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Thread: So what did you do when cancer came to your family?

  1. #1
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    Sorry I don't talk much here--my internet access is undependable but I check in as I can.

    So Thursday I get an email from my 71 y.o. mother that she's start chemo on Monday for breast cancer. This was the first I'd heard about it. She says they're planning a double mastectomy for the summer.

    I live several hundred miles away from her, but she does actually live with my brother, and they are very close. I haven't managed to talk or get an email yet from him so I can't tell what's up for sure.

    I was really shocked, since her health has been good, she stopped smoking 20 years ago. Although both her parents died of cancer, it wasn't breast cancer.

    But it's not realistic to think you're going to have parents your whole life (although I do know a few 60- and 70-somethings who do!).

    So what did you do to deal with the possibility of losing your parent (or relative), and what did you do for them?

  2. #2
    Super Member jayelee's Avatar
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    We didnt have time to deal with losing our dad I got a call from my mom saying that the doctor had told dad he had cancer and they were setting up an appt. with a cancer specialist that was Oct 14.2009 On Oct. 28,2009 just after the last of eleven children made it home I said goodbye to daddy and went home for the night Got phone call the next morning Dad was gone So dont leavw anything to chance go say everything you need to say The last thing daddy said to me was I Love You and I am so grateful also so glad all the family made it home my brother and two sisters hadnt been home in seven years Take care of yourself and just keep telling her you love her and are there for her God Bless You

  3. #3
    Junior Member G-Maw Wilda's Avatar
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    My mother was in her 60's when they found her cancer, her first mammogram and it picked it up, they did a masectomy of her left breast and two of her lymph nodes under her left arm. She didn't have to do any type of treatments. But that was thiry years ago. She lived about fifteen years after she had cancer, she died from a stroke.

    As far as dealing with losing your parent, trust in the Lord and he will get you through anything. I know this from experience.

    G-Maw Wilda

  4. #4
    Super Member sewwhat85's Avatar
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    i didnt have much time after finding out my mom had bone cancer. Make all of your mends as soon as possible.

  5. #5
    Super Member Flying_V_Goddess's Avatar
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    A friend of the family was diagnosed with throat cancer this year, which is incredibly unusual because he does not smoke and does not drink heavily. It was a total shock to everyone, but practically the whole town was supportive (just about everyone knows his family as he and his wife own Dale's Refrigeration and Heating, the only appliance store in town). He recently found out his cancer came out of remission and is doing another round of chemo.

    Cancer...and please pardon my bleeped language...is a b***h. The treatments, running back and forth to the hospital, having to be isolated from anyone who has a cough to avoid getting sick, wondering if the next sneeze you make is a sign the cancer has come back. Its Hell. The best you can do is just be there for her. Anyone going through cancer needs the support. From what you're saying it doesn't sound like she's in the final stages and it would take a miracle for her to beat this...so stay positive that she'll beat this.

  6. #6
    Super Member jemma's Avatar
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    you get yourself checked as soon as possible--then yearly mimimum checks---learn how to self breast check and do it weekly [this way you learn what your breasts feel like]as a quilter make mum a cheerfull lap rug [not heavy]in colours she feels comfortable with---set up a phone call ?every 3 daysie sun wed fri be prepared to listen she will need another female to vent to---try a visit every so often as you can afford if only for a weekend--again your ears are your most valuble asset you will hear her fear/anger/joy/frustration even if she is not verbalising it you need to stay well gather your army! so you will have support too best wishes

  7. #7
    Moderator Jim's Gem's Avatar
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    My mother had breast cancer 36 years ago. She then had cancer of the Fallopian tubes, stage 4, they gave her 6 months, that was 25 1/2 years ago. She is 80 and dealing with some of the issues from her radiation many years ago but is doing fairly well.

  8. #8
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    My friend Marge is in her 80s and reminded me that she is an 11 year survivor. But then I think about the much younger Elizabeth Edwards and start getting all paranoid.
    I did tell my brother I was willing to come home, either to visit or permanently (unfortunately I had an unpleasant childhood--mostly on account of my father and bullying at school-- so this is a big thing for me to be willing to do).
    Since I'm currently unemployed, renting a small apartment and have no children, it's not like much holds me here. My motto is "Have kitty litter box, will travel."
    The weird thing is that I had been thinking about the possibility of my mom having breast cancer earlier that day (and I hadn't heard from her in a couple weeks), when The Today Show ran a segment about how important it was to talk to your mother about her health issues (and how the answers should give you a clue as to how to take care of yourself).

  9. #9
    Super Member Qbee's Avatar
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    First, let me say that there really are wonderful treatments for cancer now and she may do beautifully with the surgery and treatments and ya'll may have many more wonderful years together.
    Now...having said that, I feel that I should encourage you and everyone else to spend as much time as you can with your parents while they are here. Ask questions...learn all you can about them and for goodness sake, bury any hatchets that need to be buried because when they are gone, they are gone. I lost my father in July and had been caring for him for 2 years so that loss was no surprise and I had loads of time with him. Unfortunately, I didn't spend as much time with my mom while I was caring for him (they are divorced and she lives in Texas) and so when I got the call that she was ill, it NEVER even dawned on me that I would lose her. I found out she was sick on like Dec. 2nd, flew down and the 4th and she passed away on the 5th. Just like that....during the last half of 2010 both parents gone. Cherish every moment you have. I will be praying for you and your family.

