New balancing act

Canberramum Member Posts: 4
I have two kids girl aged 9 and boy aged 5.  I was diagnosed 2nd December and will start Chemo on the 3rd Jan. I’m just trying to work out how to balance family, chemo and work. It is hard because I have no family near by.  I’m a very independent person and need space I don’t know how I’m going to cope with relatives insisting they want to come and stay.. I feel they will create more work then they will help (this happened when my babies were newborn.  

Before Christmas I was thinking wow this cancer is a bit 💩 I’m going to have a tricky, tiring, challenging journey but I’ll get through this,however by Boxing Day I was a mess. Everyone had there own agenda on how they were going to come and “rescue me” and I had to accept because it would it would make them feel better. My partner and I have already set up a group In FB for family and friends here I could put out requests for help when I needed them. I feel like I’m coming across as ungrateful but I am just avoiding having to be an emotional support person for people who are feeling bad about my diagnosis.

Any suggestions? Also any recommendations on what to take to my first Chemo session.


  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,392
    While everyone means well and obviously you have a loving and supportive group of family and friends, something like this can really seperate the support team (those who will do anything you want) from the rest (those who know best!!). If there was ever a time to be ‘selfish’ and do things the way you want them to be, a bc diagnosis is it. 

    That said, most people have no way of knowing how they will react to chemo before they start. So bridge burning is maybe a bit premature. I worked full time throughout chemo (no small children to care for though). I had no nausea and no fatigue, the most common side effects. Others get severe side effects and most fall somewhere in between, with some bad days and some good. So having more than one plan may be useful. You and your partner need to talk about how to manage the first few weeks, when a pattern for how you feel will develop. Same for work. 

    I agree that having house guests at this time can be an added burden. I wanted time to get my own pattern established when I had a child too (before even much loved parents descended on the scene!) but depending on circumstances, some additional help, at least for a while, may be very useful.

    For your first chemo session, take an unflappable friend. I solo-ed all my sessions bar the first, happier on my own but first time round it’s useful to have someone with you, who will take you home, bring you a drink, chat, whatever you need. Some people read through treatment, listen to music, lots bring family and supporters, others prefer to have quiet time alone. Once you know how you react, you can adapt. Some take lots of snacks, drinks etc, but I found I was quite happy with a book (I usually am!) and doing emails. Tea or coffee, and a sandwich, was provided. 

    It’s a lot to face at first, but you’ll get there. Others in the network with young children can advise too, I am sure. Best wishes. 
  • ddon
    ddon Member Posts: 349
    This is such a difficult time and I understand your need for independence and dislike of people coming to stay and invading your space. I am like that but I have to say that I had realised I need help through this because chemo can make it near impossible to get through alone when you have kids. I have only had one session - and I know everyone is different - but my strong independent self went out the window and I have been so grateful for some help. This is no walk in the park and it will make you pretty tired at best so just to have someone to call on is wonderful. Xx

  • kmakm
    kmakm Member Posts: 7,974
    You have to accept help. This was something I was extremely resistant to do, and was told I'd have to the day I was diagnosed by my BS and breastcare nurse.

    BUT... this is the time to be 100% selfish. You have to be, for your own wellbeing and protection. So circle the wagons and play that cancer card very firmly. If necessary get your husband to say no to the people you don't want in the house. You can emphasise that you want to keep things as normal as possible for the kids.

    Many people bring their own emotions to your experience of cancer. This is a normal human reaction. But as you've identified, sometimes this is too much for you, the actual person with cancer. You get to say no. This is the time to say no, and yes, on your terms. You are the boss of your cancer experience. K xox
  • TonyaM
    TonyaM Member Posts: 2,836
    We are all different and I took time off work whilst having chemo and I’m glad I did. I was so ill from it and even ended up in hospital.Depending on where you work,you need to be mindful of germs as you’ll be more susceptible. This can also double up as a good excuse for unwanted visitors! My husband acted as the door/phone screener and he did a good job.Thank people for their offers but you call the shots as to if and when you need their help.
  • suburbangirl
    suburbangirl Member Posts: 123

    Hi @Canberramum
    I totally agree with @Zoffiel !!
    Last night I tried to write something, but now today see this is what I wanted to say!
    I have a distant relationship with my immediate family (parents and sister) but all of a sudden they wanted to come to appointments and I knew it would be all about them; they would 'take over', despite me being confident and outgoing, not to mention my knowledge working as a registered nurse.
    After days of anxiety, imagining them in the consult room, I had to put my big girl pants on and ring to say, sorry you cannot come. I always rang or emailed with updates after every appointment though. I had one of my daughters and a good, sensible friend come with me to first / important appts, then went on my own. 
    Honestly, this is one time it truly is all about you. Don't let any 'do gooders' do, or sway you, otherwise! 
    Your feelings, your mood, your body, your energy levels, your anxiety, your fear, your husband and children, your moving forward etc etc.
    Good luck and feel free to vent or write on here anytime- this is a safe place!

