In short, there is no easy answer, just chose the one that is the best you can do, and you will be able to look at yourself in the mirror every day after. I wish you well on your journey.

  • a_oaklee
    a_oaklee Member Posts: 566 Member
    Theres many ways to stay

    Theres many ways to stay connected and caring from a distance.  My mom and my husband were ill at the same time and I couldnt be in both places.  Focus on what you can do and feel good about it.  We set up medical transport, help in her home, grocery and medicine delivery, friends to stop in to visit, daily phone calls, frequent greeting cards, facetime, etc..  I still wish I could have been there more, but I did the most I could at the time.  My mom knew she was loved.  That just has to be good enough.  Force your thoughts to all the good times you had together.  Find a way to not focus on the final days of a loved ones passing.  Their life is much more, and it's good to remember.