25 years old caring for Mom with a brain tumor.

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Struggling dealing with my emotions and my life apart from my family.


Hey everybody I just joined this forum tonight after having a major breakdown of anger today. I'm not a very angry person so I figured I better seek out some good old fashioned therapy.

Let me start off by saying I feel like the world has been lifted off my shoulder a bit, knowing that there is a forum for the type of situation I am in. I had no idea there were people out there who are experiencing the same type of emotions in similar situations as I am. It makes me feel way less alone. So hats off to all of you.

Here is my story. My mom got diagnosed with a glioblastoma stage 4 (brain cancer) last October. All of my family members live at home. I have a father and two other sisters, one is 24 and the other is 30. Sometime in September my mom had a fall in our living room and she said that she landed on her face. A few days later she started to complain of facial twitching when she started to work out. When I say facial twitching I mean that her cheek was twitching all the way to her eye. I told her to go to the doctor and that I would gladly be there for support but she, being my mother snapped at me because she hates the thought of doctors. The twitching started to lessen.

Now fast fastforward around Halloween, my mom and I had been texting about school and I wanted to come home early so I could tell her about my day. When she came home I noticed that she didn't follow her normal routine which consists of unloading groceries, going to the bathroom in the game room etc. I'm not lying when I say this but I just felt like something wasn't right. So I went down to the garage to check on her and I found her in the game room laying on the floor. She had suffered from some kind of seizure.

She is taking to the hospital where she is giving an MRI. The doctors at first glance are not sure what the mass is in her brain so they told us that she would have to be released and readmitted to another hospital where they specialize in this sort of thing. Within the weeks of waiting for approval from the insurance companies, so they she could be admitted to another hospital, her right arm became completely immobile. I also noticed that her right leg started to sound funny when she walked. I asked her about it and she snapped at me as did my dad and told me that I was basically seeing things. I went to another doctor with her (her primer care doctor) and asked the doctor about her leg and he looked at me like I was crazy. Well within a few days her right leg became completely immobile. I have not forgiven my family for not listening to me when I noticed it.

She is now completely wheelchair bound however she has had physical therapy and occupational therapy and she can walk (on her stronger days) with a hemi walker. So when she finally got admitted to the right hospital they diagnosed her with brain cancer (Stage 4). My dad and I knew it would be al life changer but I'm not sure about my sisters. After she was released from that hospital we were told she had to be released so that she could receive radiation. The radiation was suppose to happen for 30 consecutive days which was 50 miles from our house.

Within those 30 days, I'm not kidding when I say this I had to dress my mom by myself, take her to the bathroom by myself, etc. My sister Lexi did drive to every appointment with me however my older sister probably went 10 times in total. Her excuse then and her excuse now is that "she's too busy with work." Let me just put it this way, my birthday is in November and I had to clean the dishes for everyone at the table because nobody (not even my dad) offered to help.

After a month straight of that I started to get a little feisty and I began to ask my sisters simple tasks like cleaning off your plate and putting in the dishwasher because it's not my job to have do everyones dishes. It's not right and it's not fair. Nobody changed any of the behavior until recently (my younger sister has been helping a lot). Let me also mention, that my room is the go to bathroom because my parents bathroom is not big enough to fit her wheelchair. So this means 7 days out of the week I was getting woken up in the middle of the night. When she was on heavy steroids she was going up to 4 times during the night. I was exhausted.

Fast foward to now, I'm in college full time (I was when this all started as well) and 2 days out of every week I have to leave for the entire day from 7:30 to 4:30. I come home on both days to help out for the night and then I leave to sleep over at my boyfriends house so I can get a full nights rest. These are the only nights I'm gone and the other 5 days I'm at home taking full care of my mom (with my little sisters help).

My older sister is 30 and still living at home. She is a "photographer" and usually does one shoot a month. This month she has been busy with many shoots. However the months previous, I am not kidding when I say this, SHE STAYS IN HER ROOM ALL DAY LONG AND DOES NOT COME OUT TO HELP WITH ANYTHING. She wakes up at 12 pm and stays up all night long and claims that its because she's working so much. She says that she has so much work to do that she just can't keep up with it. Let me ask you guys, how is that possible if you are doing one shoot a month?

My older sister has always been this way and it's annoyed me but it has never bothered me to the point where I really want to cut ties in the future. Her laziness and selfishness is effecting my life. I have talked to my dad about it and he just makes excuses for her. The other night he said "well when you're not here if anything bad were to happen I could count on her." I AM GONE 2 NIGHTS A WEEK. I WAS LIVID. As I type this I am not on good terms with my father. I don't think he understands the message he is sending me and or the future repercussions.

