Your Parent Has Cancer

June 9, 2010 at 03:51 AM ·

     "My dear sons I have been diagnosised with Throat Cancer. The doc will consult other docs as to how to go about treating this, so far it looks like I will start with radiation treatments......."

     I remember friends telling me that she/he never felt truly alone until they lost their parent(s).  Though Mom has caught her cancer early and that there is a good chance of beating it I am wondering what I should do or be doing.  I am reassuring my mom, I am focussing more on my music, I am doing all that I can to not start drinking or eatting heavily, to start smoking... I am reaching out to friends and family.  I have contacted the elders & elderesses at church, and my mental health care givers (my Nurse Practitioner & Councilor)...... Alot of focus on myself.... what else should I be doing, for my family, my brother, my aunt and uncle, my step-dad !!!!

     Mom could pull through.  She caught it early!  6 weeks ago she was tested negative for cancer.  She went to another ENT for a 2nd opinion when nodes popped up again since then.

     I may lose a parent. What should I do & be doing?

     What to expect?

God Bless You All..........

Replies (26)

June 9, 2010 at 04:20 AM ·

Royce, I'm so sorry to hear that. I lost my father to pancreatic cancer two years ago...  However, throat cancers can be cured in 90% of patients if detected early, so don't worry too much!

Be there for her, in person or in spirit. Visit her as often as you can, and cherish your time together. She must be going through lots of emotions herself right now. The treatment/therapy will be long and painful, so she needs all the comfort that can be provided for her. Be there for your other family members, especially your step dad. He will have to go through a lot with her.  Ask them what you can do to help. It will be a very stressful time for all of you.  You need to support each other. Be prepared to go through lots of confusion, anxiety, anger, grief, and other emotions, and don't forget to take care of yourself!

You might want to check out this website. There will be lots of needs - both emotional and resources, and it's a good way to organize a community for your mom's care, and for all of you to support each other.

Wish you the best!

-Joyce

June 9, 2010 at 11:48 AM ·

Joyce- Thank you so very, very much!

June 9, 2010 at 12:16 PM ·

Royce: I am so sorry to read about this. One always looks for the redeeming features in every problem or tragedy, but they are hard to find in many things that happen to us. For what it's worth, you might want to dip into the writings of Viktor Frankl and others who confront the issue of suffering. I'm lucky enough to still have my mother, who is 94. While she is mentally still quite with it and and has a wonderful attitude, her physical health makes it tough. We've talked about this many, many times. Her resolution is to live each day fully and get the most out of it, and whatever happens will happen when it happens. Perhaps that's the best way to deal with it.
Anyway, thank you for sharing this. Our thoughts are with you.
Sandy
 

June 9, 2010 at 12:35 PM ·

Royce - you have my deepest empathy - I won't use the word 'sympathy' at this time. I was in the same boat as Joyce about 20 years ago. I second the recommendations of others, as well as you, yourself. Whatever happens, you will survive because you must.

June 9, 2010 at 01:00 PM ·

Royce: This is always a very difficult situation. The reason why I am often on this site right now is mainly to have exchange with others. I cannot go back to work actually. The truth is that I had a recidive of an accute leukemia in 2009. I had it in 2002 and they gave me only chimiotherapie and it fade away after one year of treatment. So in august 2009, because of the insidious recidive I had a medulla transplant. I am back home since January 2010, but still I have transfusion every weeks... Things are slowly getting to normal.

What is the best advice I could give you? I feel sorry for your mother but Royce, there is always hope! Now, one important question in these delicate matters is the following: how does your mother feels about you knowing that she has cancer. That is a difficult one to answer but an important one. The first thing that came to my mind when I knew I had leukemia is that I was not comfortable with persons who changed their attitude towards myself. I wanted them to be happy, to enjoy life. Not to express sadness or panic... Hey! I was alive!!!  Of course, I enjoyed their company and their attention...But I felt that my dignity as a person was primordial. Maybe that is what saved me. I did not feel sorry about myself and I cared more about an 18 years old girl I met at the hospital who passed away, and did not experience life as much as I did... So in one word, it is all about respect, facts of life and love...

