letting the cat out of the bag..... Chantal's new life, part 2

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Daisylin
Daisylin Member Posts: 365
Well, my friends, You have all been so great to me through the last year, helping me with Lee's ec. I've shared with you the tale of Lee's daughter, and you were so very helpful to me, now the next crisis is being unveiled, and I could really use some more advice...... I've posted this to the lung cancer page as well, so hopefully someone can help me see this clearly, and steer me in the right direction.

As I mentioned previously, I have taken on POA for my mother in law, this is how her year has been....
My mother in law (83 years old) had always been a fairly healthy person, until the last few years, where she's been diagnosed with alzheimer's, angina and lung cancer. She is a person who cannot handle any type of change, (the alzheimer's has magnified this hugely) sometimes even an unexpected phone call or having forgotten something will send her into anxiety like attacks, which she insists on going to the hospital for. They have always done the usual heart and blood tests and send her home with an ativan or lorazepam to calm her down. In the last year, she has been to the hospital over 7 times for this. It would have been many, many more times to the hospital, but the staff at the home where she is living can usually calm her down and convince her that she does not need to go to the hospital. She often goes into panics and bouts of confusion and will call me up to 10 times a day, often because of really trivial things (ie- can't find an ice skating program on her television, does not know what time it is, wants to know how old she is..... the list goes on and on, it's endless really).

So, this is where the story gets a bit weird....... Joyce (mother in law) and Lee (my husband) were both diagnosed on the SAME day, with the SAME doctor, with back to back appointments...... oh my god! Of course we were devastated, and hearing a stage ivb for Lee and lung cancer for mom was just too much to handle. Lee, being the POA at the time decided that we were not going to tell her about her cancer. The surgeon who we met with somewhat supported that, but also recommended surgery and radiation. In Lee's opinion, and mine as well to an extent, she could not handle the news, let alone the treatment, especially the surgery part. She would simply fall apart and likely give herself a stroke or heart attack with the panic. Secondary to this, with Lee's terminal diagnoses, we just did not see how I would be able to be primary caretaker for both of them. She has no symptoms of lung cancer, no pain, no coughing. It has now been almost exactly a year since her diagnoses, and still, she knows nothing about it, and has no cancer related symptoms.

I do not know what her staging is, the spot was about the size of a nickel, and no mets. (stage 1-2??) Anyways, now that Lee has passed away, I am POA, and just want to do the right thing. The doctor stated that at her age, the cancer cells spread very slowly, and she is likely to eventually die of something unrelated to the cancer. She has not had any scans in the last year, so I have no idea at this point what the cancer is doing. I feel like I'm drowning..... for the last year I've been so busy being caregiver for my husband, and trying to keep Joyce on the rails, that I find myself now falling apart, I can barely manage to get to work everyday. My energy and motivation are at a zero, and the thought of dealing with this issue is so overwhelming I just can't think clearly. Joyce truly has no one else but me, no family, no friends. no one. My friends and family were overwhelmingly supportive when Lee was sick, but I don't feel it right to lean on them yet again.

Please, someone..... if you can give me some advice, what should I do??? Do I leave it as is, and let her have quality life and less anxiety, or do I seek treatment for her, and pick up the pieces as they fall?? I honestly don't think that she has the state of mind to even understand the diagnoses. After having a son die from cancer less than 3 months ago, I think she'd just fall apart and never be able to get back up again. I think that if she found out about her cancer that would be her death sentence. At the same time I feel like I'm just being selfish, because I just can't handle dealing with this. All of my friends and family agree with the way we have dealt with this, but still I wonder if I'm doing the right thing. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I've got my big girl panties on permanently now, so feel free to say it like it is.....

