A Daughter’s Story

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.

3 thoughts on “A Daughter’s Story

  1. Maybe you should just tell your mom how you are feeling honestly and clearly. I am sure that she’d want to know. I know I would want to know what my daughter was thinking.
    When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my children were young – Mike was 19, Nena was 15 and Sam was 11. They were so frightened, it broke my heart to even think about it. Sam was the most open with his feelings. When I asked him why he wouldn’t go for a sleepover at a friend’s house one time, he told me he was afraid to leave me – he feared that I might die before he got back home. I asked him what his greatest fear was and I told him mine. We talked and talked. It helped us both to look at the worst case scenario.
    You are doing nothing wrong. You are just afraid. You love your mom and you can’t bear the thought of loosing her. She is probably worrying about you, too. I am sure that it would help you both to talk.
    You are a loving and sweet daughter. Your fears and natural. Be kind to yourself.
    My best wishes to you and your mom


  2. Our famili was in almost exactly the same place in the fall of 2006; my wife had first been diagnosed in 2001, had had surgery and seemed to have beaten it; we had 4 very good years together before the cancer returned, with mets in her bones, lungs and brain. She began chemo in early 2007, and, like you, we had no idea how long we had or what the trajectory would be. Our doctors, though attentive and thorough, were never willing to give us a prognosis. As it turned out we had just under 3 years; my wife died last August. I wish I could be more comforting about what’s facing you; the likelihood is that it won’t be easy, however. There has been progress in treatment but it is still enormously taxing and destructive of the body and, potentially the mind. Hang on to every good day, give your mother all the love and care you can and take good care of yourself and other family members. You all have a tough road ahead.

  3. My mom has been battling breast cancer for 2 yrs now.Its hard on her,but she too is a strong willed lady and doesn’t show her weakness.She just lost her sister last month to cancer,only my aunts was liver and she went downhill within 2 months.Still she feels she needs to be strong for the family.I feel sad and depressed alot,and its kind of selfish for me to feel this way.My mom is my rock and I don’t know what I would do without her.I should be holding her up but yet its just the opposite.I feel awful.Tomorrow she goes for another pet scan and Im praying for the best for her.That’s all we can do.

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