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My mother was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She would be undergoing chemo and rad then surgery. I lived in another state...foreclosed on my house, and left my dream job. Now I am living in the basement and running her errands and doing any chores she is too tired to do. I feel as though I sacrificed my entire life and person that I am to help her.

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Hi Monkey,
You put your own life on hold to help your Mom, yes. If you are putting this out to others for justification or approval, you will get many different opinions. Other people's opinions about your situation are usually based on their own experience, or perception of how they feel about caring for their own Mother or other person.
You could have a wonderful mother who was there for you and your family growing up, or you could have an abusive, selfish mother who no one else will bother with now because she alienated everyone except for you. Are you the classic caregiver daughter who was molded for the job, or who won it by default, or who is extremely devoted and appreciative to your Mother for all she has done for you, and this is the least you can do for a short time of your life?
Only YOU know the answer. Only God knows how long your Mother will survive. Pancreatic cancer is painful, and perhaps the prognosis for her life is not known.
Think about the commitment you are making. Some people do not have a choice, some do not think they have a choice, and others refuse to acknowledge a choice. Whatever you decide to do, your intentions to help your Mother in a time of great need is honorable. It brings security and comfort to your Mother. If you are going to do this job, then do it with foresight for your own future and start working on your plans for that; don't spend this crucial time with a grudge toward "what you have given up." It's a victim mentality, and one must be a "victor" to do this job. Your Mother will sense your resentment if you do not work this out in your mind, and that will not be healing or comforting to her. Good Luck processing your decision, and all the Best to your Mother as she undergoes her trials. God Bless You both.
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you made a difficult decision, gave up a job and your house to be there for your mom. but, in my opinion, you made the right decision. some day you'll get another job and be able to buy another house, but you have only one mom. I don't know you, but i'm proud of you.
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When I first started to read these posts I thought I was going to cough up a hairball, everyone seemed to have such a good time with a warm and fuzzy approch to giving up your life to take care of your mother (Who are they trying to convince, me or themselves?). One of them asks who was going to take care of you when you age, a lot of my earlier life was spent sorry that I did not have children, but since I have been back here in the Midwest looking after my mother I am for the first time glad I did not have the urge to procreate if it comes down to someone to care for me when I age. After living the life as outlined by the question (except I live in the attic, not the basement) I would rather go to the VA, or a shelter, or sleep under a bridge before I would inflict myself on a loved child! When I can no longer take care for myself, just shoot me and bury me behind the barn! On a more level note, I make sure that I magnify whatever eccentricities I have to keep myself established as an individual, not as just my mother's caregiver. There is another whole blog on this site called "I love my mother but I do not like her." Look it up, you will find you are very much not alone. Oh, one more thing - It does not matter whether my mother "gave up a good life" to have me - If she became pregnant with me, it was her choice, or chance, or 'thing', not mine, and nothing to be grateful for to the point in which she requires me, or you, give up your life for her. Having me was her choice! To love with an open hand is the most ultimate form of love. Even if you feel, and are, stuck, please do not lose your individuality, in the end it is all you have.
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michfla - I am not counting or depending on some "wonderful" caregiver to take care of me - I have seen what goes on in many nursing homes (do you think I am uninformed?) and I will tell you that the genuine caregivers are in the minority. Many can't get jobs anywhere else at best, at worst they can be sadistic or careless, many have been downright dishonest. If it were not for my keeping mom at home (by the way, she boasts to her friends, doctors, nurses, and social workers about how well I take care of her) I have not the slightest doubt that she would be dead by now. And yes, I am a grouchy old fart, irascable and argumentative - not only is it one of the ways I keep my individuality but it gets me attention when I take her to the doctor or hospital. I am a pain in the ass and proud to be. (It also keeps mom alert, by the way...LOL I have establised boundries and expect them to be respected).
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I had a choice too - I could abandon a young adult daughter and uproot a senior in high school and move to live near my mom, so I would be there when she was ready to accept help, which would probably have permanently taken me out of academic medicine and pretty well end a career I'd devoted 24 years to, and put a colleague left behind in a very bad situation as well. OR I could do what I did, which was provide long distance caregiving as best I could with her in an ALF and frequent travel and constant phone calls, until I was able to persuade her to move to live near me. I'll never know whether things would have been better if I had uprooted instead. I can sure see where you are having second thoughts if you made the right decision or not - after all, being relegated to the basement and doing errands isn't much of a life; with pancreatic CA, Mom is probably not having a lot of energy to "make memories" and have good times that would make it easier to know you had chosen well and it was all wortwhile. If it helps any, this way, you have the best chance possible of being there for her when she passes on. I missed that by about 12 hours with my dad, though there were people who cared about him around and we'd said all the important stuff well in advance. But Mom has indicated that will be important to her and I am glad she is here now for that reason. My aformentioned colleague had to make a similar decision she brought her sister here from out of state and did home hospice for her, rather than leaving me behind and moving away. . It comforts both of us to focus and the quality time and relationships we were able to have, and yet, I suspect we will have lingering regrets and what ifs in our head for a long time to come. Look - you made what you thought was the right decision - it may not be any use to keep looking back and regretting, though if you are like me, you can't really help it...maybe trying to focus on making it better (like moving yourself upstairs, maybe?) and on engineering any pleasant experiences you can share... For us, we still holding out a little hope we can get Mom out to the zoo to see the penguins here, share a couple more pizzas, and get someone to cook her an actual medium rare steak she can eat a few bites of.
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I cannot begin to thank you all for the kind words of encouragement. I have been very down lately. She went thru chemo and rad and yesterday they attempted the Whipple procedure but were unable to remove the tumor. So..now instead of focusing on MY silly self I am on a mission to get her a second opinion
And hopefully a surgeon that will take on her case. I miss my "life" but I think I'd regret missing her life and this time more. Again thank you all for helping me you all lifted my spirits!!
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You did the right thing. Now what can you do to make it less burdensome for you?