Thank you,
Chantal

Comments

  • ritawaite13
    ritawaite13 Member Posts: 236
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    Wow!
    Wow! Girlfriend, you have every right to feel exactly the way you do!! Dealing with all of this mental anguish and still trying to hold down a job would make anyone feel exhausted and CRAZY!
    I think you’ve already decided what to do about Joyce but I just wanted to put in my two cents worth. In this case, ignorance is truly bliss and that’s where she should stay – in ignorant bliss. She has endured so much already and telling her about her own cancer would serve no good purpose and probably push her right over the edge. Obviously if her cancer causes pain or other discomfort, that would need to be taken care of but to tell her she has cancer would probably be like giving her a death sentence and that’s something you just can’t do. The doctor has already said that her cancer is slow growing so I say, leave it alone. Let her live out her life in peacefulness without knowing she has yet one more tragic event to deal with. Big warm sunny Arizona hugs to you Chantal.
    Love Rita
  • Daisylin
    Daisylin Member Posts: 365
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    Wow!
    Wow! Girlfriend, you have every right to feel exactly the way you do!! Dealing with all of this mental anguish and still trying to hold down a job would make anyone feel exhausted and CRAZY!
    I think you’ve already decided what to do about Joyce but I just wanted to put in my two cents worth. In this case, ignorance is truly bliss and that’s where she should stay – in ignorant bliss. She has endured so much already and telling her about her own cancer would serve no good purpose and probably push her right over the edge. Obviously if her cancer causes pain or other discomfort, that would need to be taken care of but to tell her she has cancer would probably be like giving her a death sentence and that’s something you just can’t do. The doctor has already said that her cancer is slow growing so I say, leave it alone. Let her live out her life in peacefulness without knowing she has yet one more tragic event to deal with. Big warm sunny Arizona hugs to you Chantal.
    Love Rita

    RIta,
    Thanks for the warm, sunny Arizona hugs..... we're in the middle of a blizzardy icy storm right now in London...... Canadian winters suck!!!! I'm always so envious of you south bound Americans.

    Thanks for the advice, I guess maybe I know what my decision is, but mostly wondering if I'm making the RIGHT decision. I hate being the one left behind to make all these choices and deal with all the crap...... I miss Lee so much :( I've been coasting along for the last 2 1/2 months, now I think I'm starting to crack. I don't know who came up with the idiotic saying about not being given more than you can handle, seems like some of us can just never catch a break. I guess I've had an almost perfect life for the last 39 years, and now my former wonderful life is crumbling around my feet.
  • rose20
    rose20 Member Posts: 258
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    Daisylin said:

    RIta,
    Thanks for the warm, sunny Arizona hugs..... we're in the middle of a blizzardy icy storm right now in London...... Canadian winters suck!!!! I'm always so envious of you south bound Americans.

    Thanks for the advice, I guess maybe I know what my decision is, but mostly wondering if I'm making the RIGHT decision. I hate being the one left behind to make all these choices and deal with all the crap...... I miss Lee so much :( I've been coasting along for the last 2 1/2 months, now I think I'm starting to crack. I don't know who came up with the idiotic saying about not being given more than you can handle, seems like some of us can just never catch a break. I guess I've had an almost perfect life for the last 39 years, and now my former wonderful life is crumbling around my feet.

