• Patient and caregiver

    Asked by FLBuckeye93 on Tuesday, December 29, 2015

    Patient and caregiver

    My family has been hit hard by cancer this year. I am an only child of divorced parents. We all live in different states. My dad passed of complications due to colon cancer last summer, and my mom was diagnosed wth stage 3 lung cancer a few weeks after my breast cancer diagnosis.

    Has anyone else been both a patient and a caregiver? I am torn between wanting to help mom and needing to take care of myself.

    I have a good support system, but at times find it all so overwhelming. My chemo begins this Thursday, and mom's begins in about two weeks.

    10 Answers from the Community

    10 answers
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      We went through exactly that. I have been dealing with cancer for 27 years now. During my last diagnosis my Dad's prostate cancer progressed to aggressive and within 6 months we lost him, then two months later Mom was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, she lasted 10 months. My Wife and I along with my two Brothers and their Wives took care of both of them. I do understand your situation. I was in the last of my treatments when this happened, so it's different than still being in treatment. I have often said I think it was harder taking care of Mom and watching her go downhill than it was to be the patient.

      over 4 years ago
    • Ejourneys' Avatar

      (((Hugs))) -- I am sorry you are facing so much, along with tough choices.

      I am both a cancer patient (dx March of last year) and a caregiver (since 2001); my partner has MS with damage to her prefrontal cortex. That creates cognitive and emotional dysfunction in addition to her physical challenges.

      As a caregiver I had to set and maintain boundaries, which called for some detachment. (Detachment doesn't mean I care any less; it means I am preserving my sanity.) As a cancer patient I had to reinforce those boundaries and create new ones. I was very candid with my partner about what my limitations were and still are. That made her feel freer to share her own limitations with me. The best thing about all this is that it has improved our communication with each other.

      For example, we ask, "Do we have the resources to have this conversation?" We have a checklist: have we gotten enough sleep, food, water? Does the thermostat need changing? Unless something needs immediate attention, we try to make sure we have all our resources, or as close as we can get.

      The hardest part is when her needs and mine conflict. Then it becomes a question of compromise and triage based on whose needs are more acute.

      These transcripts might be helpful:

      1. #carechat (occurs on alternate Sunday nights at 8 p.m. Eastern) on managing your own chronic illness while caring for others:

      2. #bcsm (breast cancer social media, occurs on Monday nights at 9 p.m. Eastern; chats will resume on 1/4) on caregiving:

      3. Another #bcsm transcript on caregiving:

      Copy/paste the full URL if it's not all highlighted. WhatNext adds an extra string to the end of anything that's copied, which needs to be taken off for the link to work.

      Robin Warshaw's article, "Making the Adjustment: From Giving Care to Accepting Care" on Living Beyond Breast Cancer:

      These sites have helped me:

      http://www.caregiving.com -- very active grassroots network. Holds #carechat tweet chats on alternate Sunday nights. Has podcasts, webinars, forums, groups, chats, and other resources.

      http://thecaregiverspace.org/ -- another excellent grassroots network. Also has webinars, forums, etc.

      http://www.caregiver.com -- more corporate than the other two but also a good source of support. Sponsors one-day Fearless Caregiver Conferences across the US, free to family caregivers.

      There's also Help For Cancer Caregivers:

      I am sorry to hear about your dad, and I wish you and your mom all the best.

      over 4 years ago
    • beachbum5817's Avatar

      Wow, I can't imagine what you are going through. It certainly would present a dilemma for me. I have never had to do this, so I don't have any advice to offer you. However, I will pray that you are granted the strength you need to handle all of this. Good luck. Take care.

      over 4 years ago
    • Judytjab's Avatar

      My heart goes out to you. Remember we are all here for you if you need to vent.

      over 4 years ago
    • Overlyaverage's Avatar

      I was stunned to hear of your situation and then to learn from others they have also been faced with similar. My best thoughts go out to you and your mother for strength and good fortune as you go through this next period of treatment. I hope there are friends and family who can help each of you.

      over 4 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar


      I took care of my Mom and my Aunt and was sole support for my Mom while living with an undiagnosed cancer tumor growing on me.

      It was hard. I was so tired and frustrated and the doctors kept telling me the little wart or hemmorhoid was nothing. That thing grew in me, slowly, for 13 years. I did not get a diagnosis until I broke my big toe. Unable to walk while healing, but still completely and solely responsible for my Mom, I was full of self pity. I began to eat (organic) ice quarts daily and in about six months grew myself and the tumor to a size where the doctors could actually see it.

      My Mom died the year I agreed to treatment, just as the doctors were finishing torturing me.
      I do not reccommend what you are proposing ... but what else can one do?

      over 4 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar

      That was ice cream quarts.

      Best wishes for a Happier New Year.

      over 4 years ago
    • BuckeyeShelby's Avatar

      My mom had a stroke as opposed to cancer. I was fortunate in that I had completed treatment before she became in. She was also in a nursing home. I wouldn't have been able to see much of Mom had this happened during my treatment. I worked during chemo and was completely drained. And the weekend after chemo -- forget it. I didn't have a lot of the nasty side effects, but fatigue was one of the biggies for me.

      over 4 years ago
    • FLBuckeye93's Avatar

      I am filled with tremendous gratitude for all of your responses. It makes me feel less alone and you've given me some very good ideas and resources. I have had to "detach with love" because I've got a much longer life ahead of me, and my emotional energy is already shot Mom's tumor is inoperable, so we really don't know how much time she will have. I hope I am able to be there with her towards the end like I was with my dad. My treatments will be over by June. Hugs to you all!

      over 4 years ago
    • busymom0413's Avatar

      Yes I have been both. I was diagnosed with BC August 2011 and my husband was diagnosed with thyroid cancer October 2011. I had to put my bilateral mastectomy off because my husband chose to go out of state for his care and I stayed in town for mine. He had several complications so we were always away. I finally had surgery in November very hard because I had to travel in December with him. I did get angry slot because I felt he wasn't there for me It was rough but GOD gave me do much strength because I sont know how I could have done it Left teenagers at home sometimes by theselves (scary). I am doing great but my husband passed away in oct 2013. It is a very difficult time and I know you can get through it. I read a lot of devotional. I am sending you prayers. Sorry you have to go through this

      over 4 years ago

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