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Coping with a Loved Oneís Diagnosis

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
1/27/2010 5:01 PM   :  253 comments   :  12,580 Views

See More: family, changes, stress,
A few months ago I wrote a blog on how to cope when caring for aging parents; little did I know then that this was just the beginning of a new set of challenges. Last month my mother-in-law called me on a Tuesday morning complaining of a mass in her abdomen. She was not experiencing any pain, discomfort or any other symptoms, but as a former Registered Nurse, this was something we could not ignore.

We made an appointment with her health care provider for later that day. The doctor diagnosed her with a benign hernia which did not require immediate attention. Since we had an appointment with him for a check-up later that week, he so graciously decided to take care of everything that day. Everything checked out well on the physical exam and off we went to have her lab work done.

On Friday morning, I received a call from my mother-in-law stating that her doctor insisted that we get in with her hepatologist, a liver specialist, that day since her liver enzymes were higher than they had been. With a history of autoimmune hepatitis, we were not too alarmed. Her hepatologist ordered a series of blood tests as well as an abdominal sonogram and an MRI.

Two weeks after the initial doctor visit and only three days before Christmas, we were given the news that my mother-in-law had Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) also known as liver cancer and we have been on a whirlwind since. We visited the oncologist just 3 days after New Yearís and were given the sad news that there was little that could be done. The doctor was so wonderful and suggested that we contact the Hospice agency their office works with.

Later that day, after many, many tears, I made the dreaded phone call to the Hospice agency. I spoke with the liaison who so kindly and helpfully guided us through the process. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought I would be dealing with this issue. We met with the liaison, Registered Nurse and Social Worker within 72 hours of diagnosis. Each member of the team told us their job and what we could expect. Let me tell you, it was by far one of the most difficult days of my life, but there was a comfort factor having these compassionate and caring individuals on our side to help my mother-in-law.

As the days pass, my mother-in-law grows weaker and more fatigued. She is becoming more jaundiced as well as experiencing the ascites, or fluid build-up in the abdominal cavity. She is still able to eat and drink, but for how long that remains to be seen.

Two weeks ago I was able to take her back to her hometown to see her friends of many, many years. It was bittersweet to see over 30 wonderful people celebrate her life with us, knowing that we are fighting against how much time we have with her.

Words canít begin to express the gratitude I have for all of your thoughts and prayers. Trust me, having so many people to support me every step of the way makes this journey a tad easier. THANK YOU!

Have you ever had to cope with a loved oneís diagnosis? How did you manage through the stress? Do you have any words to offer on how to get through the days and weeks ahead?


