help i'm new to all of this

tiggersmom Member Posts: 2
edited March 2014 in Lung Cancer #1
i my mother-in-law has just been told she can lung cancer i dont know what to say or what to do where do i start on this journey when all i want to do is sit and cry there is so much i want to say and do for her im so lost is this feeling normal???


  • Plymouthean
    Plymouthean Member Posts: 262
    Hi. I'm a five year survivor of lung cancer. So right there, you see that it's possible that this can be beaten. Your first reactions of panic and confusion are normal. But they are also non-productive. Keep in mind that cancer is not a sentence, - it is a word. Do NOT jump to conclusions. It will help both your mother in law and you if you get as much information as you can, both about lung cancer in general, and her specific case. The more knowledge you have, the better you will understand and be of help to her. Let her know that you are ready to help in any way that you can. Do you live near her? Who will be taking her to doctor's appointments? She will be undergoing many tests, and someone should, obviously, accompany her to hear what the doctors tell her. It's difficult for the patient to remember and understand all that he/she is told, especially in the beginning. She will find out exactly what she is dealing with, and then the docors will decide the appropriate course of treatment. We are here to help in any way we can. You and your mother in law are not alone. Please keep us posted.
  • trft
    trft Member Posts: 48
    Absolutely, you are not alone. I'm one and a half year survivor, and I know I spent the first 1/2 year crying a lot, so I guess it's pretty normal. And I think tears are good communion. You can say a lot more crying than you can with words. And on the same idea, I think it is important that you talk to your mother-in-law and just ask her how she feels... just to make sure the communication bridge is there. Hang in there.
  • kaitek
    kaitek Member Posts: 156 Member
    Hi tiggersmom,

    My mother has been recently diagnosed so I know the emotions you're going through as a caregiver or loved one. I had a couple of days with several minutes of full-on crying. One night I was crying so much my eyelids were swollen. They felt as bad as they looked. In that sense, crying didn't serve much purpose but I got it out of my system. One thing I set out for myself and family to do is to not cry in front of my mother. I don't want her to feel the devastation we're feeling. She worries more about others than herself. So the last thing I wanted to impart on her was our emotional pain and fear. We needed to present a strong front so she could feed off of that. Though I have researched as much as I could (frankly, I had to give up after reading so much depressing information), I never shared with her the so-called averages. In fact, when we first spoke with the oncologist, I made sure I averted any discussion of "averages." I didn't want to place any value in the stats of others when my mother is a unique statistic in of herself, which was what I told the oncologist. He respected that request, though he did slip that 1 out 4 people respond to chemo.

    I take my mom to all her doctor appointments and treatments. Even if someone offered to take my place, I would decline it. I need to be by mother's side. Plus, I also need to know everything firsthand. (It's that control freak issue coming to play.) My aunt (my mother's sister) has been great in her support in accompanying us and shoring up moral strength. Don't rely only on yourself for moral support. Get it where you can from those who are genuine and are solid as rocks.

    I care for my mother in every possible way I can think of: cook, clean the house, wash dishes, change dressing, administer pills or remind her of pill regiment. Her friends and sisters have helped by providing pre-cooked meals (which helps me, as well).

    I think it is distressing for anyone grasping his/her diagnosis of cancer and coping with the treatments, so I've been conscious of keeping my mother's spirits high and not discouraged. I try to keep her busy with entertainment when she's not talking to her circle of friends and extended family. I've mentioned to close relatives to not bog her too much with talking about her cancer, as for some it may be too depressing to talk about their condition. Initially, all that was needed to get me to cry was to discuss my mom's cancer. I'm better now as I'm trying to be clinical and optimistic (though I have my vulnerable moments). I did tell the relatives to let my mom dictate and lead what she felt comfortable talking. She might feel the need to vent and let out her fears.

    All in all, sometimes all one needs to be that moral support is to be just there - physically and emotionally even if you're not doing anything. Physical presence can be a source of comfort.

    I'm new to this so I don't feel I'm qualified to be an expert, but it would seem to me there is no such thing as "normal." Normal is different for everyone, so whatever you feel is your experience and as normal as the next person. Let yourself feel whatever you need to in the moment. It is scary. It is confusing. And sometimes you may feel helpless. But there is hope and positive outcomes. I wish you the best for your mother-in-law, as I do for my mom. Keep the faith (need not be religious).