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  1. #1
    DF Jedi BFG's Avatar
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    Advice How do you handle a family member announcing they have been diagnosed with cancer?

    It's keeping me awake, and my mind is in overdrive. In my lifetime, I've only ever known one family member to have cancer - my grandmother. I was too young at the time to understand fully what was going on, I never asked any questions in case I offended anyone, and I didn't know how to deal with my own emotions, let alone understand how everyone else was feeling at the time. My last memories of her weren't grand, wasting away in a hospital bed. It was all over quite quickly once she was admitted, I remember.

    She was in her nineties, and she'd secretly hidden it from us for years that she had lung cancer. My mother found out by accident when she came across a bloodied tissue that my grandma had been coughing into, and hadn't disposed of it properly. When my mother got her to see a GP about it, get scans taken etc, it was terminal and was too late. She passed away weeks later.

    I'm 30+ years older now, and my partner's father (recently retired) has informed us that he's been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and they think it has spread to other organs and sounds aggressive - she's at sixes and sevens, doesn't know what to do or say, and leans on me for support. I've only been there once and I didn't know back then what to do exactly, so I'd appreciate a bit of community advice. There's a local support group near us ran by volunteers, and registered as a charity - of which I believe her mother has attended. It's a group of volunteers who themselves have either had cancer or been affected by it at some stage in their own family. It just seems weird, because everyone is walking on eggshells and pretty much scared to talk about it, a hurdle we all need to get over.

    I'm posting here as I know there's quite a lot of members frequent the forum, I'm just looking to see if anyone can offer some informal advice from personal experience. I'm considering going to the support group with my partner tomorrow to see what it is they do for you. Any advice?


    Time Flies when you're having fun! A decade of DF - April 2002-2012.

  2. #2
    DF Jedi TAR's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you handle a family member announcing they have been diagnosed with cancer

    Im sorry to hear that m8. Ive no personal experience with this (thankfully). If it were me tho, id go along to those meetings.
    TAR seems to be a decent bloke!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: How do you handle a family member announcing they have been diagnosed with cancer

    Mate I feel your pain.
    In the last 5 years my wife lost her eldest sister who was 39 and her mother who was 69 both to cancer.

    My wife is going to counciling to deal with it because she never did anything at the times.
    Only advice I can give is be there for her and brace yourselves as it can happen very very quickly.
    My mother in law was 9/10 weeks diagnosis to passing where as my sister in law was 2 1/2 years.

    So honestly best thing to do is just be there for her and remember it's going to have a massive impact.



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  4. #4
    DF VIP Member Fear345's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you handle a family member announcing they have been diagnosed with cancer

    I have been through this with my mum 10 years ago, to start with I just couldn't handle it and went to pieces but I had to get my shit together and be there for both her and my dad.

    We had to look after mum in her last weeks at home in shifts as I am one of five and to be honest I still have bad dreams about it now and again.

    All I can really say is let go of all your emotions and fuck what you think you or you wife look like and try your best, if you feel you have you will feel kind of ok at the end of it.
    Last edited by Fear345; 24th May 2014 at 02:54 PM.
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  5. #5
    DF PiMP Cosmicpore's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you handle a family member announcing they have been diagnosed with cancer

    There is no easy way to deal with it. I lost my grandfather to prostate cancer last month. He'd hidden it from all the family until he was terminal and had ceased treatment. Shock didn't cover it when we found out. He passed within two weeks and even though we knew it was coming, it wasn't any less devastating when we lost him. You only have each other to come to terms with things, and although its difficult to detach yourself, it helps to be as matter of fact as possible. Metastatic cancer is devastating and while he may be responsive to chemo it would probably make sense to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.

    Cancer affects everyone. If a support group had been available to us, I would have gone without doubt.

    You're in my thoughts.

  6. #6
    DF VIP Member chizh's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you handle a family member announcing they have been diagnosed with cancer

    Nothing can prepare you for how to deal with this kind of news.
    The wife's dad passed many years ago after keeping his own condition to himself - just weeks before we got hitched as it turned out, and TBH I cannot remember any stand-out moment of support I gave her and the family but she tells others I was a rock at the time.

    Nothing lost by going to a support group. There will likely be other partners there in the same boat. Depends how you view them I suppose and if you/partner are comfortable sharing. Some people are natural bottlers and some sharers.

    All you can do is listen, be strong and naturally supportive without being overly attentive, and be as normal as possible. For me personally, walking on eggshells is not a good approach as there will come a point when something will set you off - something said, some music, a smell, even the same car driven by someone of a similar look etc etc.

    All the best with this mate. Looking at the age of this post I can see it's playing on your mind.

    There are enough of us here to bounce off if needs-be.

    Thanks to chizh

    Chubbs (24th May 2014) 


  7. #7
    DF PwNagE liveseytowers's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you handle a family member announcing they have been diagnosed with cancer

    It comes as such a shock. We found out my god daughter/niece has got eye cancer two weeks ago. She's only just turned one and everyone is devastated. They said worst case is she'll lose an eye but when she saw the specialist last week they said she's got to have the eye out, it's likely to have spread and she's got it in her other eye.

    As you can imagine the parents are devastated. She had the eye out this week and they froze the cancer in the other eye and it's responding well. We have a 2 week wait to find out if it's spread outside the eye, if it has she'll need chemo.

    As for what did I do about it? I set up a donation page to cover loss of earnings as they don't get paid if they have time off. It's raised over 3k in a week which will help massively and managed to get a garage to loan them a car for all the trips to London they need.

    Page here if anyone is interested [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]

    Edit to add my boss at works wife had a long battle with cancer for the past few years. He set up a blog after she passed away to help himself and others. The main thing is to stay positive at all times and don't ponder over the what its etc or the stuff that hasn't happened yet. Blog is [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
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    Last edited by liveseytowers; 24th May 2014 at 01:33 PM.

    Thanks to liveseytowers

    Chubbs (24th May 2014) 


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