Mothering my own mother: A young adult caregiver’s story of role reversal

After graduating from Purdue University in December 2016, I had no idea what I wanted to do professionally. But the “real world” was fast approaching, and my time of living mostly bill-free as a college student was drawing to a close. Since I wasn’t tied down to a job just yet, I spent three months in early 2017 hiking, sailing and sea kayaking in New Zealand. When I returned to the U.S., I thought my life would carry on as usual. But no more than a week later, my mom was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer called a granular cell tumor. And looking after her became my new job. Providing support after a granular cell cancer diagnosis I was a bundle of nerves right after my mother was diagnosed. I didn’t overtly show it, because I didn’t want her to know how scared I truly was. But this was our new reality, and I needed to be there for her. So, that day I decided that cancer would not defeat us — neither my mom nor our family. From then on, I just tried to make sure that she remained calm and at ease. If Mom cried, I hugged and consoled her. If she couldn’t ask the right questions, I did. And, if she simply needed someone to listen, I was her sounding board. Supporting my mother during her granular cell cancer treatment After doing a lot of research, my mom decided to seek treatment at MD Anderson, the No. 1 ranked hospital for cancer care. I accompanied her and my stepfather there for her first visit...