This Is to Mother You: On Caring for a Toxic Parent in Her Greatest Time of Need

Longreads

Jane Demuth | Longreads | May 2016 | 11 minutes (2,632 words)

I don’t panic on the afternoon in August 2012 that my sister calls and tells me that our mother has gone insane and her boyfriend has rushed her to the ER. For the full four-week duration of her hospital stay, I don’t feel much of anything for her. Instead, driving to the hospital that first afternoon, I tell myself to keep my ears open in case she slips and says something important and true.

Three months before, she was diagnosed; two months before, she began treatment. Breast cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ, stage two, one sentinel lymph node affected, ER/PR/HER2 negative, BRCA gene double negative. I advised her on what to tell her doctor about her family history so Medicare would pay for the genetic test. She’s prescribed a lumpectomy followed by six months of chemo followed by…

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