I have the cancer but my wife worries more than I do. How can I help her?

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I have the cancer but my wife worries more than I do. How can I help her?

by jdmendezb on Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:23 PM

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Background: I was diagnosed with plasmacytoma about 4 years ago which necessitated a hip replacement and radiotherapy (if memory serves, about 12 sessions over 6 weeks). After a few months it cropped up elsewhere (ribs) leading to another series; and it eventuallt attacked my other leg, weakened the femur and it broke one day whenI slipped. That led to a pin being inserted and more radio, and my oncologist prescribed Revlimid which I've been taking for a couple of years now.

This week, a lump in my throat was biopsied and turns out to be squamous carcinoma of the tonsil (there are other discussions here on this ailment). I'm going in for a CATScan, etc., probably surgery and about 6 weeks of radio- and chemotherapy eventually. I'm not taking this lightly at all, but I generally have a positive outlook; but my wife worries a lot (her mother had all sorts of health problems, breast cancer, intestinal surgeries that were never satisfactory, etc. and it all fell on her). She's practically in tears and it mortifies me that I can't seem to help her. Does anybody have any suggestions or similar experience? Thank you all.

RE: I have the cancer but my wife worries more than I do. How can I help her?

by eternalife on Fri Aug 03, 2012 01:04 AM

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Hello,

It sounds like your wife has a heightened anxiety beyond the norm, finding some cognitive behavior therapy may work. If there are some support groups in your area, send her there or get counsel from a psychotherapist.

Good luck.

RE: I have the cancer but my wife worries more than I do. How can I help her?

by stbaz on Fri Aug 03, 2012 05:31 AM

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Your wife may be having PTSD type flashbacks to taking care of her mother and unable to cope with the thought of having to be a caregiver again.  I've known a couple of people who just had to bail out because they simply could not stand the strain of a second go-round of care taking.  It's very much a quaundry for all concerned.

RE: I have the cancer but my wife worries more than I do. How can I help her?

by jdmendezb on Sat Aug 25, 2012 01:38 PM

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Thank you, it's sound advice. I apologize for not responding sooner, but I've been dealing with my insurance company... Thank you again.

RE: I have the cancer but my wife worries more than I do. How can I help her?

by oakley on Tue Sep 11, 2012 07:02 AM

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I believe she needs reassurance from you that the two of you will do what is best together.  That  you are a team and will help eachother to the best of your abilities.  What would be helpful to me is if we could talk for a limited time each day about the scary stuff and the progress on the plans.  Spend a small part of the day on this and then don't talk about Ca again for that day.  Talk only about loving, positive plans for the future.  Make a vacation plan if you can.  Have something positive to focus on, however simple it may be.  Of course plan for the future.  Review that you are ready for the future financially and what the plan for her is.  Reassure it is what everyone should be planning in case of a catastrophe, and not necessarily about your health and cancer.  She may need encouragement to count her blessings, and get in touch with others so that she knows she has relatives and friends that will care about her.  Remind her that you need her too, and that you have full faith in her ability to help you and be strong when needed.  Maybe you could have a plan to take turns supporting eachother when you are feeling low.

RE: I have the cancer but my wife worries more than I do. How can I help her?

by jaycc on Thu Sep 13, 2012 01:24 AM

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Being a wife of a cancer patient isn't easy. It is great youhave such a positive attitude.

This is just my opinion, as a caregiver.

I too had Mother and husband through cancer. Someone asked me how many times through cancer is too much. The answer is simple , 1. 

I was asked is it better or worse going through it again. I think it is not better or worse, just different. When you go through it the first time your not sure what is coming, which is troubling, along with other things. When you go through it again you have some notions about what is coming but everytime is different. But that is easier said then believed.

Others have mentioned support group which can be wonderful. You can also see if she wants to join one of the discussion boards so she can vent and talk with other caregivers. Be careful about general searches on the web they can be scary sometimes for throat.

As another has said, some conversations with you, and some time without talking Cancer may help as well.

Its also one day at a time now for awhile. It can get so overwhelming to start thinking what ifs and the worse things that can happen. 

Stress relief is important, does you have a way to relieve stress ? walking, talking to a friend, exercise, quiet time with a book. Whatever works for her, perhaps together, perhaps a little on her own.

Hang in there. No need to respond to my post, you are busy, but put on the armor and fight back the cancer. Lots of hugs for her, until she is ready to suit up with you. Remember her armor may look different then yours, but you are in it together.

RE: I have the cancer but my wife worries more than I do. How can I help her?

by jdmendezb on Sat Sep 29, 2012 02:08 PM

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Thank you all for your help; just to bring you up to date, I'm three weeks into treatment, radiation daily through Oct. 26 and chemo (cisplatin) once a week through the 15th; my main problem right now is loss of appetite, difficulty swallowing, constipation and tiredness during the day (need a 3-hour nap) and waking up at 3-4 AM and not being able to get back to sleep. These things add to my wife's stress (what to cook, etc.) although we've discussed her frustrations and my efforts to minimize them (which it turns out were obviously not working, but we've improved communications and things are better). We've decided that we'll go with a feeding tube as soon as the insurance co. approves it (oh how I love dealing with them), we're seeing the doctor on Monday to get all the information I can think of.

We were also told about a support group that meets regularly, we're going to find out more about it and try to get in, I believe it will be a big help to us both. 

Again, thank you all for your responses and help, my head has been in the clouds (wonder why?) so I haven't been back here as often as I should but I'll try to be better.

