Question for family members of cancer patients

Discussion in 'Coping and Compassion' started by Blackadder337, Jun 16, 2017.

  1. Blackadder337

    Blackadder337 Mouseketeer

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    Hi All,

    We found out a few weeks ago that my Brother in law has multiple forms of stage 4 cancer in his body. Depending on which of his doctors you listen to, he has anywhere from 3 months to 3 years but they all agree that 3 years is being optimistic.

    He has started radiation and chemo treatment, but as I understand it, its more about making his remaining time comfortable, not about beating any of it....

    I hope this post doesn't sound selfish or anything like that, because I am fully aware that this illness is all about him and my sister and their son. I'm just waiting to find out how I can help, and what I can do. I live a few hours away so my help is somewhat limited, but my sister knows I'll be in the car within minutes if that's what she needs!

    I'm just not sure how to "be" when I go to see them. Part of me thinks "be sensitive to the situation, but be your usual jokey self. They'll want a distraction even if only for a few minutes". But then I think maybe my usual self needs to wait in the car for now, and let the more sensitive me do the talking. Apparently they've taken to dark humor at the moment. He's made jokes about saving money by not renewing passports, parking passes etc.. long term and so on. Do I join in on that, or just give the customary nervous laugh and wait for the conversation to continue?

    Then I have random thoughts like his upcoming birthday. As awful as this sounds (and I really don't mean for it to sound awful), what do you get a person for their birthday if they only have xx months to live?

    I looked online for resources for family members, but honestly they all seem sort of "text book clinical" if that makes sense? It seems like stuff written by someone who thinks its what you should do, but hasn't actually gone through it themselves.

    So I pray there are no other DIS'ers that have been in similar situations, but in the event there are, would you be willing to help point me in a direction? How you coped, things you did, read, heard, what you did when you were in my position etc.?

    If you made it this far, thanks for reading :)
     
  2. Daniela Rose

    Daniela Rose Best. Day. Ever.

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    Ugh. I'm sorry. It just sucks. I lost my mom in 2007. It was brutal.

    As for the birthday present, maybe make a video montage. Interview his friends and family. Our neighbors did this while my mom was sick and it really meant a lot...to all of us. Our maybe a photo album scrapbook. It's more for the whole family.

    As for everything else. Just be there and help. Let your sister take the lead. When you're there just cook or bring in dinner. Grab the hampers and just do the laundry.
     
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  4. SDimmlich

    SDimmlich Scot

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    Be yourself. I laid my wife to rest last Tuesday due to cancer. I have twin 9 year old children. they will follow your example. Make the time you have left is as magical as possible. When you get that special moment take it and absorb everything. For me the day has come where all I can do reflect and focus on the precious times we had. Life is a gift, they have enough to worry about. Just be yourself and be there for them.
     
  5. Daniela Rose

    Daniela Rose Best. Day. Ever.

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    I'm so sorry for your loss and your children's loss. It's so hard losing a mother so young.
     
  6. SDimmlich

    SDimmlich Scot

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    Thank you, We are concerned about the loss and the impact it will have on the children. This was part of my eulogy I wrote for her. Address specifically to our children. I will do everything within my power to see to it it comes true.

    "She did not want her passing to have a Profound long lasting effect knowing that in all probability it would be unavoidable she asked that it be a motivational force in your life. Take the same characteristics she lived her life by And use them to better your life's. Don't allow her passing to be a hindrance she refused to allow cancer to divine her. She defined cancer. Don't allow her passing to define you negatively."
     
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  7. adisneyaunt

    adisneyaunt DIS Veteran

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    SDimmlich: I'm so very sorry for ur/children/family loss, just heartbreaking.
    May you continue to draw strength from memories and push forward Day by day. Touching eulogy.

    Op: sorry to hear of ur bil diagnosis.
    I think that your sister and bil would like ur time/energy/love ... help where you can, perhaps if feasible, offer to stay if/when the time comes..she needs a break from the shuttling for treatment/s... help with the kids to keep things as normal as possible, bring meals that can be frozen, magazines/dvds while he undergoes chemo.
    Being there to just listen... he can make the jokes but that's a defense and not one that I think you should add too, kwim?
    It's the daily routine, the physical and emotional , mental drain that they will push thru to have his Quality of life the best it can be as long as it can be.


    Sincere Thoughts for both families!
     
  8. Blackadder337

    Blackadder337 Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for the input everyone. Unfortunately I don't live close enough to help with daily meals etc.. but I've started by offering my help to the area that I know best. So I've sent a care package with movies, tv shows and xbox games.

    I also tried putting together a video montage but as I only see them twice a year, added to the fact that he hates having his picture taken, there aren't that many photos to go by. But I'll do the best I can.

    Thanks again.
     
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  9. wilkeliza

    wilkeliza DIS Veteran

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    Please for all goodness sake be your self!