That is all I can tell you Royce...

June 9, 2010 at 01:18 PM ·

My father had bladder cancer almost two years ago, actually his yearly checkup is coming up. So far he's still in remission, and can still use his bladder without a cathiter.

When I found out I just stayed positive. We talked a little more often, but other than that nothing really changed. We both decided that we wanted to keep things positive and normal even though were were both scared ****less. It's a hard thing to go through, especially if you live thousands of miles away from your family--like I do. We kept our heads up, and talked about just about everything except cancer.

In the end his surgery went well, and I got to make it back home once since then to see him. He's recovered well, and hopefully will stay in remission.

My father didn't even want to tell me or my older sister. My older sister's mother died of lukemia when she was young, and he didn't want to scare my sister. He didn't want to tell me because I live so far away, but he did shortly before the surgery.

I think the biggest thing you can do to get through it, and help your parent get through something like this is to show them how much you care, and just be strong for them. They'll need you as a pillar when the treatments start, it's not a fun process.

I hope this really helps, and I hope everything turns out well for you.

June 9, 2010 at 02:59 PM ·

Offer all the support and closeness you can. How old are you - that will make a difference in your relationship with your mother at this time. Use this time so that if your mother survives the cancer you can both treasure the way you both were during this time, and if she does not, you can treasure it.

I lost my father to pancreatic cancer wen he was only 48 years old and I was 19. I was not told about it during final exams for my sophomore year at college and did not find out until I arrived home. The next day Dad and I sat outside in the sun (since it had already hit his liver he was trying to get a tan to disguise the inevitable jandice that followed) and then wewent inside and played violin duets (Bach double, Mozart, Leclair), as long as he could. Early the next morning the cancer attacked his brain (he knew, he was an MD) and he was taken to the hospital, where he died within a month.

That was almost 56 years ago and I still treasure and visualize that one day we had. He continued to visit my dreams from time to time, for years - and I treasured those visits and hope there are going to be more (I'm now 27 years older than he ever was - so I think if anyone else ever viewed the dream it would be a strange sight, indeed).

Andy

June 9, 2010 at 03:10 PM ·

I will respond to each and everyone who has written a post shortly!  I didn't want to much time to go by without acknowledging and thanking all of you!

Right now we are busy looking up information about throat cancer, the treatments, ect. while at the same time trying not to think of the Might Coulds' & Maybe Coulds' as Destiny and worrying too much about things that may not manifest!  And to just not worry ourselves sick adding needless strain on each other.  we are both still alive today and so as long as we are living we will live and enjoy life, stick close, and play the violin!  She loves mine and other violinists playing!

 

Also!  Thank you to you who have been through this with your own loved ones and have taken courage to post something for Mom & I!  By doing so you have had to face many emotions again... unpleasant ones.... But you are and you are reaching out and touching Mom & I heart, to help us though whatever processes we will face.  God Bless You All!

She played the violin for a year or two when she was a young girl!

June 9, 2010 at 03:20 PM ·

You have my empathy.

I think one important thing to remember is that feelings are always valid. Even when it is easy to see them as trivial, accept the feelings for what they are.
This counts for you, your mom, and others close to her. Do not try to hide from them, feel they are silly, or dismiss them. There will be a lot of changing feelings and emotions. Don't use logic to dismiss them.

Both my parents are gone, but I do still have the memories. I am thankful that when they were getting older, I kept in touch frequently; it made it easier.
I did not feel that we left issues unresolved. We didn't try to resolve them, we just accepted what was, and communicated. It helped a lot.

