Tough week

Hi guys, thought I would tap into the great support network here. I am having a tough week… my Mom was diagnosed with inflammatory breast CA more than five years ago, but it has been an up and down road. She had a recurrence on her chest wall, and last year they discovered brain mets. She had whole brain radiation and various chemo treatments and that seemed to keep the beast at bay for about a year. But this spring the tumors were growing again, and so she went for Stereotactic Radiological Surgery (SRS).
We live with my Mom and the whole brain surgery thing happened while we were in England (seeing family after a death in the family) so that was tough. When we got home, she was going for daily radiation to one area where the biggest tumor is (4cm in her cerebellum). That lasted a week. She also has another recurrence on her chest wall, and the skin of her other breast (she had a mastectomy back in the beginning). She seemed to be coping with all the treatments until last week when she was in her third week of a drug called Xeloda (actually they give you that week off, and now we know why!).
She just crashed… Probably a combination of factors; nasty chemo had diarrhea and vomiting as side effects, she was being weaned off steroids (for the swelling around that big tumor), and she had had radiation to her brain (with extreme fatigue as a likely side effect)
She ended up in the hospital, dehydrated, yet lots of edema. So they tried to get that water balance thing right and now she is up on a rehab unit to try to get back some function. She cannot stand without two people helping her so that is tough.
I miss her at home, and I do hope she will be able to get back enough so that I can care for her here. (I am however, only one person…)
Oh, and I have a big exam tomorrow. Yikes. Have not studied enough, but plan to spend the day at the library (feeling guilty for not being with my Mom.)

I am sorry to hear about all you have been going through and wish the best for your mom and family and your exam. Please keep us all posted and we’re all here for you.

Hi there,
First of all, phone your Dean of Students and get your test postponed. You can’t be at your best when you are concerned about your mother. If you are at a quality institution of higher learning, they will give you an extention while your Mmu is so critically ill and hospitilized.
Second, don’t take that exam unless you are totally prepared. You don’t need to put your studies in jeopardy or feel guilty about being there for your Mum. You only have one mother and you will have lots of opportunities to get back to the tests.
There are some things that can just throw you totally off track. Having an ailing parent is one of them so take a little time off, be there for your Mum and take your test a little later after you have had the time to study.
My thoughts are with you and your Mum in this difficult time.

Thanks for the instant support… I hadn’t even thought about postponing my exam. I am not sure that things with Mom will be resolved any time soon. I will think about that though. I can go study with my study partner (last chance to do that with her) and see where I am at. I imagine the dean’s office won’t be open until tomorrow anyway.

I am so sorry to hear what your mother and you and your family are going through. I will pray for a positive outcome. Definitely email your prof this morning to give them a heads up and then call first thing in the morning. You can’t concentrate on school work and your mom.
I wish you well and hope things turn out ok. I am thinking about you.

Let me echo what the others have already said.
First of all, you only have one mom. Stay as close to her through these difficult times as possible. Let your dean and school know what is happening. They will understand and work with you.
Second, know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family through this exceptionally trying time. Please don’t hesitate to call on OPM for support when you need it. That’s part of what this great group is all about.

Liz… wow, your mom is one tough cookie. And you have been a great support for her. Hang in there - I don’t have any additional advice to give, what everyone has said sounds right to me too. None of this is easy for any of you; be sure to hang onto one another!

Thanks everyone, you guys are great. It has been a long and emotional day for me. I went up to see my Mom before hitting the library, but ended up staying at the hospital, trying to study there, but mainly hanging out with her. I read emails aloud from her friends and watered her flowers and fed her “lunch” and “dinner”. She is really not eating much. I found it hard since she was so very weak and tired and I was sitting there going over homeostasis and hormones. I guess I just had time to think about the implications of all this and to realize that she is not doing very well at all. Then I was a bit of a wreck, sneaking off to the bathroom to bawl, trying not to upset my kids when I went home (thought I could pull myself together better here) etc.
SO, I emailed my prof this afternoon and I haven’t heard back from him yet. I will see if he replies in the morning. The test is a small small thing in the scheme of things, I am just glad I followed everyone’s advice and stuck around today.

Liz, you certainly did do the right thing. It is going to be hard, every single day during this time, to figure out what “right” is, and difficult to determine what your instincts are so you can trust them.
When my mom was diagnosed with lymphoma just before I started medical school, my dean of students reminded me that lots of people end up regretting time not spent with loved ones. No one regrets taking an extra year to get through school, or using up all their vacation leave, when it’s important like this. Do what you can, be there, don’t push.
From your story it’s clear that, as much as you’re thinking you need to be there for your mom, you ALSO need to be with her for YOU. Gentle {{{hugs}}} to you both.


I can certainly empathize with what you’re going through as I was in the exact same position as you a few years ago with my father. In my case, I had to pass on an MD/PhD opportunity and to be honest, I haven’t regret one time the decision I made. Like others have said, you can’t get this time back with your Mom.

Everyone is different, but it took me a few years to get myself together enough to begin this process of getting into medical school all over again because I was also finalizing a divorce and raising a child , but I can tell you that as hard as it seems now, you’ll eventually pull through just don’t rush yourself. I remember thinking back then I could shoot whoever said “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”, but now that a few years have passed, I certainly believe this is true. PM me if you want to talk more.


For whatever it is worth I have found schools to be really good at helping when you have an outside situation come up. Georgetown has been great about letting me take exams late, etc.

I thought I posted this yesterday, but must have deleted it…
Thanks for all your help… I emailed my prof. He was cool about the whole thing.
My mother died Tuesday morning. I was with her (my sister too) the whole night and I was exceedingly glad to have been with her on Saturday and Sunday too.
The professor actually will allow me to skip the exam if I want to, and just base my grade on the final, previous exam, etc. I went to class last night, but found I could not take anything in, so I may take him up on that offer. I think in a few weeks I should be able to concentrate, and prepare more effectively.
Thanks for listening, and all your good advice.

I am sooo sorry that your mother passed away. My prayers are with you and your family.

Liz, I am so sorry. I am glad you were able to spend the extra time with your mother.

My heart goes out to you. I’m so sorry about your mother - I can’t even imagine your pain. Please know my thoughts are with you.

Liz, I am so sorry to hear your sad news. Those last few days and hours with your mother were surely a blessing.
Please be good to yourself and give yourself plenty of time. You are wise to take your prof up on the offer.

Liz, I’m so sorry for your loss. You are an incredible soldier to be there for your mother and still think about school. You should definitely forego the exam and give yourself this time to grieve and celebrate your mother’s life.

I am so sorry for your loss. It had to mean everything to her that you were with her.
Hang in there.

Liz - I am soo sorry for your difficult time. Thank goodness you took the last few days to spend with her. My thoughts are with you.
–Jessica, UCCS

You have my condolences and prayers.