Mom has Extensive Stage Lung Cancer and I live 2 states away

My mom has just been diagnosed with extensive stage small cell lung cancer that has metastasized to her lymph nodes and liver. She begins her first round of chemo on May 2nd. I just read that the prognosis for this stage of small cell lung cancer is 6 month to a year on chemo. I currently live in North Carolina and she lives in West Virginia. I am completely overwhelmed with the amount of information and the prospect that my best friend could only have such a short time left. I don't know how to care for her being so far away, but me moving to her or her moving closer to me is not possible right now. Her insurance is state Medicaid and her home is in WV and she wouldn't want me to give up my career.

I don't know how I feel minute to minute - one second I'm fine, the next I'm hopeful, the next I can't stop imagining her funeral and sobbing uncontrollably. I keep telling myself that this must be normal - but I don't feel normal! When I feel okay and I am just doing normal things, I feel guilty and when I am sobbing and unable to function, I feel ridiculous. I constantly feel hopeless inside even though I am trying to be strong for her on the outside. I don't know what I am looking for through this community board, whether it is support - or just a place to be honest about my feelings where she won't read it?? Either way, I thought I would give it a try.


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  • ncw515ncw515 Community Member
    I'm sorry to hear about your mom. I have non small cell lung cancer w/ mets to the brain at 27. I know they are different, Small cell is way more aggressive, but I figured I could connect on some things. I'm going through chemo right now and out of work because of it.

    Don't feel ridiculous. Believe it or not, your feelings are completely normal. I question my feelings with it every day...don't be afraid to talk to your PCP about it. You're not weak, you have to deal with the harsh reality of what is going on. Being brave doesn't mean hiding your emotions. Your mom needs you to be brave for her. And that may mean just talking about things that aren't cancer related. Read the same book, have a movie night (where you watch the same movie while on the phone with each other), etc.

    My number one suggestion-- DON'T GOOGLE STUFF!! It's easier said than done, but that was the first thing I was told. She can seek second opinions and all of that, but the internet is scary. My oncologists have said that the internet is the worst thing to happen to internet.

    My mom is my best friend too. I can't imagine losing her or watching her go through this. I know that you wish you could take this away and do it for her--but it's her battle... She is feeling the same things about herself that you feel. She's worried about missing out on the future and about leaving you behind.

    The reason your mom doesn't want you to quit your job is 1) she loves you (and believe it or not knows whats best), 2) knows that you need to live your life too and would hate herself if she took that away from you, 3) your mom needs emotional support. FaceTime, send cards/daily emails to brighten her day. It's more the little things that count...

    I hope this information helps. If it doesn't--I apologize. If needed I can provide my email and I would gladly talk with both you or your mom.
  • Hi, my daughter has stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer, is only 34 and has a beautiful 2 year old son. I'm with you...I completely go with all the same range of emotions. Even though the prognosis is not good for her, reading books like 'Radical Remission' make me hopeful that she could be one of the lucky patients who can turn this around. There are nine things in the book that the author says people try...not just one of them but maybe all of them and more. It sucks when I ask the doctor about any non medical treatment and she says we shouldn't muddy the waters. I say muddy the damn waters and try everything possible. Thanks for your feelings, it helps. I'm so desperate for her to survive this and it's so hard being 2500 miles away from her. I'm only ok about 3 days a week.
  • Dear Adrienne,

    I am really sorry to hear that you are going through this. Unfortunately, I can relate to how you feel.

    My mom has been battling brain cancer. Her tumor turned malignant about 18 months ago, and after two rounds of radiation and chemo, she has been moved to home hospice. I, too, live extremely far away from her. I have been juggling my life with coming to visit her, and it's getting increasingly difficult.

    She is my best friend, and I am terrified.

    What I wanted to say to you is:
    1. You are not alone
    2. What you are going through is completely normal
    3. You are going through an extremely difficult time. Allow yourself to express that.

    I, too, am feeling OK one moment, and burst into tears the next. This is normal. I am glad that you shared your feelings in this forum. I hope that letting things out, and hearing that others feel just like you has been a little helpful to you during this difficult time.

    I hope that you are surrounded by supportive people. I am lucky to have an incredible family, and I hope that yours is also there to support you during this tough time. Unfortunately, I have personally learned that my closest friends really don't know how to be there for me at this moment in time, even though I have told them exactly what I needed from them when they asked what they can do for me (I am currently with my mom, and just asked them to call me from time to time, to make me feel like I'm not alone in this and that they care. They never did). It's heartbreaking and makes me feel even more alone, but I'm trying not to judge them - I think they simply don't know how to handle this situation. On the other hand, other people in my life-from whom I expected nothing-really blew me away and have been there for me. My advice to you on this matter is that support can come from unexpected places. Remember that you are never alone.

    Sending you a hug.
  • ak13ak13 Community Member
    Hi- thanks everyone for sharing their stories. This is my first time posting on something like this and I can't believe how relieved I feel just knowing that someone out there in the universe is feeling the same way that I am.

    My mom currently has stage 4 breast cancer than has metastasized (spelling??) in her spine, spinal fluid, and brain. We have no idea how much time she has but are down to trying experimental treatments as our only unexplored options.

    It's incredible to me how many emotions I can run through minute to minute and it starts to make you feel crazy and unhinged- one minute it's fine and I'm hopeful, the next I'm lashing out a friend, partner or family member, the next I'm inconsolable and can barely function. It's hard to feel normal or stable when no one else around you is fluctuating with the same frequency or can even understand why it's happening to me- this makes me feel weak for not having a better grasp on my own emotions and isolated because no one else seems to get it.

    I've noticed that one of the most consistent emotions is constant guilt- I wonder if any of y'all feel that way too? I also live away from my mom and any second I'm not there to help care for her I feel guilty. Or if I'm out having fun, trying to live my own life, I feel guilty because she can't do that anymore and I should be home helping to care for her.
    I'm 27 and sometimes it feels like I'm stuck between "being an adult" and taking on a lot of my family's responsibilities (care for my mom, their home, their finances) while also trying to balance establishing my own life, career, relationship- does that make me selfish?? I never know where the balance is- does anyone else struggle with that?

    Again, thank you everyone for taking the time to share their experiences, it's so comforting to know that others are having a similar experience as me- sending everyone a million internet hugs, it was amazing to finally feel heard and understood just reading what everyone has shared
  • I'm with you dear...emotional a lot of the time. And guilty all the time because instead of subjecting my husband and I to the horrible air my daughter and her family live in (they get an 'F' on all 3 air pollution grades on, we bought a house 2500 miles away with clean air and water (we get two 'A's and a 'B'). If I could I would give up my chances of a healthy retirement and move in next door to them, but I don't think they would want that. And now my husband has had his first heart attack at 56 just a week ago. All I can say is the famous 'life is short, treasure it' and know that your loved ones don't want you to suffer if it can be avoided. I was sobbing every day for 6 months until I read on here from a patient saying that they really wished the opposite for their family and that helped me realize I should consider trying to be happy. Hard I know. Also, do try to get out in nature as much as you me that seems to help a lot.