F*** You, Cancer! Catch all

fangblackbone wrote:

Seriously. You guys are troopers. I am at a lost for words this morning but I planned to say something more heartfelt than "hang in there". But that is the only thing I seem capable of typing :(

Honestly, that is all that is needed for me.

My dad needs me to be strong for him. My family needs me to be strong for them.

99 % of the time, I am good with that. The other 1% of the time? Comments like yours give me strength to keep going.

Treatment update on my dad (spoilered for length)


So, my dad had his appointment (by telephone) with his oncologist on Monday, here is the information they got.
The scan they did last week has confirmed the cancer has spread to his lungs. They can't tell the exact size, but there are numerous spots. They aren't entirely certain yet how much these locations are impacting his health, but he has been coughing more over the past month or so. The blood tests they did gave no additional information. The enzyme that is used to detect cancer is still over 200. (200 is the maximum the test can detect). Because the cancer is not in the original location, it is considered generalized.

The first chemotherapy session will start wednesday the 23rd and every 2 weeks afterwards. After he is done each session, he will have a bag attached that will continue to give him chemotherapy drugs for another 2 days, that he will then go to the CLSC to have removed. The day befoie each session he has to get his weight measured and his blood taken to measure various things.

He has gotten drugs to counteract any of the side effects from the chemotherapy, including (but not limited to) nausea, pain, dizziness, headaches, cramps, sweating and diarrhea.

Because of the chemotherapy, his immune system will be very weak, so if he has 2 days of a fever over 38, he has to go to the hospital. If his fever hits 39, he has to go to the ER immediately.

There are additional possible side effects such as mouth ulcers, nosebleeds, and dry eyes, and there is an increased risk of strokes and heart attacks.

There is no precise diet that is needed, but the morning of his treatments he has to eat a good breakfast and drink lots of water.

Good luck with it! Chemo can often do a good job of extending life. He's probably also going to have some pretty strong exhaustion at times, so try to keep him active. (At least, that's what people say on the prostate cancer groups.)

I'm glad he has this chance and I hope it gets you more valuable time with him.

Robear wrote:

Good luck with it! Chemo can often do a good job of extending life. He's probably also going to have some pretty strong exhaustion at times, so try to keep him active. (At least, that's what people say on the prostate cancer groups.)

I'm glad he has this chance and I hope it gets you more valuable time with him.

We go for regular walks, and I am spending way, way more time with him than I normally would have. That's great, but in hindsight, I wish it wouldn't have taken this to have it happen.

He got his hair buzzed today, back to the length he had it when he started basic training in the Canadian Forces about 65ish years ago.

He still wears it really well.

Change rarely comes without some precipitating event or need. Everyone just carries on with life until something happens, then they realize what needs to be different. And then the reactions occur, different for everyone.

From my experience, walks with family members, even short routine dog walking and such, are far more meaningful now than they were before (and I liked them before). Just the exposure to the world, to nature, silent together, or talking about the day, it's really calming and satisfying. I hope you find the same joy in everyday things with your Dad.

Experimental treatments causing complications, but hopefully ones we can course-correct. Calling the ambulance was difficult. The drops were hard, the falls were scary, the changes extremely sudden. My dad is getting very old, very sick, very quickly. I grieved in november, but both my parents seemed so optimistic and were convinced things would get better? They were so convinced he'd get better. And it was so easy to get pulled into that optimism in the face of what I knew of these kinds of diagnoses. A part of me wants to be mad at someone for convincing them so well, for getting their hopes up so high, even though I know it was probably their own hopes holding out so strong because it was the thing they could grab on to.

At the same time, that optimism might have reduced the number of difficult days your dad has had. It's a tricky path to walk but optimism is important in keeping the immune system less stressed.

The one thing cancer is not, is easy, even when things seem to be going well. (I'm talking about incurable cancer, not the kind that can be successfully removed). I suggest staying optimistic, but realistic. You may know that things will eventually turn bad, but you can still hope that he has a good time getting to that point, and if that involves hopeful thinking, well, let it. Just be ready for the practical stuff when the situation changes.

No sense in getting mad at anyone. This is just life.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is everything I truly needed to hear. All the love, Robear.

I’m living it too. Anytime you need to chat, look me up on Steam. I’m there for you.

I hope I am not causing any panic, confusion or bad advice when I say that there should be no fear to make some semblance of structure/plan if the worst comes to pass.

