My mother has stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. The cancer has spread to her spine and she can no longer walk. For some reason, her doctor gave her 2 months average to live, but with radiation she's receiving that's not the case anymore. I'm 19 years old, and recently just dropped out of college to take care of my mom. I can only do so much. I have to constantly lift her up and down to go to the bathroom, go to bed, or just go from the kitchen to the living room. It's killing my back. She's also up every hour on the hour at night. She wakes me up every hour to go to the bathroom, have some coffee, and have a cigarette. I get no sleep whatsoever and I'm constantly on edge because I have to take care of everything in the house and take care of her too. She can't control her bowel movements, often going on herself at least once a day and having to clean her up constantly. Part of me resents her for me having to leave school, because I know I'm never going back now.

My second cousin comes and helps out every once in a while, but she's feeling the same way I am; tired. My grandma comes over often but she can't really do anything for her.

We've looked into getting people to help out at home but we don't know when medicaid is going to approve it.

She always tells me I'm a horrible caregiver. Exactly. I'm not a caregiver. I'm a teenager who just gave up her life, friends, boyfriend, and education to take care of her mom, and I feel like I'm going crazy. It's only been like 3 weeks and I'm already at the end of my rope.

If it keeps going on like this, my life span is going to be shorter than hers is.

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Never say never, and TALK with her doctors to see if she can get medication to help her sleep, and whether she needs anything for pain and depression which might be behind some of the irritability and negativism. Not sleeping is no good for either of you. RT may work and work well, but this is also a time to care about quality of life.

The bowel and bladder could be related to the fact she can't walk - either just because she can't get up to the commode, OR because you lose control of that if you have paralysis due to spinal cord involvement. There are ways to work with either situation that would be better than just having to wait for accidents to happen. You may need timed toileting, suppository bowel program, incontinence supplies, etc. and Hospice or a regular doctor or nurse should be able to help you sort that out. And if she does have spinal cord dysfunction, she may also be at risk of pressure sores and need special cushions, mattress overlay, and skin care.

Here's hoping you can get enough help so that this caregiving stage of your life will become at least a little more of a chance to make good memories, or at least feel good about what you did for Mom, instead of just a horrible ordeal that costs you everything you ever hoped and dreamed of in your life.

You are a caring, loving daughter. You are strong too. Yet this level of caregiving takes more than one person. Because the doctor gave your mother 2 months to live, you may be able to get her on hospice. I'm not sure how it would work with ongoing cancer treatment though. If you do, be sure that your mom knows this does not mean you have given up on her recovery; it's just one way to get additional help. Hospice can provide a nurse, doctor, social worker, home health aid, and volunteers. It supports you as a caregiver while caring for your mom.

Has your mom been involved in a church or specific club/organization? Reach out to them and her friends. Check with hospital where your mom gets treatment. There are groups and systems for organizing help that are listed in hospitals.

Is your father in the picture at all? If so, would he be willing to do something to help YOU?

Please reach out and return to caregivers on AC for ongoing support.

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