Would you go away to school if your mom was terminally ill?

My mother is terminally ill with a late stage cancer, and I don’t know if I can bring myself to go away to school as I don’t know what’s going to happen.
It’s a horrible boat for me to be in, and I would love some opinions.
Would you leave a sick parent (or any loved one) to go away to your first choice college? Or would you bite the bullet and commute somewhere nearby?

I’m so sorry. That’s a really tough position to be in. I’ve never been one to want to stay close to home, but I think I’d have to. I’d probably have too many regrets if I didn’t and always be stressed. Wishing your family the best.

What does your mother want you to do?

Another option is, if your first choice school admits you and allows deferred entry is to explore that option. I.e. stay at home (and care for your mother and/or work to earn some money) for the next year, then go to your first choice school the following year.

I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. As someone who has been seriously, although not terminal, ill I know what mattered to me most, and was my biggest worry, was how my kids were doing. I’d be willing to bet that in the end what will be most important to your mom is that you are okay. Whether that will be best accomplished by going away to school and getting some space from the day to day stress of your mom’s illness, or being home, is something no one here can really decide for you. There is no one right answer. Either way you shouldn’t feel bad about the decision you make, and please remember that there are many ways you can support your mom long distance.

One possibility, if it would make sense in terms of your mom’s illness, would be to defer for a year. You could work or do an internship while living at home, perhaps helping with your mom if she needs assistance.

Do you have a dad or someone else close you can talk with about this? It would be a good idea for you to have some support in place, whether that’s in the form of someone outside your immediate family you can talk to on a regular basis or a counselor who can help you deal with what’s happening in your life.

Again, so sorry. It’s a rotten deal, and one no kid should have to face.

Is there a school close to home that you can attend and like or plan to transfer later? As others have said, maybe you can defer for a year at your first choice school. Call the admissions office and ask. My daughter’s school always has the kids apply to at least one college close to home in case there is a situation like yours.

So sorry for you and your family. I can understand your reluctance to leave home right now. I would definitely consider deferring for a year as suggested by others. It’s allowable at many schools. If you have a decent counselor at school, perhaps they can be a good resource/sounding board.

This is a tough situation and the decision is very personal.

I can tell you what happened in a family I am close to. The mom was diagnosed with cancer, and the prognosis was not good. Three daughters. At the time of diagnosis, it was the summer before the oldest was a senior in HS, middle a freshman, and youngest in 7th grade. The oldest went through the application process and left for college. The mom went through several rounds of treatment over the next few years, and life continued as well as possible. Middle daughter left for college when it was her turn. The mom unfortunately died during spring semester of the oldest daughter’s senior year and middle daughter’s freshman year in college (and youngest was in 11th grade). It was important to the parents for their children to live their lives. They went on a lot of family vacations on school breaks and summers. They spent time together whenever they could and talked every day.

Speak with you mom and ask her what’s important to her.

@Thanase I’m so sorry you and your family are going through this. Have you and your mom discussed this? How does she feel about this?

I will tell you from the perspective of a mom who has battled cancer and At many times during the past decade did not know if I would see my son graduate. My son has seen me fighting since he was 6 years old. I want nothing more for him than to see him begin his life. It’s so hard as a parent to feel like we are burdening our children so if you choose to stay home, consider living at the dorm if that is an option for your family.

You can defer your admission if that’s what you decide to do. I know of s boy who deferred last year and attended a state school. His mom passed away during the school year and this year he is at the school he intended to go to.

I hope you don’t feel family or friends will think it is wrong for you to go off to school while your mom is sick. Don’t live your life based on the judgement of others. Talk to your mom.

This is an easy one, imo. Defer or take a gap year. The time with your mom is precious. And you won’t be able to focus on your studies.

Very sorry about what you and your family is going through. (Hugs).

I am so sorry that you’re going thru this.

My first thought was…take a gap year. Spend the time with your mom. You’ll never regret that…School can wait.

The truth is…even if you went to school nearby, your heart will want to be with your mom and likely your grades would suffer anyway. So take the gap year and treasure these moments.

{{{ hugs }}}

I agree with @mom2collegekids

I am truly sorry to read this. Treasure these moments, as you might regret any doubtful decision later. However, the choice is entirely up to you. If you feel strong enough to focus on two things at once, then go to school. Take into account that college is a huge responsibility + loads of finances (unless you are offered a good financial aid package), and I’m sure your family has a lot of expenses to deal with. Nonetheless, there is nothing wrong with taking gap year! Who knows, maybe after a year you will grow and mature as a person and you will strive in whatever you choose to do next.
Again, very sorry about this terrible experience. My prayers go to you and your family!