  10. #10
    Super Member Rainy Day's Avatar
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    Go and spend the time with her. The town you live in will always be there - your mother will not.

  11. #11
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    going through it right now concerning my younger brother...and for the past 5 months...boy i've gone through ...
    profound saddness, RAGING ANGER, frustration, compassion, worry...the list just goes on and on...every day...every night, it is on the mind....i do not go see him as often (as i should) but when ever i get a call i am there. sometimes its hard to talk to him...sometimes i'm ok...(dont' want to say the wrong thing)
    i seem to be going through all of the stages of mourning...ahead of time...does that mean when the time is actually here i will be (over-it) and be the one holding up when everyone else is ...going through it? i don't know- i just know it's never easy no matter who it is ...
    sometimes you don't have enough time...sometimes it's too much time....
    it's always horrible/hard/stressful/overwhelming
    thank goodness i have a full time job and quilting to give me an outlet to focus on.

  12. #12
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    A year ago in Aug I was dx with cancer of the breast in the early stages. I opted for a total mastectomy,No involvement with lymph nodes. Surgery went well and no further treatment and thought WHEW all is well. Then in Dec. (same year) My son 45 yrs old was dx with lung cancer, no cure, to far gone. He had chemo and radiation and lived until Oct 8th, 2010. I went with him and his wife to every treatment, spent every day taking care of him as his wife worked, cried, was in rage, hated what was happening and I still am a mess. Why wasn't it me instead of him. We have other children, but he was the youngest and the only boy. there is a hole in my heart that can never be fixed.

  13. #13
    Super Member donnajean's Avatar
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    My mother was in her early 60's when 1st diagnosed with breast cancer. It was very hard as this was back in the early 80's & we did not have the phone services that we do today. I was 300 miles away and a full time teacher & in the midst of having a house built. I regret not having spent more time with her before she lost her battle.

    If you don't have Skype on your computer, I suggest you do it. It's totally free & the best thing you can do for your mom in let her talk & know that she is not alone in her battle.

  14. #14
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    Parents, grandparents all died of cancer. My Mom had breast cancer when she was 54. 'had the surgery, came out fine - no chemo, no radiation. She passed on Mothers Day - 2002 of ovarian cancer but lived until 89 years old. Those Cancer Reasearch Centers that are in Tulsa, among about 3 other places sound real promissing - has anyone had any experience with those? It seems like isn't cancer, its heart problems. The best of luck to everyone - our prayers are with you and yours.

  15. #15
    Super Member raptureready's Avatar
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    Whether a parent is ill or not, never leave one "I love you" unsaid or one hug unhugged. When my parents died all the "I love you's" had been said, all the hugs hugged, and anything else that could have been done for them had been. They knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were loved beyond reason. If you do that for your mother, there's no greater gift for either of you. It will help in her recovery too. Love and laughter are some of the best cancer fighters. A few hundred miles isn't a bad trip to make once a month or so. Call her often and laugh. Read Ditter's jokes to her, let her know you care, send her a new nightie, or make her a tote bag to take to the chemo sessions. I've gone through these with two of my friends and they need a tote to take a small snack, book, magazine, blanket or other such things in. If she looses her hair make her some chemo caps. Not all chemo causes hair loss.

  16. #16
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    Be as supportive as you can. I recently found out that 4 people I know have cancer. One as of this writing has about 2 months to live. Prayer helps but that too can be frustrating. Enjoy the time you have with your relatives and friends NOW not later.

  17. #17
    Super Member Jill's Avatar
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    I don't think I can add anything to what has been said. I had a deep faith and that is what got me through several deaths in my family. The one thing I will stress is to make sure you have no regrets so that when you are faced with their death(s) you know your conscience is clear. The first close death I experienced was with my father who had had cancer and I knew I had been a good daughter to him. After my father died a co-worker called to express her condolences and said words I'll never forget "you have just lost one of your two best friends." Being positive is very important. I tell everyone who will listen to love your parents and talk to them while they are alive because you have no idea how terrible it will be when they are gone. You never have your parents long enough.

