• balancing family responsibilities and feeling crazy

    Asked by StamPurr on Saturday, April 13, 2013

    balancing family responsibilities and feeling crazy

    I had my first chemo (Adriamycin+Cytoxan) Apr 2 and I was sleepy for about 3 days, mildly nauseous, slightly constipated -- all and all not bad! By the 6th or 7th I felt like me. I've got 3 more of these treatments before we switch meds. Then 3 months of next med, then SX, then radiation, then reconstruction, so lots still to come. Now is the WEIRD part: my husband and kids (15 & 20) are even more thrilled than I am that I am feeling so good. I'm back to being the maid, chauffeur, bookkeeper, cook, etc. I was hoping this would force them to learn some independence since I know I like control, like to do it all and do it my way. Part of me is happy at feeling so "normal" and another part of me says " Hey family! I have cancer- things might not stay this good - come on, STEP UP! I like thinking they need me, but at the same time I would also like to know that they could take care of themselves. Thinking too much. Conflicted and feeling like a crazy lady. Where is the balance?

    11 Answers from the Community

    11 answers
    • Clyde's Avatar

      Let's hope the family is thrilled because you are feeling good and not just because you are back to being their keeper. (grin)

      This is scary for them too and you being your old self is reassuring. You are probably going to have to tell them to do things as they aren't going to get the message without prompting.

      over 3 years ago
    • Gabba's Avatar

      You are really just on the first leg of your journey and there are days coming when you will not feel so great...they are going to see this for themselves ( and if they don't, be sure to remind them!)...surgery will leave you exhausted, radiation takes its toll with fatigue, especially toward the end of the sessions, and then you get to face reconstruction! Give yourself a break, allow things to be done differently than you might like and don't be so quick to jump in to "fix" things...they will learn to do laundry when there is no clean underwear, they will wash the dishes, or buy paper plates, when they need to eat...takeout menus are a girl's best friend...nowhere is it written that you must cook every meal! I am delighted that you are doing well so far but I do fear that you may have some darker days before the sun really starts shining for you again...get plenty of rest, eat well (even if it is takeout)...find something to laugh about every day and keep in touch with all of us. I wish you good luck and God bless!

      over 3 years ago
    • AlizaMLS's Avatar

      Dear SlamPurr,

      Hi. I'm Aliza, a BC patient and the site's resident unofficial Medical Librarian...;) I answer questions (usually non medical ones [Librarians have a code of ethics about not answering medical questions and it's also considered a bit illegal. It's practicing medicine sans license]). I feel I can help more folks in my professional capacity than if I were just another patient. I offer referrals to doctors, hospitals/institutions. agencies, etc. I also do research when required/requested.

      Being a Librarian I see people's questions in a different way than most folks read them and since I'm very solution oriented, I have some thoughts for you to consider. I think that you are right. You cannot predict how you will feel when you have BC, much less if you have the added burden of having to go through the different forms of chemotherapy cocktails determined by your oncologist, radiation by your radiation oncologist (which can be very tiring from what I understand), and reconstruction - more surgery on top of that 0 It's mind boggling, especially on top of the original diagnosis which none of us wanted in the first place (I was n the midst of planning my Wedding when I was diagnosed-I was supposed to get married last Dec, instead I had a mastectomy-it was small and intimate...;) If you don't laugh, you cry. I'm still engaged, not sure when we'll get married (I had to go an get a strapless gown, wouldn't you have guessed!...;))

      Back to you, I think that one of the best things that you could do for yourself, would be to give CancerCare a call and arrange to chat with one of their Social Workers. And if your husband is your primary caregiver, he's permitted to have a Social Worker of his own from them as well. This is free. You are absolutely right in what you are telling me, and you need to voice your thoughts to someone in person (though you have the option of talking to them on the phone). In-person's always better if you can manage it. CancerCare's Social Workers aren't like having therapy with a regular therapist. They're specially trained to deal with the highly specific needs of a Cancer patient and her/his caregiver. So I think it's important than when you call you might ask for two different social workers who can possibly see you and your husband separately but at the same time. The Social Worker you see will be able to tell you how to communicate your needs to your husband without coming across as mean or nasty, but as realistic, and this will probably be an eye opening experience for him as well. Then hopefully the two of you will be better able to sit down and work with your children.

      We all want people around us to intuit our needs without us telling them, but that's not how life works in reality. Especially regarding Cancer. You may experience your children and husband as being insensitive, but they are probably scared and the fact that you can go about your normal routine is very reassuring to them. That's why they're not stepping up to the plate as it were. I think once you have the tools to reassure them that you love them and that you'll likely be ok and it will take some time and help from them, it will work out, but I'm not a therapist, and the CancerCare Social Worker can do this so much better than I can.

      I hope you can get some time to yourself. I think that's very important now. It might even help you to keep a journal (as long as no one else will read it). The writer Julie Cameron has a series of books devoted to this I believe called "The Artist's Way". You might enjoy browsing Amazon to see which of her books suits you best.

      If there's anything else I can do to help you, please don't hesitate to ask. Feel free to message me here or email me offsite.

