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Major illness in family and school...

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Nanon, Nov 9, 2001.

  1. Nanon

    Nanon An urban myth.

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    My mother (who some here may know is schizophrenic) recently found a lump in her breast and a lump in her armpit on the same side. The breast lump turned out to be a VERY large cyst (size of a golf ball). The surgeon aspirated it yesterday, but much of it still remains, which is worrisome to me. The lymph node will be biopsied in a week and a half. I'm assuming that they will incise - the node is the size of a grape.

    Obviously, I'm really, really worried about my mom. I understand that this might just be an infection of some sort, but it's hard not to panic. Her mental illness complicates everything - I'm not sure she really grasps what's really going on, or the treatment options completely.

    She heavily relies on me normally for everyday stuff. Now my husband and I are considering getting a bigger place, in case she needs to move in with us. I'm thinking about dropping out of school for a while if this does turn out to be cancer. I mean, I'm not even in school this semester (thank diety of your choice), and I'm overwhelmed by it all.

    Has anyone else here faced something like this in undergrad? I'm technically a senior, but was planning on spreading my classes out over two years because I was planning on having a kid (that looks murky now, too.) MCAT was planned for this spring. I am really desperate for advice, or even a reassuring word.

    Thanks, Nanon
     
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  3. amonkeybutt

    amonkeybutt Senior Member

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    i'm terribly sorry about your mom. it must be so tough to have to juggle so many things and worry about applying soon. what i would suggest is that if you can afford it to take a year off after school. i don't know your situation as far as how much care you will have to provide your family but if it is any significant amount than you will not have enough time to study for the MCAT this spring. it is better to wait and prepare yourself to do well than to rush it. a lot of schools are encouraging students to take some time off to experience other things, i'm sure they rather have you well-rested and geared up for med school than drained and run down. just my two cents. i hope things turn out okay for you and your fam.
     
  4. praying4MD

    praying4MD 2K Member

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    First of all, I just wanted to say how sorry I am to hear about your mother. I've been following your posts for quite some time and I realize what a big blow this is for you. Secondly, I admire and respect that you and your husband are taking care of your mother so diligently. Not many people are willing to give others priority, but I think it is wonderful for you to take on this responsibility. Special kudos to your wonderful hubby who is so supportive of this as well.

    My family and I also went through some incredibly tough times during my high school/undergrad years. I did what I thought was necessary. I put my family first, attended to their needs and put my life on hold for a little while. In my eyes, it wasn't some noble sacrifice or anything, just something that had to be done. I regretted doing this for a little while, but now, in retrospect, I would not have it any other way. I know that I was there when my family needed me most and that's what matters to me. I'm glad I did what I did, even if it did take away from my own life for a while because i put my own desires on the backburner temporarily. However, nothing makes me happier than knowing that I was able to be there for people who need me.

    At the same time, you can only place your life on hold for so long before you start resenting the people you're actually trying to help. There is nothing more damaging than that. You need to pursue your dreams and ambitions and have your own life with your husband as well. If you don't you are bound to build up resentment for all those lost dreams and take it out on someone, whether it be your mother or your husband. While being there for people & being the strength of your family is admirable, you can't do everything and no one should expect you to. Take time out for yourself as well. You deserve it. If you don't take time out for yourself, how can you be there for others?

    I would suggest taking time off of school to deal with things and put everything into perspective, but I really can't give you advice, or what a dear & wonderful friend of mine calls "pseudo-advice," because I am not in your position. Like I always say, you know what is best for you. But I will say this: Things get better. I promise.

    Good luck and PM me if you have any questions or want to exchange sob stories with me. I'm good at that. :)
     
  5. Ciardeme

    Ciardeme Senior Member

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    Nanon- take my advice, take the time off! I have been dealing with family illness all my life. My younger brother has cerbral palsy and severe epilepsy. The situation was vastly exacerbated when my dad had a stroke at the ge of 50! it was horrible. i was a freshman in college and it totally wiped me out emotionally and academically. it took years to recover. my gpa was so low, i almost got kicked out! i had to get a master's degree to prove i could handle med school. so yes, take as much time as you and your mom need. Med school will always be there.
     
  6. Nanon

    Nanon An urban myth.

