This is the first time I've experienced someone in the family having cancer, and it's very stressful and hard for my husband and me.
My MIL went in for a colonoscopy last week because she was having pain in her rectum for several months. Turns out she has a cancerous mass in her rectum, and she's now waiting for a referral to see an oncologist.
I lost my own mother as a young child, and my MIL is just "mom" to me. (She and I don't like the 'inlaw' part!) So we're somewhat close, but it's hard because she is back home in Colorado. My husband and I live in Maryland, so all we can give her is long distance support.
Everyone is on pins and needles until we find out more information. Hopefully she will see the oncologist next week.
Any tips for how to support a family member with cancer would be great. I've never been through this and really feel helpless. I want to do everything that I can. Luckily my husband's siblings live in Colorado, so they can be there to support mom.
I am so sorry to hear of your family's situation. I have been on both sides of this cancer fence. Frankly, it was harder to see my parent's struggles than it was to deal with my own. I can tell you some of the things, though, that brightened my days throughout treatment.
I had to live out-of-state and felt so alone. Everyday, though, every single day, I would receive cards form a friend or family. Perhaps you can organize a card brigade with Mom;s family members and friends. One particular friend would always include a special "treat" in the card like a bunch of little glittery flowers (the kind we spread on tables during an occassion). Many people sent angel pins of all sorts tucked into the card. I would put them all over my shirts when I went to treatment. I cherish the collection still.
My daughter and sister-in-law both sent me collages of pictures of my family members. I was tired a lot and didn't feel up to phone conversations often, but truly loved getting notes and letters.
When I came home again, still weak, I so appreciated gift cards to Boston Market and places like that where dinners could be bought. It helped me not feel so guilty about not being able to cook and tend to my family.
I also loved tape recordings sent of my students at school singing for me (one of the grandchildren doing the same would be treasured, I have no doubt).
It really was little things like this that brightened my days. Little surprises.
I really wish tyhe whole family well.
Cyber arms around you
Thank you so much for the great ideas and your kind words. My MIL goes in tomorrow morning for a Cat scan, and she's going to call me tomorrow afternoon with the results. Everyone will be on pins and needles until then.....
I have not personally lost a family member due to cancer, but I work at a medical center that sees many cancer patients and I often befriend them and feel pain even though I have no blood relation to them. One thing that I have learned about individuals with cancer is that they want to see their family and friends more, but they do not like to be "babied," if you will. They want you to treat them like you would if the cancer was not there because having everyone treat them like they have cancer reminds them more of it and makes it even harder (especially those who may be terminally ill). Having someone by their side is important to them, even though they may not admit it directly. Many of them feel as if they are putting a hold on people they love and can act as if everything is fine, but it is important for families to be involved and act concerned on their behalf (which families thankfully succeed at generally) without being overbearing. I am extremely sorry for your mother in law and give my condolences for yours and her situation and your family seems very close. This is never easy and there are never any correct answers, but feeling sad is okay and eventually things will work themselves out one way or another because they always do take care and I hope things get better for your family.
Last edited by Jakepod34; 12-12-2011 at 08:49 PM.
Reason: added information
The Following User Says Thank You to Jakepod34 For This Useful Post: diznee25 (12-13-2011)
MIL had radiation and chemo pills for 30 days; started in November and her last day was last Friday. Now for the month of December she doesn't do anything; no radiation or chemo pills. Then in January she has surgery, and at that time she'll get an update regarding the cancer mass; whether they got it all, or if it's worse, etc.
Even though she's been off radiation for a few days, apparently it made her really sick. She was asleep last night at 5:30pm when my husband called her. That was surprising for us to hear. We're not use to seeing her in this weakened state.
But we hope she'll feel better so she can enjoy Christmas.
Oh, forgot to mention: MIL could not even do the ultra sound they had planned.....The tech tried to stick the camera "up there" and she screamed out in pain. So apparently the mass is bigger than what they thought. That's what they told her. :-(