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Comments

  • 253
    I understand the stress and pain you're going through. I've been a caregiver off and on for my mother since I was 15 yrs. old. She has many health issues including congestive heart failure and early diabetes. At times she's even lived with me and I've cared for her full-time. It is stressful trying to maintain relationships, including my marriage, and there's also the sad reality of switching roles with my mother as I care for her. I've gone through seasons of pouring my whole life into caregiving to the detriment of my own health and well-being, and other times where I've had to let others step in and take on that role, or sit back so my mother could gain a certain level of independence. What's gotten me through the tough times is prayer and the support of a loving husband and friends. - 12/8/2012   2:53:08 AM
  • 252
    My heart goes out to you since I have gone through this with a cousin's husband and my own brother. Just be there for them.......listen, talk,........love - 5/16/2012   7:20:46 AM
  • 251
    I am so sorry to hear of your mother in laws health. Hospice was wonderful in helping when my dad had pancreatic cancer (which did spread to his liver). He was never in pain. My mom is also now terminally ill (heart, cancer, plus going blind and deaf); but she is 93 and ready for the end. My dad was much younger. It is always a shock. We rely on and love our family members. My thoughts and prayers are with your and your family. - 3/16/2012   1:26:47 PM
  • 250
    Nancy-- these are the times when you need to listen to your best ideas for others in similar places. As women and nurturers, taking time for ourselves is challenging when the needs of someone else seem so great. I watched my mother lose her battle with breast cancer and 12 years later my father is compromised. I made some difficult decisions, but set my priorities according to my heart and not my bank account. Do for you what feels right.
    be the angel you are. - 2/15/2012   1:05:59 AM
  • 249
    My daughter, only 43, was just given a diagnosis of leiomyosarcoma which is a rare and aggressive cancer that attacks the smoothe muscles of the body and that little seems to be known about. It is in an early stage but she will have to have 6 months aof chemo and be monitored with PET scans, possibly thrughout here life. She will also have to have further surgery before the chemo starts. Needless to say, she was in shock and I was devasted. How could this happen to my baby? Then I stopped and took a deep breath and realized that it is always happening to someone's baby (mother, father, sister, brother, etc) so we would do what we have always done and fight together as a family. I have strong faith and know that prayers would when medicine can't so that is the approach I am taking to help me deal with it. My thoughts and prayers are with you. - 4/14/2011   8:23:31 AM
  • 248
    My son, Nathan had Testicular Cancer last year with surgery and 4 rounds of Chemotherapy. He will be followed for 10 years and we are lucky his Cat Scans have came back "Clean" but still it is a concern. He plans to be in Medical School this fall at the U. of Florida, so he works at keeping a positive attitude. Reading ECKHART TOLLE'S "The Power of NOW" helps.
    The average stay in a hospice is 24 days, so people need to realize that once they go there it doesn't last long. - 3/7/2010   7:02:38 PM
  • 247
    I am so sorry, Nancy. Your MIL is fortunate to have such loving, caring people around her. I would have to take a lot of this kind of burden to the Lord as prayer always helps me. God bless all of you. - 2/15/2010   8:57:28 PM
  • GREEKGAL1
    246
    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I just want to say, after having hospice for my mother, I can't say enough good things about them. They were just wonderful. I don't know what I would have done without them. - 2/7/2010   10:48:19 AM
  • 245
    I've had to live through a lot of this. My grandfather died of bone cancer, my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer, two of my aunts had breast cancer, my uncle died of a brain tumor.. and a dear dear friend initially had breast cancer, but died once it spread to her nuerological system. I had to watch her die! I wish there was something you could say, but no words can take away the pain or frustration. It's scary, but like you I am grateful for those in my family that are now survivors. - 2/4/2010   3:16:01 PM
  • 244
    A diagnosis of cancer brings an aura of terror, a "crazy time." Acknowledge that at times, panic will happen, it is normal, and that will help you weather your emotions. Nobody wants that diagnosis, but once you have it, you can figure out what you can do to make the most of the situation. About the only good thing about terminal cancer, is that it signals to the extended family that they need to settle things NOW rather than later, and there is very little (if anything) that cannot be forgiven.

    While MDM was on Hospice (for 1 1/2 years!), she adopted my "Life is full of adventures; you just don't get to pick all of them!" approach. She was a former golfer, so she was familiar with "playing it as it lays." Each day, she would give thanks for a new day, and ask in prayer, "What would You have me do today?"

    Hospice is such a wonderful program, words can hardly describe just how much it helps the patient and the family.

    All in all, none of us will live forever. "It's going to be something." So if we live each day as if it were our last, show those we love the love and respect they deserve, and do what we can, that's as good as it gets. It's a good time for people to realize that's it's time to "stop the stupid stuff" because nobody has the time or energy for it.

