Single Parenting MBC Series - Support
Two of our AdvancedBreastCancer.net advocates, Danielle and April truthfully share their experiences with us as single parents living with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. This is the third article in our single parenting series, you can read more about single parenting and what dating looks like, in our Dating Edition or Metastatic Parenting about leaving a legacy for their children. In this article, we talk about the challenges of life with MBC, sources of support, and accepting help.
What is the biggest challenge coping with an MBC diagnosis without a spouse?
My biggest challenge about dealing with MBC without a spouse is the feeling of being alone. When I go for treatment, the chair next to me is always empty. When I’m awaiting scan results, I’m by myself. If I get bad news, I am alone. If I get good news and want to celebrate, I have to work around other’s schedules to do something. If I am tired and could use a hand around the house, or out doing something fun with my kids, I am the only adult. It’s hard sometimes, the aloneness. It can be all-encompassing.
Who do you lean on for support?
Luckily I have amazing friends, but most of them live far away. They are a great support system from afar, some even ordering my family and I dinner or groceries if it’s a week where I have a scan or other big medical event and could use some help. I have learned people can help from any distance if they feel inclined to do so!
Is it challenging accepting help from others?
In the beginning, yes, it was very challenging. That’s my job - I’m the helper! But I soon figured out that being divorced and a single mom with no family to help meant that asking for help sometimes was inevitable. When you throw having metastatic breast cancer into the mix, it becomes necessary! I ask mostly for help with babysitting while I go to appointments, but sometimes help has been picking up groceries or bringing over a meal after a procedure or surgery, even helping me fold laundry when I just need to get caught up with housework.
What have been the biggest challenge coping with MBC being single?
As a single parent, having to do everything on my own is a struggle. There are days when the laundry doesn’t get done and dinner comes from Grubhub because I just don’t have the energy or strength to get it done. I put a lot of pressure on myself to keep things as normal as possible. Having a messy house and feeling like I have chores I need to do is very stressful because it’s all on me.
Who is your support or go-to person?
My main supporters are my close friends and my cousins who I grew up with. I can count on them to answer the middle of the night calls, calm me down when the anxiety gets too much, and be there for appointments. My family is very supportive as well. I’m fortunate in that I have a group of people in my corner.
Have you learned how to accept help from others?
I have always been a very independent person. I have prided myself on my ability to get things done on my own. For that reason, accepting help has been very difficult for me. I think the best advice I can give someone wanting to help is to just do it, don’t ask. If you ask, I’ll tell you I can handle it even if I can’t. We all need help, even if we don’t seem like it.
Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to share that on Saturday, September 12th, 2020, April Doyle passed away. We know that April’s advocacy efforts continue to reach many. She will be deeply missed.
Caregivers: Do you practice self-care?