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    Thanks, everyone, for your kind words, your advice and your support. Right now it's taking everything I have to not crawl under the bed with a bottle of Jack Daniels, a bad romance novel, and a pint of chunky monkey. I am SO GLAD that I bailed from school this semester! It's hard to imagine that I ever felt guilty about it before.

    If it is cancer (and that's still a big if - I've never wanted to hear that awful word "infection" so badly), I think it's likely that I will take another semester off, or at most only take one class.

    Thanks again!
     
  7. Chnobli

    Chnobli Member

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    Hi Nanon,

    I wish you much strenght right now. I am in a bit of a similar situation. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago, but is now on her final journey as her cancer came back in other organs. After my interview at Boston University, I found out that she was taken to the hospital, so I flew straight to Europe, where my mom lives. I have planned to stay here for at least 3 weeks, as she may die anyday now. I just got an interview invite from NYMC, which is of course great news, but logistically it will be a bit difficult to arrange. I also have started to work in a research lab recently, so I feel bad for not being there right now. But I only have one mother, so I feel I am making the right choice by staying here with her. Fortunately, I am able to e-mail my husband the essay questions for the secondaries so that my applications are still being completed.

    You should follow your heart! All the best! By the way, my mom lived with breast cancer for 10 years so far...

    I'll send you some good luck vibes :)
     
  8. Ciardeme

    Ciardeme Senior Member

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    DS, has your mom tried any clinical trials? If not, it is an excellent avenue to pursue. I have a patient that was diagnosed a few years ago (with the most severe case...12 positive lymph nodes on one side and 13 on the other) she is still winning her battle. By the way, she is in her mid 70's. NEVER give up! my thoughts and prayers are with your family.
     
  9. Olivia2003

    Olivia2003 Junior Member

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    My thoughts and prayers are with you. I can imagine how frightening and hopeless things may seem at times. During my junior year and 3 weeks into the semester, my mother (a manic depressive) attempted suicide and was in a coma for 2 weeks. I thought I would be able to return to school after she came out of it, but just before thanksgiving, my mother (a beautiful person inside and outside) was successful in her second attempt.

    The guilt and the horror of it made me so depressed that I did not even bother to withdraw from the 33 credits I was registered in. I have an F for that year that plunged my 3.66 GPA to a little over 2.8. I am getting all A's in my courses this year (nearly two years later)and can only bring up my GPA to a little over 3.0. I am not worried, though. I did what I could, in hindsight, I should've simply taken the time off to be with her and not climb this uphill battle. But in the end, we all live the destiny we've been given.

    Do take the time off, and do it guilt-free, you never know how much time you'll have with your loved ones. My prayers are with you.


     
  10. Rhiana

    Rhiana Senior Member

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    I'm really sorry about your mom and hope everything works out well for the both of you. My similar experience was not with a family member sick but with my own illness. I have endometriosis and have had seven surgeries all while attending school. I know everything is up in the air right now but I have a few suggestions.

    First, I agree that you should take this time off but I think that it's important to keep working owards your goals. Even if it's reading one passage for the MCAT each night. When your overwhelmed it's easy to give up these things but if you keep going you feel like your at least doing something. Second, if the stress is keeping you from sleepping, functioning you may want to get on some anti-anxiety drugs. I did it for several months and it helped me pull through the darkest days. Lastly, only you can determine when you feel like going back. One caveat-don't push yourself too hard. I went back to my Organic Chem Lab one day post op, passed out, and was removed via an ambulance. Very embarassing.
    I just hope that everything works out for you.
     
  11. Rhiana

    Rhiana Senior Member

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    I'm really sorry about your mom and hope everything works out well for the both of you. My similar experience was not with a family member sick but with my own illness. I have endometriosis and have had seven surgeries all while attending school. I know everything is up in the air right now but I have a few suggestions.

    First, I agree that you should take this time off but I think that it's important to keep working owards your goals. Even if it's reading one passage for the MCAT each night. When your overwhelmed it's easy to give up these things but if you keep going you feel like your at least doing something. Second, if the stress is keeping you from sleepping, functioning you may want to get on some anti-anxiety drugs. I did it for several months and it helped me pull through the darkest days. Lastly, only you can determine when you feel like going back. One caveat-don't push yourself too hard. I went back to my Organic Chem Lab one day post op, passed out, and was removed via an ambulance. Very embarassing.
    I just hope that everything works out for you.
     

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