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help please

Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2007

My father is 53 years old. He never really took care of himself, never really went to the doctor's unless absolutely necessary, never really worried about much of anything. He fell 2 months ago down a flight of stairs. Sunday he finally went to the hospital after still not recovering from that fall. Yesterday, he was diagnosed with cancer. I know its in his bones (specifically his lower back, hip and femur), we don't yet know where else. We also don't know what kind of cancer it is, how far its spread, all we do know is its bad. In the last 3 days they've done 6 different CT scans, about 40 x-rays and a battery of other tests. Later this morning they'll be doing a bone biopsy. As a layman (as opposed to anyone with a medical background) I can't understand half of what the doctors are saying. I seriously do not know how to deal with this. I just had my first son, his first grandchild 7 weeks ago. I feel like my whole world is crashing down around me and as much as I do have people here to talk to, they don't understand what it's like. I also have a very hard time actually talking about it, it seems so final to say the words. I'm having a hard enough time just typing them.

How do I stay strong for my dad, when I'm having the hardest time keeping myself composed? How do I be there for him? Is there anything I can actually do to make this any easier on him? He's so down he's actually convinced himself he's "going to leave the hospital in a pine box"... I feel like my entire family is falling apart over this.

Thanks in advance for any help...

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Hello, Felcisgirl. Just so you know who is talking to you, my name is Joe, I am 50 years old, and I am a head and neck cancer survivor. In my case that meant a 15 hour surgery, replacement of half of my tongue, four days of induced unconsciousness, a couple of weeks in the hospital, 33 radiation treatments, chemotherapy and more!

And I am happy to be here and to be able, hopefully, to provide you with some encouragement.

First, I am sorry to hear about your plight. I understand where your dad is coming from, and I understand where you are coming from. One of the reactions to a diagnosis of cancer is often depression and a feeling of ultimate despair, and it sounds as though your dad may be there right now. That is not unexpected, but it cannot be permitted to remain the case.

The people on this site, and there are obviously a large number of them, are testament to the power of faith and hope and determination. There are many on this site who were told they would not live so very long who are still with us years later. As someone on this site said once, we are not cartons of milk, and we do not have an expiration date. Neither does your dad!

The number and kinds of tests you describe are not unusual. Doctors want to be very sure of what they are doing and why they are doing it so that they can provide the proper care. I cannot begin to tell you how many tests and needles and what not I endured to get to where I am today.

But I can tell you, and your dad, that it was well worth it.

You might be interested in interacting with the folks who come onto the chat line here on a regular basis. There may be anywhere from 2 to 15 people on the chat site, with every type of cancer and/or caregiving situation imaginable, and all are there to provide you the kind of support you seek.

I have written, even in the newsletter for this site, that the real heroes, when it comes to cancer, are the caregivers. You are a caregiver. I do not envy you your job, but you must be strong, you must be composed, and you must take the lead in showing hope to your dad. It is not the end of the world, but, rather, the beginning of a new one. He can and must choose to make the best of it. He can choose to bemoan his fate and succumb to what he thinks it must be, or he can fight and he can spread joy, regardless of the time yet allotted to him.

Let us hope that he is truly a fighter and that he will choose to represent the best of what we are in our fight against this hideous - but beatable - disease.

I know this rah rah speech doesn't help much. If I can be of any assistance in answering direct questions, please do not hesitate to email me via my address on this site.

I wish your dad, you, and your entire family the very best.

Take care.

Posts: 3
Joined: May 2007

Reading your emails made me cry... some more. Its late and I've been researching my bothers new diagnosis of sq.c.c. of the neck region, and comparing to my "legal" boyfriends n.h. lymphoma of the tonsillar region.... you are all an inspiration. Your family needs your smile and good attitude. They dont want to see you cry. I walked around my house for days crying about my brother. For my boyfriend, I was here, in it, able to do it with him, (make him eat) and had to be strong for him. For Chris, I get anxiety attacks everytime I think about it, how could the two most important men in my life have to go through this??
They are looking ahead, not batting an eyelash, or so they seem. Your dad needs your strength, and heck, distraction. I have found out distraction works well in so many applications.

PS, write EVERYTHING down, and look it up later, or call a friend who is a doctor, or etc. Knowing helps me cope for some reason, not knowing makes me freak. I even asked to go in to the room they did the radiation to see what he went through. Even though it was hard, it helped me realize - they are the strong ones, we are falling apart...So as soon as dad starts the pine box thing, change the subject,(e.g.- bring in old photos)... You need to take care of you to take care of them... start a class (if you can possibly find the time its worth it- for everyone) like throwing clay to GUSH around in the mud for therapy, and show your dad what you make. You wont believe how good it feels to - get all muddy, and make something you can eat out of.

It WILL be OK. I know what its like to feel the world crashing down. But you must be there for all of your family, and you can... Check into this site once and a while. This is my 1st time, and I wish I found it sooner. It feels good to know there are others who "get it". Any writing, rather - composing, is a very good coping mechanism.

Take care and check back in to update..
all the best to you and yours

Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2007

Felcisgirl, I am sorry you have to go thru this, it is not easy, all you can do is be there, even if it is just to hold hos hand and listen to what he has to say. I am going thru the same thing with my Mom and she is at a stage where thats all I can do. It is very frustrating and you feel hopeless and helpless, that is normal. Just make sure you take care of yourself and take time for yourself....it is very draining.

Take Care and God Bless

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