    I wish you, your MIL, and the rest of your family strength in these difficult days. My thoughts and prayers are with you. - 2/4/2010   7:21:33 AM
  • DONNA5281
    243
    How are things going? I think of you often and I wanted to drop by to see how you were doing. I hope that you are getting plenty of rest as I know how tired you can get by taking care of a loved one. You are still in my prayers. Remember if you need anything just let me know. - 2/3/2010   4:43:08 PM
  • KTFRATE
    242
    I am so sorry to read your news. My husband was diagnosed with renal cancer in January 2008. for two years we have been on a rollercoaster of treatment, hospital visits and most of all stress. All I can say is that you take care of yourself. You are in my prayers. - 2/3/2010   9:59:30 AM
  • 241
    You and yours are in my thoughts and prayers. Big hug! - 2/2/2010   9:26:50 PM
  • MOMMK1
    240
    My thoughts and prayers are with you. I took care of my grandmother who was the last of my family I had. She lived to be a day short of her 101st birthday. She lived a full and wonderful life. I did not have to deal with a long illness with her. But she was so afraid of dying alone and I promised her she would not be. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life but she was not alone. I thought my heart would break at that moment but I knew she was not suffering anymore. the empty place in my heart is still there but my memories of her keep her with me every day. - 2/1/2010   4:51:45 PM
  • JAZZERCISEGENIE
    239
    yes I know what this feels like. My sister started with breast cancer a year ago, then found it in lungs, Then the dreaded liver. She is coping daily but the struggle on going and difficult. Now Jan 3rd another sister with kidney cancer and wow so discouraged with life, god and depression. - 2/1/2010   3:53:59 PM
  • 238
    My heart is with you. We have a special needs child who has many health and developmental challenges. A little over a year ago we saw a specialist who takes on the neurological cases that everyone else gives up on and for the first time we were told that one of the rare side effects of her condition is the brain permanently quits communicating with the heart and it's all over. There is no medical treatment to prevent this from happening, no way to reconnect the communication between the brain and the heart and no forewarning. Needless to say I have spent many nights in tears over this. I wish I had words of wisdom to share with you. I recently met a woman whose child has the exact same condition as my daughter and lost her child to the heart failure. Maybe reaching out to others who are dealing with similar circumstances will provide you the outlet that you need. I know that I have felt very bottled-up because my child's disorder is so very rare that there are few people for me to talk to.

    My heart is with you and I wish the entire family the best. Please enjoy the time that you have with your mother-in-law. - 2/1/2010   2:51:47 PM
  • RSTEVENS2
    237
    I am currently trying to deal with my spouse with an illness that has, at this time, no diagnosis. In August, he lost his memory. We found him 100 miles away. He was trying to go home--his childhood home, which no longer exists. We have been through diagnostic testing that shows nothing physical. We are currently dealing with psychologists and psychiatrists who have no experience with this type of sudden onset memory loss in an otherwise healthy individual. My husband has no health insurance other than benefits at the VA Hospital, so we are limited in the help we can afford. His memory comes and goes. Even when he does remember who I am, he doesn't remember our history together. This weekend began a new set of symptoms. He had possible seizure activity with muscle spasms taht caused about 45 minutes where his left arm was totally frozen. After it finally relaxed, he has loss of strength and limited use of his arm. it is very sore to the touch. For the past 4 days, he has not known who he is, who I am, or has any recognition of his surroundings. (Our home). Has anybody ever experienced anything like this? I am interested in diagnoses, treatment, prognosis, anything to help us understand and get this under control. I can be reached at rstevens@mwpain.org - 2/1/2010   12:39:33 PM
  • 236
    Many thoughts and prayers. In November of 2008 I started spending my days at my sisters taking care of her husband who had colon cancer. In October he was told that there wasn't anything more they could do and that he had about 2 months to live. I would get my daughter to school and head out to my sisters house. I would arrive about an hour after she would leave to be to work (she is a teacher) I would stay with him until she got home in the early evening (had meetings and such as she is a Special ed teacher). We eventually called on hospice ourselves and they were a wonderful group of people. My brother-in-law passed away Dec. 7, 2008. I was there with my sister and while she and her daughter sat with him I made the calls to Hospice to let them know he had passed. All I can say is take advantage of all that Hospice has to offer and include some grief counceling. My sister didn't do that and then when our father passed away in April 2009 she had more than she could deal with and refused to attend dad's funeral and now she has some regrets.

    Talk with the hospice and get as much help as you can and need as it can get really rough. Also make sure that you are taking care of yourself.

    Thiry - 2/1/2010   2:33:15 AM
  • 235
    We endured my own MIL's illness, similar....she was a retired nurse too. She must have had problems for along time, but was NEVER a complainer. By the time whe was in the hospital for one thing, the abd scan showed something, she refused any treatment. At 83, she did not see the point. She went down hill fast, had alot of pain. She went to IN HOUSE Hospice, and the very next day they had her so drugged we could never talk with her again. I simply was appalled at that. She could have been kept comfortable without drugging her to unconsciousness. I still miss her to this day. Think about her alot....especially that her first Great Granddaughters middle name is the same as GGrandma's first name. OH HOW she would have LOVED to meet her great granddaughters....But both she and my FIL were in their late 30's and 40's when my Ex was born, thus, hard to have been here for this special time. God bless you as you endure this time. May it be blessed. - 1/31/2010   10:55:16 PM
  • 234
    Pretty much all my husband's and my relatives are gone. The last was my mother, lost to congestive heart failure almost two years ago, and my husband, who contracted hepatitis C through a blood transfusion thirty years ago, is now in second stage cirrhosis and not doing well. His doctors told us that all they can do is "treat the symptoms" ( we're not giving up and he's working with a Chinese medicine person now, but I'm bracing myself for hard times to come.)

