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Any possibility to bring my Mom from Poland to US for cancer care?

I’m a breast cancer survivor. I came to this site 9 years ago and read posts and articles daily, posted frequently. I am lucky that I live in the US, have health insurance and my cancer was caught early.

My Mom lives in Poland and two days ago she was diagnosed and told me about it.
She noticed a lump right after Christmas, it took this long to get the biopsy results. Still waiting on tomography results. The ultrasound did show affected lymph node. Chest X-ray shows a spot on her lung.

I am the sole caregiver to my husband who had a stroke 18 months ago, and has Parkinson’s. I have nobody to take care of him even to be able to go visit my Mom, let alone care for her in Poland. I would love to bring her to the US for treatment. This way I could care for her and she would have a better level of medical care and a fighting chance for a longer life. But I’m not a millionaire and I don’t have resources to cover the cost of cancer care, even if I sold my house.

I probably already know the answer, but is anyone aware of any programs or assistance that would help cover the costs of treatment for my Mom, who is not a US resident?
I am just so heartbroken, sad, desperate.

Thank you.

Comments

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,648

    My heart breaks for the position you’re in. One small bit of comfort may be that the time it took from her finding the lump and then getting biopsy results would not be considered unusually long even in the US.

    Unfortunately, I know of no programs that would provide free or reduced cost health care to non-resident/citizens particularly if she is able to get health care in her own country. I could also be wrong so perhaps someone else will chime in.

    With respect to your husband, is it possible to ask his doctor or medical facility if respite care is available for you? Hospital or medical social workers can usually help with this. It sounds as if you could use a bit of time to unwind. I am sorry that you find yourself in such a pinch. Take care

  • maggie15
    maggie15 Member Posts: 769

    I’m so sorry that you find yourself in the unfortunate position where you feel you should be in two places at once. While there are charitable organizations that will bring individuals from areas with no medical care to the US for specialized surgery there is nothing I know of for someone in your mother’s situation.

    Adding to exbrnxgrl’s suggestion, if it is financially feasible you could find a respite care bed for your husband in an assisted living facility for a couple of weeks and fly to Poland to visit your mother. It’s not the same as caring for her full time but being together even for a short while would be wonderful for both of you. I hope you can work something out.

  • bbwithbc45
    bbwithbc45 Member Posts: 366

    @exbrnxgrl, thank you for responding.

    My husband is insisting that "he can take care of himself". In reality, he is well enough to be by himself for a couple of hours, but not well enough to be alone for a day. My employer even allowed me to work from home 100% of the time after my husband's stroke. There is no way my husband would agree to go anywhere in my absence. He also says that he won't allow anybody through the door either. He is not making it any easier on me.

    Thank you again for responding. Feels good that someone out there understands.

    BB

  • bbwithbc45
    bbwithbc45 Member Posts: 366

    @maggie15, thank you for taking time out of your day to respond to my plea.

    I was just responding to exbrnxgrl how stubborn my husband is with insistence that he can take care of himself. While he is well enough to be alone for a couple of hours, he needs help with his meds, help with navigating stairs, to name a few. He refuses to go anywhere for the time of my absence and won't agree for anyone to come into the house.

    I was grasping at straws when posting my query regarding possibility of brining my Mom to the US for treatment.

    Thank you again for hearing me out and responding.

  • salamandra
    salamandra Member Posts: 725

    It sounds like your husband has put you in an impossible position, and I'm really sorry.

    For what it's worth, this nobody's recommendation is to go be with your mother for a while. It sounds like you can take your work with you. Arrange for home health care aides to be on standby. It will be cheaper than your mother's healthcare, and there might be some coverage from the state. He can choose to call them or not. Either his mind is fit and he should not be putting you in this position, or his mind is not fit, and he should not be making these decisions for himself.

    I hope his better self would never want to put you in this position, and by doing this you are being supportive to the person he wants to be, whether he can see that now or not.

