gumbo2176
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3065
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:01 am
Location: New Orleans

The "Big C"

As many of you already know, I recently lost my father-in-law to liver cancer. He was a hell of a guy that lived to the ripe old age of 84 and prior to succumbing to liver cancer, he fought off and won a battle over lung cancer the previous year.

Now, my mother-in-law has been diagnosed with Stage 4 throat cancer and is having to live with my wife and I due to her current weakened state at age 83. She is receiving radiation 5 days a week and chemo 1 day a week. Feeding is through a tube in her abdomen and I don't see how she can last much longer. If the disease won't kill her, the cure likely will.

Tonight, my wife got a call from our sister-in-law that my wife's younger brother, age 51, who has been battling lung cancer for the past year has been recommended to hospice since there is nothing else the doctors can do.

It is emotionally overwhelming for my wife and I'm trying my best to keep what little spirits she has left in a positive direction. I hate this disease and the damage it does, not only to those afflicted, but to the survivors watching their loved ones being eaten alive.

Sorry folks, I just had to rant a bit. I've run out of things to say to her to try to help her maintain.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Wow... what a triple whammy...so sorry. Your wife will be forever grateful that you are there standing by her through this, even though it feels like there is little you can do.

Charlie MV
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1544
Joined: Thu May 08, 2008 11:48 pm

Gumbo, I'm sorry y'all are going through this.. We moved in with a parent and cared for her until she died. The only up side was we enabled her to die in her own bed as she wished. My wife is still recovering almost 2 years later. I wish there were something that could be said that would help. FWIW, when another parent went on the feeding tube they didn't last long. We lost them both within 6 months of each other.

10 years ago my wife lost her father and brother to cancer within 3 months of each other. When we got home from her brother's funeral, the power company had turned off our power. Seems we forgot to pay the bill for 6 weeks with all of the traveling we did. You're not ranting pardner. You just need to talk. I wish you and your loved ones well.

User avatar
PunkRotten
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1989
Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2011 8:48 pm
Location: Monterey, CA.

Sorry to hear all that man. I know it is tough.

User avatar
stella1751
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1494
Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 8:40 am
Location: Wyoming

That's a bad deal, Gumbo. Those of us who pray will be sending prayers to your wife. She's got to be in a precarious mental state right now. Hang in there!

gumbo2176
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3065
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:01 am
Location: New Orleans

Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts. I've dealt with death from an early age and I've become somewhat hardened to it. My wife, on the other hand, has been fortunate that her father's recent death was the first in her immediate family. Now it looks like there will be 2 more before the end of the year. She is being overwhelmed right now with all the emotions associated with dealing with the loss of her father and the impending loss of her mother and younger brother.

Of course, I'm there for her as much as she needs me. There are times she just wants to be alone and I give her the space she needs, other times she just needs a shoulder to cry on and mine has been getting pretty wet lately.

We're taking her mother to see her second youngest son tomorrow prior to them placing him in hospice. It should make for a rough one, each seeing the other basically living the last moments of time they have left.

I do appreciate all the good thoughts and prayers. Thank you all.

cynthia_h
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7500
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 7:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

How awful for you both. :(

Are there any responsibilities at your house that can be let slide for a while during this very stressful time? I suggest letting them "slide" because, if you pick up some slack that she considers her bounden duty, she'll add guilt to her depressed/overwhelmed feelings. So maybe house-cleaning can be let slide, or something else that really doesn't affect quality of life for the two of you (or however many people are in the house).

Of course, a room with a sick person in it needs to be clean, but face it: a house is not a hospital and cannot be kept sterile. Here are the short-cuts I had DH do when I was unable to take care of myself after each of my knee-replacement surgeries, and then when I was doing 24-hour care for Vergil:

--The floors don't need to be bleached/cleaned within an inch of their lives every day or even every week. A good vacuuming and spot cleaning when needed will do the job.

--Changing the bed only when needed will work; put washable bed pads underneath the patient. (I ran through two or three bed pads a day when I was recovering from each knee replacement; the sweating from insufficiently managed pain saw to that.) The bed pads are a lot easier to deal with than a full set of sheets! :) Extra pillowcases are helpful, though; maybe a new one each day or when the previous one has been sweated through.

