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Need Help - how to be there for your dad when you physically can't

Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 2011

Hi, I am new here and need some help from people with experience dealing with a parent that has terminal cancer when you live in another state.

My situation is a little unique, but I will briefly explain. My father abandoned me as a baby. I never knew him, but always wanted to. When I was 30 years old he contacted me, and we met for the first time. I learned I had two half brothers, and got to meet them as well. Not long after, my husband at the time was transferred quite a few states away with his job and we moved. During this time I remained close through phone contact with my Dad, and facebook with my brothers. They weren't able to visit, due to my Father's work schedule, but he did manage to come out and spend a week with me after my divorce. This year I moved back to my hometown with my 4 children and am much closer to my father now (still one state away) - about 2-3 hours driving distance.

My father is 63 and he was diagnosed with terminal Cancer 2 weeks ago. It is not operable, and very aggressive. He and my two brothers (in their young 20's) live alone. I am hurting for him, my brothers, and for myself - feeling so much pain and sadness for just getting back and not being able to have years of actually being with him. He is starting chemo on Monday and it will be aggressive as well (6 hours long)3X a week to start. I need help, because i can't be there as often as I would like. I have sent groceries to the house, my children made Grandpa a poster with their pictures I was able to bring him in person. I really want to offer whatever I can to help him and the boys through this, but am at a loss as to what I can do to help him through chemo because I can't be there much. I don't know him as well as most kids know there parents so I don't know what he enjoys, all I know is that he is not an electronics person so DVD's, Ipods etc. are not a good choice. He's very much a "guys guy". I want to send him things to truly help, make him smile, keep his spirits up, show him that I really do love him, and help him through the treatment. He doesn't have anyone but the boys. I've tried to get them to give me some ideas, but they ar no help in this department. Please anyone who has suggestions for great meaningful gifts and sentiments that a man/father really appreciated during treatment would be wonderful. I found plenty of items for women, and young men, but not for older men.
thank you in advance for your advice.

catwink22's picture
Posts: 280
Joined: Sep 2009

Hi Rilexa,
I'm sorry you are dealing with this difficult situation, but I'm happy that you re-connected with your dad after so much time. My parents divorced when I was 5 and I didn't see my father again until 3 years ago, 40 years later. I came across his picture on an internet site and e-mailed him. He lives in FL and I'm in CT, so I've only seen him in person twice in the last three years. We stay in contact mostly by e-mail and just recently by phone.

It is hard to feel that you can be there when distance is between you, but there are ways to connect. A beautiful card with a handwritten message of how you feel or words of support is more meaningful than you can imagine.

If you would like to send something more of a "gift" I would suggest a nice throw blanket. When I am at my infusions I see several people with soft, warm blankets on their laps or covering them. It's a way to "wrap him in a hug" and have a piece of you with him even if you can't physically be there. It can even be personalized or get a special pattern like sports, boats, dogs or something that would remind him of you (an angel?).

I wish you and your extended family the best and hope you find some comfort as well.

jimwins's picture
Posts: 2111
Joined: Aug 2011

Welcome Rilexa. What a beautiful story even if it's bittersweet.
So sorry you have to be here but you'll find wonderful support
from good people here.

Maybe you can learn more about what he likes from the brothers?

1) Anything from and related to the grandbabies:
Videos, pictures. Maybe the brothers can share
things from their computers on facebook that you
can post?

2) If he doesn't have a cell phone, maybe one of those
pay as you go simple cell phones so he can have it with him
during chemo and you and the kids can call him during chemo
to show support?

3) He's probaby going to lose his hair and could use hats
or other head coverings of some sort. My niece and her
family bought be some "doo rags" when I first started chemo
and I found them very useful to keep my head warm and look
a little less like "casper". Maybe you and the kids can
make/design a "silly hat" or "love you hat" he can wear?

Again, welcome and big hugs to you all,


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