It is my personal experience, so take it for what it is worth, but preparation is probably the greatest gift my mom gave my family when she passed. She had been a long time senior advocate and senior care administrator. So she has seen the end of life of hundreds of people and knew what she wanted to take place when she was passing.

Of course it is still emotional but it is a much needed anchor when you and your loved ones feel powerless. Now my mom practically orchestrated everything on how she wanted to go. And you don't need to do that. But coming together to flesh out something small or simple at a time like this can pay big dividends when the time comes.

I think even something as simple as deciding who the first point of contact is who will be responsible for contacting everyone who should know of the passing, is huge. I would advise choosing someone trusted but outside the immediate family as you don't need to be putting yourself through any more pain. From personal experience through my wife calling everyone when her mother passed, it is devastating. People you least expect will not take it well. They will come across as selfish or make it all about them but it is just their way of grieving so find a way not to put that on your shoulders.

Hmmm. Good advice, thanks Fang!

Everyone should have a basic will, whether you're elderly or not, whether you have a potentially life-threatening condition or not.

My younger brother died unexpectedly at the age of 27, and the treatment of his remains almost immediately became an acrimonious family conflict, to the point where it seemed likely to go to court to see which of our parents would be granted custody of a tiny bag of ashes.

That's not actually what the conflict was about, of course-- it was decades of conflict between the two of them coming out again in a time of intense trauma and stress-- but at least if my brother had left instructions, they would have had to choose something else stupid to fight about.

I have no reason to believe that I'll go any time soon, but I have a will with very detailed instructions about things I don't actually give a sh*t about except insofar as should anything happen, I don't want the people I leave behind to have to wonder whether they're doing what I would have wanted.

Cancer has landed on our family like a ton of bricks.

A few months ago my mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer. Treatable, but still real. She's very dependent on my father-in-law (both elderly) as she's struggling with early dementia and kidney failure as well.

This Monday we got the news that my father-in-law also had cancer. Today he got a very terrible PET scan report. In his case myeloma. The PET scan described "innumerable" lesions and a mass in his shoulder. The cancer has already spread to his spine, hips and legs.

It's an all-time understatement to say having two parents with cancer at the same time is a gut punch. Especially elderly parents. We're waiting for more news on my father-in-law before we decide what's next for us, but it seems obvious this could include temporarily relocating near them and possibly one of us taking time off of work. Send prayers, vibes, good thoughts, whatever you believe in our way. Especially for my wife. I'm heartbroken for her right now.

If you've ever navigated cancer with elderly parents we would appreciate any resources you could share.

I'm sorry, DS, that's a lot all at once.

I have not, DS, but if you feel the need to chat, I'm here. My parents did go through two different types of dementia.


The thing we're trying to figure out right now is what's next for my wife and I. She, understandably, wants to be there for her parents. They live in rural Texas. We live in Oregon. I want to be there for them as well. I have a good relationship with them and I love them. If my father-in-law has some time left and wants to spend it with family I want to be there for that. If they need help I'd be happy to help.

So now we're trying to figure out what to do. If we should just pack up and move. Should we rent something there and keep our house here mostly intact? Should we just put everything into storage and move? Should we just outright move to be near them and sell this house. It's a lot to decide all of a sudden, but it's clear we're going to be spending a lot of time with them shortly.

Forgive the bluntness of thinking, but do you have a rough idea of how much time your FIL has left, and how long you see yourselves sticking around after he passes before returning to Oregon?

Relocating for 6 months vs 3 years, for instance, would probably lead you to make different decisions.

If it's all still up in the air, and you can afford to, delay making any permanent decisions like buying/selling real estate until you have a bit more clarity?

We don't know. My wife is inclined to buy based on the idea that we would have a landing spot for my family as they came and went as well as a place for us to be that's cheaper than a hotel in theory.

My in-laws live 25 minutes from the larger town where all the medical services are. So it seems plausible that there may be days they don't feel up to returning home or that my sister and brother in law may want to visit and the spare bedroom would be handy. That's the thinking.

We will hopefully know more in about 10 days when my father-in-law gets the biopsy results back. Right now they're getting ready to put him on a DRd cocktail. They're ruling out a stem cell implant so far because of his age.

