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Cancer: Lung Message Board
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Old 03-22-2009, 02:55 PM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 3
Squirtail HB User
Caregiver needs info......

Hello everyone,

I need some help. I have been asked to be the caregiver for my 52 year old neighbor, who was diagnosed with lung cancer. He doesn't have any family close by. So what I really need is for someone to tell me what I am in for and what I can expect. I am ready to do this for him but I just need to be ready for what is going to be coming. Right now he is feeling fine, wonderful actually, except for being a bit moody. So it may or may not be awhile yet before I will be facing more extensive care. But I do realize that these things can turn bad very quickly and without warning, so I am preparing.

He was diagnosed with lung cancer a few weeks ago. I do not know what kind. It has already spread to his liver and brain. But the doctor does think that they can clear up the mets in his brain so he is almost done receiving radiation for that. Next week he begins the chemotherapy. I do not know what kind of chemo.

I realize everyone is different but I really need to know what to expect. If I go into this knowing ahead of time then I can be fully prepared for whatever he will need from me.

Also, will the doctor be the one to tell him when he should be able to apply for disability? Right now he seems fine so I assume we wait until he actually becomes sick. I just want to make sure he applies as soon as he is able to qualify since the disability process can take awhile. So when does a person with cancer qualify for this?

I haven't quite figured out how the board and private messages work but please feel free to private message me with info if you'd rather not have it posted onto the board.

Thanks so much, I really appreciate it.

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Old 03-26-2009, 06:56 AM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: PA
Posts: 172
SherryAnne HB User
Re: Caregiver needs info......

Good morning Dawn...Well, I must say what a kind and compasionate person you must be to take care of a neighbor with lung cancer. God Bless you for that.

I was the caregiver for my mother (who lived with us) who was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer in Dec., 2006. She recently passed away
(July 18, 2008) after the battle of her life.

I can honestly say that being her caregiver was the hardest job in my life (including having a daughter who had to have two open heart surgeries and many catherizations from birth...and is now 22 years old and graduating from Pitt nursing next month). My mom had many ups and downs during her battle. Every day was a roller coast ride....mentally and emotionally for both of us. After her chemo treatments, she would get very tired and sleep a lot.
At one point she was not even able to get her chemo as scheduled due to a low blood count. She instead had to have a blood tranfusion (that took all day and into the evening). My Mom had other health issues as well including an amputated leg which made things that much more difficult when you are weak from chemo. After a few rounds of chemo, we decided to go with hospice service.....which was a blessing for both of us. It got to the point where she could no longer be left alone. She had to have 24/7 care and then eventually become bedridden the last couple of week of her life.

So what I am trying to say here is that you are taking on an enormous task (although everyone's experience with lung cancer is different) ahead of you.
I could certainly go on and on but don't think that is relavent. My prayers are with you and your neighbor and may God BLess you.

Dawn, if you have any specific questions, or would just like more general information, I would be happy to reply. I needed all the support I could get and sometimes this was the only place I had to go for support. No one really understands a caregivers unless you have walked in their shoes.

Best of luck and keep in touch!

Old 03-28-2009, 02:42 PM   #3
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 3
Squirtail HB User
Re: Caregiver needs info......

SherryAnne, Thank you so much for replying. I am so very sorry about your mom. I thought it was going to be hard caring for my neighbor but I must say it would be even harder if it were my mom or another family member. Your mom left this world knowing that you were there for her.

After I had put a post here I found the area of the forums for caregivers. I can't believe I missed it. Is there a way to move it? lol

My neighbor, Kevin, is dealing with some blood clots right now. So he's been getting shots in his stomach for that. I have questions but we never get to see the doctor when he goes for treatments. After doing some reading it sounds like the blood clots just go along with cancer and with cancer treatments. Is this correct? I am wondering if making him get up and walk would help? It's difficult to get him to get up and move around. It's not that he can't, he just won't. For some reason he just refuses to. It's like he thinks because he has cancer that makes him unable to do, well, anything.

There is an awful lot of swelling going on in his feet too. I assume this is suppose to be expected? Maybe that is also from him not being very active. But the swelling seems to stay down as long as he elevates his feet. There's really nothing else wrong with him at this time, symptom wise. But he sure is pretty set on just laying on the couch 24/7.

I took him in yesterday to have a port put in for the chemo treatments. That port is the weirdest thing. I am definitely learning about things that I've never seen before.

Besides blood clots and anemia, is there anything else I need to be on the watch for? His chemo treatments start on Wednesday. Is there anything I need to know about the side effects of chemo?

Thanks again for helping me!!