  18. #18
    Super Member mamaw's Avatar
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    Learn to enjoy every moment...be it yourself or with a loved one. I was diagnosed with an incurable form of leukemia back in 2002 and it was very emotional. I even had a break down one day while outside working in the flower garden....was crying and stabbing my trowel into the ground over and over again, neighbors going by must have thought I was one foolish person. I can laugh at it now; but back then I was that angry. Needless to say, I am still here to enjoy every day; but have seen other family members and friends lose their battles with cancer. You must be strong because we (the cancer victims) don't want to be pitied. Just want to know that we are loved and you are there for us, whatever we need to go through. Don't be too afraid of chemotherapy because it can do some wonderful things and I can attest to a cousin with stage 4 colon cancer who is still in remission and an aunt who has been kept alive for over 13 years because of going through her chemo whenever necessary. The battle is long and hard, not everyone makes it; but just be there with love, support, and laughter to make the days more pleasant. If the person is a female and loses her hair, tell her how beautiful she looks with her smile and how happy you are to still be able to look at her face and give her a hug. When the final days come, just be there ....cannot stress the words "be there" enough. Make the most of every moment. HUGS

  19. #19
    Senior Member gypsyquilter's Avatar
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    the only think you'd regret it not spending as much time with your mom as possible. My dad was diagnosed in January 09, he passed January, 10. Don't regret for a minute the time I spent with him prior to and and during his last days. I was by his side when he passed, While I knew it was coming, he went from bad to worse practically overnight and I am forever thankful I had a few last days with him.

    yes, you need t be with your mom as much as you can. you also need to take care of yourself, you are going to go through an incredible amount of stress and emotion and it can and will take its toll on you.

  20. #20
    Super Member grann of 6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iowabelle
    Sorry I don't talk much here--my internet access is undependable but I check in as I can.

    So Thursday I get an email from my 71 y.o. mother that she's start chemo on Monday for breast cancer. This was the first I'd heard about it. She says they're planning a double mastectomy for the summer.

    I live several hundred miles away from her, but she does actually live with my brother, and they are very close. I haven't managed to talk or get an email yet from him so I can't tell what's up for sure.

    I was really shocked, since her health has been good, she stopped smoking 20 years ago. Although both her parents died of cancer, it wasn't breast cancer.

    But it's not realistic to think you're going to have parents your whole life (although I do know a few 60- and 70-somethings who do!).

    So what did you do to deal with the possibility of losing your parent (or relative), and what did you do for them?
    Well, I lost my dad to heart attack when I was 18, so no planning there. My mother had breast cancer and survived over 5 years before she died. I lived in PA & she was in Michigan. Her death was sudden and no planning there. I lost a brother to a 5 year battle with brain cancer, he was in Chicago and me in PA. Got to see him once during that time, a very difficult visit. Watched my husband waste away from lung cancer after not smoking for 15 years and part of his lung removed. The last 18 months was one of preparation and getting realistic with my situation. No time for sentimentality here. People asked and still ask how I dealt with it. My answer was, "what are you going to do? Get up in the morning and say I can't deal with this and go back to bed?" You deal with it as best you know how. One day at a time.....

  21. #21
    Power Poster littlehud's Avatar
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    Go spend some time with her. My mother found out she had bladder cancer and my brother decided not to come home, (if you don't see it, it isn't real ) and he regrets it now. Mom is gone and he missed his chance to let her know how much she meant to him.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Mimito2's Avatar
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    [quote=iowabelle]
    I did tell my brother I was willing to come home, either to visit or permanently (unfortunately I had an unpleasant childhood--mostly on account of my father and bullying at school-- so this is a big thing for me to be willing to do).
    Since I'm currently unemployed, renting a small apartment and have no children, it's not like much holds me here. My motto is "Have kitty litter box, will travel."


    Go, Now! See for yourself what is going on then make your decision about moving.

  23. #23
    Senior Member pheasantduster's Avatar
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    Dear Iowabelle - sorry to hear of your news. I can only recommend that you try to stay in touch - a call, a note in the mail - several times a week. Your Mother is going to go through some tough days with chemo. With modern medicine many older women are cancer survivors. No it is not realistic to expect to have our parents forever but we are not talking realistic right now. Your heart is breaking. May I leave some words for you: Life is a gift.....Once shared it remains in our hearts forever. a prayer for you and all in your family.

  24. #24
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    Follow your heart... Regret magnifies grief, so do the things that make you and your mom happy and feel loved. Watch old movies together. Go through the family photo albums. Listen to comedy records (Bill Cosby's, My Brother Russell With Whom I Slept is the best on this planet). Buy your mom a journal so that she can have a private place to share her fears, her hopes. Bake her fresh bread. Fill her room with beautiful things and the things she loves. Tell her bedtime stories when she can't sleep. Share your happiest memories of her. Hold her hand. Look into her eyes.

    My husband and his family have had lots of cancer. My husband survived 3rd stage non-hodgkins lymphoma with a bone marrow transplant. I count my blessings, as we've lost too many others. My dad died of a stroke, my mom is still alive at 80, my aunt has been diagnosed with 3rd stage lung cancer, my sister has beginning emphysema... I just try to wrap them, and myself, in quilts of love.

  25. #25
    Super Member LindaR's Avatar
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    I didn't have much time to think about it either...diagnosed and then surgery all in one week. I'm fine now and have been for 8 years..count my blessings and just prayed alot. Friends were so good to me and so many cards I didn't have time to brood

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