Estranged Mother has Cancer

angiebyteJuly 18, 2011

I have had an on and off relationship with my mother since I was 12. I won't go into extensive details about the history, the short version is she had a problem with alchololism, and other personal problems, I was placed in foster care. I know I wasn't / haven't been a perfect child, and I do have fond memories of my mother. I am not here to blame her.

We have a delicate reconsiliation, we are not really involved in each others lives- an occasional text, phone call, birthday card are all we manage. Well, I send her mothers day gifts, and birthday presents / cards. She hasn't sent me a birthday or X mas card in years- and I got a text from her on my last birthday.

When we speak she doesn't ask me about myself or my family, we just discuss her issues and health problems. She doesn't know or ask about any part of my life, doesn't want to see picture of my house we bought, ask about my job, my husband, (who was recently laid off) or anything about me really.

Two years ago she started seeking treatment for a lump in her throat, and no one could ever find anything wrong. In the past year, she got worse, lost weight, and has been taking strong pain killers.

Yesterday, she saw a ENT who found a tumor on her throat. It is cancer. She is scheduled for a biopsy tomorrow and surgery early next week.

She was alone when he gave her the news and she was too shocked to ask too many questions. All I have is the above info. I have looked at the type of cancer she has, and caught in early stages, (not metastasised) prognosis is good.

But she's been having issues for two years now and Iw onder if it has spread. The survival rate for this type of cancer is 50/50 after 5 years.

She lives alone, and is scared. Her sister is coming to stay with her, so that helps.

I know she wants me there for the surgery, and I would like to be there....but I don't have the money and I am not certain about putting that on my credit card.

I am conflicted, I want to be there for my mother, to ease her fears, however I am still not certain that going into debt for it is within my responsibilities as her child. (Im 34)

Even though I have forgiven and tried to forget the past- I keep thinking of the time we reconciled....It was thought I had terminal cancer ( I didnt) and I decided to reconcile the relationship. My mother was willing, but we had to pay for everything, and we took on debt to get her here.

I don't want to sound petty, and please don't attack me. To be perfectly honest, I have a niggling doubt that she would be there for me were the tables tunred.

Should I go see her, and run myself into debt? Does it matter if she would do the same for me?

Should I wait and see if it's more serious?

Is a daughter bound to take care of her parent, no matter what? What if the parent didn't take care of the child? What if the relationship is such that you don't think of her in terms of a mother, other than biology?

Thanks for letting me put down these thoughts.


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My opinion is that only you know what is right for you. If your biological mom's cancer is terminal and you don't go, can you look yourself in the mirror for the rest of your life?

If I was the one in your situation, I would not go into debt to see her. If it was within my budget, I'd go, but I wouldn't go into debt. I would send supportive cards and notes, remind her that I'm thinking of her. And I'd be fine with looking myself in the mirror. Personally, if my relationship with my parent was such that I only considered that person a parent in terms of biology, I would be okay with providing long distance encouragement only. I don't consider a daughter bound to take care of her mother no matter what. I'm sure, like you, I'd have a lot of soul searching to do. I have only seen my father maybe 3 times in the last 20 years, so I do understand a part of your dilemma.

If your biological mom's prognosis is grim, she will have a lot of times when she'll need support later. Waiting to see if it's more serious may be your best option if your budget is tight.

I'm so sorry for the situation. I know it must be tough for you. Whatever you decide will be what's right for you.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 4:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

People die all the time. Don't ruin your life over it. In this particular case, I would advise not allowing your emotional wishes/hopes/etc. to make you broke while pretending it was "worth it"....and blah, blah, blah.

In my life I've had several people who brought negative influences into my life as long as I knew them. When they died, a few people asked me why I wasn't there at the funeral. (They, themselves, had spent thousands in order to be able to attend.) I said, "Know what? He was a prick when he was living. We all said so. Now he's a dead prick. What's the difference?" The difference was my finances not being compromised in order to "celebrate" the life of someone I detested.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 10:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My mother went in for her biopsy and the tumor is too large to be operable. They are going to give her chemo 5 days a week for 4 weeks, and radiation. She has testing tomorrow for staging and to see if it has spread.

She had a feeding port insterted in her side, and shes gone from 165 to 119 lbs, (shes 5'9") so I am not sure how she will react to chemo.

I have been crying and I don't know why. I started painting the inside of my house and I just try to concentrate on that. I cleaned up for the night and sent my husband to bed and now I am alone and confused.

