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Her voice sounded strained and disconnected, and I knew what she was going to say before she said it — the spot wasn’t just a cyst. It was a brain tumor.

Two hours later, I was on a plane back to Colorado. Four hours later, standing at baggage claim with my cell phone practically glued to my ear, the worst of my worst fears were confirmed — it was stage IV brain cancer, and it crossed both hemispheres of her brain, rendering it inoperable. The entire world seemed to disintegrate.

[My family and friends] are still wonderful and provide as much support as they can. But there’s still a feeling of being…left behind. As if I’m standing with my nose pressed to the glass, watching as everyone’s life continues to grow and expand, while my mom and I remain frozen in time.

My mom needs 24/7 care, so aside from the three hours, five days a week when we have Dignity Caretakers, I’m home with her. It’s a strange existence.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t struggle with the day-in, day-out monotony, that I don’t daydream about a life that includes my own place, my friends, a job, the freedom to come and go as I please.

How could I possibly re-enter the world after that much time, completely broke, any career momentum long gone and rootless? I felt sick at heart, selfish, a coward guilty of the worst kind of betrayal.

I have yet to read even one story like my own — someone young, taking care of a parent by themselves, completely in over their head but still getting by.

But, because none of us are truly special snowflakes, I know there must be others out there in this same position. So to those of you who are: For whatever it’s worth, you aren’t alone. I don’t know if, like me, that makes you feel less isolated, or if it’s a completely cold comfort.

Read more on xoJane.

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