    There is no easy path through any of this. You enjoy your loved ones while you have them, you deal with the difficult stuff day by day, or hour by hour if you have to. I took long walks (it was spring when my mother was dying) to clear my mind - find someone to spell you on care, even if it's just for an hour or two, because you *have* to get away for a bit. Be easy on yourself - think of how you'd want a caregiver to be treated, then be at least that kind to yourself. You can help no one if you don't take decent care of yourself - and that includes getting enough rest, putting your feet up at odd times during the day (the dust can wait), eating a healthy diet.

    All those people who ask if there's anything they can do to help? Tell them yes - then tell them exactly what you want. Most people truly do mean well, but they don't know what to do, or say, and they don't want to "intrude." Tell them you'd love a casserole, a library book, or for them to sit with the sick person for a little while. Maybe they could run the vacuum for you while you take your mil to the doctor, or just for a ride in the car to see the world. Give them a list and some money and send them to the grocery. I made the mistake of assuming people knew what would be helpful - they don't, you have to spell it out for them.

    The hospice people are wonderful - talk to them, ask them anything, as they've been through it all many times and they genuinely care about the living and the dying, but (at least the ones I know) are not sentimental, and they'll tell you the truth as they know it which is often more than the doctors can or will do.

    If you know how to knit or crochet (or are willing to learn), that sort of thing comes in handy when you get to the stage when all you can do for the dying is sit with them. I treasure the shawl I made when my mother was dying.

    If your mil starts talking about "seeing" other people that she's known who have already passed, don't correct her or insist that she's dreaming - even if you don't believe in this sort of thing, her delusions (if indeed that's what they are) do no harm. Listen to her, be prepared to just sit and be with her, even when she isn't responsive. You may well not be with your loved one when she passes - one hospice person told me that the dying person almost always chooses a moment when she's alone to pass.

    After she passes, don't feel guilty for anything at all, or allow anyone to criticize how you handled any part of this. No one is perfect; you will have done the best you could and it'll be water under the bridge then anyway. Also, don't let anyone tell you how to grieve, or for how long. It's an individual thing - my mother left my father's hat on the coat rack for almost a year, even though all his other belongings had been dealt with almost immediately. If you feel like you need help, because you aren't coping "well", don't hesitate to seek it and absolutely don't feel somehow "weak" if you do. Every person is different, and even for the same person, every death is different.

    One important thing to be sure of: many people who are terminally ill do not want to be resuscitated if they start to die. Having a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) directive is important, but be sure you check with the hospice people, too - they'll probably tell you to call *them* as the end nears, rather than 911, because the EMTs will try to resuscitate her regardless of your instructions or any piece of paper you might have.

    While your mother in law is still able, take care of details. Know where the will is, where the safe deposit key is, where the life insurance policy (if she has one) is. Know the funeral parlor's phone number and who's to handle the probate. Make sure you know how your mil wants her body to be handled - cremation, burial, whatever - and be sure the finances are in place to follow her wishes. If there are items to be parceled out to relatives, *get in writing* your mil's wishes so there are no arguments later on. Go through photo albums and label the people, because too many times we assume we know who all those folks are, then discover we don't when it's too late to find out. If there are family heirlooms, get their stories and histories and write them down. Do a quick rundown of all the relatives she has known that you may not have - your husband's grandparents, for example - and get any details or stories - where they came from, when, the names of far-flung relatives. You or someone else may develop an interest in genealogy, and it's *so* much easier to ask now than try to find out later. It's often fun, too, to listen to the stories.

