When Your Parent Becomes Seriously Ill…


Jordon Valenzula

I remember being sat down at the dinner table, my mom sitting there, trying to think of the right words to say. She starts off with, “It’s okay if you don’t understand it, but try to grasp the idea of what I want to tell you guys. I’m sick with something that won’t ever go away. I’ll be taking more medicine, but they won’t ever cure me. This is something that I’ll live with until I die and it’s called Lupus. It won’t get easier it, will actually only get harder, and I’m sorry but we are a family and will get through this. It’ll make us stronger. We will have to stop what we do, such as camping all the time, being outside will be a lot harder, getting up from the couch on days will be much harder. I will be in constant pain some days, worse than others but we will make it through this.”

After that talk, life changes for you and your family. It did for mine. If you’re in a similar situation, know that you’re not alone.  You’re not going to get to be the carefree teen you once were, but with some help, you can still have good high school years.  Talk with your parents, find out what they need or expect from you, but tell them your limitations and availability.

Manage the things you do, don’t let your tasks become too much weight for you to handle, take care of yourself emotionally, physically, and your personal needs. The plain fact is that your loved one depends on you, so make sure you are at 100 percent to help them.

Build some knowledge of the illness your loved one has and read up on it. Don’t let it scare you, find ways to help that specific illness -each type of cancer or serious illness is different in many ways.

Find activities to do with your loved one, but make sure you’re both interested in it and it is within their limitations. Stay connected with friends. You need them, they may not know why you are so focused on your parent when their minds are focused on relationships, sports, or just hobbies. You’re not alone in this, many kids are in the same situation you are in.  For instance, there are groups or centers that others like you can go to. I personally go to Tu Nidito (https://www.tunidito.org/) They help children, teens, adults, and the ill person to not feel alone in our problems.

If it’s hard to communicate with your parent or your parent is having a hard time communicating with you, write letters to each other. I’ve woken up to some letters on my desk explaining what my mome expects of me and what she needs from me.