Will my mother with lung cancer need full time care?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 06, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

my mums was diagnosed with lung cancer 3 months ago and had surgery about a month ago where they removed her whole lung. she is now about to start chemotherapy as the found cancer cells in 3 of her lymph nodes. i live in a different country and was wondering if she will need full time care or not?

Expert Answers

Bonnie Bajorek Daneker is author and creator of the The Compassionate Caregiver's Series, which includes "The Compassionate Caregiver's Guide to Caring for Someone with Cancer," "The Journey of Grief," "Handbook on Hospice and Palliative Care," and other titles on cancer diagnosis and end of life. She speaks regularly at cancer research and support functions, including PANCAN and Cancer Survivor's Network. She is a former member of the Executive Committee of the CSN at St. Joseph's Hospital of Atlanta and the Georgia Chapter of the Lymphoma Research Foundation.

Many people realize the complexity of lung cancer and the toll it takes on the body. When breathing becomes labored or compromised, the rest of the body's activity is impacted. Because your mums also had her lung removed, she will certainly not be functioning as she did before. However, that doesn't mean she will have to have full time lung cancer care. There are many factors, like overall fitness/health outside the cancer. If she was generally healthy before the diagnosis, she may be able to manage by herself, for example. Or, if she had mobility or other issues before, these will likely be exacerbated (worsened) because of the changes in her breathing. Additionally, how she reacts to the chemotherapy is another factor -- she may tolerate it well or not.

It's difficult when you're a long-distance caregiver. I would advise you look at fulltime care options to put your mind at ease. Do the research to find some local professionals to engage if and when your mums needs them. You may try: www.visitingangels.com.

There are a lot of unknowns here. She may not need them initially, then need them as her doses of chemo continue -- or if the cancer has metastasized and progressed in another part of her. Be sure that if you engage in professional caregivers that you have regular reports, because she may also heal well and be able to care for herself as well. It's good to stay flexible and involved with her. Try to keep from getting frustrated with the changes. It will eventually get to a resolution point.