    You will get through this period in your life. And later, after the earth has taken a couple of whirls, it *will* get easier. You can't feel that happening in the beginning - the pain feels too fresh and jagged to ever get better - but you have to trust the process and believe, and at some point down the road you'll notice that you do feel a little better. Be easy on yourself, learn what you can from the experience and realize what a huge difference you are making for your mother-in-law - it's an invaluable gift to give of yourself as you are doing.

    God bless you.

    - 1/31/2010   9:01:09 PM
  • 233
    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. My dad has end-stage renal failure, and will be starting dialysis shortly. We are praying for a kidney donor for a transplant. As I'm the closest in distance from them (45 minutes) alot of it falls on me when they need help. As a single mom of 2 special needs kids, it's not always easy or even possible to help. I do what I can, but I dread the coming days as they need more and more help that I can't always provide. - 1/31/2010   7:27:41 PM
  • 232
    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. - 1/31/2010   2:36:31 PM
  • LUKEAFB
    231
    my father was told he had a 1-2 yr. survival rate after his colon cancer returned. He died a year later. I went to every chemo appt. & spent as much time with him as I could. I prayed for him & with him & allowed others to pray for me. I made the decision to believe that God was in control of this situation, it wasn't always easy, but I could see God's hand in it. You & your family are in my prayers. Rhonda - 1/31/2010   12:26:43 PM
  • 230
    I am so sorry. I work in a long term care facility. I know what a bad rap they get but let me tell you, I also know how comforting and important the hospice program is. It's just as much for the family as it is for the person who is ill. My thoughts are with you. - 1/31/2010   9:43:53 AM
  • STLRZGRRL
    229
    What a bittersweet gift it is to be able to help your parents... or parents-in-law... with this part of their journey and with yours...

    It is more important now than ever to realize the power of Now... This moment is all that any of us have... I know you are wringing every instant out of the 60 seconds that we each receive in every moment.

