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Thread: I moved to LA 8 months ago!... And my mom was just re-diagnosed with Cancer

  1. #1
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    Jan 2018

    I moved to LA 8 months ago!... And my mom was just re-diagnosed with Cancer

    Hi. My mom had breast cancer 14 years ago and 3 months ago she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in her bones (pelvis, upper & lower spine, ribs).

    8 months ago I moved from the East Coast to the West Coast for my dream job in the music industry. Everything has been going so well until my mom's diagnosis. I love everything about California; the dry air, the trees, the people, and most importantly: my job and passion.

    Let me give you some quick backstory: My mom raised me as a single parent and we primarily only have each other. 5 years ago my mother moved in with my grandmother after my grandfather's death to help take care of her. Clearly, the roles have now reversed and my 81 year old grandmother is now taking care of my 57 year old mother. My mom's sister (single, no children) is also 15-minutes away from us and stops by frequently to help out and visit.

    When I got the news that my mom was sick I immediately came home for a long weekend. Afterwards, I asked my boss if I could work from home the week before Thanksgiving and she agreed. I was able to spend 2 weeks at home for the holiday.

    A week before Christmas, I travelled to New York for a couple of meetings. After being there for a few days I was told by my Grandmother (my mom's primary caregiver) that she wasn't doing too well. In her opinion, it seemed as though my mom was primarily depressed and experiencing side effects of her recent (and aggressive) radiation treatments. Her eating had slowed (basically, a piece of toast a day), she wasn't getting out of bed, she was crying when not sleeping, and experiencing "dark thoughts."

    At this point I knew that I had to come home to see what was going on. I explained the situation to my boss and she suggested I work from home the week before Christmas vacation. The situation I stumbled upon at home was horrendous. My mom was bed ridden, weak, not eating, and not sleeping.

    To top it all off, she was (and still is) refusing her pain medications (my mom works in the medical marijuana industry and despises pain meds), and taking herself on and off other medications. She was self medicating. Her mental state was far from stable. She kept telling me that she was entering a "dark place." As the days wore on, she eventually started hallucinating. She told me that she was seeing ISIS fighters in her mind, she saw "sticks" in the corner of her room, and asked me if I also saw the erasers and ruler on the ceiling. At this point, I knew it was time that we admit her to the hospital.

    Once we admitted her to the hospital, her oncologist immediately ordered a brain MRI. The MRI failed miserably because with her cervical spine cancer, laying flat is hard for her. Eventually, a brain CT scan was performed and everything came back clear. The doctor has basically blamed her psychosis on general depression and medication adjustments.

    After a few days in the hospital she began to slowly regain strength, and she was put on a course of medications that has helped balance her mental state. She is back home now, eating more, and slowly regaining her strength (I think?). In my opinion, she is still showing signs of depression and I hope that she can start to do things to keep her out of it, like: Watch TV (she sits in her dark room all day and refuses to watch TV or movies), respond to her friend's texts, let her friends come to visit, write in her journal, read the paper, accept calls from me when I'm not home (she refuses to talk on the phone).

    I am facing three major internal challenges that I need some advice on:

    The first: I am frustrated with my mom self medicating at times and not making efforts to avoid a deep and scary depression (and eventual psychosis).

    I am not saying that my mom should no be depressed. A cancer diagnosis is terrifying and life altering... My mom, though, has been experiencing things beyond a "normal depression." It basically entered a psychosis; she was hallucinating, not able to rationalize her thoughts, and was not able to get a blink of sleep. A part of me feels like my mom has already written herself off. She tells me that she is trying as hard as she can, but a part of me wishes she would push harder. I feel SO WRONG even saying this but a part of me feels a little bit manipulated by her; her manipulation was common in my childhood. I don't think that it is intentional, though... I think it's just all part her coping process.

    The second: I am leaving to go back to Los Angeles tomorrow. She wants me to leave. I want to leave. I still feel guilty. Should I feel guilty?

    Half of me feels like I am betraying her for leaving. The other half of me feels like I am honoring her by going back. She has given me every opportunity that I have today. She was always supported and encouraged my dreams. She never made me feel like I couldn't do something... This is why I love my mom so much. She's a dreamer and made me a dreamer and a doer. The things I am experiencing now in my career are once in a lifetime and she doesn't want me to give them up.

    The third: Has the doctor done enough testing?

    The hospitalist told me in the hallway that the scan could come back negative but that he may want to do a spinal tap to determine if the cancer could be spreading to the lining of her brain. Before the CT Scan, her out patient oncologist took back the reigns of the case. He only ordered the CT scan and did not ask for a spinal tap. Is the oncologist not being thorough with his tests? Should I call him and talk to him about the hospitalists concerns with her brain lining?

    So, I'm basically ranting about all of this to help myself cope. It feels so good to just type out all of these thoughts. There is so much back story that I am leaving out, so if any of you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask... I'm an open book. Basically, I am lost with what I am supposed to do. I feel like I am equally split between two worlds and two decisions (to stay or go).
    Last edited by PurpleRose; 01-07-2018 at 05:26 AM.


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