    Chantal...
    You are awfully young to have to go through so much, I am so sorry for all your sorrow. It's a lot to have on one's shoulders.
    As for your dear mom-in-law I would honestly talk with her doctor about how you feel and ask for his honest opinion. Hopefully he will tell you to let mom have what quality of life she can.
    God has been good to her to give her 83 years so far and to not have any major symptoms of lung cancer since she was diagnosed is a blessing in itself.
    Just love on her and rest your weary mind on this one.
    I feel you already know what is best so try not to second guess yourself.
    You are a wonderful daughter-in-law.
    I will be praying that you just lay all this down and trust your heart for what is best for your mom-in-law.
    Why put her through more anguish with radiation or whatever other treatments they would recommend.
    This is what happened to my dear uncle in his 80's. He had a very small spot on his lung and they did radiation on him and within weeks he was gone. He was in such great shape before this, so much energy. After the treatments he wished he never had it done, he said "they messed him up."
    Praying that some of your heavy loads will become lighter.
    Rose
  • fredswilma
    fredswilma Member Posts: 185
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    Chantal
    I can't begin to imagine how you must be feeling, no wonder energy levels are low. My father had dimentia and life was really difficult, he too had no understanding of what was happening, didn't know what year he was living in yet alone which decade, he suffered a massive stroke which meant he could no longer eat or talk can you imagine how he suffered not understanding what had happened and not being able to communicate, it was truly a horrible time in my life as I had to make life and death decisions for my dad, when you really love someone and decide not to let doctors interfere, i.e. no feeding tube, no re-hydration,it was really tough. I just knew that if my dad could have made those decisions he would have not wanted to live that way. What I'm trying to say is sometimes we have to make decisions that are truly beyond our skills. I just know that those decisions if made with love are the only ones to make and I think you already know this, don't second guess yourself go with your heart, you are truly an inspiration, my thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Ann
  • Wpturner05
    Wpturner05 Member Posts: 114
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    Chantal
    This is so brief, as I must run out the door with my kids. I wish I could talk on the phone with you. Chantal, you saw what treating cancer in your young, healthy, vibrant husband did - could she endure the same? Especially with the expectation that it is slow growing and she will likely die of something else? Leave her be - she is 83, has probably lived a good life - alzheimers and its effects are ENOUGH!!! Yes, I feel strongly about this - my father allowed surgery on my grandmother in a very similar situation. It was awful. I disagreed completely - AND I was the one who stayed with her around the clock while she was in the hospital to keep her safe. (She was so confused all the time that she pulled everything out - foleys, IV, monitors - you name it. This was while my son was only 4 months old and solely breastfeeding.) The end result of it was devastating. They did too much on a woman that could have died of old age. It was cruel. That was the long story short, but nonetheless. Choose wisely. Trust your gut and your instinct.

    Sorry so short and direct, I just had to get it out . . .

    Sincerely,
    Whitney
  • ritawaite13
    ritawaite13 Member Posts: 236
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    Daisylin said:

    RIta,
    Thanks for the warm, sunny Arizona hugs..... we're in the middle of a blizzardy icy storm right now in London...... Canadian winters suck!!!! I'm always so envious of you south bound Americans.

    Thanks for the advice, I guess maybe I know what my decision is, but mostly wondering if I'm making the RIGHT decision. I hate being the one left behind to make all these choices and deal with all the crap...... I miss Lee so much :( I've been coasting along for the last 2 1/2 months, now I think I'm starting to crack. I don't know who came up with the idiotic saying about not being given more than you can handle, seems like some of us can just never catch a break. I guess I've had an almost perfect life for the last 39 years, and now my former wonderful life is crumbling around my feet.

    I live in Minnesota for most
    I live in Minnesota for most of the time Chantal so I know all about blizzardy ice storms. After Greg and I both retired (2009) we bought a condo in Mesa Arizona and I know how blessed I am to be able to be warm in the winter. I'm also very lucky to have so many people in my life who want to come here to spend time with me. (I'm sure it's me...not the weather, right?)
    I'm so sorry you're feeling so down and I totally agree about that dumb "more than you can handle" crap. Some people really do never catch a break and the last thing they want to hear is that baloney.
    As you so well know, it's so hard when we lose the person we share our lives with. It's always hard to lose anyone you love but when you lose your life partner, it affects absolutely everything from the way you wake up in the morning to the way you go to bed at night and all that’s in between. I think unless you go through it yourself, there's really no way to comprehend the emptiness. I do believe (hope?) that it will get better as time passes. Even though we will always have a hole in our hearts and in our lives, we will somehow manage to get through it. We both know that grief comes in waves. Some moments we think we’ll be able to cope and the next moment we are a sobbing, broken mess. I know Chantal. So do Cheryl, Kim, Whitney, Sherri and all the others who have gone through this horrible loss.
    I truly feel that our separations are temporary and we will all meet our special guys (free of cancer) again. Believing that helps me get through the day sometimes.
    I am not a person who practices in an organized religion but I am a firm believer in God and that He has a plan. Sometimes it does seem like it’s more than we can handle but we do handle it…whether we want to or not.
    You are such an inspiration to so many people here Chantal. I know you are loved and sincerely cared about more than you can realize. We all know you can survive this…and Lee knew it too. Hang in there my friend.
    Love Rita
  • TerryV
    TerryV Member Posts: 887
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    My vote is with the others...
    Chantal,