    Hugs,
    Tracey - 1/31/2010   9:41:56 AM
  • 228
    Nancy,
    My thoughts are with you and your family. My grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on a saturday, she passed three days later. There wasn't much time for me to prepare. I still miss her dearly. - 1/31/2010   7:04:08 AM
  • 227
    My prayers are with you. My mother-in-law has the ending stages Alzheimers and it is not easy to see. Not did we have to accept help, but we asked for help. If someone asks if there is something they can do, I always said something like cook a meal, clean or shop, etc. I've experienced the "loss" of several close relatives. Sometimes, we just need time alone. - 1/30/2010   8:11:15 PM
  • 226
    I am so sorry. I received a call from my sister yesterday rushing my mother the hospital. Later in the day I found out that she was in acute congestive heart failure. She had never had an issue with her heart. The doc told us that she may survive this episode but this would be what takes her out of this world and to get her affairs in order. The initial feeling in your gut is something you just don't forget. hugs to you - 1/30/2010   12:32:11 PM
  • 225
    Nancy:
    I knew a little of what was going on, and you have my sympathy. As you probably know, my mother-in-law has also been in hospice care since September, and she has dementia. When my husband visits her, rare these days because of his new job, he never knows whether she will recognize him. Last time she did, the time before she didn't. I also lost my father to prostrate cancer many years ago. He received his diagnosis when I was in graduate school and I got behind in some of my classes. Those were hard times. He enjoyed a two-year remission, but when that ended, he went down hill steadily over a 15-month period. I thought I was prepared for the shock, but each time I visited him, I had a hard time controlling my emotions when I saw how much he had deteriorated since my prior visit. Pain control was a serious issue because he resisted taking prescription painkillers until he was close to the end. He said he was worried about becoming a drug addict. Sometimes I had to stay away, because it made him proud to know that I was doing well in grad school, and if we had gathered around him, he would have become convinced that we were there because he was dying. The way we react to such losses is, in part, a function of our psychological strengths and weaknesses. Though we may try to deny it, I think it tends to exacerbate our vulnerabilities, and it can put a serious strain on our most important relationships. Perhaps it is easier when you are surrounded by family and friends, but I was not yet settled at that time in my life, and at times, I felt very alone. I was not responsible for his care, nor am I responsible for my mother-in-law's care, so I did not face some of the issues you are facing. You are definitely in a tough spot, and I am sorry that you and your family are going through this. I will pray for your strength, and that of your family in coping with the illness and the impending loss. As always, lots of hugs, Janet - 1/30/2010   10:29:37 AM
  • 224
    Nancy,
    My prayers are with you and your family. I was the prime caretaker for my mother for her last 3-4 years, and lived with her (I am single & low income) for 20+ years. My greatest help came from my church. Loving friends came over frequently to visit.
    She never did go on hospice, because her doctor didn't think highly of hospice at that time and would not consider allowing it. I wish I had over-ruled him, because it was when we were alone at night that she would try to walk to the bathroom and fall, leaving only me to get her picked up. Part of my current disability is a result of injuries I sustained helping her. I would not change the time I was able to spend with her for anything.
    Changes I would have made are: 1. Hospice 2. Tape recorder AND video recording used to preserve her memories. Use video as long as your mil feels comfortable with her appearance-she won't want to be remembered by her appearance when the disease really ravages her. Keep the tape recorder handy. Start it when she reminisces about her life, and when family or friends come to visit. You will forget too much of her stories after she is gone, and her memories in her words will keep her memory alive. Your children & grandchildren who are too young now or not born yet will learn to love her and know her.
    My mom was getting a breathing treatment when the technician accidentally splashed water over her face. She said, "hey, I've already been baptized!!"
    We collapsed in laughter, made funnier because my religion practices baptism by immersion of the entire body in water. I did write this episode in my journal, but so many of those precious memories have been forgotten or truncated due to not having them recorded.
    Besides hospice, church, and support groups, you might be able to get some support from your local Independent Living Center. Google "independent living in your state or community" to locate the nearest office. In my state, there are 6 ILCs which are located in the larger cities of their geographic regions. Because the IL philosophy is that people will thrive better in their own homes, they provide support for nursing home diversion. This might be equipment loans. It will definitely add another caring individual to your support team. (I am a VISTA volunteer at my ILC)
    God be with you and bless you. - 1/30/2010   9:57:42 AM
  • 223
    My prayers are with you and your family. Just remember to take care of yourself too. - 1/30/2010   8:33:04 AM
  • 222
    I think the only way to cope is to tell the people you love that you love them, over and over again. For that matter, none of us know when we will go, so tell the people you love that you love them over and over again. - 1/30/2010   2:16:28 AM
  • 221
    My husband, the love of my life for 6 1/2 years, was put on hospice three years after the doctors told him there was nothing more they could do for his melanoma that had spread through his body like wildfire. That was 4 1/2 years ago and I lost him to this cancer in February 2007. During this time I, being a nurse, worked on an Oncology ward and knew full well the way the disease would progress, which made it doubly hard for me to watch him get worse. Also, during his final year before he passed, he had two family members and I had two family members who also died from cancer. And, four months after he passed, I had to put down his beloved cat from Leukemia. I still don't know how I managed to survive all of this but I did. There were a lot of things I made sure he did that he had wanted to do so he had some good memories and we had some good times together. Three years later, I still miss him as much today as when he passed. You do what you can do for your loved ones and you let them do what they want to do if it is possible. It's hard on everyone but you do what you have to do to go on. Or, as I'd been known to say, you take it day by day or even minute by minute. The stress finally landed me in the hospital about 6 months after everything was said and done. Everyone I talked to said they were surprised that I did as well as I did. Try to seek out cancer support groups or even friends who will sit and listen or even cry with you. The American Cancer Society has support groups throughout the US and I think something similar in Canada. I'm not sure about other countries. But make sure you take care of yourself as best as you can. If it means nap when they nap, then do it. Enlist other family members or friends to help you out. You will need breaks from it all, even if it's just an hour or two. I guess what I'm trying to say is just cope with it as you go. Feel free to seek me out, send me a sparkmail. We're all here for you so don't hesitate to ask for help. - 1/29/2010   9:47:59 PM
  • 220
    Oh, Nancy. How my heartbreaks for you and your husband. We've lost too many family members to cancer, so we can relate to your pain.
    I always beg to ask the question: Is it better to lose someone quickly and painlessly or go slower and have more time with them? As you know there is no right or wrong answer.
    Love your MIL as long as you have her and remember the good time.
    BIG HUGS from Ohio! - 1/29/2010   8:06:29 PM
  • 219
    So sorry to hear. Keep each other close, love for each other and make sure you get some time to re-fuel your spirit and mind and body for your own well-being. Sending warm hugs and thoughts to you and your family. - 1/29/2010   7:27:04 PM
  • 218
    Facing an illness of any kind is very hard. Have been dealing with my DH who had dementia and now Alzheimers for 13 years. You truly live one day at a time. It has been very hard watching a vibrant man become very dependent. We are at the end of the middle, beginning of the final stages. He is 75+ years old. We have been married 53+ years. Have five children nine grands and three greatgrands who are all very supportive and visit as often as they can. We are not homebound yet. DH quit work as a boiler engineer at age 62 and we were able to travel for several years and then we put our trailer in a campground for a few years and now this year it will be at our daughters home where we can go stay in it. Have done my share of crying and hopefully will know when it is time to accept help. Am grateful that I have my health and that we live across the street from our son and his partner who are so very good to us. Was caretaker along with my siblings for our father who died at 86+ and mother who died at 95+ years of age. also was very close to my grandmother who died at 92. So have had a share in knowing some very wonderful caring people.
    If had one word of wisdom it is to live one day at a time.
    Tomorrow is not promised - 1/29/2010   5:02:27 PM
  • 217
    nancy, you know anne and i are always here for you. there is nothing i can say to comfort you during these hard times but please remember to make time for yourself. our thoughts and prayers are with you
    love ya
    bobby & anne - 1/29/2010   3:38:09 PM
  • 216
    I do not have any words of wisdom about how to get through the stress of a diagnosis like this. My journey with painful diagnoses involves my only daughter. I have three boys, but just one precious daughter. When she started college she complained of being tired all the time, and swelling in her arms and legs. I advised her to lay off the salty dorm food and stick to the salad bar and fresh things and to get more exercise. I kick myself for that. She did not get better and a year later was diagnosed with a kidney disease that will eventually lead to kidney failure. A year of high dose prednisone, emotional eating, and fear of every lab draw, we found ourselves gaining weight. That was 2 years ago. Now we really only stress out when it comes time to get lab work. She is in remission and we hope that will last for many years. Her condition is not curable. Even with a kidney transplant this autoimmune disease will eventually come back and attack the new healthy kidney. I am so sorry for your pain in going through this, please know that prayer is a great comfort and hang in there. It is all part of the plan of life - we each have our own unique challenges and trials. - 1/29/2010   3:07:37 PM
  • 215
    Nancy words cannot explain how deeply sorry I am for you and your family. Cancer is never an easy thing and one thing that scares me so much. I have had family members pass due to this disease and most recently a friend who was much too young.