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Unfortunately there’s no easy answer. For one thing we do not know, and even the OP’s mother may not know, how much time she has. Many people live with stage IV cancers for years. If that’s the case (and hopefully it will work out that way) it might make sense for the OP to live life as usual. If however it’s clear the mother has only months left the OP may want to spend that time with her and it might be too stressful for him or her to go off to school never knowing when it will be necessary to return home and feeling like he or she is missing the little good time left with Mom.

OP, please talk to your parents about this.I know it’s hard but they’ll want what’s best for you and hopefully you can as a family figure out what that will be.

^^ @Sue22 has captured the nuances of this situation well in her posts. As someone in this position, it’s really really important to me that my family be settled and doing well. Especially for my son, going to school where he wanted to go and laying the groundwork for his future is what I want most for him at this point in our lives. So if the prognosis is that she can fight this for a while yet, I’d go ahead and go to school - assuming it’s relatively close (not an XC plane ride away) and you can come back for visits when you want. To be blunt, until I’m totally out of options, I don’t want family and friends hovering around waiting for the end. However this is definitely a YMMV situation. A prognosis that offers a more short term time limit would probably push me to a deferral. But realize that in many many cancer situations you really don’t know how things are going to go, it’s hard to say how treatments will work for any individual. Shoot, I’ve been on the same chemo drug for 16+months and my doctor thought it would just be a stopgap for 2-3 months while we evaluated clinical trial options. So you just never know…

@Thanase my thoughts and prayers are with you. Feel free to message me if you want to talk off line.

I too am very sad OP is in this situation. As @Sue22 said, it’s important to try to talk candidly with your mom about this. As Sue said, many people live with late stage cancers for years. I too had a friend battling late stage metastatic breast cancer. She died in October a few years ago, at a time when the oldest was attending college across the country, middle child was doing college applications and youngest child was a sophomore in high school. It was terribly hard for everybody but I know it gave my friend some happiness to see her children trying to go on with their lives.

It can be hard for people to have a candid conversation about how much time is left, and no one really knows for sure, but it’s good to try to talk about it. How far away is your intended college and is there an airport nearby which which you would be able to take a nonstop flight home? Is your dad in the picture and are their other family members at home to support your mom?

A friend of mine attended an OOS college when her mother fell ill with terminal cancer. She promptly transferred back to a local school to spend more time with her family, and those last few months were very important to her. Depending on how sick she was, I would either take a gap year, or consider a college within commuting distance. If you keep your grades up, you can possibly transfer to the first choice school once things stabilize. Good luck in a very tough time.

So sorry to hear this. Please be assured of my best wishes for you and your family, no matter what you decide.

I’m so sorry to read this, OP, and I can’t imagine how difficult this must be for you. I can tell you that if you were my child, I’d definitely want you to go. What has your mom said?

Looking at the posting history, it appears that this is a current college student commuting to a local school and is considering transferring away.

Depending on mom’s status, and I know that no one really knows, but if very sadly it’s unlikely that mom will make it more than a year, then please consider asking the “transfer school” if you can defer enrollment.

I’ve known two seriously ill friends (one now deceased) whose children could not concentrate adequately while in school (understandably!) and their grades suffered. Who wants to study, do an assignment or even sit in a lecture when one really wants to be at a loved one’s side?

I’m not sure that “asking mom” is really the right answer. Most moms would simply say, “continue your education.” But (and I’m sorry that this sounds harsh, I don’t mean to to), the survivors are the ones who’ll forever live with the decision and if it will be later painful regretting not spending extra time with mom, then that is the right path.

My mom passed a few years ago, her stroke left her unconscious. I had delayed an earlier visit and I’ll forever regret that.

{{ hugs and prayers }}

I have to agree with @mom2collegekids. I know that, as a parent, I’d probably feel that going on with life as scheduled to be in the best interests of my child. However, you are the one who will ultimately need to live with your decision, so it should really be up to you. Regrets are a hard thing to live with. Sending prayers to your family…

This is important. My friend, whom I referenced upthread, lived four years with a stage IV diagnosis. That’s why she wanted her children to live their lives as normally as possible instead of “waiting around.” When it was clear that she was out of options, there were about two to three months left.

I’m not advocating for one position or another, but I don’t think it’s necessarily as clear as a lot of people are making it (that she should defer). It’s very personal.