    How very unfair for you to have one more weight on your shoulders! But this question is very clear cut. Your MIL would not benefit from having her cancer treated. Alzheimer's doesn't improve, it gets worse and who wants life extended (or saved even) for that sort of existence. My vote is to NOT treat the lung cancer.

    You are a dear to take on all that you do. Have peace knowing that you are doing the right thing for your MIL.

    Anytime you need something, just ask. We all think the world of you and love you dearly. You have given so much to us all - it's our turn to lend you a hand.

    Terry
  • Cora11
    Cora11 Member Posts: 173
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    TerryV said:

    My vote is with the others...
    Chantal,

    How very unfair for you to have one more weight on your shoulders! But this question is very clear cut. Your MIL would not benefit from having her cancer treated. Alzheimer's doesn't improve, it gets worse and who wants life extended (or saved even) for that sort of existence. My vote is to NOT treat the lung cancer.

    You are a dear to take on all that you do. Have peace knowing that you are doing the right thing for your MIL.

    Anytime you need something, just ask. We all think the world of you and love you dearly. You have given so much to us all - it's our turn to lend you a hand.

    Terry

    big hug
    Big hug for you first, Chantal. This is all so very complicated and I have my nurses hat on right now as a response. Regardless of what you decide, I think it would be wise for you to really discuss it thoroughly with the doctor and whoever else is involved professionally in her care. It's a decision you need to be comfortable with, so that years down the road you aren't dealing with the "what if's" or any regrets. Whenever I want a straight answer from a doctor, ( and that goes for my veterinarian as well) I start my question with in this case it would be "If this was your mother, how would you proceed". It really steers the doctor into an empathetic territory and makes them really think about the response. I am so glad you are reaching out to your community here.
    With love,
    Cora
  • MissusB
    MissusB Member Posts: 111
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    Cora11 said:

    big hug
    Big hug for you first, Chantal. This is all so very complicated and I have my nurses hat on right now as a response. Regardless of what you decide, I think it would be wise for you to really discuss it thoroughly with the doctor and whoever else is involved professionally in her care. It's a decision you need to be comfortable with, so that years down the road you aren't dealing with the "what if's" or any regrets. Whenever I want a straight answer from a doctor, ( and that goes for my veterinarian as well) I start my question with in this case it would be "If this was your mother, how would you proceed". It really steers the doctor into an empathetic territory and makes them really think about the response. I am so glad you are reaching out to your community here.
    With love,
    Cora

    Chantal - our situations are so similar!
    Bill was an only child and took care of/looked after his 93 year-old mom. I promised him that if anything ever happened to him, I would continue to do so, so I am. There are three grown grandchildren (all men, ages 18, 24 and 35) and none have even asked about Grandma let alone been in touch with her, and Bill's been gone for six weeks. I shudder to think what would happen to her had Bill and I not been together. It's a HUGE responsibility, especially since I am now forced to make so many changes in my own life (selling my home for one), but I wouldn't have it any other way. I do feel for you, and I think Lee and Bill would not only have done it for us should the tables be turned, but be so proud of us for stepping up. :) I do feel, though, liek all of this additional responsibility is standing in the way of my grieving, and I will admit that I am afraid of the day I no longer have it and the heavy duty stuff sets in.

    That said - I agree with the majority - I don't think telling your MIL will help her at all. I have wondered to myself how I would handle the same situation with my MIL, and this is how I feel I would.