    May your family find strength to help your mother-in-law and help hold you all together. And may your mother-in-law find strength as she is going through this horrible time in her life.

    I am sending prayers your way for her and your family.

    - 1/29/2010   2:52:57 PM
  • ERNURSERN
    214
    Nancy words can't express how sorry I am that you are going through this...it is so hard to be "on the sidelines" and watch someone you love and care about going through all of this...hang in there...be strong for her...there will be plenty of time to cry and grieve later...right now it has to be about her...ask her LOTS of questions that you or your children may want to know in the future...I wish someone had done that with my grandmother....I have so many questions that I wish I had answers to....hang in there ....I will be praying for you... - 1/29/2010   2:39:10 PM
  • 213
    Hugs and Prayers for you and your family. I'm so sorry that you are having to go through all of this.

    My grandfather had liver cancer. I did not have to deal the arrangements myself, but I do know that hospice was a Godsend. It's a great group of people and we're very grateful that we had them to help us. - 1/29/2010   1:56:56 PM
  • 212
    My mother had the same thing, and hospice was a lifeline and a source of great support through it all. Best of luck to you and your family, Nancy! - 1/29/2010   1:38:23 PM
  • 211
    My dad died quite suddenly April 21, 2008. I was up with my mom for 3 weeks and when I got home, my DH informed me his mom was just diagnosed with lung cancer. She died less than a week later on May 17, 2008. We were not prepared for how fast she passed on.

    It was a very difficult time losing one and then less than a month, losing the other one.