    As someone who went through it (I was 11/12 when my mom was diagnosed and have had many family members since with different levels) I despised the fakeness everyone put on in order not to offend or upset. Like seriously when my mom was cracking jokes like where she wanted what pallbearer some people would pop off it was inappropriate while the rest of us were cracking up along side her. Being serious isn't going to change the situation and well if we weren't laughing at the end we were crying so why not chose to laugh! The ridiculously inappropriate laughing fits we could get into over some terrible stuff no one wants to think about (I mean what mom wants to plan her funeral with her young kids) are some of the best memories I have from that awful period. My cousin who just went into remission from her stage 4 cancer battle even says the same thing. She didn't want a bunch of somber serious people around us and basically said if you can't be yourself then don't bother coming to visit.
     
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  10. wilkeliza

    wilkeliza DIS Veteran

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    I wish I had the words to bring you comfort. It is not an easy thing to do and I wish no other kids ever had to lose their parents in this awful way especially being young. The best you can do is to be there for them and to help them process everything they are going to feel over the years. I am not going to lie and say there aren't some days that it still negatively impacts me. As I have come to terms with every single amazingly happy day of my life will have a tiny dark spot because of what is missing but that doesn't make the amazing part not worth it. It has been incredibly hard for my fiance to grasp that as we plan our wedding but people who have been through it get it.
     
  11. Blackadder337

    Blackadder337 Mouseketeer

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    Hi all. I was asked by a few how things are going so i figured I'd update here:

    My brother in law had his first round of chemo treatment last week and thankfully he didn't feel any bad effects from it, aside from sleeping A LOT. But the doctors said that quite often the bad side effects don't hit until the second or third rounds of treatment. They also said that sleeping it off is probably the best thing so I believe he's lucked out in that sense. He's able to eat some food now though which is good. While we're not fooling ourselves into thinking he will be cured, its good to at least see him enjoy some of the basics again.

    I had also said earlier that I did what I do best by coming up with some movies, tv shows and games to send off. I also found another niche to fill this weekend. My parents offered to take in my nephew for the week in case there was any side effects from the chemo. He doesn't need to see his dad violently ill just yet (thankfully that didn't happen). So while he was visiting, I heard him mention something about wanting to see the new video game Friday the 13th (which I already have) so I picked him up and brought him over, and let him play for about 3 hours on Saturday and another 3 hours on Sunday. I let him play a few private games against my daughter, then I set them loose on the online world! If any of you were playing it on PS4 on Saturday... sorry for the loud kids in the "game lobby" :)

    I received 2 text messages on both Saturday and Sunday from my sister, and my parents. Both saying "thank you thank you thank you... that was just what he needed" and "that's the first time he's been himself since he was told". When he called my sister on Saturday night, apparently his afternoon with us was all he could talk about for 45 minutes.

    I didn't think me having him come over to play a game was that big a deal, but now I see that it was.

    So I pass on my thanks to you here that both here on the thread and through private messages, that just recommended that I be the same me I am, do what I do best. That's what I did, and in turned it seems to have helped out a few people.

    Thanks again!
     
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  12. ToddyLu

    ToddyLu Welcome aboard explorers- I love Mr. Ray

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    What a great idea! That was perfect...see you knew exactly what to do to help...funny how that just kinda happens when you need it too :flower3:
     
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  13. SDimmlich

    SDimmlich Scot

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    As the chemotherapy treatments continue the side effects will unfortunately get worse. Make sure he is drinking a ton of water. The water will help with flushing the chemo out quickly lessening the side effects. The Oncologist will provide nausea medications some people "my wife" have a issue taking drugs or won't take them until the side effects reach there peek. My wife learned quickly to preemptive. This offensive approach made 5 1/2 years of chemotherapy possible.
    Another side note. Fight the Fight but make sure you don't get so hung up in the fight that you forget to live. Do exactly what you did with your nephew but make sure to find ways to include the whole family especially on the good days. A day of happiness, a distraction can be the best medicine. Their lifestyle will become cancer every little detail will revolve around treating the disease. They will need a break from it even if it's just a brief moment in time. It will help remind him why he's fighting and in the meantime create wonderful memories.

    Scot
     
  14. Capang

    Capang DIS Veteran

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    I'm so sorry. I lost my dad in 2002. There is no "right" way or "best" way to respond. It's so difficult and at times just so overwhelming. My best advice is to just be yourself and be accessible. I feel like so many friends that I had just disappeared when my dad got sick. They didn't know what to do or say so they just vanished. Just be around for when you are needed and don't be a stranger. It really helps to know someone is calling or texting just to chat and not tomdiscuss the latest scans or counts. Hang in there, it's a tough, tough road ahead.

    @SDimmlich I am so sorry to hear about your wife. I can't even imagine.
     
