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!