    I lost my mother to breast cancer when I was 20. I would give anything to have more time with her. Don't let your husband's immaturity rob you of this opportunity if it's something you want to do.

    One thing I wonder if it might be possible would be for your mother to get a digital second opinion, where all her imaging and test results are shared with a major respected US cancer center. I don't know whether they could communicate directly with your mothers' doctors in Poland, but even if you have to do it, it might help both you and your mother feel better about her treatment. I believe some facilities offer this, and while I wouldn't expect it to be cheap, it would be a lot cheaper than actually getting care here.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,648

    A virtual/digital second opinion is a good idea. Thanks salamandra. I know that these types of second opinions are done in the US so perhaps they welcome international consultations as well. That might help ease some of your concerns. Take care

  • maggie15
    maggie15 Member Posts: 769

    I empathize with your situation having cared for my grandfather, mother (both alzheimer's) and now my DH (leukoaraiosis.) There are ways to deal with these brain damaging diseases and the associated reasoning problems so that your needs are met, too. If your mother is able to travel between treatments (with the help of a relative or friend if necessary) you could pay for her flight and that of a companion to come visit you. Alternatively, travel with your husband. It takes some organization like arranging with the airline for wheelchair transportation in airports , minimizing flights (stay overnight in the connecting city if impossible to go direct), and having low key destination plans. Airline employees and most of the general public are sympathetic. On the last leg of the journey moving my mother from Hawaii she had reached the point where she told everyone I was kidnapping her. A nice young man in fatigues replied he was a soldier who would protect her while letting me know he understood, his nana was like that.

    Vestibular rehabilitation therapy was a huge help and can be ordered by a PCP for anyone with fall risk. I have to travel overnight for medical treatment; DH couldn't stay by himself, refused outside help and was having difficulty accompanying me. He improved to the point where we will be traveling across the Atlantic in a couple of months to visit his family whom he hasn't seen in 10 years. Psych meds are probably in his future but delaying them has benefits. You can't buy time so taking the plunge is worth it. All the best!

  • bbwithbc45
    bbwithbc45 Member Posts: 366

    @salamandra, thank you for your insightful comments.

    From the outside things do look more black-and-white than from the inside, with many shades of gray when one has a full picture. One way or another, I will make it to Poland to visit my Mom. It will still be a too short of a trip and I will be sad leaving. Having her here would be so much nicer and I would feel better about the level of care, where I could "keep an eye" on things.

    Thank you for the idea of trying to get a second opinion here in the US. I will have to look into that possibility, once my Mom has all the results of her tests.

    BB

  • bbwithbc45
    bbwithbc45 Member Posts: 366

    @maggie15, Wow! Thank you so much for sharing all these details and ideas. You certainly have been through a lot and seem to keep it all together. I don't know you, but I already look up to you. I fall apart way too easily.

    The story about moving your mother - this had to be terrifying. But how sweet about that man in fatigues! Like an angel.

  • alicebastable
    alicebastable Member Posts: 1,934

    I'd like to chime in with a reminder that lung spots don't necessarily mean bad news, even to cancer patients. I had a few spots, and my oncologist explained that most people have some as they get older, due to pollution and other factors. We just don't know about them until we start getting scanned. As long as they remain stable, there's nothing to worry about. I'm one of the people who had breast cancer with a positive node, and all that meant was a wider swath of radiation and a longer course of sessions. I was fine after surgery - went out for lunch with friends a few days later - and I actually felt great all through radiation and had no physical issues with it. I was 68 when I had cancer, and my Mother was 88 when she had it, also with a lumpectomy and full course of radiation. She drove herself to another town for treatments every weekday for six weeks, and she lived for almost ten more years, and died of other causes. May your mother have as smooth a time as we did!

  • bbwithbc45
    bbwithbc45 Member Posts: 366

    @alicebastable, many thanks for letting me know about this. I read your message last night just before going to sleep and it gave me comfort. Thank you.

    BB

  • threetree
    threetree Member Posts: 1,158

    Hi Alice! Always so nice to "see" you here.