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UPDATE: my mum's cancer

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I just wanted to thank you all once again for your recent warm wishes, prayers and vibes upon me finding out my mum was diagnosed with cancer.

She was in Vancouver but decided to move back here to be close to family for treatment.

She arrived last Sunday and it has been an emotional rollercoaster week....
I have found out some more information after the some of the initial awful shock (though I still have one foot firmly planted in denial for certain hours of the day)...

She has late stage non small cell lung cancer (her lower right lobe) primarily.
However, it has metastasized to her lymph nodes, her adrenal glands, her right femur and she also has two small tumours in her brain...

She has her first app't with the oncologist tomorrow to discuss treatment. What they thought in Vancouver was that palliative radiation is the only option. My stepfather knows how long she has but I don't want to know yet..I need a few days. She doesn't want to know herself either..
The feeling I get is that its weeks or very few months...
Its strange that it didn't appear sooner with how far it had advanced, but they said that this does happen and she is quite healthy otherwise, quit smoking 12 years ago, doesn't drink ,eats well...and so it may not have surfaced due to this?
They say "hope for the best, prepare for the worst".. They also say that this is not treatable at this stage (ie, no surgery, or getting rid of it)..
She is on morphine at home right now and had bad swollen lymphs since she had gotten here, but we took her into ER yesterday and they gave her some steroids so that she could swallow the Ensure/Boost (she hadn't eaten in three days and so we were worried)....

For those of you who know, this came up suddenly. My mother hasn't been herself (less energetic in the past two months) but was still moving around, driving herself, still my same old mum less than two weeks ago!!
She had actually attended to the doctor at one point for the pain in her leg (the cancer in the bone) and he didn't do any tests and told her it was arthritis!
Then this came up. SHe mainly sleeps alot now because of the morphine. I have been helping them out in practical ways (laundry, cleaning, etc.) but you tend to feel helpless in this situation and I do not wish it upon my worst enemy...

Being here helps to take my mind off things for a few hours and I really want to let you all know how I appreciate it...

I am learning to see things in a different perspective and coming to know whats most important in life.

So, to all of you please..Mend old fences, drop old grudges, smell all the flowers, let the dishes wait and tell your mothers you love them today

Thanks all very much again...
I will let you know how it goes on..

post #2 of 19
i lost my mum 15 years ago to cancer,so i know exactly how u feel,u have such a feeling of anger with yourself because u cant do anything to take the pain away.
just sit with your mum and talk to her about stuff thats going on outside,dont let her see your tears save them for your alone times.
my thoughts and wishes are with u and your family.
post #3 of 19
It seems like yesterday when my Mother passed away also from Cancer,she was only 59, it's been 20 yrs and I have no idea where those years went, I also lost my Dad some 2 yrs later. I also lost my Hubby of 34 yrs some 10 yrs ago, he was 2 mos from being 50. It's never easy and you feel helpless because there's not a thing you can do, but just be there and Love them as best you can. And I learned through all the heartache and the years that I am still standing no matter how hard it gets and you will also, My thoughts, My Prayers and My Heart goes out to you during this very hard time, Bless You and your Mother and Family.I am hoping that she doesn't suffer to much.
post #4 of 19
Oh, Cindy, your post put me in tears. As much as I loved my Mom my entire life, we were never closer than when she had incurable brain cancer, and I helped her shower, get dressed, etc. And while there are positive aspects to going through the experience, like you said, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

I do keep you and your Mum in my prayers. I will continue to do so.

Let me warn you that oncologists tend to focus on killing the cancer. Often they are not as good at focusing on what is best for the person. Take a notebook with you so you can write things down to better remember them. S/he should be able to tell you what the options are, what will happen if you choose the most aggressive treatment, and what if you don't.

I don't know if you have Hospice in Canada like we do in the US. They are doctors and nurses who focus on end of life care. Although it feels hopeless when you call them initially, their care made so much more sense for my Mom at the end. Instead of being diagnosed diabetic, because her blood sugar went up when she was on IV feedings, since she was never diabetic before, they let her eat whatever she wanted. (And it was not the Easter Peeps that did her in!) Instead of drawing blood several times a week, they checked on how she was feeling, and how she could be made more comfortable. Instead of worrying about how much pain medication she was taking, they were concerned with controlling her pain. And they helped us as a family, too.

I am so sorry you and your family are going through this. I hope your Stepfather is able to come and spend some time with her.

