mother in law has cancer - how to support my husband?

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mother in law has cancer - how to support my husband?

by Secretly_Scared on Mon May 21, 2007 12:00 AM

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My mother in law has been told she has a tumor the size of an egg on her lungs and it is cancer.  Apart from that I don't know too much more except she is either saying it is going to be operable or it will be palliative care.  She is having more tests this week and we should have a full diagnosis by the end of next week.

 

My husband since receiving the news has gone silent, is keeping very busy and I feel he is being very distant from me.  I don't know wot to do or wot to say, to the person i love more than anything im hopeless... I can't fix the problem this I know - but I do want to alleviate some of his pain.  

 

I'm finding that the best i can do is cook dinner, make the house clean, don't cry in front of him, talk to him about anything other than what is going on, focus on ensuring he doesn't have to worry about anything - but it doesn't seem like enough...  im desperate for him to talk to me about this, but i know I can't push him to open up (we only found out four days ago)... but im just so scared...

 

doesn't anyone know wot I can do...?  any help, advice from someone who has been in my shoes would be appreciated because I'm sending myself nuts trying to figure out wot to do... 

RE: mother in law has cancer - how to support my husband?

by Pearl1198 on Mon May 21, 2007 12:00 AM

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I know that you wrote your message looking for support, but I may need it from you also.  My boyfriend's mother was diagnoised with Lung cancer in Sept. 2006.  It's really been a rollercoaster. In October we were told that she old had a few months to live if the chemo didn't work.  She was in the hospital for a month because she couldn't handle the chemo (she is very small). 

We were finally told in March that she was in remission.  Oh what a joy it was to hear that.  But now I feel that they may not have been the truth.  I feel that she may have just told the family (or at least my boyfriend) so they wouldn't worry about her.

She went back to work and went to Las Vegas for vacation with her husband so I thought everything was okay.  When she came back from Vegas she would put back in the hospital.  After she'd been there for a week I knew something was wrong.  My boyfriend was told that it was constipation but I knew it was more.

We went to see her yesterday and she looked really bad, not like her vivacious self.  So many doctors and nurses came to check on her while we were there.  As we left, one of his aunts finally told us the truth.  She was misdiagnoised as having lung cancer because the tumors are located on the lung. She has a very rare cancer that starts with neuro...something but it's not a brain cancer.  She has two large spots on her lungs and since it was misdiagnoised she's already in a late stage with an 18% survival rate.  His aunt said she has 6-8 months to live, but we were updted this morning to know that it's now 3-6 weeks. 

My boyfriend is being very quite and doesn't talk to me at all about the situation about his mother.  He doesn't express how he feels or anything.  I just want to do like you said and keep the house clean, stop the arguments, cook dinner and have peace as long as we can. This definetly hard because he lives for work in Canada this Saturday.

RE: mother in law has cancer - how to support my husband?

by Hope1982 on Mon May 21, 2007 12:00 AM

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I am in a similar situation.  My fiance's father is dying from lung cancer.  We've known it was terminal for about 8 months and have been dealing with it all for almost 2 years.  Now the hospice nurse says it is really only a matter of days.  I've struggled with trying to do the best thing for him.  It's so hard to watch someone you love have to sit and watch a parent slowly pass away.  I do much of the same things you are doing...trying to keep things as normal as possible.  I know it's on his mind enough as it is, so I try not to add to it by constantly talking about it.  I also cannot bring myself to cry in front of him.  Things have been understandably harder since we found out there are only days left.  I finally just came out and told him that my actions are not because I don't care, or that I'm not compasionate about all this.  Before I could finish he told me that what I have been doing is perfect.  He said that having me act as normal as possible has been the best thing, and that when he wants to talk about it, he will. 

It is very hard to try and be supportive of your spouse, while also dealing with your own grief.  I just let him know that I love him, and that I'm here if he needs to talk.  I try to make the little things in life easier for him, so he doensn't have to worry about them.  Unfortunately we can't take away their pain, but I think doing those things does help a little.  Feel free to send a private message if you want to talk more.  :)

RE: mother in law has cancer - how to support my husband?

by Krae96 on Mon May 21, 2007 12:00 AM

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To both of you needing support or to know how to support your spouse/parteners, keep doing what you are doing, remind them everyday that you love them and that you are there for them.  The best thing you can do is stick by their sides.  Men are the most difficult to support because they do not always express their feelings and have often been taught that men don't cry.  For the first time in 27 years I saw my dad cry after we recieved the news my mother has Stage IV Colon Cancer met to the liver and lung with a survival rate of less then 1% up to 5 years, she is only 53.  While bottling their feelings is not good because the outcome could be darastic, we can't force them to talk about what they are thinking or feeling.  Look to a grief counselor or even a Minister who might be able to go through the stages of grief/loss with you and help your significant other identify where or at what stage he is feeling and that will help both of you know where to go from here.  Just keep being there, don't be afraid to cry infront of them it will show them that you are hurting also, and maybe they will open up if they see how it is affecting you also, besides, crying is a form of stress relief and in the long run will help you also.  I pray for the best for both of you and good luck.

RE: mother in law has cancer - how to support my husband?

by Paolo on Mon May 21, 2007 12:00 AM

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You both are in a state of distress, confusion and, ultimately, desperation typical of people that have just learned that the dreaded word "cancer" has entered in their lifes.

However, wait a moment: there are plenty of people out there that have had worst cancers than your mother inlaw and yet they are alive, enjoying life together with their loved ones.

 In January 2006 my lung cancer was the size of a lemon (7.5cmx7.5x7), with six limphatic nodes (3 cm), the other lung and the sternum bone contaminated.