My father (who is currently in the terminal phase of his colon cancer) who didn't tell me or his wife that (spoilered for medical context and rage on my part)


1 - I have had blood in my urine for the past 2 weeks; and
2 - I have had pus coming from something in my butt-crack for 3 weeks now

because he "doesn't want to cause trouble."

Dude. You are on chemotherapy every 2 weeks. You have no immune system to speak of. This is one of those things where you needed to tell us a long time ago.

So now, instead of just "here are some oral antibiotics" and go home, it is "admit your dumb arse to the hospital so they can put you on drip antibiotics, figure out what the frick is in your buttcrack (they think it is a fungus of some sort) and figure out what the crap is going on with your kidneys.

Oh, and letting me know when you get there that you have changed your mind and letting the staff know you want a DNR on your chart?? NOT COOL PA!! NOT COOL!!

Oh man, I imagine that feels like a real betrayal, and very frustrating. But perhaps he's scared of the entire process? Doesn't want to "cause trouble"? (Just saw that's exactly what he said, re-reading.) Please try to be patient with him. This is all new territory for him and you, I expect. Encourage him to trust you even with things he does not want have happening - they won't "just go away". But try to find time to sit down with him and talk, probe a bit, now that you know he might be hiding things. Be patient. After all, he thinks he was trying to avoid upsetting you in the first place, I would guess. And he's probably afraid of the process of getting these things addressed, which I think is kind of natural.

Good luck and you have my heartfelt sympathy for dealing with this situation.

Thank you for reminding me that as bad as I feel, I am not the one with cancer. (That sounds way worse in my head than it should. It is not meant as a reproach)

The monkey sphere is a real thing, and while I could tell you all about it, this is one of the few times I am this close to the centre.

My dad is a very proud man, and not one to ask for help easily. His time in the military and his upbringing (born in ‘43) make it hard for him to ask for help. It’s not in his nature, and his wife being more than willing to not go beyond “are you OK” and accepting his “yup” don’t help either.

I am seeing now I will have to be the bad guy more than I want, but it is what he needs right now.

Doesn't chemo do things to you mentally? Like make you more impulsive?
I can't remember but I know my mom went through something similar.

When she had an episode, we stood in her way as she tried to use her walker to go down stairs. She vainly tried to push us out of the way and down the stairs. She didn't have the strength but the look in her eyes showed intent. It only happened twice in as many months. But it was way out of character.

Impulsiveness was not one of the side effects we were told. It may differ from regime to regime though.

My dad’s manifested with diarrhea, and that’s it. No brain fog, no slurring of the speech, etc.

He is very lucky.

I'm sure you are right. Chemo isn't just one cocktail.

Some very good news for my family.

Today my mother had another chest CT scan as a follow up to her lung cancer. The scan was clean. No new nodules or changes in size of previously discovered nodules.

This was her fourth follow-up scan meaning it's been two years since her surgery. It also means we go from scans every six months to just once a year. We're not quite officially cancer free, but *knocks on wood* it bodes well that nothing new has popped up over the past couple of years.

That's a great feeling, isn't it? Congrats!

That’s awesome!!

When I left for vacation, my dad was in the hospital and lucid. It’s almost a week later, and he is still there, is not as lucid, and has an infection they are having trouble dealing with. Luckily, his wife and my brother are there right now, and they both told me to go on vacation, that he was getting better and would probably be out of the hospital by the time I got home.

The antibiotics he is taking also means that chemo (for his end-stage colon cancer) can’t continue.

And I am 22 hours driving away, leaving Saturday morning for home (where he also lives).

And I am utterly terrified that I am going to get a call or text message on the drive home.

I'm pretty sure your dad would have agreed with them. It's your support for him over the last few years that really matters. He's got family around him. They will take care of him if the time comes while you are gone.

Never feel guilty about self-care. Your family is trying to take care of you, too. Respect that so you have the emotional reserves to help them when you get back.

Be peaceful in yourself.

Just discussed with my brother the next steps.

Both he and I are in agreement we probably need to strongly consider stopping medical treatment and moving him into palliative care. His wife/partner has power of attorney, so the final decision is up to her. The Dr did tell her that we need to make a decision over this, as it is unlikely his condition will be improving at all.

He is in so much pain that he is doped 24/7 on morphine. He is on antibiotics so can’t have his chemotherapy.

He isn’t getting any stronger, and his condition is going downhill.

I just hope that I get home in time tomorrow.