    My prayers are with you and your family Nancy! - 1/29/2010   12:17:49 PM
  • 210
    I just recently went through the hospice program when I lost my grandfather this past October. I wish I had some advice that would help you get through it, but all I can say is that I know how difficult it is, and you are in my thoughts. - 1/29/2010   10:24:24 AM
  • BOLAURAOK
    209
    I am so sorry for what you are going through. When I was in high school, my dad was diagnoised with liver cancer right before Christmas . Back then the dianois came through exploratory surgery. He was given 6 months to 1 year to live. He died Feb13.
    When I read about hospice coming and talking with you , I felt sad and relieved for you. Sad because, I can only imagine how hard that is for you. Relieved that there is hospice care. I remember staying home from school to take care of things when my mom had to go into town. I think it may have been easier on my mom to had people who were there to guide her through the worst ordeal of her life.
    I am so glad you are there for her. I am sure she is greatful for the love you are showing her.
    I will pray for you.
    - 1/29/2010   8:49:21 AM
  • BOLAURAOK
    208
    I am so sorry for what you are going through. When I was in high school, my dad was diagnoised with liver cancer right before Christmas . Back then the dianois came through exploratory surgery. He was given 6 months to 1 year to live. He died Feb13.
    When I read about hospice coming and talking with you , I felt sad and relieved for you. Sad because, I can only imagine how hard that is for you. Relieved that there is hospice care. I remember staying home from school to take care of things when my mom had to go into town. I think it may have been easier on my mom to had people who were there to guide her through the worst ordeal of her life.
    I am so glad you are there for her. I am sure she is greatful for the love you are showing her.
    I will pray for you.
    - 1/29/2010   8:44:48 AM
  • 207
    I do know about how hospice works. However, my step-father did not have to use their services before he died. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in December, 2008 by March, 2009 it had metasized to his brain. In September, 2009 he died at home. He was in the hospital from Friday to Monday when they sent him home and Tuesday night that week he died.

    - 1/29/2010   2:59:47 AM
  • VANANDEL
    206
    In 2005 I was with my Mother when we got the diagnosis from the Doctor that she only had a few weeks to live in her battle with cancer. We were both pretty shocked and very few in my family wanted to accept this reality. Mom's five kids came from all over the country (Mom lived in Arizona, the rest of us lived in NY, NJ, CO, CA and VA) to take turns caring for Mom. My husband and I were there the day Mom went into hospice. What a wonderful organization doing such a difficult job. I'm grateful to my siblings (and their spouses) for coming together to care for Mom, as well as grateful for the great hospice volunteers and nurses. - 1/29/2010   12:34:45 AM
  • 205
    This brings back a flood of memories. My Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer and lived only 6 weeks from the day he was diagnosed. My friend Mary Ann suggested that I get his story. I bought a tape recorder and pulled out the old photographs and had him explain or tell stories about them. There were some nights that it was just him and I sitting there and the conversation got off course. The things that I learned about him and recorded are priceless to me. I would tell you to get your mother-in-laws stories down on either video or tape in her voice. I really do wish I video taped it.

    The other thing to remember is that you will be loosing your mil but she will be loosing everyone.

    If you are doing Hospice at home, (we did) it will be an eye opening experience. They brought a hospital bed at 3:00 a.m., brought us food and held our hands when we needed it. I can't say enough good things about them.

    Let your friends help. It is amazing how much toliet paper you can go through in one week with all the visitors so someone needs to make the grocery run.

    I never thought that I would ever leave my house without my hair and makeup being done. HA. I would run down to the UDF to get a peanut butter malt because my dad was hungry at midnight and I didn't care what I looked like. The girl working there finally asked why all the malts and I told her that was the only thing my father could eat, she told me they were on the house.

    I think the last thing to do is plan a funeral before you can consider yourself an adult. OMG the things I learned in one week.

    In the words of a friend; "There is nothing a person can say to you that will make you feel better. The whole thing just sucks." And it does.









    - 1/28/2010   11:18:04 PM
  • 204
    I am so sorry you are going thru this. Life doesn't always give us the happy news we expect from it. It's very hard to hear such sad news. I am hoping you all are making it thru this difficult time. Enjoy the time you have with her.

    I will be praying for you and your family. - 1/28/2010   11:17:53 PM

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