My Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer in early 2016. We learned early on that it was aggressive, and got the terminal diagnosis in December 2016. He has undergone radiotherapy (which left him with a catheter for several months), chemotherapy and various clinical trials with varying degrees of success. At some points I felt I was watching him die right in front of me, he looked so ill. The cancer has spread to his liver and kidneys, and the latest is a large tumour in the lymph nodes at the side of his neck. His chemo was stopped just after Christmas last year due to this latest tumour - a biopsy confirmed it is prostate cancer. So far this year he has been hospitalised twice due to low sodium levels, and the doctors have no idea why or how. He is permanently exhausted and has dreadful bouts of diarhoea which leave him unable to go anywhere, even if he had the energy or inclination to do so.
Mum has dementia which is getting progressively worse, and sometimes I'm not sure she really understands what is happening. At other times, she is very much in the moment and is devastated, crying, full of worry that Dad may die. They have been married for 57 years and I'm not sure either of them can imagine a life without the other. My Dad's main worry is for Mum, not for himself. He is fighting to stay with her.
I do my best to help them as much as I can. Each weekend, I clean their house for them as neither of them are physically able to do it. I make sure they have food shopping and anything else they might need. I've been doing this for over 2 years now as there is only me to do it. I'm so grateful that I'm fit and able to do this for them, but the down side is that I no longer feel like their daughter. I'm the cleaner, the help. I rarely have the luxury to sit down with them with a cup of tea, and just have a chat. I miss just having time with my Mum and Dad. I want to help them and be there for them as much as I can but I feel that time is running out for us. Mum is not often 'Mum' these days, her personality is so altered, and I'm so scared that Dad is starting to finally decline. I know that we are lucky as we've had 2 1/2 years since the terminal diagnosis - but it's never enough, is it.
How can I help them, support them, yet somehow become their daughter again? I visit as much as I can but with a full time job, husband and teenage son, it's a constant juggling act. Whenever I visit there is always something to do or shopping to get for them, which eats into valuable time with them. Dad stubbornly refuses online grocery shopping, even though they will deliver it right into the kitchen for them. They wont even contemplate getting a cleaner in - I've only just managed to get Dad to agree to me getting quotes from a couple of gardening firms to cut the grass and hedge for him.
I just want to make the most of the time I have left with them, to talk with them, share memories and stories. Friends keep telling me life will get easier but right now, I just can't see how.