How old is Mom? Is she of sound mind? What is the prognosis -- is she likely to gradually return to her former level of strength and energy? Or is this the beginning of a downward progression? If you don't have Mom's authorization to talk to her medical providers, get that. Get as clear a picture of you can about what you are facing.

How much time are you willing to devote to this? It might help your outlook to set some limits. Let us say you are willing to live with her for a year. (Just an example. You decide.) What alternatives will have to be in place before you can feel good about leaving? If all she needs is errand and chore service, that should be fairly easy to arrange. If her abilities decline and she needs more and more care, what is available to provide that? Look at ways to keep her in her home, such as meals on wheels, a weekly nurse visit, a cleaning service, maybe hired caregivers, maybe adult day health services. Also look at placement options, Assisted Living and Nursing Homes.A few months before your committment is up, evaluate the situation again and put your alternative plans in motion.

Is it reasonable to expect to find a job in your field in the area where Mom lives? Would you consider relocating so that even after you move out of her house you can visit her often, and supervise her care?

Now, while you are with Mom, what can you do for yourself? It doesn't sound like she needs 24/7 care right now. Can you find a class to take nearby to add to your marketable skills for when you go back in job market? Can you join a local yoga class or take power walks through the nature preserve? You have other responsibilities now, but you can have a life (or you won't survive).

For the time you are living in Mom's house, is the basement a plesant environment? If it needs some fixing up, can Mom afford to have it done? Are there other living arrangements that you'd like better?

You only have one mother, and there is only one you. You need to take care of both unique individuals now. Do help Mom. Don't lose you in the process.

Keep us informed on how this is going for you.
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Dear Monkey,
I, too, moved in with my mother before she passed away of cancer. I did all the things you are doing, and it was difficult. I fely guilty if I felt frustration, became exhausted and felt all kinds of emotions.
I, found that talking about with a close friend helped ( it is completely normal to feel resentment about giving up your dream life); writing about it and listening to music, what ever you enjoy to relax.
It is a difficult process, esp., the chemo.....I found that palliative care and then hospice helped. It is different for everyone.
Your mom must be feeling a whirlwind of things.....you are her daughter and are doing wonderful things for her.
Good luck and my prayers go out to you.
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Hello and I am going to say something that is not so popular, I think it is admirable that you gave up your dream job but I am not sure it was the best decision. I am not sure it is good to give up our life for our parents. I think our own live's are important and it is different if we have kids, we choose to have the children and we do have to put them first until they are adults.

I am caring for my mother now and I can see all my energy is going to my mother. She has alzheimers and if she was in her right mind she wouldn't allow me to be looking after her, she would want me to have my own life back. So my day, my time, my energy is spent very much around her and it gets soaked up and she isn't even in the worst stages of alzheimer. I saw this bring my brother down and I took over when he left, my sister is abroad and so she although she gets upset about it she can get on with her own day quite easily.

I will soon move away because I think I have to for my own sanity and that to me is important. My mother is sweet most of the time and I do love her but I will work hard not to feel guilty and I will work to ensure she has support in place from professional carers etc.

I write this because I think it is important to make exit strategies for ourselves and not to have guilt about it and maybe this can help you. Good luck, Jayne x
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ssk - that was beatiful ! yes you only have one mom , amen to that ,,
pa always said theres reason for everything ...
go with the flow and be with ur mom .
xoxo
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