The first doctor I went to was over-optimistic, the second was very pessimistic, the third was very lucky.... yet I am still here, after chemio, Tarceva and surgery and today I am building myself a sailing yacht to use next year in the Mediterranean together with my wife and my 3 children.

So do not give up hope and fighting spirit, look for second or even third opinions: there is plenty of good doctors and effective medicines out there for you to refere to, not to mention a littlebit of help from God.

 Ciao

RE: mother in law has cancer - how to support my husband?

by Secretly_Scared on Mon May 21, 2007 12:00 AM

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Thank you so much, I truly do appreciate everyone's comments.  I stumbled across this website by chance and I can't help but feel that this will be my new bestfriend in dealing with this situation because I'm going to need some support and advice because I've never had to go through this before and I have no idea how to be...

I gave how I can support my husband some further thought yesterday (in fact it never leaves my mind) and I focused on how I am going to stay strong and cope through this.   I've decided to start keeping a journal whereby I can express how I am feeling.  I may never show it to anyone, but it really isn't for anyone other than myself.

 It is to deal with the times that I feel alone, distant from my husband, for when I want to cry and I can't etc.  Hopefully it will enable me to be more understanding and supportive for my husband.  I really don't want to burden him with how I am coping with this or the fact that I feel that I am also suffering but he is insular with his own thoughts/fears etc at the moment and it makes me feel incredibly lonely and insecure... like all of a sudden I'm standing.

 It is hard to accept that the best things I can do is:

 i) be there for him;

ii) love him;

iii) keep everything as normal as I can;

iv) to be strong; and

v) remain positive.

These aren't little things - but they are a struggle for me - as I also feel that I am suffering... Sounds selfish - but I have to come to terms with the fact aht my suffering is secondary to my husbands as he is the one losing a parent. 

I struggle with the fact that I can't fix this - that I can't make it all go away - and that I can't make him feel better.  Worse still I don't think I am doing enough... even though I have no idea what more I can do.  A word or a touch to make sure he knows he is loved and I am there for him, ensuring he doesn't have to worry about the small stuff (lunches, shirts for work etc) doesn't seem enough - it seems like a lame response to something that is life changing...

I pray for the strenght to be able to deal with this - and to ensure that I can be what he needs me to be....

RE: mother in law has cancer - how to support my husband?

by Thepowerofhope on Thu May 24, 2007 12:00 AM

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Hope is a very powerful thing.  There is always hope !!  Read the posting titled Advice to care givers.  It is very powerful.  You husband is not powerless...there are things he can do to help his mom fight this terrible invader.  My father was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer with mets to the brain 2 years ago.  I was devastated...physically ill when I first learned.  But then I realized there was hope ... there are many survivors....why not my father.  I realized that he was not dieing of cancer he was living with cancer.  I read books written by survivors ... I took up the fight with my father.  Your husband can help his mom fight ... learn everything you can about the treatments, the suppplements...what did the survivors do ...Hope HOPE  HOPE ...there are many different treatments available which do provide a good quality of life ...help your husband realize that his mom really can be one of the survivors....my father is ....never ever lose hope. 

 

I hope this helps you help him.

RE: mother in law has cancer - how to support my husband?

by Secretly_Scared on Fri May 25, 2007 12:00 AM

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ty for the message of hope - I had forgotten about that and I guess I had thought that being positive was in fact being hopeful - but upon reflection they may actually be similar but in fact quite different.

today has been exceptionally hard for my husband - he has really shut down again - we had a day where he was ok - but today he picked his mum up to take her to the hospital for her biopsy.  I can't help but think that this will make it all a reality for him - and that would be incredibly difficult to deal with.

I am trying to hard I think on keeping everything running smoothly that I think I've disconnected from the situation in a way and have started to take his silence quite personally.  If I was rational I'd say that his silence is his way of dealing with this all, however atm I'm completely irrational and everything seems to falling apart around me....

I rang him about an hour or so after he had left his mum at the hospital (her wishes, she wants to be on her own)... he was just low, very distant and just wondering around the shops near the hospital... the clear message is he just wants to be left alone - but I can't seem to be able to do that because all I want to do is give him a hug and make it go away (again, I know the hug won't make him feel better in the long term - tis so superficial) - and I think he is dwelling on all the negatives... rather than hoping that his mum will be one of the lucky ones.

Any suggestions on how I can provide hope?  I'm trying to read as much as I can, but I just don't know how to share what I know or even this forum with him without it feeling like I'm always talking about cancer and how his mother is...

RE: mother in law has cancer - how to support my husband?

by Thepowerofhope on Fri May 25, 2007 12:00 AM

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Greg Anderson is a man who was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer and he has written a few really good books...one in particular I think was called 50 essential things to do ... it is filled with hope.  There are sooo many people living in this word with cancer ...living with cancer not dieing from it.   Talk with you husband about things like this he will listen  he may not respond...tell him about this board ... it will always be on his mind ... it is always on my mind...my father is everything to me .. but little thing really can help the mind and heart deal with the situation.  I had real physical pain at first ... but once I took up the fight with my father and real stories on survivors I felt better ... I ignored statistics .. and I know that my father is beating all statistics...

I hope I have helped in some way ...

 

 

  

RE: mother in law has cancer - how to support my husband?

by Secretly_Scared on Sun May 27, 2007 12:00 AM

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ty thepowerofhope - you have helped.  this message board has been a big help to me - ive told my husband about it but he at this stage is reluctant to come have a look - but he will know to ask me when he is ready.
 
my husband has started to open up to me though - which has been very good- and i am focusing on hope - its the only thing that we really have. 
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