June 9, 2010 at 04:03 PM ·

Royce - Having lost both my parents, I am so sorry and understand completely your concerns.  The advice you have received from other responses is good.  Ultimately, you have to find your own way to deal with, what works for you.  The main thing is to try to get as much out of whatever time there is left, try to make her as happy as possible, ask her any heretofore unanswered questions of interest to you, do those special things you want to do with her, ensure that she knows she has your love and support, and then let life take its course.  It will not be easy for you, but you will survive it and go on with your life, blessed with the memories of the time you had with her and grateful that you were able to spend so much good time with her.  Good luck in this.

June 9, 2010 at 05:09 PM ·

Royce- I lost both my father and my sister to cancer.  My father lived with it for 23 years, and actually had three separate primary cancers in that time.  The best thing you can do is to follow your mother's lead.  My dad never wanted to talk much about his health, and he continued with work, hobbies, projects, etc., almost to the end.  He would much rather talk to you about the Civil War history project he was researching than about what the last bone scan showed.  My sister, who died of pancreatic cancer in her 40's, always wanted to hear what my kids and I were up to, I think to take her mind off her problems, and to assure herself that the world was still full of people who didn't have terminal illnesses.  Others want to talk more about what is happening to them with their illness and treatment.  Your mom will let you know which is more comfortable for her.

If you live close by, people who stop by with food are a blessing.  So are people who come by to mow the yard, run errands, or sit with the sick person while the well one goes to the grocery store, or even to a movie or concert for a couple of hours.  Your mother and her husband will figure out how to deal with it.  For you, let them know you love them, and figure out how to support them.

June 9, 2010 at 05:25 PM ·

I have a tremendous apreciation for members of my support group both here in Laramie (including my congregation) and at my health care facility. And those of you here at Violinist.com!

Mom's congregation in Monument, Colorado is an extention of mine here in Laramie, Wyoming and I know many in the Monument Cong., and they too are being a tremendous reasurance and support group for her and my dad.  Even though Dad is of a different denomination mom's congregation has always been good to dad and he has many friends from it.... It is a reliefe that they are in the proccess of getting involved to help them at whatever they can for them.

Fortunately my folks are a 3 hour drive (I-270 to Ft. Collins to I-25 through Denver) from where I live. Two weeks ago I got my car back up and running, 4 new tires and an oil change!  I think our heavenly Father well equiped me at the right moment knowing what was about to happen!

June 9, 2010 at 06:05 PM ·

Royce: God loves you and your Mom. Be confident!

June 9, 2010 at 07:23 PM ·

Hey Royce--first and foremost, do not panic..it going to take you no where if you do, focus on things that are positive, like her type of cancer has 90% survival rate, make sure that the cancer are not spread, then start treatment right away. there are ups and down as expected, but no ne can tell you what it is, since it depend of what the feelings at the moment. Keep your faith in check, your feelings, and the tremedous support you are having right now, let this serve you as your strength along the way.

Draw some strenght from your mother, we always often neglect their feelings, little we know that they are more braver than we are, and let her know tha she can draw the same strenght from you, making yourself open for her.

You all going thru this difficult steps, so take one step at a time. believe that God is your healer, your Jehovah Jirah!

God Bless you and Mom, and the rest of your family.

E.

June 9, 2010 at 09:56 PM ·

Here is the recent email from Mom.

 

 

 

Hello my sweets!!!  Met my cancer doctor this morning.  Very, very nice as was the nurse and staff.  The ENT Doc told me yesterday that I would probably have radiation five days a week for 6 weeks, but the cancer specialist said he wants to double that, meaning, I will have radiation TWICE a day (6 hours apart)  five days a week for 6 weeks.  He said if we go with radiation once a day, 5 days a week, for 6 weeks, my chances of not having anymore cancer is 70%.  If we double the dose, my chances of not getting cancer again is 95%.

My Treatments will begin June 28, 2010.  He said the first couple weeks probably won't be too bad and I may even speak clearly, but then it can really go down hill until the treatments are over.  Major sore throat, loss of appetite, and weakness and fatigue.  I should eat (drink) high calorie diets and lots of Protein.  And keep a POSITIVE ATTITUDE!!!