If I go see her, I will be mad at the money I spent. If I don't, I will feel guilty.

I am so confused. And just waiting for more information.

Looking ahead, my husband thinks as her next of kin, I might be liable for her final expenses. This too scares me. I do not detest her- but I don't really know how I feel about her. Sort of mad, still I guess. And Hurt that she never thought very much of me. I landed on my feet and am doing well despite the past but rejection from your mother sometimes still hurts when you think about it.

Past issues should not be affecting my decision. I should focus on the now and the relationship we have had for the last few years. I feel she has not alot of concern for me, so why should I care about her? But I just can't make myself think that way for very long. I suppose the right thing to do is go down there. But I don't want to.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 12:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"my husband thinks as her next of kin, I might be liable for her final expenses. " I think this is something to consider. Decide now what your will do if there are expenses so it doesn't come as a big shock later. Are you her next of kin ?

From what you have described your mother seems like a person who is not capable of empathy. She sounds very self absorbed. Accept that and don't expect her to be any different.

It really is awful having regrets, as you seem to regarding your mother's behaviour. It has been a hard road for you, but you have made the best of it, and sound like a nice compassionate person.

If you just cannot afford to go and see her, then that is the way it is. Cards, phonecalls maybe all you can manage. That is okay.

My DH father died many years ago, in another country. My Dh never got to see him during his illness and death, because we just did not have the money to pay for an international airfair. No regrets, we can only do what we can manage.

If you had the money would you go and see her ?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 2:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

" husband thinks as her next of kin, I might be liable for her final expenses."

Your husband is mistaken. You will have no liability at all. Put it out of your mind.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 9:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Why would you feel guilty? She made no effort to have contact with you.. Why is it when and only when one gets sick they want to change things? For me it would be to late.. I have a brother that for some reason doesn't speak to me. We were always close when he just stopped talking to me. As far as I'm concerned he is out of my life. I don't want my family calling him when I die or don't care to be called when he passes. I know this sounds harsh to some but that is the way it is. I have wonderful children and a fabulous husband. All my husbands family are so good to me. I don't sit around wondering why he stopped talking to me. It is a waste of my time. Life does go on.

Do what you feel is best for you.. I would not put myself in a financial bind in any way. Your feelings are yours and yours alone. What ever you do, do not let others make you feel quilty in any way.. I wish you the best..

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 10:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The results of her scan are that the cancer is in both sides of her throat, and closest nodes- but has not spread any place else. It is inoperable, and they are going to zap her with radiation and chemo for 7 weeks then recheck. She is to get a feeding tube and will be allowed only ice ships during this time.

I have decided that I cannot go. I have so much debt I am trying to clear and I just cannot go. I found an online support group for her to join, and I put some minutes on her cell phone so she can talk to friends. I will give her whatever help and support I can, from here, for now. I asked if she needed me to come and she said to stay here for now.

She is trying to get her internet connected. At which point she will probably see this post. Stupid me.

Thank you for all your time in commenting on my post. I will post again if any more news is found.


    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 11:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Popi-"From what you have described your mother seems like a person who is not capable of empathy. She sounds very self absorbed. Accept that and don't expect her to be any different.

It really is awful having regrets, as you seem to regarding your mother's behaviour. It has been a hard road for you, but you have made the best of it, and sound like a nice compassionate person."

I agree. You have much compassion for one who hasn't been there for you.

People make choices. Your mother chose to focus on herself more than her children. Now the chickens have come home to roost.

You said her sister (your aunt) is coming to stay with her, so at least your mother isn't alone.

I see nothing wrong with staying in touch, but I would not go into debt in order to visit a person who shown such little interest in your life.

You have tried to be a good daughter. THAT is enough.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 9:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree with everyone here. It's difficult having parent's who behave that way. I think your tie is more how you would have liked things to be rather than how they really are. It is wishful thinking on your part.

Your mother made choices. It doesn't sound like she has regrets, and she is not alone. I wonder if she had any type of mental illness. More than likely it sounds like she has a character disorder and as previously stated, demonstrates little empathy towards others.

I will add that I found a helpful website--it's a blog written about estrangements, which has a lot of good articles. I've found it very helpful and supportive, so I will include the link here.

Here is a link that might be useful: E-stranged

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 12:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hello, it is me again.

I went to see her, and it went so-so. When I got there, she was recovering from her 1st round of chemo but after 2 days had to take her to the hospital as she got very ill. I honestly thought she might die and after speaking to her Dr privately he had the same feelings.

