This was a post on our message board in response to a woman’s struggles with her mother’s diagnosis of breast cancer:
My mother has also been recently diagnosed with bone and liver mets. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000 with no lymph node involvement. She had surgery, chemo, radiation, and tamoxifen…all signs pointed to having beat it.
Her diagnosis last month was a complete shock. She had no symptoms and no reason to believe the cancer had returned. Learning of her diagnosis sent me into a total panic, it felt like the world was caving in on me. All I could think of was that my mother was dying and soon. All I could picture in my head were those stupid movies where Mom barely makes it to Christmas.
Being left alone with the internet can be devastating, I know. I found information that implied six months was a realistic life expectancy. I panicked first, and then later realized the article was written in the early 90s. It’s a rapidly changing world and the women here are the proof of it. I spend much of my time, “talking myself out of good news” because I’m afraid to be hopeful and then be sideswiped by bad news.
My mother has just started treatment and will have her next PET scan in 90 days. It seems like such a long time to wait just to find out if she responds to the treatment. If she doesn’t, have we just wasted 3 months? Or is waiting 3 months, good news? I could talk myself in circles forever.
There are hard questions that I want to know the answer to, but I don’t have access to my mother’s doctor. And I don’t want my mom to know that I am thinking of these questions. They are sad and morbid questions, but I need to understand our worst case scenario. I want to be optomistic, but I want to be realistically so. Should I drop everything and drive home every weekend because in a year she won’t be able to go on a walk with me? Or should I work my tail off now because in 3 years I’m going to want to travel home every weekend?
I don’t know how old you are, or at what stage of life you are in, so perhaps our fears and dreams are different but when my mom was diagnosed the first time, I remember thinking, should I take a leave of absense from college, should I get married, etc. These are crazy things to have running around in your head.
At first, I just wanted a number, a scale, some idea of what this all meant. Is it 6 months, is it 6 years? If it’s years, how many of those years are good? No one is able to answer those questions and unlike our mothers, we don’t even have a reliable person to ask. Sso here we are, blogging about our worlds caving in. I never thought I would be here.
My mother is very strong and very optomistic, she talks of the very distant future. At first I thought, maybe she’s in denial. But then I found this blog and it appears that I am in denial. Our mothers carry the burden here and I feel selfish much of the time for being so paralyzed by her diagnosis while she’s running around, enjoying her hobbies and keeping a smile on her face. Even as I write this, I think how it would hurt her to know I was spending my time and energy brooding over her illness.
Can you relate with any of these feelings? Are you caring for a loved one and feeling confused/scared? Leave a comment below or continue the conversation on Facebook. You can also check out our message boards and respond to what others are discussing.