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Mother with cancer living alone

Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2003

My 84 year old mother was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a few weeks ago. Today she found out it was inoperable. We don't know what the next step will be for her. My father died of cancer in 1986 at age 70. My sister died of cancer on New Year's Eve, 2001 at age 52. Along with that, my husband's cousin died suddenly in February of 2002 at age 42, an aneurysm. I lost an aunt - my mom's sister, to heart disease in April of 2002, another aunt - my husband's - to cancer in June of 2002 at age 83, and a very good friend of mine to heart disease, ironically on September 11, 2002 - he was only 56. Now we find out my mom is terminally ill. My husband does what he can - he lost both parents one in 1991 and the other 1996, and he was close to the aunt who died, but still, he is not exactly there like I need him to be. One problem is my brother, my mother and I all live kind of far apart. My brother is about an hour from me and my mom is almost right between us. My mom has been on her own since my dad's death - her choice. She is stubborn and feels she can tough it out on her own, but at other times she says she is ready to give up, and I know she is scared. She is adamant to the point of getting really angry about not going to a nursing home - won't even consider it as her sister is in one and is not happy. I don't want her to be alone and am considering asking her if she would like to live with us. Our home is small - only two bedrooms, and emotionally it would be difficult for us given my mom's stubborness and occasional nasty temper flare-ups - something that has always been a part of her nature, and I'm sure will get worse as the disease progresses. I still work full-time and have many health issues of my own, including osteoarthritis and a bad back. But it is just me and my husband at home, whereas my brother is married, works full time, his wife works part time and there are 3 teenagers still at home. My mom would not be happy there as she wants her privacy, peace and quiet. I am wondering if there are any support groups for people who are emotionally drained from losing so many people in such a short period of time, but who need to be strong and need resources to help out due to their own physical (and sometimes emotional) limitations. Or any other suggestions for coping!

Posts: 29
Joined: Apr 2003

Hi Carol,
I'm sorry you have to go through so much. For your mother, I'd say try to spend as much time with her as you can (and you and her want). Try to let her stay in her own home as long as possible. When you've been diagnosed with a terminal illness, you've lost control of so many things in your life, that the more you can maintain control over, the better you feel.
There are lots of support groups around for cancer patients, survivors, families, friends, etc. I suggest calling the oncology dept. of a nearby hospital. Most have a coordinator that keeps track of all of the support services offered both at the hospital and within the community and they can point you to something that is right for you.
Hang in there.

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