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17 year old caregiver...

Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2012

Hi there.
I'm Rebecca, and i'm 17 years old from Canada.
In feburary, my Dad who is 53 years old was diagnosed with stage 3 esophogeal cancer. It has spread to lymph nodes, is in the aorta(spelling?) and is rather close to the kidneys. He has a PEG tube for feeding, and a PICC line for chemotherapy. He has had brachytherapy treatment and just last week he started chemotherapy. He is getting CISPLATIN. My dad has always had issues emotionally but recently he has become quite deppressed and is talking about suicide often. I feel like i cant leave him alone. My dad lives alone in an apartment, and when he started chemo, he had a lot of issues. I basically moved in with him for the last two weeks. He couldn't leave his bed for 6 days (other than stumbling to the washroom) and i had to give him 8oz. of water an hour, as well as ondansetron and gravol and morphine given at different times of the day. I am having problems copeing because he is constantly mad at me for something. My mom tells me that this is normal for cancer patients but i feel really frusterated, and its hard to just ignore it and be happy. He is now by himself while i am at school for the first time in a week and a half, and i'm quite scared about if he is taking care of himself. Soon though, my mom and dad are actually getting back together! He will be moving in with us within the next few weeks, before his next dose of chemo. Surgury will hopeeeeeeeefully be happening in the late summer. My dad is just starting to be able to drink slowly for the first time in nearly 2 months. Great news! hopefully this means that it is working.
Anyway, felt good to get that off of my chest because i can't seem to focus in class at all. I'm so exsausted and stressed i'm worried that i might be having some depression issues myself. Oh you may be wondering if i have sibilings. Yeah. a sister. shes 27. and where was she this whole time? One floor up from my dad in the appartment. Did she once come see him? Nope. I don't get it. Any feedback welcome.


Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2012

My mom has been supportive of both of us but she has had to work so i have had to do this by myself the last couple weeks.

stephikindred's picture
Posts: 153
Joined: Mar 2012

Hi Rebecca,
Being a caregiver is quite a responsibility for someone your age and especially when you are in school. I work full time and am a caregiver for my mom who has EC stage 4. My sister does not work and does not help me much at all, so I understand your position. Some people are just not cut our to be caregivers. Usually it falls to us for a reason, and personally I feel fortunate to be the one to help my mom when she needs me most. But there is an emotional toll, fatigue, and other feelings that can lead to depression for the caregiver. To be a good caregiver, you must first take care of yourself. Make sure you are getting enough rest, getting your education, and take some time for yourself to recharge your batteries and still live your own life. I take long walks in the morning before my mom wakes up to meditate, exercise and socialize. It helps me prepare to juggle my work and caregiving duties.

If your other family members can, perhaps you can develop a schedule where you can share some of the responsibilities, especially for when you are away at school. It will help so much. Your family is very fortunate to have you. This can be a difficult, yet rewarding experience for you as well. I wish you the very best and we are here if you ever need to vent or just need advice.


paul61's picture
Posts: 1250
Joined: Apr 2010


First of all your Dad is very lucky to have a supportive daughter like you. Many people have difficulty dealing with a diagnosis like cancer and avoid the person that has been diagnosed. Maybe that is what is happening with your sister.

It is of course normal to be depressed upon receiving a diagnosis like esophageal cancer. It is understandable that your Dad would be irritable and depressed. However, frequent discussion of suicide should be discussed with his oncologist. One of the documented side effects of some chemotherapy agents is depression. There are medications that can be given to your Dad to help with this issue.

In the mean time, please try to remember that your Dad is not mad at you, he is mad at being sick, helpless, and hopeless and afraid of what the future may bring.

I am glad you will be getting some help from your Mom in the future.

Best Regards,

Paul Adams
McCormick, South Carolina

DX 10/22/2009 T2N1M0 Stage IIB
12/03/2009 Ivor Lewis
2/8 through 6/14/2010 Adjuvant Chemo Cisplatin, Epirubicin, 5 FU
Two year survivor

Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance!

sandy1943's picture
Posts: 883
Joined: Jun 2010

Most of the time, caregiving will fall on one person. Your dad is lucky to have you. Some people can't handle stressful situation. Perhaps your sister is handling the situation the best she can at the time. Talk to your dads doctors about his depression. It's natural to get this way a little, but he might need help.
Maybe moving back with your mom will help his mental attitude. Praying all will go well. It might be the best thing for you.
I commend you for being a responsable young lady.You are remarkable to take the beast
( EC)on by being there for your dad,

Heeran's picture
Posts: 173
Joined: Aug 2011

In a perfect world, all children would take equal opportunity to help the cancer patient but unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. Sometimes one child will step up to the plate and that child might be the one who is the busiest, most unlikely person. Life is certainly not fair and I'm assuming situations like cancer could bring families to fight. Yes, you are 17, compare to most of us, that is quite a bit younger. But the fact that you are on this cancer board means that you are mature enough to research and find a discussion board on EC. I'm sure it will continue to be a roller coaster but hang in there and visit this forum when you need support, vent, information, and please post the good news along the way. Take care.