My aunt was there taking care of her and at first I felt sorry for her. She has parkinsons and had travelled away from her own family to be there for my mother. My mother was not very kind to her at times.

I stayed with my aunt at my moms house- and while my aunt and I were spedning alot of time alone together, due to mom being hospitalized she turned into a very ugly person. I explained alot about ym childhood and why I wasn't in contact with my mother. She began by telling me she was aware of the abuse- then she went onto bad mouthing my mother, calling her self centered, a liar, that basically she got what she deserved, and on and on. She was cussing and yelling.

Later on she confessed to me that she had previously been addicted to morphine. And that her husband had done time for manufacturing meth. Now, I have had no dealings withthis woman until this and I felt very out of my element, as I have not been exposed to this type of person.

She was acting paranoid and would not give me any privacy. A closed door to make a call to my husband would be met with questioning. I was able to speak to my mothers Dr and she grilled me over that. I could do on but you get the idea.

On the last night I was there to stay I ended up having to leave in the middle of the night as I was afraid she might actually hurt me.

Despite my aint's best efforts, I was able to get my mother alone for a bit and said goodbye to her. I told her I wish I had known her better but that she didn't make things easy. My aunt came in and interrupted that scene.

I am not sure if going was the right thing to do. I got to say goodbye to my mother- but she never said sorry for anything, expressed any regrets at the estrangement, nothing.

On top of that my aunt now hates me and does not call me or return my calls with updates of my mothers condition.

I know she had a 2nd round of chemo and that she got sick again and is thinking of giving up. The situation goes on. It is killing me and I don't know what else to do. Nothing I suppose.

While I was there I helped get a few things sorted out- bought a wireless wouter so she could look at her PC from her bed. I gave her a laptop. Not met with much appreciation. I signed her up for a support group but I don't think she ever looked at the site.

I sent her a long and thoughtful email, offering her to come and die at my home in OK, detailed and offering to take care of everything for her. I was sitting there when she read it and she deleted it w/o a word. Now, I opned my heart and home to this womand and she can't even look at me and acknolwledge that? My husband thinks she should NOT come here at this point, and I have to agree, given how the visit went.

I had no expectations she had changed, I have no idea why I threw myself 'out there' emotionally. I guess I felt it was the right thing to do. I do have concerns about my aunt and my moms aresenal or morphine, fentantyl and oxycontin but I have done all I can do.
Thanks for letting me update. I will write more when there is more.

Seeing an ill stranged parent sure is a mixed bag.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 3:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You did your best.You went to see her and things have not changed on her end at all. Sounds like she is in end stage .And I am sorry for that. Don't put yourself out again. She can have Hospice care and they will take care of her.. Know you did all you could and she really didn't care. She has problems. Love your family and make your own life ..Which sounds like you have..

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 10:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Im a massive beleiver of what goes around ,comes around,dont know if you have heard that saying,but your mother deserves everyhing thats been thrown at her.vile being.well done for turning out so well.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 4:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

wow, angie, what a story. I am sorry for your pain. I am sure this just opened up sore wounds for you all over again. YOu must take care of yourself. Always be kind which you have been. Maybe staying away is better for you. Your mother sounds mentally ill as well, she is not all there and you can't think of this situation as normal. She needed help along time ago to heal herself but she never chose to do that. You can feel badly for her but not for yourself. She will most likely die without ever repenting of her actions and decisions. YOU know better therefore YOU be the adult. This will be a painful time for you but I think if you stay emotionally out of the picture it will be better for you. I never thought I would ever think this but maybe it is better for you that she pass on. You will see her whole one day with Christs return, cured and accepting of you and herself. You can only wish for that day. This will be with you for the rest of your life, you did the right thing going to her. Once a person locks onto drugs, and doesn't want to change, that is the priority in that persons life. Esp meth addiction. Stay in touch with the aunt, or better yet, the doctor. He will call you if you request it. Best of luck to you, find the good in this for yourself and make it better. Other than your husband, can you talk to anyone else?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 4:24AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
parents of estranged adult children
I too have been where all of you are. I am so happy...
My 21 year old daughter
My daughter has her first boyfriend at 21. Now she...
Need iOS app for my kids.
I bought an iPad for my kids. Please guys suggest me...
To parents of other heavy gamers...
Please do not attempt to moderate or restrict your...
Nearly 10wks pregnant & have questions
This is my first pregnancy at 24. I don't have many...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™