• guilt??

    Asked by MsD81 on Tuesday, March 12, 2013


    My 56 year old mother has just been diagnosed with lung cancer that has spread to the brain. I live about 2 hours away and have a full time job and feel so guilty that I cant be there with her every second (she's in the hospital). Am I a horrible daughter?How can I find support so I can continue to be strong for her without losing my mind?

    8 Answers from the Community

    8 answers
    • MajorRedneck's Avatar

      My brother called me a work on a friday to tell me mom was in the hospital and had started chemo When my mother went through her short deadly battle with cancer, I lived much futher away 12 hour drive one way. I was like you it was tearing me up inside. I could think of nothing but her, cried like a baby, and here i was a grown man with a good job, 2 small kids, 12 hours away what was I going to do? My brother said she wanted me to call her Sunday that she was going home that day. Sunday comes and I call her and told here I had planed to take the next week vacation to come see her. Her voice was the voice I remember when I was a kid of no do not do that, that is not what I want she said. She told me she wanted me to take care of my family and be the productive adult she tought me to be, that she did not even want me to come down to see her. She did not want me to remember her this way. And if I did come she would not see me. In my head im going what? I am flipping out here. She said you remember when you would come home and we played Crazy 8's? I said sure I do, she stopped me right there and said that is the way I want you to remember me, full of life having a good time not like this. I cried so hard I had to give the phone to my wife. She talked a few while im walking around balling like a baby and my wife hung up the phone. She said she wanted you to call her next Sunday. She passed the next friday. I had not seen my mother in 2 years now I would never see her again.

      As the years pass and I think of my mother I do not see a person that is in pain inflicted with cancer and chemo, I see the loving mother sitting at the kitchen table playing Crazy 8's eating PBJ's and a cold glass of milk. Yes I do think of many other good and bad times we had in our life, but I always think of her and I playing Crazy 8's singing, laughing and having fun. Today I think it is the most motherly thing she had ever done for me. It was all I could do to make the planting of my mother everyone was waiting on us to get there, held up for an hour till we got there. All I could say was " you only get one mother in life and I got the best"!!!

      over 5 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      You are not a horrible daughter....have you talked to your mom since her Dx? Call her and ask her how you can help....help from 2 hours away and if/when she wants you to come? All the AMC near you and find out what resources are available for both you and your mother.....If your mother is only 56, you are young...see if there is a support group for you....

      over 5 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar

      Listen to your concience. You may want to look into taking some intermittent FMLA leave time to spend some more time with her. In a few years many of your coworkers won't even remember your name but you only have one mother.

      over 5 years ago
    • AlizaMLS's Avatar

      Dear MsD81,

      First, you are not a horrible daughter or you would not be writing us!...;) We can brainstorm with you and give you our best thoughts but it's you who must make the final decision about what works for you.

      Btw, I'm Aliza. I'm a BC patient and also a Medical Librarian (retired). I'm 54. I had a mastectomy in December. I'm in NYC and treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering. The morning of my surgery my fiance and I took the subway into Manhattan early (very early). My 26 year old daughter who's a Paramedic and doesn't live with us (she lives in another borough in the city with her boyfriend) came in after her shift in her uniform. She and my fiance were there with me throughout my mastectomy. After my breast surgeon came out to find my family, my daughter had to leave to go back on duty. Then my older brother came while they were doing reconstructive surgery and both my fiance and brother were there when the plastic surgeon came out and announced all was well and when I woke up from anesthesia. I knew my daughter couldn't stay for 6 hours and understood exactly why. I love her. She does important work. She should be out living her life-just keep in touch and be there in an emergency.

      CancerCare is an excellent resource for you to call. The Oncological Social Workers there are specially trained to deal with the concerns of both the cancer patient and their caregivers. I would call immediately after you read this email to see if they can be of assistance to you...;)

      Also on this page, you'll notice that on the bottom right you'll see a purple box that says "View a list of personalized resources and useful content". Click on this and see if there's anything that you feel is relevant.

      I like Gwendolyn's idea of FMLA. I took FMLA years ago when my daughter was ill. But (it's a big but) we can't tell you to take it because we don't know your circumstances. You can only take FMLA if the company you work for has over 100 employees for one thing. For another, the leave is unpaid (we don't know your financial situation [maybe if you're working, you're helping to contribute to Mom's care-we don't know anything about that])-only you do. Read up on FMLA to see if it's feasible for you.

