Dont know what to do!

CathyMacCathyMac Canberra, ACTMember Posts: 65
edited January 7 in Health and wellbeing
I'm struggling at the moment. Our family were meant to be on the holiday of a lifetime in Europe at the moment celebrating our eldest son's graduation from High School. We were meant to fly out on the 28th November but I was diagnosed with BC on the 8th November. I had surgery on the 6th December single mastectomy. Physically I'm recovering slowly but surely. I ended up with 2 infections on the suture line which are finally starting to heal. We have had a torrid 2 years with our youngest son who has made some poor choices and has struggled with anxiety and depression. He has been seeing counsellors and I had put in place some great mentors and this trip was meant to be a great circuit breaker for him but instead we are stuck here while I'll deal with  BC. School holidays have just been a nightmare as all the supports around school have fallen away and he's struggling. This morning I wake up to a message and he's taken off during the night. At least he's checked in to let me know he's safe but I'm very stressed. I don't know where he is. I think he's probably struggling with the BC diagnosis on top of everything else now. He won't talk about his feelings with us and I'm so worried. We are a strong supportive family but he's hanging around with kids who's parents don't seem to have any boundaries for their kids. I don't know what to do or who to turn to. I just wish we were on that holiday instead of being here. 
Thanks for listening.


  • kezmusckezmusc Member Posts: 1,136
    Hi @CathyMac,

    As if things weren't worriesome enough.  Checking in with you is a good thing, means he is still thinking about you and knows you'll be worried.  I don't have any words of wisdom unfortunately.  We have 5 kids and the eldest gave us a very hard time for a while.  He's back on track now but it was hard going.  He just about ruined our relationship and our business.

    It is so very difficult when you just can't get through to them and they hang around toxic influences on top of that. 
      They just don't understand the heartbreak and worry when a parent feels helpless to change the situation for their child. 

     Hopefully he will come home soon once he's had a chance to think and clear his head a bit. 
    Is there any of the school support team you can contact during the holidays in an emergency? I feel for you lovely. xoxox

  • AnnskiAnnski Blue Mountains, NSWMember Posts: 99
    I am so sorry to hear this. Just getting the diagnosis and being terrified and having surgery and dealing with your own feelings is bad enough, but when it happens at this time of the year and you have had plans for a great family trip which have to be shelved ... there's nothing good in this picture. I am sure you are right, your younger son is frightened of what is happening and desperate to get away from his own feelings which obviously will be powerfully confronting whilever he is at home. But it is good that he has told you that he is all right. He is probably staying with a friend ... whose parents are away? (It is terrible how many parents feel fine about abandoning their teenagers so they can go on holidays). If he makes contact again all you can do is talk to him and tell him how much you love him and how much it would mean to you - you personally, not the whole family but you specifically - if he could come home again and be with you. Probably he feels pushed out and lonely, and that nobody understands or needs him. But there is really not a lot else you can do right now except try your best to destress, and that includes asking others in the family not to stress you over this as well. Sometimes in a situation like this it is good to write a journal expressing your feelings for yourself. Often there is no-one better to talk to. I am sure others will give you support and maybe have some other suggestions. Sending you wishes and hugs. A.
  • kmakmkmakm MelbourneMember Posts: 7,039
    Oh Cathy, it never rains but it bloody pours eh? I'm so sorry. Is he refusing to talk to anyone at all, or just his parents? There are organisations and helplines for kids affected by cancer. My kids didn't want to engage with any of them of course...

    Can you organise a quick Airbnb somewhere a few hours from home for a break of a few days? A mini-circuit breaker.

    It's great that he messaged you. I hope he comes home soon.

    Big hug, K xox
  • Shellshocked2018_Shellshocked2018_ Fleurieu Peninsula , SAMember Posts: 137
    Cathymac first if all sending the biggest hugs to you.
    Are you able to contact any of his mentors or his counsellors?
    Im not sure but there maybe a support group for siblings that have a family member with cancer you maybe able to tap into.