Most important advice: when people offer to help, give them something to do. They can help with household chores, grocery shopping, sit with your Mum while you are at work or getting a few minutes of respite. Think of all the kind things you and your Mum have done over the years, this is the time to get paid back. And it helps her friends to have something to do, to feel they are helping at such a helpless time. In short, share the load!
post #5 of 19
Ah I am so very sorry. I agree that hospice care is an option to check into. I wish you strength and that every moment with your mom seem timeless.

My mom has just dealt with cancer for the second time during this past year, so I have a bit of an understanding.
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much

I feel for those of you who have gone through this similiar thing..
Its funny, you know. It always happens to someone else and then it happens to you.
I feel strength in talking to those who have gone through this as they obviously seem to know all of the same feelings, thoughts, etc...Some of my friends would rather not discuss it as they think it will bother me or upset me...But many people have been so so great. Those here included.

Becky, My stepfather is here in Wpg now...He planned to stay in Van to clear up things but my brother and his wife went out there and did all that so they could both come here together...

On the plus side: My mum actually called me today! Its been days since she could talk on the phone. She is having one of those "good days" and my sister is taking them supper so I am going to go and join them.. My mum hasn't wanted all of us around at the same time as its too much and I know she hates us seeing her that way...
So, we have all been taking turns going over to their apartment and helping out...

I will treasure the time I have left.

And Becky, good idea on the questions and the notebook.
My stepfather does have a photocopy of her chart and her scans on disc but my mum didn't want me to read it as she thought it would upset me too much. I asked her to think about if she would let me and she decided that it was ok.
Its funny but I just would like to see some things clinically on paper for myself.. I have done so much research this week, I think I could write a dissertation soon

I just can't give up hope yet..But have been told that I must come to accept it fully...
I will when I can..

Thanks again..
post #7 of 19
post #8 of 19
Cindy, my heart goes out to you. I know how difficult it is to see this person you remember so vividly in your mind's eye change so much. I lost my mother two months ago tomorrow, after having only three weeks to come to terms with her terminal diagnosis. She had battled 'the big C' successfully for three years, and I never imagined she wouldn't beat it.

You already know what you must do - let everything else in your life wait, and cherish every moment you have with her. I only wish I had done more of the same. Mend those fences, and talk about all those things you never thought you'd talk about with her.

I am so glad you and your mom can be close at this difficult time, and I'm pleased you have the right attitude already; it will help you both in the long run. to you and mom, and stepdad and family. PM me if you need to talk.
post #9 of 19
I am so sorry you and your family are going through this terible time. Someone already mentioned hospice care, and it can be a sanity saver. I could not have made it through caring for my s/o's grandma without their help. The best thing about it is that they free up your time so you can spend more quality time with your mom. They did whatever we needed, including sending someone to help with the housework. Caring for a sick loved one can be a very lonely time for the caregiver, even if there is always someone around. You are in my prayers.
post #10 of 19
Cindy, those who have written before have given such wonderful advice. I can only offer my heartfelt sadness that you, your mum and your family are having to go through this and to let you know that you are all in my thoughts.

We are here with you and for you Cindy whenever you need to come and talk to us
post #11 of 19
First, I am very sorry for your mom's diagnosis. If I am not being too forward, I would like to highly recommend a book, "Dying Well" by Ira Byock. He is the Director of Palliative Care at the hospital where I work. The book is well written and looks at many different cases (some cancer patients included). Take care and God bless. Laurie
post #12 of 19

So sorry that diagnosis was this bad. I pray for strength and comfort for you through these rough days.

post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks all, much appreciated
Thanks for the book recommend, George'smom..Not too forward at all
I am a reader and its generally how I like to process things so I will indeed look for the book...The odd thing is that I pass by the cancer society bldg. daily. Its a block away from me.. So, maybe they will know where to get it.

My mum did look better yesterday than she had in days! It was nice to see her that way. She even got dressed for us, she joked She was quite tired by the end of the visit but it was nice having my mum back for awhile yesterday.

post #14 of 19
Wow, that's certainly a lot to come to terms with, Cindy. It's great that you have a lot of supportive people around to help you. Hopefully the treatment sessions will go well. It's unforunate there were no telling signs earlier.

