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Posts: 13
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi all,

My mom has had cancer on and off for the past 16 years. Over the course of the last 6 months the cancer has spread to various places. She's so delicate they can't give her anymore chemotherapy. So we are just trying to make her "comfortable"; which pretty much means we are just waiting at this point. In addition to all of this she has mental health issues which complicate the situation further. I try to be there for her as much as I can. I just have a hard time doing anything for myself without feeling guilty. I feel completely overwhelmed sometimes and I feel like I can't take a break. The stress is starting to turn into anxiety. I was just wondering if anyone out there has the same issue? and how others deal with this?

Thank you,

Pennymac02's picture
Posts: 336
Joined: Aug 2010

Have you ever flown? You know that safety lecture they give about the oxygen masks and cabin pressure? "If you're travelling with some one who is unable to put on their oxygen mask, first place the mask over your OWN face, then help the other person."

In other words, you can't take care of someone if you don't have what you need to survive. Feeling overwhelmed, full of stress and anxiety is normal for a caregiver in our situation. I lost my mom a year ago to cancer, and my husband two months ago to cancer. Had I not taken just small increments of time to refresh myself, I would have been unable to be there for them in the long haul. Most of the time I still felt guilty while doing it, but I also recognized that I needed to do it anyway.

Posts: 13
Joined: Jun 2009


I'm so sorry to hear about your mom and your husband. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to lose them so close together. You are right though. I can't be there for someone else unless I take a mental break for myself. Thank you for the advice.

Posts: 22
Joined: Feb 2011

Melissa,I am so sorry that you are facing this. I have wondered the very same things. I have not spent more than a night at home, to rest, while my brother has recently been hospitalized since December. I am here 24/7, even when his wife is home,he doesn't want me to leave.I have been working as a personal caregiver for many years, until a recent back surgery in October. He thinks I know what to do, but truth is, it really is different when the patient is family. The guilt that comes over me when I think about other things that I need to do is overwhelming. I reason it out to myself that these are his final days and I will have a lifetime to do those things. I understand the anxiety, all too well.

You are absolutely not alone, and I too wonder how people deal with this aspect of the caregiver role.

I hope you find peace with this,


Posts: 13
Joined: Jun 2009

Very sorry to hear about your brother. It is very exhausting. My mom sometimes does the same to me; she wants me there all the time even when she's just sleeping. It's impossible though with school and work. I guess my only consolation is that she's in a facility with nurses that can help her 24/7. I hope you find a way to balance your brothers illness with your own life.

Posts: 306
Joined: Jan 2010

Take time for yourself, even if it's just to mentally relax. A few minutes to recharge makes a big difference for me. Keep coming back to the forum for help, advice, and support.


mswijiknyc's picture
Posts: 421
Joined: Oct 2010

I guess I'm just special as I can shut that off. Either that or I realize that if I don't take care of me, I was in no way able to take care of my husband. Even if all it was was listening to my iPod on the way to point B from point A, or enjoying that ridiculously expensive coffee, or getting my tips and toes done. Pedicures are awesome as the foot massage alone is worth it.

Yes I understand wanting to give it your all. But you can't give 110% when your tank is on empty. Get your sleep, eat as best you can, try to be as normal in some things as possible, and don't back down on "you time."

Patrick passed February 17. May God hold you and your family in the palm of His Hand.

tanker sgv's picture
tanker sgv
Posts: 125
Joined: Nov 2010

I know the stress and I wasn't even in school. Give urself a pat on the back. So, what I mean by find ur comprimiz is ur mom like mine did, wants u 25hours a day even thou that's not possible. So here's ur comprimiz invite a friend over and BBQ or whatever but don't check up on ur mom trust me she'll call for u if she needs something. It worked for me because that was the only way I wouldnt feel guilty about having me time. I was home but I stayed outside with a friend so it felt like I was away. I hope this helps, also go look at the colorectal board for a post called "a thought for caregivers " it was written by a cancer patient named Buckwirth. It's a thank-you that us caregivers don't get. I know that post will make u feel apperisheated.

Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2011

I felt that same guilt with my sister. Its been mentally exhausting for me...I have a full time job and a graduate class (I was in the middle of the class when my sister was diagnosed and won't get reimbursed if I don't finish it) and I'm 4.5 months pregnant. We have been going over there every weekend to help out with her young kids. I was scrambling so much during the week to finish everything in time for the weekend that I hardly had a chance to recover. This weekend we're staying home so that I can recuperate and focus a bit on what we need to plan for the baby.

I still feel really guilty about it, but I remind myself that I need a break to continue for the long haul and make sure that I don't affect the baby with too much stress. My hope is that some of the other family and friends will chip in while I'm away. Its really helped me a lot spending time with my friends and just getting some distractions from everything.

Melissa, you are doing a great job by being there for your mom, so remember that there is nothing wrong with needing a little time for yourself. Feel free to send me a message if you want to talk more.


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