 

 

June 10, 2010 at 03:02 PM ·

@ Joyce Lin- Thank for your support and advice!  Most definiely will I be with my family.  Helping and suporting others, doing something that helps someone else always builds my strength and faith and adds Joy into my life.

@ Sander Marcus- Sandy, I am very fortunate to have you and the others.  while we are still alive let us enjoy life!  I have afirmed plans to visit, help her run errands, play miniture golf (Mom loves it to no end) work in the garden, listen to me play, bake & cook things, take trips,etc., and as you say what happens will happen when it happens.

@ Raphael Klayman- Thank you for reaching out!  I will survive... so that I can carry her on in my heart and memories of great times!  I will teach others what she has spent most of her life teaching me!  I will continue to offer being a friend, a big brother or father for those that do not have them in their life if and be there if I can be those things.  I will not force myself, but be there just in case.

@ Marc Villeneuve- Oh so much truth and wisdom in your words!  I certainly will remember what you said.  I doubt that i would have concidered any of that on my own!

@ Kristen O'Donnell- It helps me to cope by helping others!

@ Andrew Victor- Like I told Sandy, she and I will continue to make the best times and memories as we can!

@ Roland Garrison- Thank you so much!  She and I are keeping in touch and both of us are doing well.  Fortunately for several years now we have had an open and honest, healthy comunication.  And it is serving us well enven now.

@ Tom Holzman- I certainly appreciate having the best things of life made possible by her efforts!  Mast of what better qualities I have came from her.

Lisa Van Sickle- When under duress some negative feelings like anger has flashed up recently, but as I understand that can happen due to feelings brought on by this situation.  I got in contact with my dad and let him know that I do care about him and his feelings mean alot too me.  I will be contributing to the gasoline pool to help them with the traveling expences to get Mom to treatments and back home.  Your post made me think that now is the time to give my love and to let my family vent and speak their hearts because this is weighing heavy on their hearts.

Elinor Estepa- The most important person in I and my family's life is our maker and life giver.  Always do I/we need reminded that we can draw from His wealth of Love & strength Beyond what is Normal for such times as this!  The docs said that she has a 95% chance at succesfully overcoming this.

@ Sam Mihailoff- Thank you so much for your emails and your phone number and offer to call you 24x7 for ANYTHING!!!!

I and my family wish you all to know that from the bottom of our hearts, many of you strangers to them, but still you opened your hearts and showered your love upon not only me but them as well.  God Bless You All.......

June 10, 2010 at 04:55 PM ·

Royce, if your mom will receive radiation treatment twice a day and it's a long commute between hospital and home, your family might want to consider finding (borrowing/renting) a place close to the hospital for 6 weeks, so your mom can have proper rest between treatments. It's worth asking the church and the hospital whether they can provide such space. You will find that logistics is one of the most challenging aspects in all of this. She will need a lot of help from a lot of people (transportation, errands, etc.), so it's great that she has a large community behind her.
 

June 10, 2010 at 04:57 PM ·

Hi, I hadn't been on v.com for a while because I always answer fast for such threads...

Unfourtunately, young or old, we will all get there but the question is always that we don't want to suffer and (if the one who stays here) how will we deal with such a loss...

So sorry for you and your mom Royce. Really, I think Sandy's advice is the best... I had close family friends who died from cancer... (yes, life is very unfair...) But the "one day at the time thing" is the most important. You will never have any regret if you spent all the time you can with your mom now.  You'll feel she will have many good moments if ever she doesn't gain the battle...  Life is made so that you can know many wonderful people at every stage. Of course, nothing is like a mother... but good friendship is always a wondurful way to have a "full" life. Hobbies and pets too!  

That beeing said, don't loose hope since the progress in medecine is very impressive and saved many ones too!

I hope despite everything that you'l be able to see her alot, talk alot, play music etc

Best wishes, good luck and a lot of courage and strengh!

Our thoughs are with you!