    Sending you lots of love and prayers - Kim
  • Wpturner05
    Wpturner05 Member Posts: 114
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    Chantal
    This is so brief, as I must run out the door with my kids. I wish I could talk on the phone with you. Chantal, you saw what treating cancer in your young, healthy, vibrant husband did - could she endure the same? Especially with the expectation that it is slow growing and she will likely die of something else? Leave her be - she is 83, has probably lived a good life - alzheimers and its effects are ENOUGH!!! Yes, I feel strongly about this - my father allowed surgery on my grandmother in a very similar situation. It was awful. I disagreed completely - AND I was the one who stayed with her around the clock while she was in the hospital to keep her safe. (She was so confused all the time that she pulled everything out - foleys, IV, monitors - you name it. This was while my son was only 4 months old and solely breastfeeding.) The end result of it was devastating. They did too much on a woman that could have died of old age. It was cruel. That was the long story short, but nonetheless. Choose wisely. Trust your gut and your instinct.

    Sorry so short and direct, I just had to get it out . . .

    Sincerely,
    Whitney

    I was insensitive . . .again
    Chantal - I threw out all that stuff and never even sent you a cyber hug - I am sorry - I need to stop myself some times - So . . . great big hug and I am sorry - this is a terribly heavy cross and burden to bear. You are amazing with great insight into life.

    Sincerely,
    Whitney
  • jim2011
    jim2011 Member Posts: 115
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    Chantels new life
    When my mother passed away from EC 10 in 2002 I was so worried about my dad. He was going to dialisys(sp) 4 times per week and hated it. Wanted to quit going. Anyway, I am a realtor and he asked me to sell his home and he wanted a townhome a few miles away. Well as it turned out he was dating a widow nearby and they got married. Problems for me melted away as she is a smart and strong willed woman. I am not haha-ing you but what I would do is seek the help of a professional or even several including a local pastor. Time yes...but peace of mind later is priceless.
    Jim
  • chemosmoker
    chemosmoker Member Posts: 501
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    YOU AMAZE ME-you are a ROCK!
    Chantal,
    to ME, ME; your job right now is YOU, and Lee's loss. If there are there are OTHER siblings or immediate family THEY should be taking care of mom and not you. If NOT, she simply needs some Xanax or Ativan or Valium, and YOU need to NOT tell her a word of anything about the cancer. That is MY 110% opinion. The Doctor himself said it so.

    YOU take care of you, take time to grieve ad let MIL live out her life, hopefully with the help of the meds, with less attention needed from you (It's NOT that you're aren't loving her anymore or letting her suffer-YOU are suffering less!!) you can get on with your plans whatever those turn out to be and I am with you there as THAT alone is a MOUNTAIN from hell.

    I love you and I am here for you as we all are. Go and relax. Take a DEEP breath.

    That's MY 2 cents.

    Eric
  • LilChemoSmoker
    LilChemoSmoker Member Posts: 185
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    So stressed and looking for something to ease your discomfort...
    Chantal,

    I am not on here much anymore. But after logging in tonight and reading your post I couldn't help but to stop and reply. You are no doubt a strong individual with a great deal of character. I know that you have only begun to scratch the surface of your grief with Lee, and could only be overwhelmed with all the thoughts and fears of making the wrong decisions.

    I agree with all of the replies I have read here and only have one other thought I would throw in there. Having not walked the line you are currently walking, I can only imagine what you must be feeling and I may be way off base here, but here it goes. It is my best guess that you are searching for affirmation and validation to what you already know and feel. For all of us losing or have already lost a spouse it is difficult at best to navigate through the life decisions that we, for so long, have used our significant others to help us do. We lose our compass and our ability to navigate through these things on our own. It is temporary for some and longer for others. Different for everyone in other words. But in our moments of need we search for the validation and affirmation that we so often attained from our life partners.

    So if it is affirmation and validation you seek in this decision, know that we all support your decision as we have confidence that you have her best interest at heart. This much we know, that you are a strong and caring individual. Your presence both here and from Lee's words himself, have validated these qualities in you. You are precious and wonderful. Don't doubt yourself for a minute girl as we have all experienced your powerful and courageous spirit. One step at a time you will build your new identity and through these trials you will find that you have only to make the best choices you can with the knowledge you have at the moment. No regrets, no looking back, no what if's.