--Simplify your laundry system. Rather than "colors," "whites," etc., I had the laundry divided into three categories: "OK for HOT water," "OK for WARM water," and "must have COLD water or it will disintegrate." Sick people need to have hot-water laundry; it kills more allergens/dust mites than cold-water cleaning will. OTOH, after 10 to 15 minutes in the dryer, laundry can be hung on the line to finish drying, so it's not entirely an energy pig.

--Loosen up on concepts of what are suitable foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner. It's really OK if you only have time for scrambled eggs and toast for dinner; the world won't come to an end. When pushed, I've eaten granola with yogurt for dinner. This can save time (without blowing budget/eating plan) for overwhelmed people. DH bought himself some little meat things (he's much more of a carnivore than I am) when I was recovering, but I asked for the more carbo/veggie option when I could. Anything that was easy for him to fix.

--If you have pets and have been doing their grooming at home (and can afford it), now is a good time to take them to a shop for grooming. If the prices are too expen$ive for your budget, check around with friends for a work exchange: they'll take care of the pet right now in exchange for work to be determined later. You know: kind of like sports trades! :)

And always the garden. Does your DW enjoy being outside? Are there any special plants you can bring to the house or plant in the yard for her to enjoy?

My sympathies for this distressing/overwhelming time.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

gumbo2176
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3065
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:01 am
Location: New Orleans

cynthia_h wrote:How awful for you both. :(

Are there any responsibilities at your house that can be let slide for a while during this very stressful time? I suggest letting them "slide" because, if you pick up some slack that she considers her bounden duty, she'll add guilt to her depressed/overwhelmed feelings. So maybe house-cleaning can be let slide, or something else that really doesn't affect quality of life for the two of you (or however many people are in the house).

Of course, a room with a sick person in it needs to be clean, but face it: a house is not a hospital and cannot be kept sterile. Here are the short-cuts I had DH do when I was unable to take care of myself after each of my knee-replacement surgeries, and then when I was doing 24-hour care for Vergil:

--The floors don't need to be bleached/cleaned within an inch of their lives every day or even every week. A good vacuuming and spot cleaning when needed will do the job.

--Changing the bed only when needed will work; put washable bed pads underneath the patient. (I ran through two or three bed pads a day when I was recovering from each knee replacement; the sweating from insufficiently managed pain saw to that.) The bed pads are a lot easier to deal with than a full set of sheets! :) Extra pillowcases are helpful, though; maybe a new one each day or when the previous one has been sweated through.

--Simplify your laundry system. Rather than "colors," "whites," etc., I had the laundry divided into three categories: "OK for HOT water," "OK for WARM water," and "must have COLD water or it will disintegrate." Sick people need to have hot-water laundry; it kills more allergens/dust mites than cold-water cleaning will. OTOH, after 10 to 15 minutes in the dryer, laundry can be hung on the line to finish drying, so it's not entirely an energy pig.

--Loosen up on concepts of what are suitable foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner. It's really OK if you only have time for scrambled eggs and toast for dinner; the world won't come to an end. When pushed, I've eaten granola with yogurt for dinner. This can save time (without blowing budget/eating plan) for overwhelmed people. DH bought himself some little meat things (he's much more of a carnivore than I am) when I was recovering, but I asked for the more carbo/veggie option when I could. Anything that was easy for him to fix.

--If you have pets and have been doing their grooming at home (and can afford it), now is a good time to take them to a shop for grooming. If the prices are too expen$ive for your budget, check around with friends for a work exchange: they'll take care of the pet right now in exchange for work to be determined later. You know: kind of like sports trades! :)

And always the garden. Does your DW enjoy being outside? Are there any special plants you can bring to the house or plant in the yard for her to enjoy?

My sympathies for this distressing/overwhelming time.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9
Lots of good ideas there, but our life is actually fairly simple to begin with. Truth is, I'm retired and take care of all the household chores of cleaning, laundering, cooking, gardening, repairs, etc. and my wife still works outside the home 5 days a week in an office environment. I believe being busy outside the home is good for her as it helps keep her mind off things right now-------at least for a while.

