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Both Parents Diagnosed -- I think things are about to get challenging

samiamiami's picture
samiamiami
Posts: 6
Joined: Nov 2009

Hello.

My parents and I have always been relatively healthy, until now. In August of this year, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. A month after that, my father was diagnosed with esophagus cancer. I joined this site because I think things are about to get more challenging with my parents, and all of this is new to me.

My mother has had a lumpectomy and a second surgery to remove some lymph nodes. I've been told that things seem to be going well, and that they caught her cancer early. She has just started chemo, and it will continue for about 3 months (8 treatments about every 3 weeks)--then she will begin radiation--which will all last through April/May.

My father has been a rock for my mother--making sure he was taking care of her, driving her to her treatments, etc. But I fear this is about to change, and I think I need to go to be with them. I have a brother and sister who live in the same town as my parents as well.

My father has some other health issues (he is a former smoker, therefore, he has some lung issues). He tells me that the doctors have told him they cannot do surgery on him because of his health issues. They are gong to start chemo on him within the next 2 weeks--and he will evidently undergo chemo and radiation at the same time. His doctors have told him that he should expect to feel very sick--and he will likely no longer be able to care for my mother like he has been.

My parents live in south Georgia--my mother's treatments occur in Jacksonville, FL (50 miles) and my dad, a veteran, is receiving his medical care through VA doctors in Gainesville, FL (95 miles). My mother's health coverage is with medicare.

I will be going to see them again when my dad starts his treatment. I believe now is my time to step up and help take care of my parents.

There's a lot on my mind:

How "sick" feeling will my dad get get? Will he truly be so sick that both he and my mother are going to need someone there full-time to help care for them?

Should I arrange something with my work, maybe using FMLA, and plan to be with my parents off and on over the next few months? Should I quit my job and move back home? Note: I'm not wealthy--so I wouldn't be able to last too long without income--plus there's the economy, and health insurance, and my own health issues (see my profile).

Should we hire some type of caregiver for my parents? If so, who, how?

I will, of course, sort through all of this. But I'd be appreciative of other's opinions and advice.

Thank you,
Sam

MOE58's picture
MOE58
Posts: 649
Joined: May 2009

First off let me welcome you to this site, How sick will your father get well i don't want to scare you but he will get very sick, especially with Chemo, my husband was only 45 years old and diagnosed on April Fools day, to make a long story short, he was diagnosed and we immediately started chemo, the first one was not too bad but after that they continued to get worse, the appetites change, they break out with mouth sores, they cant eat and they get very nauseated and sometimes throw up, along with sitting on the pot, as a caregiver myself, I took FMLA for 6 weeks while going through surgery but if you live far away you would need to take FMLA, but that is only good for 12 weeks, and this could be an ongoing thing, they will always need your help. Have you thought about getting a Home Health nurse? You asked will they need help? In my opinion yes, especially after what I saw my husband go through and he was 45 I can only imagine what your parents are going to face. Yes you might ask yourself, will my brother and sister take care of them and help them, cook for them run errands dr appts, and etc. or would it just be beneficial for you to help them personally. You didn't say if you were married or not, so I am going to assume you are not, if you are not then would it be easier for you to care for them or your siblings? That is a choice you will have to make. I just know what I had to go through with my husband at a young age. I do want to ask just because of his lung condition why cant they do surgery, my husband has been or was a smoker for 25 years, along with drinking beer, and he had a full esophojectomy, on July 23 of this year, yes its not easy but he is hanging in there. I go to every doctors appt with him, as i want to know everything that happened or is going to happen, so just being a wife is got a lot of responsibilities not only as a wife but also as a caregiver. For now, I am able to work 40 hours a week but I do use my FMLA intermittently as needed. Your dad will have a hard time swallowing and will eventually either have to have a feeding tube? But each person is different.

I have learned so much by signing on to this site, when I first arrived on i was a child in diapers and scared of the dark, some things I didn't want to hear and some things I did. But as my saying always go PULL UP YOUR BIG GIRL PANTIES, and keep moving on.

Remember this you only have one set of parents, and they won't always be around, but there is many times you can find another job, when either they are better and able to care for theirself or when you think its time to do other things, If it was me and my parents were living, and was diagnosed with this ugly disease we call CANCER I would quit my job in a heartbeat and take care of them.

there is this to always remember to, Where there is HOPE there is GOD, where there is GOD there is FAITH, and where there is FAITH there is LOVE>

If I can help please let me know.

