My mother was diagnosed with Colon cancer last year and the doctors just told us it’s terminal and she has 6 months to live. I’m 35 years old. I’m a wife. I’m a mother to a 9 year old boy and I’m really terrified. I don’t know how I am supposed to handle all of this. What do I do? How bad is this going to get? Do I keep her home or do I put her into Hospice? Help me please…
My mother passed away from Breast Cancer when I was 27 years old. I was her Caregiver and her nurse for 5 years. I wasn’t a mother, and I wasn’t a wife. It was by far the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with and the most emotionally exhaustive roller coaster I have ever been on. I can not even begin to imagine the amount of stress you are facing right now also having to take care of your own family. I am so sorry for what you are going through.
The truth is, life is about to get much much harder. It is going to be bad, because death is always bad. It’s going to be stressful and sad and you’re going to have more than one day when you want to walk out on everybody. But what is even more true, is that you are more capable than you think you are in this moment.
You are not alone in this, though you may feel like you are. What you are is a wife and a mother who probably does everything on your own without asking anyone to pitch in. So is the plight of today’s woman… Begin to ask for help. It is okay to no longer pretend to be Superwoman.
Tell your husband that now is the time for him to be your greatest partner. Make him in charge of making dinner and cleaning the house. Have him get your son to help him. He’s 9, not 4. He can do more than he pretends to know how to do.
Let go of needing things done the “right way”. If your kid eats pizza every day for the next 6 months, he will be okay. Who cares if the laundry isn’t done on Sunday morning like when you would do it. When your husband runs out of underwear he’ll do a load. Let it go…
Let your friends know what is happening. Create a sign up sheet for them to take on things you can no longer handle on your own. Ex: picking up your child from school and taking him to an activity, grocery shopping, taking your dog to the vet. etc…Explain to them how important they are in this. How hard this is for you and how much you need them. People will do more when they feel needed.
After all of this, once you realize that the mundane tasks are being handled for you, bring your mother home to live with you.
It will be heart wrenching. It will mean that you never get a chance to turn Cancer off. It will mean that every day the roles will reverse and your mother will become your child. But it will also be more beautiful than you can imagine if you choose to make it so…
Sit with her. Play her favorite music. Order any food she wants at any time of the day. Watch funny movies together. Kiss her. Ask questions. Take pictures of her. Lay in bed with her and cry… Do what so many people never get to do. Take the next 6 months to lovingly say farewell to the woman who gave you life. Let her pass with dignity, in your home, surrounded by family and love.
It will not be easy… but take it from me. You will look back on those 6 months as the time that proved to you what the bond between a mother and daughter is all about. It will show you how wonderfully strong and human you are. It will forever become the time that validated the incredible job that your mother did raising you. It will force you to become a better mother, a better wife and a better human being overall.
Bring her home and hug her every day that you can….
You can and WILL make it through this. Have faith in your strength and the power of a daughter’s love for her mother….
P.S.If you ever need further support, I have a blog for Caregivers of Cancer patients— http://www.sundariblissforcaregivers.com