OUR LITTLE LUSCIOUS WORLD: Sad cancer news and a request for advice

Sad cancer news - myLusciousLife.com

 

Two days before we left for our honeymoon, we found out that my beloved father has a rare, incurable and aggressive cancer.

Whilst I have several people in my circle with cancer (which is shocking in itself) including my lovely sister-in-law and one of my best friends, this has hit me the hardest. I feel terrible for both Dad and Mum who have been married for almost 66 years. Terminal illness is bad enough for anyone, but how do childhood sweethearts deal with this sort of thing? How does one spouse go on living without the other?

Dad’s sticking to a “do everything as normally as possible” mode, Mum is being strong and cheery, and I’m currently in a realistic-but-positive, practical mode.

I have started alternating as “chemo carer” with my mother, taking Dad to his weekly treatments at Peter Mac Cancer Centre in Melbourne. But when I say “treatment”, it’s sadly just “slowing things down” rather than actual treatment, but at least it buys him some time to finalise his affairs.

So I’d like your advice please.

Have you or a loved one gone through this? Can you leave some suggestions about how to help someone with a terminal illness.¬†What is it that you’ve found to be helpful and not helpful? Emotionally, practically? What books are useful to read? Blogs to follow?

For example, my friend Yvonne reminded me that they should have their Power of Attorney documents up-to-date.

Thanks, Natasha

PS. You can leave a comment anonymously.

 

 

 

 

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6 Comments

  1. Anonymous May 26, 2016 at 4:48 am #

    As a chemo-carer for 8 years to my own father, my best advice is to take extra good care of yourself. It is very difficult to be prepared for feelings that may arise, such as sadness and anger. Build a network around yourself. Pay extra attention to the basics like sleep, nutrition and exercise. Consult spiritual guides or religious mentors. Take care!

  2. Penelope More May 26, 2016 at 7:30 am #

    So sorry to hear this sad news at what should be such a happy time for you. I have been through this process with a loved one. It may be different for you In Australia but here in the U.S. The Hospice program, mostly in home support, is most helpful and more humane than the standard medical model. Let those who want to be helpful shop, clean, drive, care for pets, etc. . Most people want to help but don’t know how or what so give direction or set up a schedule of helpers and a centralized news delivery system so you don’t have to repeat hard updates to everyone. If your Dad or Mum want to talk, be open (not scared of the conversations) but many just don’t want to go there. They say that at the end of life or any day really the most important statements are “I am sorry, I forgive you… Thank you… I love you..” I might add “We will always love and remember but we will be O.K.”

  3. Gauri May 26, 2016 at 8:22 am #

    Firstly, extremely sorry to hear this news.. be strong all of you…
    My advice is to Just spend as much of time with him as you can, doing mundane things like cooking together or even just eating meals together.. these moments and memories of him are the ones you will always carry with you..
    Do small things but things you will remember, go for walks, if he can support himself or simply go sit in a garden with him… just spend time… it’s the best gift you can give him to make it easier and yourself too…
    And behave normally around him…

    Hope God gives all of you strength and helps you through this difficult time.. Best of luck and Best Wishes x