    Not sure how old your youngest son is but you maybe able to access Camp quality 
    Cancer support for affected offspring Can Teen Australia
    Maybe talking to other kids around his age going through the same difficult time may help, knowing that what he is feeling is normal.

    Im sure some other lovely ladies will be in touch shortly with their recommendations, this is all so new to me aswell at the moment.
    This BC just sucks it affects everyone, I’m feeling for you so much at the moment.

    Do you have a breast cancer nurse nurse you can reach out to? They are full of information and have resources in your particular area.
    I know you can have access to a Breast cancer retreat through the OTIS Foundation.
    Just a few days away with the family may help, I know it’s not your trip to Europe, maybe a few days away might help.

    I know it doesn’t stop you worrying, at least he has made contact.
    Just reaching out and giving you a massive hug ❤️
  • SoldierCrabSoldierCrab Bathurst NSW Member Posts: 3,183
  • SoldierCrabSoldierCrab Bathurst NSW Member Posts: 3,183
    this  one has each state in it ....

    I know my youngest struggled really hard with my diagnosis she has anxiety to begin with. 

  • Riki_BCNARiki_BCNA Administrator, Staff, Member, Moderator Posts: 206
    Hi @CathyMac sending you a pm
  • primekprimek Broken HillMember Posts: 4,911
    I guess just a discussion of a postponed holiday not a never holiday. Are his normal counsellors available? Other than that. ..yes Canteen and headspace are great. I had to take my sons to counselling during my diagnosis  (and my husband) keep checking in with him. My son actually talked more through text rather than face to face. He could say what he felt that way.

    Also ...perhaps a short getaway through the otis foundation might be an option.
  • SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 3,968
    @CathyMac I know what you mean about parents who don't set any boundaries...  Has your son come home or been in touch again?  It's not what you need right now but being a parent tends to be that way.  I love mine to bits but if I'd known what it all involved, I'm not sure I'd have done it.  As much as it's a distraction from your own problems, it's not a welcome one.  Are there other members of the family he can talk to, or rather, can talk to him to let him know how very much he's wanted at this time?
  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 2,672
    OMG  - you didn't need this just now ..... Hoping your boy is back with you and aware of the stress that it has caused you and the family.   :( 

    Wishing you all the best & big hugs coming your way xx
  • CathyMacCathyMac Canberra, ACTMember Posts: 65
    Thanks beautiful ladies for your wise words and advice . He arrived home and we have had a heart to heart with him. He's struggling with the diagnosis on top of all the usual teen crap, so we will work on that. Now I have my treatment plan it's a bit easier to look at how life will look, and it's bloody scary. Hubby starts a new job on the 30th January which will probably coincide nicely with me starting chemo. My eldest son needs to find a flat in Sydney to start at uni by the 18th Feb. I'm just so overwhelmed by it all. It's like all these ducks have lined up in a row to throw curve balls at us. Anyway it'll sort out one way or another and I'm hoping my gorgeous wayward boy will step up to the mark when crunch time comes. 
    Big love to you all❤️
  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 2,672
    I am so glad your boy is back with you again & hopefully back 'in line with you' with what is going on.  I hope he will be supportive of you as you move forward with your treatment  xxxx

    Which Uni is your older boy going to be studying at?  Is there any way you can contact the  University to see if there is a 'live in' option for your older boy - this way they are still 'away from home' but under some 'on campus rules'.  My niece did this at Wollongong Uni & it worked out well.  She had her own room but had shared cooking & bathroom facilities.   If she was accepted as a 'leader' (i.e. checking on vulnerable students to make sure they were OK ....)  she virtually got almost free (or very much reduced) accommodation at the Uni.  It was also very character building for her - as she had to be a very much responsible person (even tho hormones & natural instincts were being ignored!)   Don't be afraid to use the BC card too ..... it may help you get preferred treatment   ;)  

    All the best xx

  • SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 3,968
    So glad he's home. 
  • kmakmkmakm MelbourneMember Posts: 7,039
    edited January 4
    Hi Cathy. My heart goes out to you. It's such a tough time. I began chemo this time last year, my eldest's final year at school. There's never a good time to get sick but gosh, some times seem more delicate that others eh?

