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Thread: Advice for helping caregiver

  1. #1
    Newbie New User
    Join Date
    Nov 2017

    Advice for helping caregiver

    My Father in law has stage 4 colon cancer and has been battling this disease for 3+ years. My mother in law has been with him through all of this and has been his biggest cheerleader. However, I am at a loss of how to help my mother in law. She seems to be in denial of sorts regarding this disease. I honor her eternal optimism of a cure for his disease, but this horrible disease seems to be coming close to an end. She seems to not want to face this reality, of which deeply concerns our family as we do not know how to help. We take turns visiting, helping, listening, but it seems all we do is never enough. We try to help my mother in law in taking her out shopping, cleaning or anything to give her a break, but she is consumed with fear about my father in law and how he is and no one can care for him as she could. Her health is now suffering, every discussion with her is negative (outside of being in ear shot of my father in law). I am deeply concerned for her in the event they receive news that the doctors have done all, tried all experimental chemo, etc. My father in law seems to be at peace, continuing to live each day to its fullest, but his quality of life is declining. He said many times he is ready and not afraid but is going through all of the chemo and treatments for my mother in law.
    I do not know if I am making any sense. We as the children are at a loss of how to help, afraid of what to say not knowing the reply, scared to offer any advice as we are scolded. During all of this cancer with my father in law, I lost my father a year and a half ago from pancreatic cancer rather quickly, of which I still have difficulty dealing with the 'why' and such. We are Christians and have great faith, praying through all of this. I know God has a plan for all of us. The center my father in law is going to helps spiritually as well. My in laws though have not attended any of the help group sessions, saying it is no good, only depressing.
    Sorry to be so long, I am just at my wits end trying to save my own sanity and help my children and husband through all of this. Any and all advice is welcomed. I almost feel selfish in asking for help, but this is where I am. Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
    Dear Mikretrac: Welcome to the forum, although you have my sympathy for having to "come into" this place. It's obvious to see that your whole family is suffering through this for a variety of reasons, and the 1st thing that you should get clear with intellectually and emotionally is that everyone dies sooner or later. If it isn't cancer, it will be old age, or a car accident, or something else. As such, your family needs to quit focusing on "The Big C Word", and find some peace (in the Lord, since you are Christians) that your FIL's life is ending. The key word is "Acceptance", and you can find no peace without it. That's rule #1 in here, and your FIL seems to be 100% on track with this concept, and I think your use of the phrase "but his quality of life is declining" is a misnomer and a potential red herring that you should NOT chase anymore. "Quality of Life" and health are two separate and completely different things. I have a particularly nasty and terminal kind of leukemia with blood counts that are in the toilet recently, and my quality of life is as good as it's ever been! Your FIL is coming to the end of his life, and your whole family needs to think of it in this way, and they should get substantial comfort from the fact that they believe that there is a higher power at work, and that things will be fine in the end. As far as some relatives going for spiritual help, and some not, that's a big red herring, and a meaningless fact that you shouldn't waste a second thinking about.

    The one thing that I would suggest is that your family look into finding some good hospice care, which can accomplish several important things for your family. First, it gives your family the chance to accept and acknowledge that you FIL is in his final days, and that is a BIG step in finding peace with this situation. The 2nd is type and quality of medical care, and in a hospice they try to make the patient feel as comfortable as possible, and get rid of all the nasty drugs with awful side effects, and use only medications which give comfort to the patient. With hospice caregivers, you will find that they have skills in providing and administering palliative and pain relieving drugs that normal doctors simply do not possess. The 3rd thing that a hospice accomplishes is that they have had YEARS of experience letting terminal patients find peace, and this skill extends to the family members as well!!

    In conclusion, your family needs to stop being distracted by the individual details and conflicts within, and move forward with finding peace and unity in a process where cancer is neither the villain or the boogeyman.

    Best regards, DMW
    05/6/16 pre-op physical for surgery show low WBC & RBC
    5/22/16 [Birthday] Results of BM biopsy: AML 25% blasts with inv t(3:3) mutation, HIGH risk
    5/30/16 Undergo 3+7 chemo, but it doesn't touch AML, infections nearly kill me. Blasts 65%
    7/04/16 Diagnosis now Refractory AML. [:tombstone:]Six cycles of azacitidine, 21 shots over 7 days w/ 1.5" needle into gut + below navel.
    11/05/16 Move to NOLA - Infusion center 4 minutes away. 15 shots for 5 days with 5/8" 25 ga. needle Huge increase in quality of life.
    12/28/16 BMB shows blasts 12%
    4/16/17 BMB shows CD34 16%, cycles dropped to 4 weeks
    7/20/17 Diagnosis changed to "indolent leukemia", aka MDS
    7/27/17 BMB shows CD34 17%
    8/15/17 Venclexta chemo in PILL form added Onc estimates survival time now 2 - 4 YEARS.
    10/26/17 BMB results show 17/20 metaphases with inv(3:3) mutation-low blood cell counts - transfusions ineffective
    12/4/17 Diagnosis: Uncontrolled refractory AML


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