  4. J. Hall May 28, 2016 at 12:21 pm #

    I am so sorry to hear your sad news. I don’t think there are ever any words to say when one is presented with sad and shocking news. Recently, my mother-in-law woke up one morning and looked at herself in the mirror and her skin looked yellow. She called for my father-in-law and soon as her saw her, they headed for the emergency room. A lot of testing was done over the next 3 days and on the 4th morning, the doctor called all of the family together and said she had a very rare type of cancer and expected her to live 3 months. Stunned silence and soft tears filled the room.
    The very first thing she wanted to do privately with my father-in-law was to plan her funeral. From the music to the scripture readings to her pall bearers, picking out which dress she would wear and then writing her own obituary brought her unbelievable peace! She said she knew she had no more control over how her life would go and while she did have control, she wanted to make her OWN plans.
    Over the next couple of months, her children and children-in-law and grandchildren would pile on her bed and we would read scripture, story books, funny books and do word puzzles all to her great delight. We all took turns and one or two nights a week, someone would make her a mouth-watering, very rich, very lovely dessert. She had been on Weight Watchers for years and now she could eat with reckless abandon.
    As she became confined to her bed, she still loved to have her grandchildren lay on her bed with her. A couple of the “tween” grandaughters gave her outrageous pedicures and even in her weak state she would laugh at her neon orange and lime green toenails.
    She never wanted to be alone. There was always at least one person in her room with her. When my father-in-law could no longer sleep in the same bed with her, he brought the loveseat into her bedroom. During the day, her loveseat was always full of family and visitors and at night, my father-in-law would take to the loveseat with a blanket and pillow so she wouldn’t be alone.
    She wanted to talk about so many things, childhood memories, memories of when each of her seven children were babies, she talked about her regrets, her fear of dying, looking forward to greeting her parents in heaven and the greatest adventures of her life. The most important thing I learned during those few months with her was…to listen, listen, listen and to NOT be afraid to have a conversation with her over any of the subjects she talked about. Human contact (touch) is precious and gave her so much comfort and joy. I never realized how the gift of touch could ever mean so much. The night before she died, two of her younger granddaughters curled up on either side of her and slept all night. The next day, she stopped speaking and was in a state of half sleep all day. By this time she had been getting quite a bit of pain medication from the home health nurse and she was comfortable. All of us were in her bedroom with her, we had some of her favorite music playing, the grandchildren all whispered her good-byes into her ear, all of the big kids, (yes me) hugged and kissed her for the last time and very quietly in the early evening she entered paradise.
    I know I’ve written you close to novella her, excuse me, but I wanted you to know that anything from a book or a hospice professional or even the priest could do for her which came unwittingly to us. We tended to her every sense, pretty things to see, beautiful books, lots of flowers for her to smell and gaze upon, talking, always talking and sometimes whispering with her, filling her with all of her favorite foods and touch, always touch, rubbing her legs and feet, brushing her hair, lots of hugs and kisses and the unwavering love and attention of the love of her life were the things we realized meant most to her and to us. Several months after she passed, we slowly began sharing memories with each other of the time we spent with her during her illness and to the end and on Thanksgiving Day after the summer she passed, we all understood what we had done for her and for ourselves and we were very thankful. Be at peace, smile often, remember you are never ever alone, take breaks when you need them and know that you are helping your dear father through another stage of his life.

  5. Jessica June 2, 2016 at 1:30 am #

    I am really sorry for what you and your family are going through. I have been doing a kind of alternative healing called Pranic Healing. A family member of mine with cancer said this healing method has greatly reduced her pain and she has only been doing it for 1 month and she is getting much better. According to my friends, there have been cancer patients cured through this type of healing. It could compliment whatever treatment your dad is having and it does’t really have any side effects. There are pranic healing centres around the world. You can google it or check out the youtube videos. I highly recommend it. Hope the advice could help. Wish your dad a speedy recovery! Best wishes.

  6. A Chandler July 3, 2016 at 5:16 pm #

    I echo J Hall’s comments for the emotional content. For more practical matters: are the wills up to date? Yes, the financial and medical powers of attorney should be reviewed and if necessary updated. Is there someone who will take the reins to handle financial matters? Does that person have the necessary logins/passwords to any bank/brokerage websites? Many banks require their OWN power of attorney forms and will not accept general forms, even recent ones, drafted by your parents’ counsel. Also make sure that the username/passwords to shopping sites like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, email are shared so that someone can take over those.

    Be prepared to follow your father’s lead on how much, and how soon, he wants to discuss what is now bearing down on you like a freight train. Be gentle with yourself, and most of all, be supportive to your mother. As you say, she is facing the loss of a relationship that has been the major element of her entire adult life. You cannot prepare for that; you can only try to survive the changes and hope that she can make it through the first year or so of widowhood and find joy even in the midst of unimaginable loss.

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