I need a break from my mother’s illness. Surprisingly what helps me is focusing on school. I have a lot of exams coming and I really need to do well on them, or at least pass them in order to finish my degree.
Here is my fight plan to get through the next two weeks.
- I’m taking my notebook with my exam notes everywhere, so I can go over my notes any time.
- I make sure I get 8 hours of sleep.
- I force myself to get out of my apartment before 9, because if I don’t I won’t make it outside before 2 pm, and then half the day is already wasted.
- Lists… whenever I need to get something done, I need to make lists, lists, lists.
- I will not be going out, drink or indulge in those pleasant evenings with my neighbors. I have the sweetest neighbors in the world, but any time we get together, the evenings never end.
- I try to avoid cramming, instead I try to portion the material, because if I need to learn this all at once, I can bury myself right away.
- Eating healthy, for me this means eating enough veggies and substituting my love for soda pops with green tea.
In the weirdest way, school work is becoming my safe haven. College is giving me a space that I can be myself in separate from my mother battling cancer. Others are already leaving university, but I don’t want to yet. It is the only place that feels right to me at this moment in my life.
The thing that is expected the most of one, when you have cancer in your family is to HELP. It is such a little word that entails so much. When my mother told me that she had cancer I wanted to do everything for her, I wanted to cook, shop, drive her everywhere, despite her being in good condition.
The situation we are in is, my mother is divorced, her father is dead, her mother is 79 and I am her only child. I do not live with her, I have my own little place and pay my own bills. My problem is her expectations of me versus what I can give her. I have bills for my car to pay, for my apartment and there are living costs I need to cover. Meanwhile I am a full time student. So, all in all I am working, studying and try to help my mother as much as possible.
So what is my problem with helping? When other people, nurses, friends of my mothers, or whoever thinks they can dictate how much I should or can be there for my mother. I spend every minute that is possible supporting her, running errands for her, taking her to a doctor. It riles me up when I have work coming up that pay my most existential bills and then there is a nurse that tells me to cancel a work appointment for one of hundreds of doctor’s appointments. Yes, every appointment is important! Yes, I am very sad for my mother that we don’t have a big family where everybody pitches in to support!
It might seem selfish, but I need to survive this cancer too. I can’t cancel work appointments and not be able to pay for my food or my car that also serves as a transportation for my mom. I cannot give up my entire life and devote 24 hours to the care of my sick mother, because sadly that is not a luxury I can afford. Only few people understand my dilemma. Most people argue that my mother is dying and I am ungrateful, I am not ungrateful. It hurts every time when people tell me I am not doing enough. Over the Christmas break I did too much, and a lot of people might say that you cannot help your sick mother too much, especially when she is dying, but it was too much. I did not eat properly anymore nor sleep. I devoted so much time and energy that I had a terrible case of the flu which turned out to make things worse, because if you have the flu you cannot under any circumstance be around cancer patients. To cancer patients this is very dangerous. That was the point when I realized. Giving care also means that I need to look after myself properly in order to be able to help my mother. This is something I neglected for the first two months, because of a lot of bad advice, but I am getting better at this, day by day!
I don’t even really know how to look back onto the year I have had. Two grandparents died and my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I am 24 years old as of yesterday. I don’t feel old enough to say good-bye to my mother. I am still in college, I have not figured my life out yet. There are so many things I want to do together with my mom. I need her to help me pick out a wedding dress one day. She deserves the chance to meet her grandchildren and be the doting grand mother she wished all her life to be. She deserves so much and stage IV cancer is not one of them. At this point I won’t even say which type it is, because honestly it is so wide spread and in so many places I don’t know which part is the worst. The last two and a half months have been very hard for me since I came to know what my mother had.
What was really hard for me, was that my mother did not even tell me because she wanted to tell me. She told me because she told one of her best friends, who herself survived breast cancer and urged her to share this news with me. For the past year my mother and I had the worst strained and estranged relationship imaginable, so much happened in that year and somehow the news of her having cancer brought us back together again. It all felt, and still feels like a whirlwind rollercoaster!
So much has happened and only now I am beginning to feel like I have my feet on the ground again. It is a unique and painful experience. I still do believe God has a plan, I do not quite know what it is, but I do still believe in God.
This Christmas break was very hard for me, my mother had an emergency surgery that she barely survived and I spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve without family, because I feared I might say something wrong. Nobody in the family knows what is going on per my mother’s wishes and I feel like I am lying to everybody that loves her by saying nothing.
The only thing that has helped me, was the realization that no matter what was going to happen, I knew I would be okay. I felt the opposite at first, I do not know why this feeling has changed, but ever since I feel like I need to trust in God a little bit that he will take care of me, I feel better. It helps.
I never imagined sharing all of this, but it is bottling all up inside of me. I really hope that sharing my story and journey will help me. Maybe somebody who is in a similar situation is reading this and might be able to give me some advice. I would really appreciate it.
Thank you for reading!