    Try not to look at the whole mountain. Break it down. Spend the next few weeks getting organised. Get some food into the freezer, plan some fun activities with the family, keep things as normal as possible. Spend time with your friends. Keep your fitness up so you're in good nick going into treatment. Maybe ask your son to come with you on the walk/jog/swim/ride, whatever it is you like to do.

    My husband works interstate a lot and wasn't around much for chemo. So my friends took in turns taking me to chemo, getting time off work. Their bosses were understanding. Have you got friends offering to help? Now is the time to say yes.

    There are all sorts of apps that can help organise help during treatment. You don't want to end up with 15 lasagnes in the freezer! Or nominate your bestie to be the co-ordinator. People actively want to help but sometimes need direction. Dog walking, lawn mowing etc.

    As everyone has said, we all react differently to chemo, so try not to anticipate too much. It sounds like you might be having dose dense AC maybe, followed by 10 weeks of Taxol? You'll probably feel tired and crap for a few days, and then regain some normalcy before the next infusion. The docs must think you're strong enough to handle it; it'll certainly be over and done with quicker.

    Do what you can to help your eldest before treatment starts, and there's nothing to say that you can't peruse the real estate pages on your tablet while in the chemo chair! It might just be that he has to manage on his own for a bit, but it's not like you won't be there, just more as a sounding board rather than lifting and lugging. This is a time of growing independence for him. You not being on hand will teach him just how capable he is.

    I found, and my sister found, that sometimes kids imaginations run away with them. You have to judge what they need to know about and what they need protecting from. It might be that your bolter would benefit from coming with you to chemo. Do you plan on having company? I didn't want any, but most people do. Friends or family. Known is far less scary than unknown. Sometimes the youngsters thive with some responsibility. If he's your designated chemo companion would that help?

    I had friends drop in after work to help out, particularly when my husband was away, but only friends who the kids were used to seeing anyway. At a time of upheaval, for the kids to have the house flooded with people they don't really know isn't particularly helpful. On the other hand, they got a lot of chocolate, cake and ice cream during my chemo which they loved!

    As my treatment went on it got harder for me as the side effects were broadly cumulative, and I was trying to decide what to do next, a difficult decision. I disappeared into myself a bit and forgot to communicate with the kids what was going on. So of course they worried. So try to keep the lines of communication open.

    If you don't have any streaming services, Netflix and Stan for example, now can be a good time to sign up. The kids certainly like that!

    If no one other than you knows how to use the washing machine etc, write out the instructions and stick them up in the laundry. Some of the independence skills my kids had to use while I had chemo they are still using now.

    When I was a teenager, I'd lost one grandparent, when I was four. My womb children lost two aunts to cancer in 10 months, my niece and nephew their mother to breast cancer. 17 months later I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Do I wish they'd all lived their young lives without this torrent of cancer and death? Yes I bloody do. I wish their innocence had been preserved a bit longer. But there's nothing we can do about it. I can only hope it's made them more compassionate, empathetic and understanding human beings. That it will enable them to rise to the challenges of their lives with equanimity and fortitude. Cancer as a learning experience sucks, but it is what it is. It's never why me, always, why not me.

    I don't know you and I won't presume to know how this experience will be for you. But I'll tell you that for myself, having BC and the treatment, taught me things about myself I didn't know. I feel I know myself more deeply now, and during treatment I have never felt more loved. Some of my friendships have deepened into something quite profound.

    It will test you, but take each day as it comes, one at a time, and you will make it through. We've got you. K xox
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