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Feeling Guilty and Overwhelmed!


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I am writing here because I know you will all understand or hope you will understand what I am going through right now.

My mom was diagnosed recently with Stage IV NSCLC. The first month was just horrible, as I am sure you can all imagine. I am fortunate enough to live close by, so I am able to see her every weekend.

Here's where I start feeling guilty and overwhelmed and please excuse my rambling! Overwhelmed b/c my mom does not know how bad the cancer is and doesn't want to know. I was in the doctor's office with her when he said he had a 50% chance of getting the cancer into remission, so 50% chance of not. My mom is a smart person, as is my dad, but they both act as if she is going to get better. They don't know what the stats say and I am sorry to bring this negativity to the board, but I am so afraid when things get tough, her and my dad will be so shocked at the situation and will not be able to handle it. Her attitude is positive and I do not see the point in discussing the stats with her b/c I don't think she would be as positive if she knew them. So I feel guilty that I am keeping something from them.

And guilty b/c right now, I am not upset. I read stories about people who are upset all the time and I am just not. We are still in the hopeful stage where she just finished her second round of chemo and will have a CT scan in the next week, to see if the chemo is working. So, right now, I am calm, and so is my mother. She is not nervous like everyone on this board when they go for the scans. That probably is not the fairest thing to say, she is nervous b/c when I said I want my aunt there, she said "why, are you afraid the chemo isn't working and we are going to get bad news?" I don't think this comment comes from 100% knowledge that the chemo is working, but from the perspective like, ok, I have my chemo like the doctor says and all will be ok.

One more thing on the guilty feelings, should I be crying all the time? Right now, I am happy I have my mother, for the most part she is ok, just some back pain, no mets to the brain or liver and I look at her and can't believe she is as sick as the doctors say she is. So, I have started to see some friends again and focus on the new apartment I bought and I am happy, at times and feel so bad about that.

Thanks for listening and any words of wisdom you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

God Bless!

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Your situation sounds very similar to mine so I thought that maybe I could help. My mother was diagnosed in in May stage IV. As you said the first month was pretty awful and we were all feeling pretty hopeless. We chose not to ask the Dr. about prognosis-with the thinking that each person is different and no one knows how they will respond to treatment. (Although I knew from researching on the internet that it wasn't too good). In my mom's case she has responded remarkably well and is doing great right now. When we had the first test results that indicated the treatment was working, she seemed surprised by everyone else's excitement because her feeling was "of course it would work". I don't think that this is a bad thing. My mother didn't really know how bad her situation was either, but I think it's important not to worry too much about the future and how people react then, but to have hope and faith that everything will work out. I feel happy too-and enjoy my mother's company because it is very precious to me now. It is important for you to continue with your life so that you do not feel overwhelmed. I'm sure that your mother wants you to be happy. I also live close enough to mine that I visit her almost every weekend. Sometimes when I stay home to be with friends-I feel guilty, but my mom wants me to have fun and not worry about her all of the time because that makes her feel guilty.

Anyway hope this helps!


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Your mom may know more than you give her credit for. She also knows she is not a statistic. She may be taking it one day at a time, as it comes.

If you have the cancer, and you give in to the fear, you want to hide from it all in a hole somewhere where every second is five hundred years long... and recognizing that you can't live that way, you grit your teeth, pull it together, and tough it out. I, for one, would not let the cancer win, even if it killed me.

I know I'd want my own kids to enjoy their lives, and not feel guilty that they didn't feel guilty enough. An illness like this kicks you in the teeth, and reminds you just what is important, and what is bs.

If you need counseling to keep yourself balanced through this, don't feel bad about reaching for the help. That's what it's there fore.

Anyway, prayers with you all..



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Just my two cents on Mom's condition and "ignorance" of statistics:

I agree with MaryAnn that your mother probably has a pretty good idea of what is going on and chooses to be optimistic. A very good move on her part! I'm glad she has the mind set of the glass being half full.

There can be more than one explanation for it - either she's really "okay" with it, or she's in denial.... If it's denial, reality will slam her so hard it'll knock the wind out of her (no pun intended).

