The Exhausting Balancing Act of Motherhood and Caregiving

Women of color in the sandwich generation share their stories of straddling two worlds at the same time

L'Oreal Thompson Payton
ZORA
Published in
10 min readApr 3, 2020

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An illustration of a black woman on the phone with her elderly father, while her young daughter is in the background.
Illustrations: Carmen Deñó

WWhat started as a typical family vacation for Priya Linson quickly took an unexpected turn. Just days after arriving at Grand Cayman for her parents’ 60th birthday celebration, the family was poolside and taking in the warmth of the sun when Linson noticed her mother, Madhu Luthra, was having memory issues.

“It was a surreal time,” says Linson, chief of staff at an education nonprofit, adding that the 2010 trip included her husband, sister, and brother-in-law. “At first we thought it was stress because her dad had died earlier that year. But she was forgetting words, or would forget her hotel room number and get lost in the hotel.”

Both of Linson’s parents were physicians at the time and suspected something might be wrong. They ended the trip early to seek medical attention for Luthra at a local hospital back home in Wisconsin. An abnormality in a CT scan led them to drive to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Once there, an MRI revealed Luthra had glioblastoma (GBM), an aggressive form of brain cancer.

“My sister and I were still in Grand Cayman when my dad called and told us what happened; we…

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L'Oreal Thompson Payton
ZORA
Writer for

L’Oreal is a freelance writer and editor who’s dedicated to uplifting and inspiring Black women and girls through storytelling. Learn more at LTintheCity.com.