      Also speak to the social workers at the hospital where your mom is. They may know of entitlements for her that you are unaware of (especially concerning her Medicare and supplemental insurance {assuming she has that}]).

      You should if your mom owns property also speak to an Eldercare Attorney (if you have not already done so). It's not crass, it's good advice to make sure that your mother's estate is in the order that she would want it to be in.

      I realize that these are not pleasant things to discuss, but they're important-I know. I lost my mother a year and a half ago. Take them one at a time and you can talk about them with the CancerCare social workers.

      I hope your mom's not in any pain, and I hope you find solace in the fact that you're doing the best that you can for her. If I can help you in any way, please let me know.

      Warm wishes,

      over 5 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      No you are not a horrible daughter. yes it is normal to feel guilt. I remember I felt that way at the end of both my parents lives, mom died of complications from Alzheimer , dad had congestive heart failure and a broken hip. I felt so torn, as did my sisters, we had children in Middle school through college at the time, and felt guilty about that too. Ask the chemo center where your mom is being treated about support groups for caregivers, also check out Gilda's place - they have chapters nation wide. You can also see if you can get a referral to speak with someone who specializes in helping cancer patients and their caregivers.

      Sending you hugs, calming vibes and prayers. Good luck.

      over 5 years ago
    • CAS1's Avatar

      I sincerly think we are all on a journey when challeges face us in life. my sister and best friend was dx with advanced cancer in 2001. I closed down my business in order to have time to visit with her and support her emotionally..She was on the East coast and I am in the Midwest. I lost her in 2008. My Mother was dx' in Jan. 2010 and passed 4- 2010. Pulled my kids out of school and home schooled them so I could travel the 2 hours each way or stay over and be with my Mom.

      Durning 2012 my favorite Auntie was dx'd with ALS I tried to visit her every single week for a year until she passed. These were all some of the best decisions I have ever made. I spent some of the best time with all of my loved ones and I value that time and those memories more than anything.

      I think in this world nothing is more important than family. I think you should do everything possible to be near your Mother and help her. Character is about doing the right thing even when its hard.

      I don't know your Mom's stage or her health situation but she has a chance to survive this because she is young. And you are young so any changes you make in your life- changing jobs or location where you live is not so dramatic. What would your Mother do if this were you?

      I think you will be proud of yourself for taking this journey with your Mom and you will grow a great deal and the Universe seems to pay it forward. When one door seems to close many doors seem to open. don't be afraid to do the right thing because family, love and faith are the only things that matter and they are the things that endure.

      Once you know of her treatment plan sit down with all of your family members and make a plan on the help that she needs and how you can be there for her. The decisions you make now will be with you forever. Follow your heart, trust your character and do the right thing.

      over 5 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      I lost my Dad to Prostate cancer 3 years ago this month. A month later, Mom was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, no treatment. She lasted 10 months. We took care of both of them in hospice care. I know it's tough. As for going to see her or not, I can't tell you, it's your call, and I do understand the situation. My sister lives in western Nebraska and couldn't take off or afford to come back to see her every time she had an episode. She waited until I told her it was time, and she came back to see her. She came while mom was still in good shape and was able to have a great visit with her kids and ther rest of our family. As Redneck said, she was able to remember her in good spirits, laughing and enjoying the visit.

      I wish you luck in your Mom's journey, and whatever you do, it will be OK.

      over 5 years ago
    • Tracy's Avatar

      First and foremost, You are a Wonderful Daughter and your mother knows it! You would not be as concerned if you were not. I am a mother who is about the same age, I know my daughter loves me and I would not expect or want my daughter to spend all of her time at my side. You have to be able to be strong and in order to do this you need to have a foot in the normal, cancer is not normal life.
      Now to help her: call her often, make her laugh, find funny cards to send her (I try to send cards to make a laugh a day), and keep her surrounded with pictures of things that will remind her of what she loves. You don't need to mother her, just reminder that you love her. She knows that you need to keep your life going.
      If you need to talk contact me, I am a good listener - take care, Tracy

      over 5 years ago

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