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littlejulie's picture
Posts: 311
Joined: Mar 2004

i'm 27 yrs old & worried abt my 55 yr old mom. she has T3N1 - Stage 3 rectal cancer. She's on her 2nd week of pre-op chemo/rad and is doing great. i on the other hand am not. i cry constantly - she never sees me cry. i hate this feeling and it pisses me that it not going to go away any time soon. im constanly thinking of her sugery. im worried thier going to find a lot more lymphnode involment. now - they only suspect 2.


Anonymous user (not verified)

Julie, to feel depressed and sad is as normal as apple pie. What contributes the most is, as a caregiver, your total feeling of helplessness. You want to make this all go away and yet you can't.

When my mom was diagnosed in Sept. 02 with inoperable lung cancer I thought the floor opened up and swallowed me whole. Then came the mighty black day in July 2003 when my soul mate and my reason for being here, hubby Bert, was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer. Okay, this time the floor really opened up and swallowed me and I couldn't climb out no matter how hard I tried.

While neither one of them ever really saw me lose it, they were not immune to my feelings of total dispair and I actually wasn't providing a whole lot of support to them. As a result, I was "out of control", started getting shingles, and absolutely nothing mattered except living, eating, breathing cancer 24/7. Some life, huh?

I went to my doctor in January this year and was placed, balking all the way, on a very mild and low dose anti depressant. It worked. Now, while I don't advocate anti-depressants in any way, shape, or form, it was the only thing that helped me and is continuing to help me to keep it together. No, the pain and ache is still there but I am able to accept it and most importantly, help the two people that I love so very much. It didn't help them any seeing me as a wreck...they were concerned about me when they should have been concerned about fighting their battles to the best of their ability.

Go easy on yourself. Cancer is a devestating diagnosis but it need not be the end....keep that thought in mind always.

Love and hugs,
Monika, swealtering in LA

Posts: 100
Joined: Mar 2004

Hi Julie -

Sounds like we are in the exact same situation. My mom is also stage III, sigmoid colon cancer, with lymph nodes involved. She was diagnosed in January 2003.
I cry about it all the time - sometimes the sadness is unpredictable - I will start crying on the way to work , in the middle of a movie, etc. etc. It is difficult to fully concentrate on work, and I was planning my wedding when she got diagnosed, so there was a "black cloud" hanging over the wedding.

The only advice that I can give, is that you have to accept the situation - your mother can "live" with cancer, just the same as people live with heart disease, diabetes, etc.

No matter what, you must remain hopeful! There are thousands of people who beat this! That being said, I try to also be strong and aware of the reality that life will never be the same -this road is a difficult one - but you will probably surprise yourself with your own strength. I believe that we don't know how much we can really handle, unless we are faced with the situation head on.

Keep your chin up!

Tessyann's picture
Posts: 56
Joined: Apr 2004

Here a (((((((((hug))))))))) for you... A dx of cancer of a family memember is always scarey..first thing that plays in your mind is the worse..its normal to play the what if games in your head..It is a very good sign tho she handling her treament so well.

Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2004

Hi littljulie

I am 51 with stage IV colon cancer I am half way through with my treatments. When I frist found out about my cancer, I was very depressed, worried, and mad (mad- not because I had cancer, but because I have given my family a great burden) I would tell you to get what ever help you need for yourself. It will only help you give the care that is needed. Crying is normal, worrying is normal. As time goes by things should get better. Just hang in there. Best wishes to you.

jsabol's picture
Posts: 1156
Joined: Dec 2003

Hi Julie, I was much older than you when my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer, but I was still really overwhelmed. I found it hard to concentrate at work and care for my family. My PCP recommended that I try small doses of an antianxiety med (mine was Ativan; even 0.25 mg would make a difference).

As others have said, you feel so out of control as a family member, but just having you there must be so helpful to your mom. When I was diagnosed, I felt pretty calm and just kept trying to gather info about the battle ahead! In some ways, I think it's easier for us patients, while you have to just stand by and watch.
Don't be too hard on yourself; your grief and upset are normal, but it should feel more manageble as the days go by. A friend has taken up yoga to help with her stress; there are a lot of options out there.
Please find someone to help you; it's a hard journey and you need support, too. Regards, keep us posted, Judy

Moesimo's picture
Posts: 1080
Joined: Aug 2003

It is normal for you to be depressed. Your mom will get through this and you will too. As you can see on these postings there are many stage 3 and 4 survivors. My daughter was 22 last year when I was diagnosed and had a hard time dealing with it because she was away at college. My treatmnets ended and she graduated 2 days later. She was a great support before, during and after my surgery. She rearranged her schedule to go on my appts. with me. Many days we cried together. She still asks me everyday "How are you feeling?" Just remember that you will get through this.

