Whirlwind as primary carer of mother newly diagnosed with breast cancer

GenK Sydney Member Posts: 65
Below is copy/paste of my post from carers corner as suggested. McGrath breast care nurse has been wonderful so far, though as mum’s very private and slow to trust it’s doubly early days there. I’ve been nonstop this fortnight since diagnosis, not helped by a slight flare in my ptsd symptoms in the week before mum’s diagnosis. Hopefully we can get ACAT to at least get some interim supports up asap, hopefully I can speak with social worker on day of surgery (Tuesday) and they can help take that pressure off me, I’m already starting to have signs of burnout but will try the suggestion of contacting cancer council after ACAT assessment on Monday. I’m wiped. But thank you for helping ease the feelings of isolation. G

Hi All,
Thank you for accepting me.
 I logically know I’m not alone, but I’ve been in such a whirlwind the last nearly two weeks since attending the appointment with my mother where she got the diagnosis that it’s been really isolating, especially as she understandably doesn’t want to talk about it with mor than 5people other than clinicians (2 being my teenage son who I naturally had to tell and attends a special purpose high school, and myself as a single mother living with chronic pain and ptsd). I’m really struggling, and when I make time to even just have half hour rest from errand or parenting etc I get an ‘urgent’ call from her, often about things requiring physical help which I haven’t been able to do for years and is why I stopped nursing. I’m trying to get services in place and talked her into speaking with a McGrath nurse who is absolutely lovely and far more experienced with this as I worked in a different speciality, but even though the 3 friends she’s told are happy to support and help where they can, she’s putting most of the pressure on me, not new but far more intense and I’m struggling and trying to source and set up supports for myself so I don’t burn out, which I’ve before. There is literally no other family. There’s also the impact on me of considering my own risks, which feels so selfish. Both my grandmothers had breast cancer, one died from it before I was born, the other had a lumpectomy aged 87yrs and they cancelled the radiotherapy and she died peacefully aged 101yrs, and now my mother where it appears stage 2-3, but we won’t know for sure until the surgery on Tuesday, so likely treatable with radio and hormone therapy. Whilst my focus is on getting mum through this, the feelings of concern regarding my risk come up and I feel selfish, and whilst I know I need to practice self care, that feels selfish too. I’m trying to set up things like ACAT to help delegate some things, and did a referral for myself to Carer Gateway, but it’s still so fast yet limbo and I’m drained where my son is even concerned about his observation of how exhausted I am.
 I don’t know if I’m asking for advice or anything, just thank you for this safe space to share the primary carer journey and not feel so isolated. Gen


  • Cath62
    Cath62 Brisbane Member Posts: 989
    Hi @GenK, sounds like you are doing all you can for your mum. It's hard as a sole parent I know because I was a sole parent. My son is now 33 but it was hard having to do everything physically, emotionally, mentally and financially. I know that burn out too and it takes alot to recover so you are wise to look after yourself. It isn't selfish. You can help your mum if you go under with all the pressure. I have elderly parents and I sometimes struggle with helping them especially on days when I am really fatigued because of my hormone treatment. I am fortunate that my parents have set themselves up to be independent. Hang in there and hope this space is helpful for you. 
  • GenK
    GenK Sydney Member Posts: 65
    Thank you So much Cath. It’s such a weight off actually knowing others understand. I love being a mum, but yes being single parent is tough at the best of times. I’m lucky his principal is so supportive and understanding, he’s not disclosing details to the staff about my situation with mum but is dealing dealing with similar, a parent with cancer, so that helps too. My teen is very sweet, just has his own way of dealing with things, and we’re very close with pretty open communication. He’s trying to be supportive as much as a teenager can be. Thank you