We do have help with the hospital and treatment visits. I do these 2 days a week, her older daughter takes one day since she is employed full time, her husband takes one, he too is full time employed and a retired elderly lady friend takes one. We do have her basically to ourselves the weekends.

I get a lot of chores done while she is away for treatments and when she gets back she is pretty worn out and sleeps a bit. At age 83, all this daily activity along with chemo and radiation is hard on her.

The hardest part in caring for her is that she can do almost nothing for herself with the exception maneuvering around the house with a walker and making bathroom visits.

Home Health sends a lady around 2 days a week to bathe her and a nurse comes by once a week to keep tabs on how she is fairing at home. I find that kind of silly since she sees a Dr. at least 3 times a week, but that is the system. Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy came by and assessed the situation and said she is getting around OK and they'd rather save their allotted visits in case her mobility gets worse as time passes and treatments take more of a toll.

We'll see how all this works out, but at her age with stage 4 throat cancer, the survival rate is extremely low. I've read where someone with otherwise good health only fares a 30% chance of surviving this. We recently discovered it has also gotten into her lymph nodes, so realistically, it's just a matter of time now.

Thanks again for your input. All ideas and thoughts are appreciated.

User avatar
tomf
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3233
Joined: Mon May 18, 2009 8:15 am
Location: Oregon

Sorry to hear this, truly sad, hold in there.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 29425
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M(11/B)

I have no practical advice, but my thoughts are with you, your wife and her family.

DeborahL
Green Thumb
Posts: 543
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:40 pm
Location: Coastal Southern California

Gumbo, God's got all your backs. I know from experience like you're enduring right now that it may not feel like He does but He does.
Hang in there, friend.

lily51
Greener Thumb
Posts: 735
Joined: Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:40 am
Location: Ohio, Zone 5

I am so sorry for all you are experiencing right now. Having been there, I can tell you feeling overwhelmed is normal. And as one person said, it may take several years for you to deal with all of this.
But it is something you go through, so there is an other side eventually.
My thoughts are with you.

gumbo2176
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3065
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:01 am
Location: New Orleans

Earlier this morning, around 03:30, my 51 yr. old brother-in-law finally succumbed to his cancer. He passed away in his bed at his home surrounded by some of his family. This has been a long time coming and nobody is really shocked or surprised by the outcome, but it doesn't make it any easier knowing how he fought to be here as long as he did.

Well, my father-in-law on 9-23-11 and his second youngest son on 11-27-11. My wife is overwhelmed right now. This is the first time she's experienced loss of immediate family members and to have 2 go in the span of 2 months has her reeling.

cynthia_h
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7500
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 7:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

Deepest condolences to your wife, and to you, on the loss of another beloved family member.

Cynthia H.

gumbo2176
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3065
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:01 am
Location: New Orleans

Thanks again ladies for your condolences. My brother-in-law Chuck was a fun loving guy. He was the one brother my wife had that never really grew all the way up. This is not to say he didn't take on adult responsibilities because he did so with the best of them. He was just a guy that found fun at almost all levels of daily life.

Over the years we found ourselves being called upon by relatives to help out with one project or another. You see, he was a great all around carpenter/contractor and I have done much of the same work for over 40 years. Between the 2 of us, there was nothing we couldn't do as far as building/repairing things was concerned. He gave very freely of his precious free time away from the daily grind of his business and never complained.

Anytime he'd get a little frustrated about things, he'd just sit back, have a smoke, drink a cup of coffee and ponder for a while. Soon enough he'd come to a decision and announce it with this little tidbit.

"Ain't no thing but a chicken wing!!" Not sure what that really meant, but when he said it, all was clear in his mind.

Peace to you my brother. You're going to be sorely missed but never forgotten.

Susan W
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1858
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:46 pm
Location: Memphis, TN

gumbo, my thoughts are with you and your wife at this time.
I cannot add what others haven't. Pick your priorities. Keep some little things together. Sometimes those little things (habits, food, ways) can keep you more strong. Just example, painting the living room can wait, fixing your sweet wife bacon and eggs in the AM or even PM much more important.

Keep in touch, we are here.

lily51
Greener Thumb
Posts: 735
Joined: Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:40 am
Location: Ohio, Zone 5

I am so sorry for your loss.



Return to “Non-Gardening Related Hoo-ha and Foo”