Daughter of EC patient

mardigras's picture
Posts: 210
Joined: Sep 2011

I'm so sorry that you find yourself on these boards although there is a wealth of support here for you. Seventeen is very young to have to cope as a care giver and I hope that you are taking care of yourself too.
I have always believed that people who talk about suicide, do it for some form of attention, and are the least likely candidates.
Try not to worry too much and maybe have a word with your Dad's doctor about it as the chemotheraphy really does alter someone's disposition a lot.
I hope your Mum will start to help you soon.
Keep posting and getting feedback and support and always know that we are here for you.
God bless you Rebecca.
Prayers and hugs
Marci x

Posts: 17
Joined: Dec 2011

You are a very strong girl and quite amazing. The people on this board are so helpful. They will give you good advice. No question is too big or too small. Take time for yourself this is an important time in your life. Your mother will help you find that balance. (Cyber hugs) from Texas and healing thoughts and prayers for your Dad.

Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2012

Wow, thanks everyone for your responses.
The last week has been crazy. My dad has moved in with us (sleeping in the spare room right now) and we will be slowly moving his stuff over. Things have been better i guess, because my mom and i can tag team care for my dad now. Tomorrow he goes for more chemo, and I get to go for my first session of counselling. I really hope it'll help. I have had a few melt downs recently despite how hard i am trying to be strong. However it seems that things will be getting better.

Question - Today and yesterday my dad has been complaining about chest pain but more in his lung area??? He refuses to let us take him to the hospital, and hes going tomorrow morning anyway... but do you have any idea what this is about? He has also been having some palpitations and hes had a low grade fever, cold sweats and dizzy spells.

Anyway, thanks again i feel much better reading these comments. Hugs !


Ginny_B's picture
Posts: 543
Joined: Sep 2011

As hard as it seems now it never eases up for the caregiver. My brother and I were both involved with mom in the early stage, but then his wife was diagnosed with mets to the brain from breast cancer and his attention needed to be diverted. I knew from the beginning that my mom had to come to stay with me and she did. I wasn't 17 like you! I'm 62 and mom 84. Regardless of age, daughters will always be daughters!

It's ok for dad to be angry and moody. He's hurting big time. It hurts you though, as it did me. I think our folks are lashing out at the disease and how they feel and not us really, but we are just there to get the brunt of it. Just keep doing what you're doing and remember that there is nothing but love between the two of you.

Never mind about your sister - she will deal with this whatever way she can. You are a good daughter. Big hugs to you!

Tonir236's picture
Posts: 7
Joined: Apr 2012


I also have EC but last year I was taking care of my sister who had Lymhoma and has since passed away. As difficult as it can be dealing with cancer, I think it's more difficult caring for someone with cancer. You want so much to help them, to say the right thing but at the same time having to deal with your own fear and grief and have no one to talk to and still having to go on with your own life. It's hard for an adult never mind a 17 year old. Rebecca, I know that are scared to leave your father alone to go to school but honey, you need to try and have as normal a life as you can. It's not selfish or wrong for you to want to have a life of your own, thats normal....I felt the same way and I'm 54 years old. Your father is angry and depressed and feels a lack of control. He strikes out at who ever is close and that happens to be you. He isn't angry at you, he's angry at what he's going thru. Is there any services that are available that counsels cancer patients or a visiting nurse service that can come in a few hours a week so that he can get the help he needs and you can get the break you need without the guilt. Rebecca, you are obviously a good daughter who loves her father very much and I'm sure your dad knows that. Rebecca, for your health and your dad's please look into any program that would help your dad come to terms with whats happening and give you the chance to be 17. I will be praying for you and if you need to vent...feel free to contact me anytime.


Ginny_B's picture
Posts: 543
Joined: Sep 2011

Toni, great words and a perspective that we don't often see. How hard this must have been and continues to be for you, yet you reach out to help another. You will be in my prayers.

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