I've never had anyone in my family die from cancer, so I don't know what it is like preparing for the course of treatments and outcome. The deaths in my family have mostly been sudden. I hope that you are taking care of yourself as well during this time. Be well.
post #15 of 19
Originally Posted by Loveysmummy
My mum did look better yesterday than she had in days! It was nice to see her that way. She even got dressed for us, she joked She was quite tired by the end of the visit but it was nice having my mum back for awhile yesterday.

Oh, Cin I'm so very pleased! Sounds like her sense of humor is still intact, and that's so important. I took my mom to visit the hospital where she had worked, and we visited with lots of her friends, who remarked that she looked good, looked like she'd lost weight (she'd always struggled with her wt, but was down at least 40lbs and looking a bit frail). She just smiled and said, "Yeah, but I wouldn't recommend the diet plan!"

I'm sure that just being back together with family has helped your mum immensely - everyone who saw my mom day-to-day told me how much better she looked after I returned home. Here's to many more good visits with your mum!!!
post #16 of 19
Goodness Cindy, I am so sorry for this bad news. I have never been through this with a family member and so cannot possibly understand what you are going through, but I work very closely with cancer patients and am sure that your Mum will show the same dignity, courage, strength and beauty as they all do when having to bear such an illness.

I wish you all the very best and your mother all the strength in the world, and hope and pray that she does not suffer too greatly. She is lucky to have such a loving daughter as you.
post #17 of 19
I am so sorry to hear what you are going thru. I know how helpless it is./ Even as an oncologist, there was little I could do to save my own grandfather from Hodgkin's Disease - tho I have to say he was 80 when diagnosed and lived until 83.

Someone wrote: "Let me warn you that oncologists tend to focus on killing the cancer. Often they are not as good at focusing on what is best for the person. "

I am sorry to hear that was their experience but it is not true for most oncologists in Canada (there may be some exceptions but I can think of only one and he tends to mask his feelings and it upsets him greatly) - sorry I did not look to see where the person lived. My first priority is my patient and what is best for them. Of course my patients are young and tinier so that may make a slight difference. Still, despit what you may think of oncolofists, we cannot always show our emotions and we take our tears home with us at night. Many of us have post traumatic stress- we see many miracles but we also lose people we are working hard to save.

I do agree about the notebook aspect as I mentioned to you previously. Your mom needs an advocate in the hospital no matter how good the center or the people. Respect her wishes even tho that may be difficult for you (I know it is sometimes hard for me to let go of someone who absolutely wants to have nothing more to do with intense chemo or radiation and it might give them more time. It's often a question of quality of life.)

We do have many great hospicies in Canada - the movement started in Britain - its "modern" founder just recently died last week, sadly. However, I am not sure of Manitoba but here in the Maritimes, we have some wonderful @home servies that let people stay at home yet be monitored from the hospital (all the vitals are done by ehealth). Many people are more comfortable among their family and friends and not in an institutional setting. I am not keen on the fact that many so called hospices set up shop inside a hospital - which while does help with pain relief - is just an added section to the hospital. I think tho thse services work well for ppl with no close family or friends capable of being with the individual, a not uncommon situation aong an aging population whose family is scattered throughout North America.

This will be emotionally difficult for you - I have fought cancer as a patient, as a loved one and as an oncologist so I tend to know al the sides of it and it permeates my life day and night, at times 24/7. So it is important that you give yourself some time and have someone you yourself can talk to about your feelings. Don't take on too much and do what you can. We di discover our strentths in times like these tho and I see families every day transformed by their child's cancer - whatever the outcome, they almost always come out of it more compassionate and understanding of others.

Take care!!!!
post #18 of 19
I am so sorry that you & your family are going through this difficult time.
The insight and wisdom that you shared with us is so true.
We must savor every precious moment that we have with our loved ones...
You, your family & your dear Mother are in my thoughts & prayers.
Originally Posted by Loveysmummy
I am learning to see things in a different perspective and coming to know whats most important in life.
So, to all of you please..Mend old fences, drop old grudges, smell all the flowers, let the dishes wait and tell your mothers you love them today :
post #19 of 19
I'm glad your stepfather is there with her.

Originally Posted by Loveysmummy

I just can't give up hope yet..But have been told that I must come to accept it fully...
I will when I can..

Thanks again..
Please, no matter what anyone ever says, never give up hope! In increments, you may give up hope that your Mum will live forever, or give up hope that your Mum will live to be 100. But today was a better day for her. Hope for another good day. And hope for the slivers of joy that come shining through.

I think that you will come to accept this diagnosis, although it will take time...but you will never give up hope.
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