Old 03-30-2009, 12:52 PM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: PA
Posts: 172
SherryAnne HB User
Re: Caregiver needs info......

Hi Dawn, thanks for your kind words. I still think about my Mom everyday and miss her very much but I know that she is in God's hands now and there certainly is no better place to be!

Yes, the blood clots pretty much come with the territory of the cancer itself and the chemo. I used to have to give my mother shots in the abdomen for the clots; however, that wasn't working out as I really did not give shots too well and she would wake up full of blood everyday. So after a few days we stopped the shots and really did nothing for the clots. My mother already had a history of poor circulation and that's why she lost her one leg. You should also be aware that blood clots are very dangerous as they can break off and travel to the lungs and/or brain and cause an embolism (which I understand ultimately results in death). Doctors told me my mother's leg was almost completely filled with clots so I was very, very scared all the time that one would break away and kill her. But looking back, that might not have been so bad....she would have endured much less pain and suffering.
Her foot and leg would swell up terribly bad when she was put on steriods.
I would try to just have her keep the leg up (preferably above the heart level) so the swelling would stay to a minimum. However, my mother loved to be as active as possible.

My mom never had a port put in because she ended up only having 3 rounds of chemo. But when you have a port in, it must be kept clean as infection could very easity set in at the site (just one more thing to worry about).

Also, after the chemo my Mom always got a shot of Neulasta to boost her white blood cell count. You might want to check on that as well.

Hope I answered most of your questions for the moment. I will keep checking this site to see if I can be of more help. I just remember how hard it was for me not knowing what to do or to expect. Those were the times I came to these boards for help and support. It made a world of difference for me at the time. I hope that I can help others as well.

Take care, my prayers are with you Dawn and Kevin. Keep in touch.

Old 04-04-2009, 06:21 PM   #5
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 3
Squirtail HB User
Re: Caregiver needs info......

SherryAnne, I don't know what to do. I've tried for weeks to motivate Kevin to get up and do things. It's hasn't worked. I realize that cancer and the treatments really take it's toll on your body. But Kevin hasn't helped himself at all by just laying around either. I'm trying to be strong for him but that just isn't going to cut it. I had hopes that he would survive this for at least a year, maybe more. But now I'm not so sure he will survive past a few months. It takes a very strong willed person to survive cancer, and Kevin just isn't one of them.

The tumor in his lung is small and the radiation has already shrunk most of the mets in his brain. The 2 chemo treatments have also shrunk the mets in his liver. But his muscles are gone, he's weak and shaky, he eats constantly but still loses weight, his feet are still swollen, he's hot flashing all the time, and very moody. All of this is from either the cancer or the treatments, right? Is there anything he can do to help any of these other side effects?

I sit and cry with him several times a day. And it's sooo frustrating because I just want to shake him and say "no do NOT give up!" But how do you pull someone out of such a dark place and get them motivated to want to fight? Or should I just give up and let him give up fighting? Since he isn't strong enough mentally maybe I should let him give up so that he will go quicker. What should I do? I don't know how to help him.

Old 04-07-2009, 05:22 PM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: PA
Posts: 172
SherryAnne HB User
Re: Caregiver needs info......

Hi, you've asked a very difficult question that I think only Kevin himself can answer. I truly don't believe that you can force a person to want to live. I also believe that Kevin has to make his own decisions.

My Mom was the exact opposite....she wanted to live so much to see her grandchildren (my son & daughter) graduate from high school and college this Spring. I knew that she would never make it that long so I always just told her "don't worry about it Mom, if you aren't here on earth to see them graduate, you will certainly have the best seat in the house from heaven and you will be able to see them perfectly."

On the other hand, my Dad (who passed away 10 years ago) was diagnosed with Acute Myleoid Lukemia. Immediately he decided he did NOT want any chemo or blood transfusions. He, unlike my Mom, decided his quality of life would not be worth living. As it turned out, he died a day and a half after he was diagnosed. But as difficult as it was for us, we did support his decision.

So from my past experience, it really is up the the individual. If he doesn't have any fight in him....I don't think you will be able to change that. I honestly believe that a positive attitude contributes to a longer survival rate.

As far as the moodiness, could be the drugs, or it could just be Kevin is having a difficult time with his diagnosis. It might be helpful if he talks with a professional maybe...or a pastor, deacon. Even though my Mom had a positive attitude, there will still days that she was angry that she had cancer.
Some of her medicines (mostly steriods) made her personality different (and not for the better I would say). We had our Deacon (who was also the Deacon for the hospice service we had) visit weekly as she worked things out to prepare to die. He really helped her a lot.

As always, my prayers are with you both.

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