While I can take sick leave from my part time job during my chemo week, there's never 'sick leave' from my full time job as mother of 3 (12, 7 and 4). Having a nap on the couch is near impossible as I have to keep my ear out for any potential trouble, and I'm frequently interrupted by demands. My kids don't really understand that coughing or sneezing on me could send me to hospital, no matter how many times I try to explain white blood cells and germs. I'm absolutely exhausted, physically and emotionally, but life goes on. School and kinder runs, athletics, food shopping, housework, more housework, going to the park, homework help, cooking, bath time, bedtime battles etc etc etc. I force myself to continue to be the same mum I used to be, while trying to explain that I am sick and tired (hoping that they will have some understanding that I need a break, to no avail). A hug and kiss, letters and pictures, and being told "I love you, you're the best mum" make it all worthwhile, but on the whole parenting is a job with far more give than take. It doesn't help that I work in a caring profession, it's hard to give and care constantly when my emotional tank feels like it's on empty. I feel like the last 5 months since diagnosis has aged me 10 years, I feel isolated as this is not a normal life event to struggle with as a 34 year old mum. Yes, there are people out there going through similar (please feel free to reach out if you can relate), but most of the cancer patients I have crossed paths with are older and have adult children. My own mum has also had Lymphoma, which does help in terms of having someone close who understands, but she was 56 at diagnosis and only had my dad to demand attention from her. At first I had to worry about the effect of my diagnosis and illness on my kids and husband. The kids all showed their own symptoms of anxiety at times. This has been tough, as not only do I have my own emotional burden to bear, but also the instincts of the concerned and caring mother as well. Over time it appears that my illness is 'old news' and life has resembled some sense of normailty for them (even if I am suffering more side effects with each cycle of chemo). Just once I'd like to have someone look after me. For me to be able to actually rest and heal. To be honest I'd like a holiday, without kids, on a tropical beach... For now I'll have to settle for the occasional massage instead. Sigh.
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Super Contributor
Hi Catherine, I certainly can't relate to what you're dealing with (my husband and I don't have kids- he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma at 39, I was 35- 3 years ago) However, while he was going through chemo I can distinctly remember feeling intensely grateful that we didn't have kids. I don't know if this is encouraging for you at all! Please just consider this a bit of a cheer from the sidelines for you- I know you're doing it really tough, and really admire what you've already achieved. If you are wanting a bit of practical help, The Warwick Cancer Foundation was set up to help people with cancer in our age group. (25-40) thewarwickfoundation.org.au They may be able to organise a few things to make your life easier, or even just put you in touch with other parents who have cancer. (They have a peer support program called 'Mates in my Shoes'). They're based in Melbourne, but have branches in all state capitals. In the meantime, I'm sending you gentle, supportive hugs. love Emily
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Occasional Contributor
Thanks for your kind and supportive words Emily, I appreciate it! I have looked into the Warwick Foundation and registered with them. Thanks for putting me on to this resource! Kind regards, Catherine
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Contributor
Hi Catherine, gosh- you have my heart. As I read your post, it sounds similar to how I feel sometimes- but instead of me being sick it's my husband. My hubbie has a terminal brain tumour, & we have 2 kids (2 & 4.5). I don't know how you do it, and you are amazing because you are doing it! Can you also reach out to silver chain? I only recently did this (and probably should have done it early) to their palliative care unit through our GP. Palliative care is for patients with a life threatening illness- I always thought it was for dying patients but its not. They offered home help (someone to help with cleaning etc) meals on wheels, counselling (they come out to your home) and a great childrens counselling program. It really might be worthwhile getting your gp to refer you to them. Love Mel
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Occasional Contributor
Hi Mel, Thanks for reaching out, my heart goes out to you and your husband too. It must be difficult to hold together as a mum and wife at such a tough time. How are your kids coping? Thanks for the recommendation of silver chain, I hadn't heard of them. I don't consider my cancer to be life threatening yet, but I guess effectively it is. All the best Mel, please feel free to make contact with me if you want to talk. Kind regards, Catherine
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Contributor
OH Kids are kids..... they are lucky enough to be young enough not to know any different. I hope silver chain were able to help you, and I hope you got some rest over the holidays!. xx
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