RE: I have the cancer but my wife worries more than I do. How can I help her?

by Dlynn1210 on Sat Sep 29, 2012 02:45 PM

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On Sep 29, 2012 2:08 PM jdmendezb wrote:

Thank you all for your help; just to bring you up to date, I'm three weeks into treatment, radiation daily through Oct. 26 and chemo (cisplatin) once a week through the 15th; my main problem right now is loss of appetite, difficulty swallowing, constipation and tiredness during the day (need a 3-hour nap) and waking up at 3-4 AM and not being able to get back to sleep. These things add to my wife's stress (what to cook, etc.) although we've discussed her frustrations and my efforts to minimize them (which it turns out were obviously not working, but we've improved communications and things are better). We've decided that we'll go with a feeding tube as soon as the insurance co. approves it (oh how I love dealing with them), we're seeing the doctor on Monday to get all the information I can think of.

We were also told about a support group that meets regularly, we're going to find out more about it and try to get in, I believe it will be a big help to us both. 

Again, thank you all for your responses and help, my head has been in the clouds (wonder why?) so I haven't been back here as often as I should but I'll try to be better.

I just posted to another blog that I just had my five year checkup at CTCA and all tests were clear of any cancer.  Tonsil cancer is totally cureable and my medical oncologist now considers me totally cured of head and neck cancer.  He did caution me to remain vigilant about my annual check ups in case of a reoccurerence but I am doing great!

I have been a caregiver to my husband who passed away from lung cancer and I have been the patient with my second husband as the caregiver so I can see both sides of it.  Being a caregiver is tough because you feel such a responsibility to your loved one.  Being the patient is sometimes easier because you have one thought - beating cancer (trying to support the caregiver would be extremely tough).  The world ceases to exist around you - or at least it did me.  My husband actually said I was easier to get along with during tx but as I told him, that was because the world ceased to turn for me.  For the first and only time in my life, it was about me (says the mother of five)!  I had one job - following the doctors orders and concentrated on beating the big "C". 

Cisplatin is supposed to the most nausea producing chemos there is out there - but the best for our type of cancer.  They do have fantastic (but expensive) meds to counteract it (Emend) - and acupuncture helped me as well with the nausea.  Get as much rest as you can because your body needs it now more than ever - and will in the days ahead.  Treatment for tonsil cancer is rough - but effective! 

Get the feeding tube ASAP - push your insurance company for it.  I don't understand why they are hesitating at all.  This was recommended before I even began tx by two different doctors (1st and 2nd opinions).  Very few have made it through tx without one but I tried only to make it two weeks and a loss of 20 pounds.  I was so weak by then they had to meet me at the door with a wheelchair.  The tube will also take the responsibility off of your wife as to what to cook.  When I got back to eating, someone on here suggested going to a smorgasboard so I had a wide selection of foods to try out - and know what to cook at home.  We went once a week to see what I could then eat.  Your next few weeks will most likely consist more of a liquid diet through the tube.  Be sure to continue drinking water at the very least - I didn't and wound up with my esophageal muscles weaker and meant being on the tube longer. 

I'm sorry to say it will get rougher as tx continues and for a few weeks after tx ends BUT the day will come that you will see light at the end of the tunnel.  As one oncology nurse said after my first clean scan "Now you know why we kicked your butt all those months". 

I am so sorry you have the insurance company to deal with during this trying time.  I had the same with Blue Cross for my first husband but CTCA handled all our insurance dealings with my cancer - we had absolutely nothing to take care of and I so appreciated that after dealing with Blue Cross the first time around. 

Here is wishing you the very best.  Oakley seems to have given you some excellent advice from a caregiver's perspective.  Many people don't realize that everyone is different and just because they go through a few classes or sessions with a counselor does not mean they are going to change.  Some people naturally worry, others have take charge type personalities.  My first husband was a take charge person - and for him to be the patient was the toughest thing one can imagine.  My second husband was less of a take charge person but also a researcher and find out what is going on type.  That was great but as I told him, just wait until I get my mind wrapped around having cancer before we proceed with the information you have acquried.  It worked because he had found CTCA by then and we went there - which is where I chose to be treated.  It was defiinitely the right choice for me. 

Keep us informed of how things are going and as usual, many of us pray for those now traveling the road we have already been down.

Diana 

RE: I have the cancer but my wife worries more than I do. How can I help her?

by frau1970 on Sat Sep 29, 2012 03:45 PM

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I just lost my daughter 39 years old to renal cancer.  I took care of her the last 7 months.  I thought I would loose my mind but somehow I found courage to see this through from a phrase my father always told us.

 

He is strong who conquers others: He who conquers himself is mighty.  Lao Tsu

I conquered my fear of loosing my child and to raise her 16 year old son by realizing that I would benefit from this tragedy as I had with loosing my mother and father by reminding myself that I am mighty and I can do more for others by feeling good about doing it.  I hope this makes sense, but your wife cares so much that she forgets what it takes to do this and she is MIGHTY.

RE: I have the cancer but my wife worries more than I do. How can I help her?

by jdmendezb on Wed Oct 03, 2012 06:07 PM

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Wow. You brought tears to my eyes, thank you for sharing this, I'm going to rpint it out for the whole family. My wife is much calmer now, she must have found that "might" witrhin herself... My condolences on your loss and my congratulations on your fortitude, thank you, JD

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