Stastics are numbers, not people. Remember, if everything in life were true to statistics, you'd have to face up to the fact that half the people you know are below average... :wink:

Dump the guilt. I don't know how you feel guilty for keeping something from her when she is receiving the SAME news you are from her doctors. :?: How can YOU be the one keeping that from her? It's what SHE chooses to hear, same information just different perspectives. (You can keep up on the statistics listed for lung cancer, but there's no real need to stress the bad stuff to her - I find it easier to deal with when the numbers AREN'T swirling in my head!)

Overwhelmed? Yeah, that's a good description of receiving THE diagnosis. There's the car pool, the kids, the mortgage, the holidays are coming, what to cook for dinner and BAM!, heeerrrrreee's CANCER. It IS overwhelming, it's also "do-able". Take it in little bites, don't try to swallow the whole thing.

It's a disease, no guilt should be attached to it. She didn't do anything to "deserve" it, you didn't do anything to deserve "retribution" taken out on your mother. To put it bluntly, shi_ happens. (My Dad's take on OUR year as a family, but THAT'S an entirely different story.)

I am sorry your family is having to deal with this, it's not fair and it's not fun. Sounds like your mother has hope, the most important ingredient in the fight! Keep feeding the hope and best of everything on your journey.


aka Snowflake

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Trust me, your mother knows what is going on. You don't get to be her age and not know the facts and be able to face them. I am speaking from experience because I am the patient and I don't make a big deal out of my diagnosis because I don't want my family to be burdened. I just take each day as it comes and hope for the best.

Should you be crying? If you are not a crying type of person there is no shame in that. I have a daughter and if she crys she doesn't do it in front of me thank God. When you are the one who has the disease and has to live with it 24/7 you don't need to see your family in tears, it is hard enough without that. I would say that you are all doing well and just continue on the way you are and don't worry about how you should be acting. If and when something bad happens you will deal with it. I give your Mom a lot of credit for the way she is handling her illness, she is handling it with grace and trying to make the way lighter for all of you. Will be praying for you

Bess B

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I agree that your mom is more savvy than she is showing. She has decided to be positive with the time she has and for that I commend her. I encourage you to support her in that. We can't control the time we have, but we sure can control how we live it. I'm for keeping the time as positive as it can be, knowing it is a dire situation. That takes courage and a lot of love, and you can do that. Don

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Your story sounds a little like mine. My mother was diagnosed with nsclc Stage IV last month. It was a horrible time.

I have gone to all of her Dr. visits and she wants to do everything to fight it and get better. She seemed very positive and I also (knowing how serious the cancer was) wondered if she really knew just how bad or advanced it really was.

Finally, during one of her chemo treatments when she was feeling up I felt the need and responsibility to see if she was aware of how serious it was. I didn't want to scare her or bring her down but I didn't want her to wake up one day and say "Gee, I really didn't know how serious it was. Maybe I should have done things differently". Well, she reassured me that she was aware and wanted to continued to be positive. Do whatever to get better.

I felt so much better because I also have been positive about her future. I just wanted to be sure nothing slipped by her without her knowing.

As far as feeling guilty. I go through that also. But I'm a wife and mother of 3 young children who need me also. It's a constant juggle. I call my Mom everyday and see her almost everyday. Some days I want to cry at the drop of a hat and other days I laugh with my kids. I do what's in my heart and not what I think or someone else thinks I'm supposed to do.

Take care and be strong.


P.S. Forget the statistics. Somebody recommended a great book for me to read called Love, Medicine & Miracles by Bernie S. Siegel, MD. It sounds like your Mom may be one of those "exceptional patients" he speaks about. A definite read!!

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I don't think you should feel guilty at all. You are right to be happy to your Mom is alive. My Mom is extremly sick now and in the hospital. Dr told me her time is very short. When I am at the hospital I try to be upbeat for her but have a very hard time because I am so sad that she is in such distress. My sister is much more upbeat and can sit and talk about regular things and life and it does my Mom so much good. Who want doom and gloom? My Mom also does not want to know anymore bad news. I am okay with this because I don't want her to give up. She knows how bad she feels and I think she is begining to accept what is in the near future. I think we are all equiped to deal with things that we don't want to deal with. We may be shocked, scared, cry and fight it, but in the end we all deal with what we need to. Good luck to you and your family. Keep the faith, and stay has happy as you can with your Mom. Every minute is special.

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