  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,392
    Well done, so you just have to tell the would-be helpers to keep their distance. Or find something useful they can do without getting in your hair. Looking after the feelings of those who don’t have cancer is par for the course, I’m afraid. Don’t muck around, tell them what you really need (the cleaner, the laundry, whatever) and get someone else to say no
    to other ‘help’ if you can! 
  • kmakm
    kmakm Member Posts: 7,974
    I did chemo on my own. Couldn't bear the thought of having someone there watching, chatting, fussing. It's such a time soak. I had an allergic reaction so they dosed me up with Phenergan everytime so I pretty much dozed or slept through the whole thing anyway.
  • kezmusc
    kezmusc Member Posts: 1,544
    Hi @Canberramum,

    Everybody is different in the way they handle this.  As the ladies have said this is your gig and your rules.  Personally, I made the mistake of taking a family member to my first two appointments. They cried so that never happened again.  I took my hubby to my first chemo session.  He looked sad, so I sent him home. 
      I took my BCN if I felt I needed an extra set of ears and help to explain the lingo. 
     Dealing with other peoples emotions was far more difficult than controlling mine.
    Some of us are stronger on our own, some are not.  Choose what's best for you lovely.
  • Nefertari
    Nefertari Member Posts: 288
    Good luck @Canberramum.  I agree with everyone else, you decide what is best for you. 
    If having houseguests will stress you out then best to be honest, I know I could not have stood that. Everyone just wants to help and feel like they are doing something for you. 
    For the persistent ones I found small things for them to do so they felt they were helping,  supermarket shopping, small housework jobs or making a meal for my hubby. Occasionally I asked someone to drive me to an appointment or pick me up when I was sick or had Peripheral neuropathy.
    Except for the first diagnosis appointment, I went to every appointment alone.  I could not handle seeing others with worry etched all over their faces and the small talk drives me nuts when I am worried.  I am so much better on my own as I can concentrate on breathing and relax more.
    The nurses at both chemo and radiation were fantastic and they know what they are doing, I relied on them so much for information.  
  • arpie
    arpie Member Posts: 7,804
    edited December 2019
    @Canberramum - I think everyone has pretty well covered most of it .... just do what is right for YOU.

    Re your first chemo treatment - maybe your ipad/music/headphones, or suduko or crossword books?  Magazines are good - but I wouldn't take a novel as there is just too much distraction going on & you'd read the same page over & over I reckon.  My husband just absorbed himself in his music list most times.  Other times, he just shut his eyes & drifted off to sleep!

    Having visitors stay whilst you are undergoing treatment is just a plain hassle - so don't get conned into that one again.  If they want to visit - tell them the closest motel (or furtherest away) and you may find they will change their mind about the visit!!   We had a good friend visit whilst my husband was having his chemo treatment & after 3 days, he asked when she was leaving - so I asked if she could cut the visit short.  She was a bit 'miffed' initially but got over it & we remain friends.  (We'd stayed at her place many times prior to that as hubby did many triathlons in her town .... )

    Re your kids - here is some info that you & they can access, even a kids helpline if they want to talk to someone confidentially if they are struggling ... Ronald Macdonald Houses are also available as a bolt hole for you & your family to get away to.  We have one in my town.

    After your active treatment has finished, you can also contact the Otis Foundation who have holiday houses available in every state for BC patients - families make their holiday homes available for most of the year (except for holidays when they'd be using it themselves.)  I had a wonderful holiday in Thredbo earlier this year with my husband, brother & wife.  Depending on your treatment plan - try & organise it early on, as it can be many months before your desired 'spot' is available to you.   Everything is supplied for you - you just have to get there & take your own food & drink!

    Wishing you all the best as you start your treatment xxx