My mother, bless her heart, is on and off again with sam and I don't want to bother her about it. But my younger sister also makes excuses for her. If her excuse for my older sister is that she is working too much........and my older sisters excuse for herself is she is working too much and my dads excuse is also that she is working too much, don't ya think she should work less? Although I know for a fact she isn't "working" she sits in her room and watches Netflix.

How can working too much (when you live at home and don't really have any bills to pay) be more important than taking care of your flesh and blood? What does my older sister think about how mom gets downstairs, cleaned, receives lunch etc? I mean who does she think does all that?

My dad never says thank you and treats me like an employee. He works every day and when I try talking to him about my older sister its just excuse after excuse. I finally asked him the other night "what about my career?" "what about my future?" He didn't say anything. How come my older sister gets a free pass when my dad pushes me as the caregiver?

I am so frustrated and upset. I'm really considering cutting ties with my older sister when I move out. If she can do this to my mom, what does that say about her?
What makes this situation so bad is that she is literally living in the same house as my mother and doesn't lift a finger. How come my other family members don't acknowledge what is going on. I'm going to tell my dad that I have no intention of talking to my older sibling and he will be partially responsible for that. He's the man of the house and should say something to her. I mean this is absolutely ridiculous.
San, that is alot for you to take on and very interesting that the entire family is still living at home. I am sure it is very difficult under the best of circumstances. You are right, you need to concentrate on college and building your future. In order to do that it may mean moving out, maybe offer to spend the night there two nights a week the rest of the week is yours. Stay involved with your Mom, she needs the help. Tell your family what you are willing to do and mean it. Sounds like a family meeting is past due. Maybe your Mom should be in a care situation where she has a higher level of care than can be provided at home.
I hope others will soon post their thoughts
Just because we are raised with our siblings doesn't make us all best friends or even instill in us the same values and personalities. Are you the oldest? I ask because you seem to have taken it upon yourself to "parent" your sister. Let it go. She is different from you and will not change, and your nagging will only drive you apart and create disharmony within the family. Perhaps she is retreating into her room because she can't cope with the reality of your mom's diagnosis. That doesn't make her bad, just weak. Your can't force her to be strong, and you can't force your father to change his attitude toward her. If he finds some value to having her there it is not your place to challenge that.
I am so sorry about your mom's diagnosis. You all need to be strong for her and pull together. Fake it if you have to. My brother died of glioblastoma at 43 years old. He had a little over a year after his diagnosis. Time may be short for your mom, try to focus on her needs and let the rest go.
@gladmimhere Thank you for your kind thoughts. I really appreciate it. I would love to move out. I'm the only one of the three of us, prior to mom getting sick, was determined to move out. I still need to work on my financial situation in order to do so. Instead of going to college right out of high school, I decided to continue to work instead of just majoring in something just to major in it. I wanted to start a degree that would better my future. So I waited until I knew what I wanted to do.
I went back in my early 20's and its been a long journey. I have one year left and I can't wait to graduate. I want my independence and my own life. I have an amazing and loving boyfriend who's family has already adopted me as their daughter in law. This is another reason why I have hostility towards my older sister, she is preventing me from living my life and bettering my future so that she can better hers. It's very frustrating, especially because she seems to lack the motivation to want to move out. Both my siblings could be described as serious home bodies. They never want to leave the house and my younger sister has anxiety if she is more than 2 hours away from home. Me, on the other hand.... I'm a free spirit and I want to travel, live my life, experience new cultures, etc. So whenever I'm home and I don't want to be I feel like a caged animal or a helpless child.

Your comment about a long overdue family meeting.... I have been thinking that for years even prior to my mom getting sick. However, all of my family live in a dream world. Ignorance is bliss I guess. They would rather ignore the issue than attack it. My mom not wanting to go the doctor when symptoms first started is a testament to that.

Thank you very much for all your kind words. You have no idea how good it feels to talk to another person about all this that can relate.
Sand, these are such terribly difficult circumstances and your situation is similar to many. The big difference for you is you are fortunate to still be young, in college and planning your future. Good for you! I too, was a late bloomer, just did not want to go to college to major in something. My first something was fashion merchandising, mostly chosen because I knew my Mom would approve. Where did I work through this? Pants America! All they sold was jeans, cords, and tops. What do I wear now? Jeans, t-shirts and just a generally comfortable wardrobe. Then switched to another school for electrical engineering, wanted the bit bucks. All of that money was spent for naught. Finally in my early 30's with three kids I decided to return to school, and finished my degree at the age of 36. So, I know what you are talking about.