grandma047's picture
Posts: 381
Joined: Feb 2004

Hi Julie, You are the same age as my daughter and I know how hard it has been on her. Me and your mom have a great deal in common. My daughter and I went out to eat one day and as soon as we sit down, my daughter just burst out crying. I was trying to get her to tell me what was wrong. She finally admitted that she was afraid that things would change and that we wouldn't be able to spend time together like that. I told her that no matter what that I would always be with her. She's my oldest and only daughter and we are best friends. I agree with the others on here. Sometimes, it is as hard or harder on our caregivers. You are so wonderful to be there for your mom. And...it's ok to cry. I had a spell of that yesterday. LOL. I try to stay upbeat for my family, but when my daughter cried, I cried with her. I just felt like I had permission to let my feelings out then. So, don't hide your fear from your mother. It's ok sometimes to share it with her. If there's anything I can do to help, lety me know.
Judy H(grandma047)

kangatoo's picture
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

Hullo Julie--you KNOW the best advice has already been said!These guys here know what it means to be depressed/angry.They know what it means to think the worst and by all means they know why you feel the way you do--
Hey--this is NOT the end of your mums life--there are many here to prove that.As has already been said--I agree--it is definately harder on the carers/family members than on the cancer sufferers.
You see--after time we , cancer patients over a period of time begin to understand our ilness and begin to in some ways cope with what is happening.But because we have no real way to convey our feelings over time we learn to talk about it openly.In the beginning this was really difficult and I think the others will agree.
The key to understanding our cancer and all its effects is to be able to REALLY talk to family friends etc.--so that THEY might learn to understand our emotions and our anger and why--on being diagnosed we all react in different ways.
Cancer--and the very thought of it almost always is betrayed as a death sentence to those who contract it--it just isn't that way at all--I am here to prove it--so are a lot of others.
Ok--now that doesn't mean we don't still get depressed and angry and worried--I still do--but we cross each bridge as it comes and keep fighting.
Your mum's chances of a long life are VERY good--and medical advances are improving every day.
By the way Julie--I am 49-male--AND still do my share of crying--your love for your mum will bring tears--you would have to be a very hard person not to cry-it is normal--you cry as much as you like--and if you break down in front of your mum--she will understand--because you mean so much to her!
We are here to support yu--luv and huggs from OZ-kanga n Jen

Posts: 835
Joined: Apr 2004

Julie I can only really emphasis what has been already said and perhaps if I am allowed to slip out of the mode of being a cancer survivor into professional mode (I am still working as a psychiatrist full time during my own chemoradiation) then perhaps I can add a little. Your feelings are completely normal and something I have witnessed in those close to me over recent months. Time is amazing though and slowly over a mater of weeks the tears have eased off somewhat (though not stopped completely) and people have adjusted and become more accepting of the news. Feelings of anger, helplessness, 'why me?', and denial (not really happening) are also completely normal and do pass in time.
However if you do find these feelings not easing somewhat and they are interfering with your life and your ability to help your mum then you may need furhter help. Often counselling with somebady that has no emotional attachment to the situation (unlike using other family and friends) to talk can be very helpful and all that is needed. If it is ongoing despite that and starts to affect other aspects of your life eg sleep, appetite, energy and concentration then antidepressants may have a role as sickness in the family is a common trigger to a real clinical depression.
Don;t be scared of talking over your feelings with a professional eg your family doctor and take advise. But for most the passage of time is all that is needed. Hang in there and keep using this site too!
Best of luck,

Posts: 102
Joined: Apr 2004

Julie, I do so know what you are feeling... and then some. My mother had kidney cancer when I was 13 - really thought we were going to lose her but WE DIDN'T! My dad had prostate cancer when he was 37 - very dangerous, thought we were going to lose him but ...WE DIDN'T. He had chemo and a cure (mom also). My father -in-law had colon cancer at 58 (9 yrs ago) - no chemo - did fine for 8 years and it came back to lungs, liver and pancreas.Thought we'd lose him too but... WE DIDN'T! He's been on chemo for over 2 yrs and is still going strong with stage 4!!! You wouldn't even know he has it. Hubby's grandma died of it years and years ago - no chemo for her, but had she had better treatment its very probable she'd have lived through it. Now my hubby's been diagnosed with stage 4 with a met to the liver in feb. at age 41. DRs misdiagnosed it for several years. I was devastated. I looked at stages and prognosis before we knew exatly what stage and I thought I can deal with any stage but stage 4. Odds are very good if staging is 1-2-or 3. BUT we are not giving up! I cried every day for a while. The tears still come but are more spread out. My advice is much the same. 1st take care of YOU or you won't be able to care for anyone else. I go to counseling which I actually had already set up right before diagnosis as I had sudden onset of panic attacks. My mind wonders if my heart already knew.... but anyway, I find my counselor a Godsend! I can let loose with all the fear and worry and guilt - yes guilt.. I worry that I won't know enough about the disease or help hubby make wrong decisions, etc. That is why you should come here... get more info...talk to others going thru the same ordeal. Ask questions. Cry when you need to. My hubby has seen me cry and I hate it but it is also a release. i don't want him worrying about me... but I also need to share my feelings with him and let him know how much I care, so I save the worries and doubts to tell to others. I go to a support group every week also. It's not for cancer , but it really lets me vent because believe it or not I get angry. We sometimes argue and that makes me feel like crap, but I am finding out it is just part of the process... ABSOLUTELY be sure to get enough sleep and have some time away from it all even if it's just for an hour or 2. LAUGH as much as possible. It does wonders. When we come up against an obsticle, my hubby and I say "You gotta laugh" .... its our mantra. There will be ups and downs, but there is always, always hope. One week, we had surgery (colon resection) a custody issue over my stepson, my 5 yr old needed $3000 in dental surgery, and the refrigerator broke down. WE HAD TO LAUGH (and cry) but we got through that week - one day at a time and if I can go through all this...YOU CAN TOO! Keep your chin up :) I will keep you (and everyone else here) in my thoughts and prayers. Good luck :)
Sally Jo

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