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Didn’t Choose to Be a Caregiver, But Cancer Never Gives Us Any Choice

I am the only daughter (age 46) of my parents (ages 68 and 66, dad and mom), and my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 uterine/cervical cancer out of the blue. She was in the best shape of her life, and she and Dad were about to visit Nepal as they were enjoying their retirement together. My husband and I were living in another part of the country when she got her diagnosis, and my life turned upside down. I had just moved with my husband to take a new job ( for me) in the Northwest after living 20 years in the Midwest. When we were seeking a life change, it seems that cancer was going to be the thing that would change us and throw things into a tailspin.

I am very close to my parents, and after traveling two years across country to help Mom with her treatments and related emergencies (major hospitalization after the cancer spread to her leg bone and caused a break), the distance was too much to handle. We decided temporarily to move to where they live and take a year of unpaid leave from my job after finding that even FMLA leave was not enough at this time and in this situation where I am a primary caregiver along with my dad. The cancer has continued to spread despite treatments, and at this time of writing, she is still doing okay despite many setbacks and an uncertain future. I did not choose to be a caregiver . . . but then, cancer never gives us any choices.