  15. Blackadder337

    Blackadder337 Mouseketeer

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    As I understand it, he's already been taking in lots of water and is on the anti nausea meds already. On the bright side, it appears the radiation and chemo has helped shrink the tumors in his neck enough that he is starting to eat more regular food (food intake as recommended by his nutritionist and doctors of course).

    Unfortunately I can't include my sister and brother in law too much. We don't live all that close, and if my parents go down to help, we stay behind to look after the homes, pets etc... But I have been calling my sister each week as well as texts etc.. to follow up see how things are going.

    Speaking of which, my poor nephew, his dad's next chemo treatment is on his birthday, so he'll be coming to stay with us for a few days so we will have a party for him while he's here and his dad does his chemo treatment. Which of course means.... yes... that's right, more Friday the 13th on PS4 :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2017
  16. AnnaS

    AnnaS DIS Sponsoor/Veteran

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    Unfortunately almost everyone has lost a loved one to the beast. I lost my dad, my sister, my brother in law and my best friend (plenty of other friends/relatives too). My mom also battled breast cancer but she passed from other complications. The chemo and radiation did not help the heart though.

    Definitely be yourself. Follow their lead. Be open and honest. Most of them know the truth/what is going on as does your bil. He is going to feel worse as time goes on. I know my loved ones all needed special creams, Biotine (dry mouth), special drinks (boost, etc.). Gift certificates for food to take out - pizza, Chinese, gas, magazine, newspaper, etc. Even if it's not for him, for the family while they take care of him. Take lot's of pictures and remind them constantly how much they are loved and yes, they will be missed dearly.

    I am sorry for everyone's loss.....it really stinks to watch them go through so much suffering.
     
  17. Blackadder337

    Blackadder337 Mouseketeer

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    Just another update for those interested.... b-i-l went through another round of chemo last week. He's lost 5 lbs, but is eating more than he has for a while, and eating 3 times a day. They figure the weight loss could be dehydration though, and his blood pressure keeps going low.

    But on weeks he's not doing chemo, his energy is up, he's not sleeping all day and still eating well. So I guess there's that. The next scan is in about a month's time so we'll know if any of this has made a difference or not. But everyone's optimistic for the moment.

    Thanks again for reading!
     
  18. SDimmlich

    SDimmlich Scot

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    stay strong, hang in there, best wishes for the PET scan
     
  19. Blackadder337

    Blackadder337 Mouseketeer

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    Just another update. My brother in law went for his scan last week and saw the radiologist today. Apparently the tumors in his neck are more or less gone.

    That's the good news. The bad news is that it appears that the cancer started to spread to his bone/s while he was waiting to start his treatments. BUT.... it appears that his chemo and cannabis oil treatments have not only been effective against his esophageal cancer and neck tumors, but they have also been working on the cancer that developed in his bones as well. So while he is by no means cured, this was well beyond any best case scenario any of his doctors could have expected. ALL of them predicted he would not last the summer.

    So while I'm not much of a religious person, it appears miracles can happen. :)
     
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  20. mhf

    mhf Mouseketeer? hah! Princess!

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    Hello OP...Wife of cancer patient here (DH given 2-3 years, we are thru year 1 and motoring on with chemo). My brother came after DH's surgery and raked leaves and trimmed hedges. Took maybe an hour but I didn't have to hire it done. Then he took my car to get it washed and the oil changed. My SIL sat with my DH while I went to Kohl's for a few Christmas presents. When DH wasn't napping, they discussed (?) politics which made it "normal" for a while. One morning, they brought over fresh bagels which was a real appetite boost. SIL brought some cheese things she can get at her grocery. My brother told me to make a list...I actually did. Boom..done.

    Another day. DH's sister brought her teens over...they hauled stuff to basement, moved table upstairs, general house stuff. Then they discussed football. And politics:mic:

    What did they like to do before? Can you help them do that? Even something as simple as a trip to the local park to see the ducks. How about an old-fashioned drive around to see Christmas lights or fall foliage? Walk around neighborhood? Jaunt for ice cream? Getting DH out of the house has really helped.

    Can you help BIL buy his DW a Christmas present? For some reason, DH was worried about that last year. Apple delivers :p

    We are flying out for a Disney trip in 10 days, chemo port and all. Irma interfered with the one a few weeks ago! My mother bought us luggage tags for Christmas last year...

    Do NOT let up. After the initial panic, some other folks will forget that they are living through this on a daily basis but they will still need you.
     
  21. Blackadder337

    Blackadder337 Mouseketeer

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    So in an unfortunate turn, its incredible what a difference 5 days can make. Last week BIL had his scan and things were looking up.

    We learned last night that he has developed bronchitis, and is now in immense back pain, which they believe may be cancer in his bones. He goes Monday to get a new scan done.

    We are picking up my nephew in a few weeks to take him to a local comic book show. Hopefully he'll have some fun with that, and will give my sister even just the slightest hint of rest. At least one less thing to worry about that weekend.
     

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