A place to share your struggles and concerns about supporting and caring for a person you love diagnosed with breast cancer with others who understand.
Feb 23, 2018 05:49AM
I'm new to this forum and hoped that I could get some support I suppose. My mother, who is 72 years old and suffers with paranoid schizophrenia (on medication) and lives with me, my husband, 5 year old and 8 year old, was diagnosed in Dec 2017 with stage 2 breast cancer, 3.7cm, hormone receptive. Her mental health condition, I believe, has made this very difficult for her to accept. We managed to get funding for the chemo injection tamoxifen, and she took the first dose with me persuading her for days beforehand. Now she says that there has been a mistake and that she doesn't in fact have breast cancer and that there has been a mix up. Her mental health team are coming to review her to see if she has mental capacity on Monday.
I do have power of attorney for her health and am quite frightened as to the prospect of having to make a decision for her. I feel that it is more stressful for her to constantly be persuaded that she has cancer and to force treatment on her. She is already being forced to have treatment for her mental health condition. I am not sure that she is strong enough to take the aftermath of a mastectomy and so I feel very stuck and lost. Do I let her continue living with me and support her delusional decision of not having cancer and therefore not requiring treatment or do I send her back to hospital (she is under a section 41), and allow the doctors to force treatment on her, which will probably worsen her mental state and require a higher dose of anti-psychotic drugs to keep her calm and able to cope? I want her to have a good quality of life for the last few years she still has. I find that it is crueller to send her to hospital and allow the doctors to force medication on her.....even if her thoughts are delusional about not having cancer. But then if I accept that she doesn't have treatment, I then have to be prepared for her to deteriorate over time and watch her suffer. But then again, she is post menopausal and the cancer she has is hormone receptive, so it may grow at a very slow rate and she may have a good 5 -10 years without any pain or suffering. What do I do? I also have a full time job and 2 young children which I have to take into account......but my mother has already spent 10 years of her life in an institution, which is why I asked her to move in with us, and I find it so tragic that she would have to leave her only family and grand children to spend the rest of her days in hospital. What I do need to stress is that when we have broached the subject of her having cancer, she becomes very defensive and is adamant that she does not have it. Her behaviour becomes erratic and I become concerned bearing in mind my two children.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Feb 23, 2018 10:18AM
Hi again Scruples,
We just wanted to extend our thoughts to you and let you know our hearts go out to you and your mom with this very difficult situation. We know someone with some knowledge or insight on this subject will reach out soon to hopefully provide some suggestions or advice to you.
We are thinking of you and please keep us posted with how your situation progresses.
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Feb 25, 2018 04:17PM
OMG Scruples you truly do have a cross to bear. I’m so sorry about your Mom. It’s hard enough dealing with a BC DX but for her to be in denial just exacerbates the problem.
I think I would start talking to a social worker. Given her mental issues anything you decide will probably be met with resistance. You truly are between a rock and a hard place damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I can imagine if she is coerced into treatment it might put her over the edge but of course if you don’t then what?
Is there anyone outside of you she trusts? Someone from your church if you go? Any siblings or other relatives? That’s a lot of pressure on you being a mother yourself and working FT. Is there a husband in the picture? If so what does he think?
This is way too much stress for you too. I hope you can find support from someone. We are here to help in any way we can. I’m sorry I’m not a MD or shrink so I don’t have any sage clinical advice to offer.
Be fair to yourself too. Give yourself permission to do what you think is in the best interests of your mother and don’t feel guilty about your decision. You love your mother and I’m sure she loves you but you also have young children to consider as well.
Keep the faith and keep us posted.
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Feb 26, 2018 01:18AM
Thank you so much for your message. In answer to a couple of your questions, there is no-one else to take some of the load/pressure. I am married and my husband is absolutely amazing, very supportive and will support me in whatever I decide, but ultimately the decision needs to be mine.
I didn't mention previously that my mother is on a section 37/41 which means this should all be much easier to get help from authorities. Today I have arranged for her CPN and psychiatrist to attend our home and review her mental capacity. She does not know this is what the visit is for but hopefully she will not be able to pull the wool over their eyes as per other times. She seems to have the perfect script for everyone when they come to assess her or see how she is doing. I have been researching every possible angle for my mother and what she is or is not entitled to. Thankfully the section keeps me very protected in the sense that she is strongly in the system and they have a duty of care to her safety and well being.
What I find so sad with this entire thing is that my mother is so gentle and sweet. She does not cause a fuss or any kind of trouble, but the pressure that I feel is invisible to others. I am getting counselling myself now to help me with everything but it is still all very difficult. It feels as though I am on a pendulum which doesn't settle in the middle. On one day I feel that she needs to be in a home where she can be treated for cancer. If she is treated at home there is always the fear of her being triggered or reacting to the fact that I am forcing treatment onto her. Ultimately she sees me as her daughter and not a medical professional so in her mind I am forcing unnecessary medication onto her and she becomes paranoid. I am not able to deal with this part of the illness and also be able to function in my own life for my children/husband and my work. I am also fully aware that a lot of my own issues are coming up throughout this process and it only makes everything harder to deal with.
Anyway, after today I should have a little more clarity with regards to her mental capacity and we should be able to start moving things forward to some kind of resolution which is in my mothers best interest.
Thank you again for your response, it somehow helps and I feel less alone in this. You have brought some light to my day.