    There is power in numbers here as you well know and we are all here to support you. As for my advice, and any others for that matter, take what you want and leave the rest as we don't have all the answers (nobody does) but know that we will all give you our opinions based on our view out our window. Love ya girl! Stay strong and stay true to yourself. You are so very worthy of all the love and support, and we all know how very valued you are!

    And one more thing before I go...My Mother-in-law bought me a plaque to hang that says it quite well for me. "If I have to pull up my big girl panties one more time, the elastic is going to break and I am really going to start showing my ****!"
    Hugs
    Michelle
  • fredswilma
    fredswilma Member Posts: 185
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    So stressed and looking for something to ease your discomfort...
    Chantal,

    I am not on here much anymore. But after logging in tonight and reading your post I couldn't help but to stop and reply. You are no doubt a strong individual with a great deal of character. I know that you have only begun to scratch the surface of your grief with Lee, and could only be overwhelmed with all the thoughts and fears of making the wrong decisions.

    I agree with all of the replies I have read here and only have one other thought I would throw in there. Having not walked the line you are currently walking, I can only imagine what you must be feeling and I may be way off base here, but here it goes. It is my best guess that you are searching for affirmation and validation to what you already know and feel. For all of us losing or have already lost a spouse it is difficult at best to navigate through the life decisions that we, for so long, have used our significant others to help us do. We lose our compass and our ability to navigate through these things on our own. It is temporary for some and longer for others. Different for everyone in other words. But in our moments of need we search for the validation and affirmation that we so often attained from our life partners.

    So if it is affirmation and validation you seek in this decision, know that we all support your decision as we have confidence that you have her best interest at heart. This much we know, that you are a strong and caring individual. Your presence both here and from Lee's words himself, have validated these qualities in you. You are precious and wonderful. Don't doubt yourself for a minute girl as we have all experienced your powerful and courageous spirit. One step at a time you will build your new identity and through these trials you will find that you have only to make the best choices you can with the knowledge you have at the moment. No regrets, no looking back, no what if's.

    There is power in numbers here as you well know and we are all here to support you. As for my advice, and any others for that matter, take what you want and leave the rest as we don't have all the answers (nobody does) but know that we will all give you our opinions based on our view out our window. Love ya girl! Stay strong and stay true to yourself. You are so very worthy of all the love and support, and we all know how very valued you are!

    And one more thing before I go...My Mother-in-law bought me a plaque to hang that says it quite well for me. "If I have to pull up my big girl panties one more time, the elastic is going to break and I am really going to start showing my ****!"
    Hugs
    Michelle

    Michelle
    Thank you for your plaque, it made me laugh for the first time in ages, sorry Chantal not taking over your post but Michelle thats fantastic.
    Ann
  • suezque1214
    suezque1214 Member Posts: 15
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    mother in law-chantel's new life
    Chantel,
    I have worked in long term care for 27 years. I have seen many ladies like your MIL. Your duty as POA and her DIL is to make her as comfortable as possible. If that means not telling her or following up on CA diagnosis, so be it. I've often seen family members who were frantic to do everything possible for MOM, but in the end it made things worse or made MOM's life miserable. Your first instincts were great. she doesn't need to know about the cancer. Her alzheimer's prevents her from dealing effectively with that kind of news or even coming to terms with it, because she may not be able to recall it from day to day.
    I don't know what sort of facility she is living in, but eventually you may have to consider a higher level of care. If is is an assisted living, she may need a memory care facility. If it is a memory care facility, it may be time to consider nursing home care. If it is a memory care or nursing home, they should be able to handle the anxiety attacks. If she is not on a routine med for anxiety, she probably needs one. The trips to the hospital for anxiety attacks are just too much.
    You know what is right. She can be kept comfortable and pain free if the cancer does begin to exhibit symptoms, and the doctor is probably right. One of her other problems is more likely to end her life. Also think of her quality of life, any treatment that won't improve where she is at now, is probably not worth it.
    susan