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My Father's Story - My Pain

Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 2010

My father turned 49 this month, and he called me on his birthday to tell me that his doctor found a mass on his pancreas and spotting on his liver. That was three weeks ago. Throughout the next week my family, which includes my mom, two older sisters, and their husbands, went through oncologist appointments, those dreadful moments of waiting, and finally a biopsy which confirmed that he has stage four pancreatic cancer. My family has always been really close, and this is a huge blow and a complete shock. A little less than a week ago his doctor found blockage in his liver and put a drainage tube in. Two days later he was at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN to get a second opinion, but the treatment options that they can give are no different than the cancer center that he lives less than two miles from. He isn’t eligible for clinical trials because of his poor liver function, or the whipple procedure because the cancer has already spread to his liver. His first round of chemo is on Thursday, and I can’t be there because I live four hours away and can’t afford to miss work. I’m all out of vacation days, but it is so hard not to be there for him, especially when both of my sisters will be.

I’m 23 years old, and I’ve never really experienced such a difficult time with someone so close to me. I get angry at the smallest thing, things that I probably wouldn’t have even noticed before. I spend half of my day on the verge of tears, and I am so sick of people asking me if I’m doing ok. I know that I should probably talk to someone, but I have no idea how to find a good counselor or therapist. The hospital that he is going to has a psychiatrist on staff that specializes in talking to cancer patients and their family, but as I said before, it is four hours away. Does anyone have any tips on finding a good therapist that has experience dealing with cancer? Any coping mechanisms that help? Any books I should be reading? I am just at a complete loss for how to deal with such a life changing situation. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Barbara53's picture
Posts: 658
Joined: Aug 2009

Lux, it breaks my heart to hear what you're up against here. My daughter is your age, and I can't imagine how horrible she would feel in your situation. My own father died from pancreatic cancer eight years ago, and the cursed disease can move faster than the heart can bear.

To fill in some blanks...you can read Final Gifts (Callahan & Kelly), available at most libraries. Keep tissues nearby as you learn how to handle love in the face of loss.

The kind of counseling you want is called grief counseling, and it is an excellent idea. Crying all the time is normal but hard to endure. Wildcat anger is common, too, comes and goes like a black cloud.

Under these circumstances, you may be surprised at how helpful other people can be. Can you arrange for unpaid leave to free up a little time, or cut back on your workdays? Could your family help you out financially if you missed a couple of paychecks? I know how hard it is to ask for help, but you're in an impossible position. In my own family, we decided early on NEVER to let money stand in the way of us being there for dad, and now for mom. We're not wealthy, but have enough to put first things first.

Posts: 188
Joined: Apr 2010

manager and see if you can work (not sure what your work schedule is) 4 10 hour days or take off Fri and drive there and head home Sun.
Your manager should work with you so you can take care of your family.

grandmafay's picture
Posts: 1639
Joined: Aug 2009

The first few weeks after a cancer diagnosis with a poor prognosis is really hard. Crying and anger are the norm, and it is often the little things that set it off. Do try to get some time off. Check with your local hospital to see if they have a councilor that works with families dealing with cancer. You might also try your local American Cancer Society or hospice group for referrals. I am really sorry you are dealing with this at such a young age. Life really isn't fair some times. Take care, Fay

AnnaLeigh's picture
Posts: 182
Joined: Jan 2010


I am so sorry you are having to deal with your father's illness and all of the emotional turmoil that comes with it. No one can be prepared when these types of things come into our lives and we have all felt the shock you and your family are going through. Thankfully, you have a close family that can bond together for support.

There is some excellent reading material to describe what you feel, what your family is going through, and even the emotions your father will probably have at some point in time. This is such an important topic that I decided to start a new discussion called "Great Reading Material for Emotional Support" so that everyone on the board can contribute to the list - and thereby - we all help each other.

There are so many great therapist available these days and any of them who deal in grief or crisis counseling will be able to help. My therapist does not specialize in cancer or cancer patients, but does a lot of family/crisis/grief counseling and it has done wonders to help me understand that this is a "Process". This process is a journey and is not something to be cured - just endured.

Hope the reading material post will offer you some ideas and I also hope you will come to this board any time you need to vent, share, ask questions or just need some understanding people who will listen. There are some wonderful and compassionate members who will be here to help.

Wishing you better days.

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