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Caring for family member - realistically

Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2011

Hello everyone,

My father was diagnosed with Lung cancer, non small type in November of 2010. My father is young, only 63. He was previously diagnosed with Emphysema (COPD), and the Cancer was misdiagnosed as the advancement of the COPD. The lung cancer has also caused his COPD to worsen.

He has received multiple rounds of chemotherapy which have kept the cancer at bay, but most definitely diminished his mobility; strength and I feel his quality of life. He is now receiving Tarceva, and the side effects are so adverse he is considering stopping treatment.

My Father, whom I love dearly, is a glass half empty kind of man. :)

The fear of death drove him to take treatment. However, every side affect, or symptom of the Cancer or COPD paralyzes him with fear. He is in a very difficult situation. He cannot stand the thought of giving up the fight, but he cannot quell his fears enough to have hope and enjoy the extra time he has received. I feel terrible for him.

I have also grown to become a glass half empty kind of guy. I have worked hard the past few years to change my attitude. Some days I do well, other day's I revert. Watching what a negative attitude has done in making my father's fight for his life so much harder makes me want to cry.

My Mother has been caring for him from the beginning. When he was unwilling to drink water, she forced him. When he did not feel like eating, she forced him. Now, like so many others with cancer, he has so much pain when he swallows he cannot eat and cannot drink.

So, my Mother hangs a bag for him every day. My mother has become depressed and is having difficulty taking care of herself and my father at the same time. She is understandably exhausted, and sad.

My sister, concerned about my mother’s exhausted and depressed state decided to move into the house to help my mother and father. My sister is a wonderful woman, and I am grateful for everything she has done, but I concerned about her decision.

In order to move in and help she had to cut back her work hours, risking her ability to earn a living, to help my parents for an indefinite amount of time. If it had been for a set period of time, I would have been more comfortable with it. Now, she is unable to leave because my mother has not fully recovered, and the thought of leaving mom and dad alone in their time of need breaks her heart.

I cannot blame her. I would feel the same way she does if I was there every day. It is very hard for me to leave them after I am only there a few hours. I do eventually leave, because I feel that it is important for me to maintain my life, and because I feel they need and deserve to maintain a level of independence.

My mother is a retired community health nurse. She taught me at a young age that it is a bad idea for family members to be the primary care givers for family members who need long term care. She taught me that it is impossible for close family members to be objective. Also, she taught me that it is not a good idea to sacrifice my dreams and goals for family or friends, because they will never fully appreciate the sacrifice, and I would grow to resent them for it.

I think she taught me well. I got the message.

Now I am standing on the outside, looking in, trying to figure out what I should do. Should I toss aside what my mother taught me? What I have come to believe? Should I temporarily drop out of college, cut my work hours to part time and move into my parent’s house, or I should do the best I can without endangering my career while I continue to work toward achieving my academic goals?

I am certain I am not the first person to face these challenges. Can anyone else corroborate my story? Maybe hearing how others dealt with similar situations will help me feel less alone, and give me a fresh perspective.

I appreciate your time and consideration. Feel free to tell me I am being selfish or if you think I am approaching this situation wrong. I am open to constructive criticism.

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