You are fortunate to be in your last year. Register for internships for your remaining semesters. I doesn't pay well, if at all, but will give you valuable experience. I finished my master's at the age of 57,hoping to make myself more marketable, completion just nine months after coming to care for my mom. Now, placement for Mom is close, and I am in a panic about finding work. I have a home of my own that I have not lived in for 3.5 years, now cannot even return to it as I had a fire there nine months ago. Reconstruction is just beginning. Will I be able to continue the payments? I hope so. Have started applying for positions and get interviews on occasion. Have one coming up that I heard about yesterday, so here's hoping.

Moral of my story? Do not do as I did. Take care of you and do what you need to do to build your future!
@cwillie Thank you for your response. Up until this point in my life, I would ride or die for my sisters. However, since all this began my attitudes towards them have completely changed and you're absolutely right, just because they're blood doesn't mean I have to like them.

Your comment about my older sister retreating into her room as a way of coping with the situation, I wish that were true. I really do. But, my older sister has been like this ever since she graduated college. She has always stayed in her room, been a stranger to everyone, basically she comes and goes as she pleases and my family accepted this as the "norm." They say, "Oh that's your older sister." The issue is, I have always been bothered by her behavior, my boyfriend and I are convinced that drugs are involved but that's besides the point, now her behavior is effecting my life so I have absolute hostility towards her now. I'm not just bothered, my quality of life has drastically changed. I never leave the house, except to go to school and sleep over at my boyfriends house after I have put mom to bed. The rest of the days of the week I'm a full time caregiver, housekeeper, daughter and student. I'm not kidding when I say this, my older sister literally does not come out of her room unless she has to go to the bathroom or to make food in the middle of the night. This has been her routine ever since she graduated college, she is now 30 years old. In short, she's not coping she's being lazy and always has been. She went to USC and couldn't even hack it together to graduate (because she was partying too much). My parents shelled out all that money for no degree and she has never ever acknowledged it. My parents paid for her apartment and even gave her a credit card that she maxed out every month on booze and whatever else. Me on the other hand, I'm going to a cal state because I didn't want my parents to pay that much (it's absolutely ridiculous) and I even applied for financial aid, so my parents are basically paying nothing for my education. I live at home and I have no credit card.

My point is, this has been her behavior forever. She is a deadbeat sister and person. And you're right, she's never going to change so I definitely should stop nagging my father and the rest of my family. I have to accept her for whatever she is or lack there of. I will say one thing, my perception of her and my father is forever changed and I don't think I will keep the lines of communication open to her when I move out. There is no point. She does not better my life in any way. If she can treat my mom with such disrespect, what will she do to my father? I can guarantee if and when the day comes when my older sister is ill, I will not be there for her. She has shown me where her priorities are and they aren't' with her family. It's always been this way, it's just way more apparent given the circumstance.

This morning I realized no matter how much I contribute it will never been enough (even if its taking on full responsibility) and everything my older sister does (even if it's the bare min) will always been considered above and beyond. So there is no winning. I've decided to do what I think is necessary to be there for my mom and still maintain my sanity. The big issue is whenever someone wants to go do something, someone always has to be home, so that means if I want to go out and do something my younger sister bares all the responsibility even if my older sister is home in her room. So I refrain from ever doing anything but school because I feel bad that my younger sister has to bare all that burden. But on the other hand, she won't acknowledge my older sisters lack of help, so it's on her. I can't be the gap filler because other people are lazy.

My plan is do whatever I can to contribute when I'm here but also to go out and life my life (reasonably) without feeling guilty for being away from home. If everyone thinks my older sister is contributing enough, then it shouldn't be an issue when I'm gone.

Thank you for your thoughts, I really do appreciate it.
@gladimhere Wow, you have quite the story. Hats off to you for completing another degree with 3 kids. My mother did that as well and I know how much work that is. I know how much work it is without 3 kids, I can't even imagine with kids. You are one of the superhuman beings on the planet (just like my mother).

I am so sorry about your house. I can't imagine dealing with that on top of everything else you're going through. Stay strong and I truly do believe that the universe has a plan for all of us if you're open to it. Stay positive and things will come your way.
Sanderella, curious why you are putting your Mom to bed instead of your father? I would make a list of all the things you are doing for your Mom and see what items on that list that your Dad could do.

One suggestion, since your Mom can only use your bathroom in your bedroom, why not have your parents switch bedrooms with you? That would make it much easier for everyone involved.

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