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Need Advice on Emotional Support

Onur's picture
Onur
Posts: 3
Joined: Aug 2009

Hi all!

A year ago, my girlfriend's--then my colleague's--father has been diagnosed with colon cancer, stage 3, with metastasis to two nearby lymph nodes. He underwent surgery, yet no further treatment could be administered since his surgery wound did not and has not healed. Although, quite surprisingly, a recent CT scan showed no metastasis to other organs or distant lymph nodes, his red blood cell count is very low, which will probably hinder chemotherapy and even make it unfeasible. She can not talk to the doctor for clarification; she is afraid to ask questions and I can understand that.

My friend is on the brink of a nervous breakdown and apart from her own financial and health problems, during the last 12 months her aunt and grandfather died, both of cancer.

My question is, what should I tell her? I don't want to tell her that her father will be ok--which she expects me to say. And I don't want to tell her to prepare for worst. I need another way, an intermediate way, which will neither give her a false hope nor discourage her from going on.

When the initial diagnosis was made, I used the prognosis statistics on this site to comfort her, which were very favorable. But as time passes by and no treatment may be administered, her hope is replaced by worry and panic. I am trying to support her every way I can, but I can not find a way out in this situation.

Thanks in advance for your attention and responses.

Onur.

sue Siwek
Posts: 281
Joined: Jun 2009

the best thing you can do is be there for her and urge her to seek help. that can happen here on the caregiver site and through her fathers doctor or clinic that is treating him, they will direct her to caregiver groups, or those who are grieving the illness of a loved one. get on line it will help but losing a parent is painful and there is no way to avoid it.

Cindy54's picture
Cindy54
Posts: 454
Joined: Aug 2006

You and your girlfriend sjould talk with her Dad's doctor together. If she trusts you enough to share all that is going on with her, and you want to be able to help or comfort her, the only way you would be able to do this is by confronting things head on. She has you to lean on for support. That her father is still here after a year is amazing. That there is no further sign of cancer is more amazing. Those are two hopeful things to cling to.

Looking at facts and statistics is okay, but they don't tell the whole story. Some people here were told they would be gone in a matter of months. Here it is many years down the road and they are still with us. Yes, it is painful to lose a parent. I lost both of mine to cancer. But giving in to grief while her father is still here is not a good way to go. Looking the other way and hoping the problem will go away is not the way to go. And not asking questions and looking for help for her father and herself is not the way to go.If she continues to do nothing, what will happen if /when her father passes on? She will be left with many unanswered questions, and much guilt that maybe she should have done more.

Please urge her to seek out some answers. Either from her father's doctor, a nurse who knows him, or at her local cancer center or cancer society. Any one of these should be able to get her some support help and talk to her about her father's issues. But please don't let her just not do anything. SHe has you, and that counts for a lot. Please let us know how things go. Hugs, Cindy

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1089
Joined: Jul 2009

I am sorry about your situation and just want to say that I totally agree with what the other two survivors here are saying to you, 100%. The other thing that I want to tell you is that - you can not take it all on alone. You can't assume it is your role to say and do EXACTLY the right things for her at all times, you just don't have the training to do that, that is why the others have suggested a counsellor to help her through all of that, and maybe you can sit on a couple of sessions too if you and your girlfriend think that will help as well.

None of us have a manual for how to handle these kinds of crisis when they occur in our lives but professionals do and can help because they are trained to do so but also they are at a distance from the people concerned so can look at things impartially but effectively through their training to help guide.

Like the others said though, you are doing alot by just being there for your girlfriend and supporting her and listening. Sometimes we who are ill just need to vent to a caring ear and don't even need alot of input, just someone who cares and listens. There are lots of stories of men who leave us when we are sick so your girlfriend is very lucky to have you with her to stay and support her and that you are doing in spades. That's wonderful.

Do let us know if you have found a counsellor and how it is going should you decide to do so. All the best to both of you. And remember Onur, miracles happen everyday, praying helps a great deal and so does group prayer. Very powerful stuff.

Blessings, Bluerose

Onur's picture
Onur
Posts: 3
Joined: Aug 2009

I thank you all for your responses. They were very useful. I think, talking to her father's doctor TOGETHER will be an appropriate first step, as Cindy recommended. I will let her face it, and be with her and make her feel this all this time. In early September, her father will undergo an evaluation and right after that I will schedule a meeting with the doctor.

But the timing of this meeting is important, since she has health problems of her own and she will be undergoing a surgery in late September. Therefore I do not want to damage her morale before this surgery.

After talking to the doctor, I may schedule appointments with a counselor.

And Bluerose, as for your comments concerning illness and relationships. I don't know if it is appropriate to write this. So please forgive me if I make you feel uncomfortable. You know what, some 8 years ago, cancer was suspected in me--that's when I discovered this website--and as I was going through some tests for diagnosis, my then girlfriend left me before a diagnosis was made. Well, at that time I was a graduate student with very limited health coverage, which certainly did not cover cancer treatment. I was demoralized with this separation and further, I did not know what to do if I was diagnosed cancer since I could not afford that expensive treatment, so I just discontinued the diagnosis process and moved on with my life. It may seem a horrible decision. But I felt that I had no other choice. Without support or health coverage, I thought not knowing was better. Since I had such experience I will never leave her. And I will provide her all the support I can and I will seek help from other people where I fall short, just like posting this message.

I thank you all for your concern and support. Best Wishes..

Onur.

Cindy54's picture
Cindy54
Posts: 454
Joined: Aug 2006

I wish you and your friend only the best. Please keep us posted on things. Cindy

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1089
Joined: Jul 2009

Oh no, that didn't make me uncomfortable at all, thanks for sharing. I am curious though as to how your health is today given that you just dropped the diagnostic process.

You sound like a wonderful man, standing by your girlfriend, and I wish you nothing but the best, both of you. Take care. Bluerose

SonSon's picture
SonSon
Posts: 186
Joined: Jul 2009

Hello, Onur,
I wish I had a friend like you when I started taking care of my mother-in-law.
You will be blessed for the good you do and all the goodness in your heart.
Fatima

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