Lori aka MOE

samiamiami's picture
samiamiami
Posts: 6
Joined: Nov 2009

Thank you for the reply and welcome--I truly, truly appreciate your advice. I wish you and your husband the best. You asked good questions in your response, questions that right now I don't have answers for. But I will ask, think and investigate, discuss with my siblings, and post back here once I get a better handle on things. This much: yes, I'm single which will make it easier for me. My dad was a smoker, and they did some type of lung test and said because of it, they couldn't do surgery. A few months back, he went under anesthesia, and they had to rush him to the emergency room, and maybe that's why. I honestly don't know. But I will investigate. I'm probably going to speak to his doctor in the next week, and I'll find out more. Thank you again. The questions you raised at least have started me thinking about some of the things I need to find out.
-Sam

naniz
Posts: 12
Joined: Sep 2009

Hello, I feel for you and your family. I will include you and your parents in my prayers.
I had 4th stage Kidney Cancer. The Chemo was doing ok but not good enough or not very promising so I looked into natural products to help me along. I was told that Kidney Cancer was one that had a lot to do with me having a weak immune system so I concentrated on increasing and strenthening my immune system. I started on my own treatment and three months later I was told I was cancer free and no more chemo for me. From what I understand a strong immune system can also aggressivly kill breast cancer and your dad's cancer as well. You may e-mail me if you are intrested in more information.

lucy.andres@sbcglobal.net

samiamiami's picture
samiamiami
Posts: 6
Joined: Nov 2009

Update Feb 14, 2010

Sorry if these posts go out of order--but i just intended to give an update in case anyone takes a look here.

It's about 6 months after both my mom and dad were diagnosed with cancer. Mom: breast cancer, dad: cancer of the esophagus. When I posted my first message, I was deeply stressed and frightened about things. Now, things *seem* a little better. But we've still a ways to go.

My mom had a lumpectomy, and is now over halfway done with her chemo treatments. She is weak and tired, has good days and bad days--but overall is doing ok. She'll finish her chemo treatments around April--then, we expect, she'll have radiation treatments. We're optimistic.

Dad just had a procedure done wherein they went down his throat and removed some cancerous tissue. He didn't have any large tumors, and his cancer seems to be confined to a small part of his inner esophagus. There was debate for many months about which procedure to do with him--and even if he actually had cancer or not. In the end, doctors agreed the markings in his esophagus were cancer, and they decided on the "down the throat" procedure rather than "real" surgery because he has some other underlying health problems. He is supposed to go back in 6 weeks and they're going to go down again, possible to freeze any remaining cancerous tissue. We're optimistic about my father as well.

The only bad things right now are financial issues, but I won't go into all that.

My dad has been taking care of my mother through all of this--through her chemo. And luckily, he hasn't been out of commission much--and we've avoided them both having chemo/radiation/surgery at the same time.

anyways . . . more later . . . just providing the latest info.

-sam

Tina Blondek's picture
Tina Blondek
Posts: 1560
Joined: Nov 2009

Hi Sam,
So glad to read your update. Sounds much more positive than your first post. We are always stressed, scared, and uninformed in the beginning of this journey. A few months down this bumpy road, we learn a lot more and are able to deal with it a lot better. All sounds good for now. Financial problems....oh yes we all have those. Hopefully your parents have a sublemental insurance as well as medicare. These both seem to help considerably. Prayers are being said for you and your mom and dad. Keep us posted.
Tina

unclaw2002's picture
unclaw2002
Posts: 664
Joined: Jan 2010

Sam,

Not sure if this is still relevant, but if you are still working and haven't relocated, you should request the FMLA forms from your employer so you can take advantage of FMLA benefits during your parents illness. In addition to allowing you unpaid time off, in most instances it would allow you to take your sick leave to care for your parents so you wouldn't have a loss of income. This can be a potentially significant benefit for some folks (for example I have @ 29 weeks of accumulated sick time I can now take to help my dad who lives an airplane ride away so I need to go for more than a day or two). There are some forms, and forms your parents doctors have to sign but it helps protect your job and benefits when you have to be out for short or extended times to go care for your parents. I have filled out the forms and am now able to use my sick leave to help out. And the leave is granted liberally so as a general rule (Each boss is different) the factyou are using these days can not be used against you in evaluations and promotions.

Good luck as you help your parents.

Cindy

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