Hi all, I'm new to this forum. I can't say I'll be around often; I have only a few questions that I need answered.
First, the back story: I recently started dating a wonderful guy whose father has pancreatic cancer. He is very open with me about sharing his feelings about his situation, and talks to me when he feels the need to. But there are a few things I want to ask him but feel that they would perhaps be somehow inappropriate, so here I am.
Of course there are no survivors of this disease, and the death of his father is inevitable. After visits with his father, he will tell me, "I don't know if I'll ever see him again." Which leads me to ask this: When a person dies of cancer, is it a sudden death? Or do they suddenly become even more ill than they were, and die within a matter of days? (In other words, is there a warning? Time to visit the person before they pass? Do they die in chemo?)
*Note*: please forgive my ignorance, I've never known anyone with cancer before and know very little about it. I've been attempting to better educate myself but there's still much to learn.
Also, what behavior should I expect from my boyfriend after the passing of his father? And how can I help him cope? Before, when the father was first diagnosed, my boyfriend turned to street drugs to ease his pain. Is he at risk of returning to his old ways? And if so, what can I do to help prevent that?
Thank you all very much for taking the time to listen.
With the death issue...that just depends on the specific circumstances of the disease and any medical treatments.
With me, I had severe brain stem swelling as a complication of my leukemia. To be honest, I don't remember ANYTHING in the 3 days or so prior to that complication being discovered. But I was conscious and even walking around at that point. I was put into a medically induced coma to facilitate treatment of my brain stem swelling, and I still remember nothing from that time period. There are about 3wks from last winter that I just don't remember. I was extremely close to dying, and I am convinced that I would not have known one way or the other if that had happened. That was my situation, so it is certainly possible that the process could be as painless as possible for your boyfriend's father.
I really have no idea about how the timing of it all will happen. That will probably be unique to each person, I'd guess.
As to how your boyfriend would handle his father's passing, it's impossible to say. I think you will have to handle that situation when it comes. Considering his father's condition, it is probably something he has had the opportunity to reconcile for some time. The only question is whether he has done that or not. But it all really depends on how he handles grief. To help him cope, just be there. Don't try to do or say anything to make it better. Be there for him when he needs you. Otherwise do as you always have. Make room for him to do what he needs to cope with his loss.
You are a darling for wanting to help your boyfriend as much as possible. The idea that he fell into drug use is of concern to me. Anyone with a history of drug/alcohol abuse is definitely at greater risk for relapsing under this type of intense stress.
The best thing you can do is to see that he doesn't pull away and detach from what is going on around him. If you can keep him talking about his feelings, that will be the outlet he'll turn to instead of drugs/alcohol. His own family may not even be aware of what is happening, especially if he doesn't live locally, as guys don't generally express a lot of feelings. This happened in my family and the abuse continues. The fact that he has one person (you) focused on him, will be of great benefit overall. I wish my family member had someone that he was willing to share his feelings with like your boyfriend has you.
You said: When a person dies of cancer, is it a sudden death? Or do they suddenly become even more ill than they were, and die within a matter of days? (In other words, is there a warning? Time to visit the person before they pass? Do they die in chemo?)
My answer is: all of the above are possibilities. He should show signs of going downhill gradually, but oftentimes those with him on a day to day basis don't always recognize the deterioration, for a variety of reasons. Things can also go wrong very suddenly and in unexpected ways. It's best to visit him as often as he feels up to seeing people to build memories and leave less regret. Sometimes that's possible, other times it's not, due to long distances between where the patient and the family member live.
I'm so sorry that you are dealing with this type of situation, but your care for your boyfriend is very touching to me. Feel free to ask anything and we'll help you as much as we are able.
Husband diagnosed with NSCLC Stage IV in 3/2005. Fought & lived over 2 1/2 years with multiple lines of treatment.
Left my embrace to live with our Heavenly Father in October of 2007 and now breathes with ease forever. I will miss this gentle, giving soul with the easy smile for the rest of my days, but have faith we will be together again. He's just getting a little break from me!
Pbj11, the drug use is of concern to me as well. He is a great person with a very big heart but we all have our weaknesses, and I do not look down on him for his past but it does concern me. As you all have said, I will try to just be there for him and hopefully having the emotional support of friends and family will take the place of harmful chemicals.
I understand the actual passing away situation is completely unpredictable, thanks for trying to help me understand it a little better, and for the heads up. It was something I really didnt want to ask the bf, as I'm sure you can understand.