      Warm wishes,

      over 3 years ago
    • bbay65's Avatar

      I think Clyde may be right. After being scared they like the return to the old ways. Whether or not you have cancer you would be doing them a favor by having them be more independent. At home my boys are 16 and 17 . My husband is 53?? Since my problems started I have lowered my expectations. The laundry and dishes are not done my way, but they are clean. If they do more now in small doses it won't be such a shock when you really need the help. If they are anything like my family, they won't read your mind. You'll have to spell out what they need to do. Most families will do anything for the Mom, they just need some prompting. Good luck, from another crazy lady.

      over 3 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      Of course your family is beyond thrilled that you are feeling good and "back to normal"....because it means that life is "back to normal" for them....I would suggest you sit down with your DH and kids and come up with a game plan.....let them know what you can do or want to do while you ae going through chemo even on your good days.....ask for help.....they are going to be independent if you don't ask for help....I accepted help when I was going through chemo, but when I felt good, I wanted to do everything I could cuz that made me feel normal...but I had to ask for help...my kids did their best...when I was DX my kids were turing 8 and 17 and my oldest turning 20 was away at college.....DH was good with helping...but I had to ask....Sooooo ask and give them the opportunity to prove themself...

      over 3 years ago
    • Ladykarla's Avatar

      When you are feeling bad, go in your bedroom and shut the door. They will survive. Frozen food will be your best friend. I was sick 28 days out of 30. My family survived. Now on herceptin I am nauseated all the time. Water, water, water can be another great friend. I am thrilled you are doing so well!

      over 3 years ago
    • Ladykarla's Avatar

      If you need help of ANY kind, call your American Cancer Society. They have volunteers who can help you for FREE. Leave your pride at the chemo room door. Call them. I have found their volunteers to be awesome, kind, and thrilled to be helping me. I will do the same for others when I feel better. Just a note, when I was terribly sick, head in the wastebasket, a glass bottle, don't ask me why, of orange Fanta was all I could drink. Later is was can after can of very cherry fruit cocktail. Get advice from your nutritionist or doctor first, but that's what helped me.

      over 3 years ago
    • kickasscowgirl's Avatar

      I had 4 rounds of A/C (every other week) along with two antinausea meds, then Neulastin the next day. I felt great after the first one as well. It will change. Thankfully, I was told to be prepared for it to have a cumulative effect. If you are being given a steroid to boost the anti-nausea meds like I was, then you feel great the first day or two after chemo. By the third dose of A/C I underestimated how well I thought I was doing. I didn't conserve energy and also became more dehydrated by the chemo as time went on. It doesn't feel as if it completely leaves your system by the time you get the next dose. The Cytoxan can give horrible headaches if you're not hydrated. So... it might be a good idea as others suggested here, to plan and tell them what you're gonna want or need. I asked my son to make jello, and he kept me stocked on jello. He would come check on me every 2-3 hours when I didn't want to get out of bed and push tea or fluids on me. He suggested a camelpack to keep on the bed for drinking at night without even sitting up. That helped the most.

      I'm gonna be a little blunt...I think your kids and husband are all old enough to do all (yes I said "all") the work around the house and cook and give you a break!! When that happens and you feel well enough to step in and do some of it, that's great, but maybe as the exception to the rule for a while.(I'm divorced/single, and have 4 kids, ages 17 to 27 yrs, all coming around pitching in as they can) You've got a lot of treatment in front of you!! It's not just the physical effect either, a lot of it affects you mentally and more so, emotionally.

      You deserve all the help you can get from them, this is their turn to give back. It's not selfish of you in any way, think of it like part of your treatment, if you don't get to take care or get sick from stress or infections while on chemo, you'll take even longer in treatment from delays and complications. You may also start losing your appetite, and taste and sense of smell change. You may not be able to stand smells in the kitchen. I would feel nausea when my 17 yr old was making a grilled cheese, and kept my bedroom door shut or ran a small fan. Fight the conflicted feelings! I'm sure your family will help you, but not if you act like supermom! Best wishes for toughing through this!!! Gigi

      over 3 years ago
    • joeyfowkes' Avatar

      Hey! I am 3 years out of treatment and reading your post reminded me - all to well - about the challenge of balancing Mom/Wife roles with Patient ones. it's a tough time because, as you say you want to feel and demonstrate how "normal" you are. But, your body is not. Your body needs to rest and gear up for the next round. So, I urge you to be careful. Someone close to me suggested that each day (and multiple times a day) to ask myself "what do you need?". It's a way for me to check in and see what I need at the moment, hour or day. I offer this simple question to you so that you can check in and feel worthy of answering with...more sleep, more rest, a glass of water, a nap, fun music, a bite to eat, a conversation, etc. Your answers will vary, but with each one, you may be able to direct your family a bit more to be reminded that you are not at a constand "normal" status. Sometimes you are energized, but sometimes not. My last note is that during my journey (my kids were 13 and 15), I think they needed me to be normal to quiet their worries. If I was ok, they were ok. So even if you are feeling tired or restless or hungry or...whatever...assure them that you are ok and that the side effect is "normal" and only temporary. I hope this helped.

      over 3 years ago
    • jgoat01's Avatar

      I too had the a.c. combo and 4 treatments of it then 4 of taxotere. I was very blessed and shocked that the a.c. (said to be the worse of the two) did not really bring me down. Only constipated and the worse was not feeli.g like myself for about a week. That was it!! But the easier or not as bad chemo gave me fits!! I had a rash on my hands after every treatment, fever every time for a few days, upset stomach, and then started retaining water. But all in all I am very grateful even for those side effects. It could have been way worse. Good luck to you and God bless!!

      over 3 years ago
    • grammy's Avatar

      I agree with what others have said. You have a long road ahead of you and the most important thing is taking care of yourself. You have a new normal now about what is important and cleaning house, cooking and generally taking care of everyone is not it. You will have to tell your family that you will be fine but you will not be doing ANYTHING except what you feel like doing. You need to save up what energy you have to fight this disease. Your life depends on it. You will have to use the cancer card whenever you need it with your family and other obligations. "I would love to, but just can't now with my cancer treatment just draining me" Even if it's not, you deserve to put yourself first. You will get through this but you will need your family's help and understanding to do it. It may be up to you to make them realize that things are different now and you need them to pick up the pieces. Good luck and remember, you're number one through this.

      over 3 years ago

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