Anne-Marie

June 10, 2010 at 05:05 PM ·

@ Joyce Lin-  Hey, that's a great idea!  I know that we have congregations down that way and many of our brothers & sisters too!  I'll aproach Mom and see what she thinks!  Her elder body can contact the elders down that way and have a 6 week plan of hospitality!  Now why did I not think of that??? My congregation is always opening doors of hospitality to our out of town brothers & sisters!!!!  alot on my mind I guess.

June 10, 2010 at 05:06 PM ·

@ Anne-Marie; You are a precious gem my friend! Thanks a million! ;)

June 10, 2010 at 05:09 PM ·

I suggest to take big walks or find anyway to go outdoors alot too...  Nature is one of the best healers... 

Such things as walking, biking or horseback riding are so "zen", relaxing and connects you with things that are so much more the "real life" than everything we usually see around us in cities... It is also a good occasion to meditate and breath fresh air.

Good luck in all this,

Anne-Marie

 

June 10, 2010 at 05:18 PM ·

Royce: you are a very kind person and I like you. Your attitude makes me believe strongly that you have all the necessary tools to make these hard moments a creative experience in your life, and a positive one concerning your mother and family. That is the best direction to evolve as a human being. Sharing your thoughts  just made all of us more closer to a "conciousness" we often tend to avoid...

June 10, 2010 at 05:32 PM ·

@ Marc- where I grew up it was always a great complament and an endearment to offer words of apreciation to someone in their mother language. I hope I have this correct;

Merci mon ami du fond du cœur ! C'est un privlege pour que vous et les autres ici pour moi de tendre la main.

June 11, 2010 at 02:50 PM ·

Here is my Mother's thank you to all of you!

This out pouring of good wishes is mind boggling!!!!  What a response!!  I am so over whelmed at the love and kindness being shown from so many.  Thank you all so very, very much....................Sending sunshine, rainbows, and love to all.   Dolly

June 12, 2010 at 02:07 AM ·

Very touching...

Anne-Marie

June 12, 2010 at 02:45 AM ·

 Dear Royce,

 

I am so sorry to hear about your mother's cancer!  

I lost my mother to esophageal cancer during my second year in grad school.   It has been 16 years since and I miss her still.  The time I spent with her, knowing that she was not going to survive very long, was precious to me.  She would say to people who asked her how she was doing, "Oh, I'm not sick.  I'm just dying."   This was largely true.  She didn't feel terrible all the time.  She was able to take a cruise to Alaska during her last year, and she supported her friends when they needed her to accompany them to funerals and the like.  She lost a lot of weight and all of her hair, and this was quite shocking to see, but she remained funny and remarked that she looked like her (bald) Uncle Edwin.  In her last months she wanted to learn Spanish because of all the young families she was seeing in her town, newly arrived from Mexico.  Strangely, she insisted on using the local laundromat, (even though her own machines worked fine), to do her laundry, because she enjoyed getting to know the new people in the community.  She had been an oil painter, but was not able to work during her last year.  She spent a lot of time in her hospital bed which was set up in her studio.  There she was surrounded by her half-finished works as well as some completed.  She said it was torture looking at these paintings and wanting to change this or that, but being unable to do it.  I cannot generalize to all people, but at least in her case, she was full of ideas and plans almost to the very end.  In her very final days she didn't want to go outside, although it was probably the loveliest fall in my memory.  She was bedridden by this time.  The evening she died, my father made meatloaf and my mother's sister and brother and their families came over for dinner.  She hadn't eaten in weeks, but she enjoyed the meatloaf and the company.  She died sometime after dinner surrounded by family.

 

Perhaps your mother's prognosis will be good and you may have five or more years with her. However long she has, I hope you can spend time enjoying her presence.  I  felt like I was on a powerful river at flood time, being carried along with the trees and branches.  I felt that I simply had to surrender to the unknown and I believe that this is when I learned the meaning of grace.

I wish you and your mother and your family all the best during this difficult time.

Love,

Jennifer

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