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Hard times

tammy m.'s picture
tammy m.
Posts: 3
Joined: Oct 2009

Hi. My name is tammy and my 51 year old husband has stage four lung cancer. It has spread to his kidney and brain, they have done radiation on both but now say he is terminal. I still do not accept that altho I see him getting weaker all the time. I just do not know what i would do without him. A few weeks ago my mom was told she has stage three esophageal cancer. She is starting chemo and radiation on Monday with the same doctors my husband has so the three of us have been doing a lot of the dr. appts together, it has just worked out that way. It is hard because I want to be with my husband every minute that I am not working and also with my mom while she is at her appts. Another thing that drives me nuts is people always telling me how strong I am and how do I do the things I do, that they would not be able to. I do what I have to do because i have not been given a choice and i love the both dearly. Believe me I do not feel like I am strong, I feel that my world is falling apart. How would you respond to those people? I would never be mean, I know that they mean well.

lindaprocopio's picture
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

I get that all the time: "You're so strong. You're my hero.", etc. I always tell them the truth: It's not strength that gets me out of bed to face each new day; it's necessity. I do what I do because I have no choice but to play the hand I've been dealt. I don't feel strong and I still need their support and strength to help me deal with everything day after day.

You have a heavy burden, Tammy, no lie. Like you, I never feel angry at the misguided but well-intentioned things that people say. I pray that my family and friends never have to know or understand what this journey is like. I remember, pre-cancer, enjoying that same 'ignorant bliss', and I would hope that all of friends and family can remain so unknowing, that they never have the personal experience that would allow them to fully understand. You don't need them to understand as long as they love you and help you. Tell them that; ask for their help. Say "I'm not strong. I can use some help." You have more on your plate than any one person should. ((((Big hugs))))).

Posts: 54
Joined: Oct 2009

My name is Shirley and I am now 55 years old. My husband is 76 and we just had our 25th wedding anniversary in June of this year. However, he was in the hospital at the time. My husband was diagnosed with Stage IIIB lung cancer in June of 2002 and went through chemo for a year and a month of radiation. At the time, our families were not very supportive and basically we went through the years journey on our own. Unfortunately, in September of 2002 my father passed away from cancer. I was unable to spend a lot of time with him because I was caring for my husband. There will always be that guilt there that I did not spend more time with him than I did. However, my husband was again diagnosed with Stage IV cancer in May of this year. In August, our primary care physician put him on hospice and in September the oncologist adivsed that it would only be months for him. I hear the same from my family and friends from work as I am not working, I have taken leave to care for him. I tell them that I do what I do because I love my husband and I don't believe that they would do anything less if they were in my shoes. I just hope that none of them have to go through the same experience. As my sister tells me, "God doesn't give us more than we can handle." Sometimes I doubt that but I try to believe. Just take everything in stride and ask for help when you need it. I have found that I can't be proud anymore and my husband comes first. I will do whatever I need to do to care for him and know that you will do the same. I know it must be even harder to go with the situation that you have of also caring for your mother. My heart goes out to you. May God hold you in his hands and give you the strength and guidance to support you.

grandmafay's picture
Posts: 1639
Joined: Aug 2009

"You're both so strong" and "He looks so good." We were not any stronger than those who told us this. We were just given more to deal with at that particular time. Oh, he looked good because when he didn't look good we didn't go anywhere. Now they are telling me that I am strong because I am dealing so well with my husband's death. No, I'm just keeping it together when I'm out. Only a few close friends and relatives know that I cry daily. There are many things that set me off, usually little things. My response to people is to either just smile or say thank you. I know they mean well and they care. The question I get now is, "How are you?" How do they think I am. I just lost my husband of 42 years. To that I usually just answer, "OK." This is a journey I wouldn't wish on anyone else. These people supported us with love and prayers during our 6 year battle with cancer. They are supporting me now with love and prayers. I'm sorry you are going through this. We caregivers do survive but we hurt. Take care of yourself. Get help when you need it. The next time someone tells you you're strong accept that because you are. You have a lot on your plate. Get rest when you can. Fay

Glenna M's picture
Glenna M
Posts: 1576
Joined: May 2009

I am not a caregiver, I am a survivor but I hear the same thing all the time from
my friends and former co-workers.

I am currently battling two different types of cancer at the same time so the past
few months have been quite a struggle for me. I've finally completed treatments and
am now waiting for the scans in a couple of months.

I used to just smile and say thank you whenever anyone said how strong I was or how
good I was handling everything. After a few months of hearing this comment I finally
had to say something because I am not really that strong, on the outside I may appear
to be strong but inside I am terrified. I now tell everyone who makes this comment,
"I'm strong on the outside but inside I am terrified, I appear strong to you because
my only other option would be to cry and tell you all of my fears. Since you are my
friend I do not want to burden you with my fears, I would rather spend my time with
you talking about happy things."

I think all of my friends appreciate this, it allows us to carry on a normal
conversation instead of talking about cancer all the time.

Best wishes to everyone.

tammy m.'s picture
tammy m.
Posts: 3
Joined: Oct 2009

Thank you for responding. I am so sorry about your husband. I do not think anyone can understand unless they have been through this. I do understand what it is like to cry everyday. I always talked to my mom about my husband but now that she is going through cancer I do not want her to worry about me and I do not want to talk to our kids about it all the time or for them to see me crying, they are having a hard time themselves. I will be thinking about you. I hope that every day you will find something to smile about. Tammy

grandmafay's picture
Posts: 1639
Joined: Aug 2009

Thanks for your concern. I'm actually doing a little better than I expected. I think the crying helps. I had lunch with some ladies after church yesterday. Two of them are "widows" like me. I'm still getting use to that word. We had a good lunch and laughed a lot. Next Sunday I'm invited to a play with a different group of ladies. Most of them are married, but their husbands didn't want to see the musical version of Little Women. A lot of people are watching after me. Our sons call almost every day. Sometimes we laugh together and sometimes we cry. Often we do both. Strength does find us. I know I am blessed with good friends and family. I have actually had a few people ask if they could steal my sons and family. I think I'll keep them. Fay

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