Coping with my Father’s Terminal Illness

Fewer things are harder than losing a loved one. I suppose it’s even worse when you lose them slowly. And it’s only worse when there’s nothing you can do about it.

My father is dying. As you might recall, late last year, he beat lung cancer. What wasn’t immediately known was that when he started chemotherapy, the cancer decided it was time to hole up somewhere else. It found a new home in his brain.

Brain cancer is one of the worst. Because it’s a “clean zone”, no chemotherapy will work — there are biological processes that keep those toxins out. (Though, interestingly enough, they’ll let cancerous cells in.) The cancer took hold, and started growing. While we were celebrating dad’s triumph over lung cancer, the unnoticed brain cancer was preparing for the second battle of the war.

It’s a war that my father is likely to lose. When the tumour was found a month following his radiation treatment (during a follow-up CT scan), it immediately became a problem. It was almost as if the tumour knew that we knew it was there, and was bent on taking revenge for being forced out of the lung.

The first thing to go was dad’s balance. The tumour was in the right place to throw that off. Steroids solved that problem — mostly. But it swelled his face quite a lot — a side effect, so he ended up looking much better off than he actually was.

The last time I saw dad was at Christmas. He wasn’t the fastest moving, but he was more than capable of carrying out his Christmasy duties. No-one, really, was any wiser to what was yet to come.

Only a few days after returning to Calgary, dad took a fall. Quite a bad one, and injured himself in the knee and ankle. He had to start using a walker — his lower body strength was atrophying (though his upper body strength seemed no worse). For my father, this was quite a blow, not just physically but also mentally — he’d lost his self-support. A prideful man, for him to rely on anything but himself was something I don’t think he was really ready to accept.

This is common with my family. My grandmother was like this, too. My grandmother used to live in a two-storey Leaside home, until my father and aunt finally convinced her that she needed to move into a retirement home, where she could be looked after and she wouldn’t have to climb stairs. Although her mobility was fair, she could no longer smell or taste foods. It was a struggle to move her from her home of many decades … stubborn pride is a tough thing to fight.

Today, I learned that despite another radiation treatment to retard the brain cancer, the disease is progressing “normally”. Although we don’t know what’s going to happen, the doctor is hinting that my father will live only until about Christmas.

I don’t know what I will do without my father. He’s always been such a wonderful source of information, and a role model that I can only dream of imitating. He tried so hard to be the perfect father, and yet there has always been a slight distance between us. I think it’s partly due to me — I wasn’t the most affectionate child. The rest … well, it doesn’t matter, really. He’s my father, and I love him no matter the past or the future. This is not a year I’m looking forward to.

Worse, though, is what Cathy will have to go through. Cathy is on the frontlines. She’s the one who has to deal with dad’s illness, the one who goes to the doctor, the one who keeps mom and dad going from day to day. I feel so bad because I cannot do the same. As much I would love to take the next six months off, go home and help out my parents, this I cannot do. Perhaps when I do finally find a home of suitable size, I can invite my parents to spend time out here, where I can try to care for them and take some of the load off Cathy, even if only for a while.

This isn’t exactly the easiest time for all this, either. On a selfish side, I’ve got a change in my career (more management than implementation), the stress of hunting (and trying to purchase) a house, Cathy’s wedding (although I’m not doing a lot with it so far), trying to help out the Rocky Mountain Rail Society (but I’m swamped at work), and then there’s my father’s health mixed in with all of that. It’s hard.

These are things I want to talk about with my friends. But what do you say? How do I not come across like someone who’s looking for attention? I just need to talk. My friends know be better than this, of course, so my problem is all with me.

Right now, I can only do what Cathy does — live day to day. And hope that the doctor’s prognosis is wrong. He’s been off before, and maybe — just maybe — the stubbornness of the Sowrey family is enough to turn this around.

89 Replies to “Coping with my Father’s Terminal Illness”

  1. Hi, my step dad is terminally ill with a brain tumour. I can understand your emotions and the shock of seeing someone seemingly invincible crumble infront of you. Terry, my stepdad, he started to lose his balance and lost his control over simple tasks such as keeping a glass straight. Its painful to watch your stepdad have a seizure knowing he knows what’s going on and nothing you can do to help.

    My family and I are entering the last stages of Terry’s illness. We asked for an MRI in January of last year to see what was going on- all didn’t seem right. They said in six months time. In six months time he couldn’t walk, talk, feed himself or communicate in anyway. Everyday you appreciate something they can do, if he can stand up straight, if he can sit himself up in bed, if he looks at you when you call his name. Its heart breaking to see the disintegration of someone. And with that, the disintegration of your family. The strain on my mum is unbelieveable and everyday she amazes me what she can overcome.

    I don’t know why I’m writing this and looking at the date of your article, I doubt you will respond or even get this. Maybe I just neeeded somewhere to vent without realising. I’ve never met or heard of anyone going through a similar situation as me. There’s no information about brain tumours and the effects they can have physically and emotionally. I guess I just wanted to prepare you for the worst. Cancer is vicious and unfortunately, there’s no escape. I wish you all the health and happiness for you and your family.

  2. Escape is possible, and for the better. In our case, it the escape was my father’s death. Sad as it was, it was a relief for all. It’s been over five years since my father died, and I do still miss him. I probably always will. Thanks for your note, Claire.

  3. My father is 78 years old and was just diagnosed with terminal lung cancer 1 1/2 weeks ago. It is a very trying time for my mom, my sisters and myself along with the grandchildren. My dad is not on oxygen, may be too weak for chemotherapy, and is a very stubborn man with tons of pride. I want to be as much help as I can to my parents at this time. I don’t know how long my dad has to live. One lung is completely riddled with cancer and should be removed and the other lung has a cancer mass. He is coughing up blood, is very weak, can’t sleep well due to an enlarged prostate, and he is getting his “things in order”. I have never gone through something like this. I am 53 and loved ones have died, but never slowly with sides of diminished health on an almost daily basis. Dad said he knew he had some problems 10 years ago when he was diagnosed with emphysema. He never told anyone until a year ago and then he told me. Mom didn’t even know. Dad is a habitual smoker and has no plans of stopping now. He has tried the patch and different things over the years but smoking is his vice and it will be the death of him. He is Basque French and was a strong, tall, sturdy man with boundless energy. My dad is prominent in the antique car world and is well known in that world. He has dreams of attending a major concours d’elegance in August and we are hoping his dream will come true. I love this stubborn man very much. He wasn’t the warmest or kindest father by far to me and my sisters and he has been difficult to deal with throughout the years with his hurtful comments, but he is still my dad and I love him. I am trying not to be intrusive or baby him in any way, but it is difficult not to cry or not to do things out of the ordinary, like go over and be with my parents on a daily basis. I work part-time and I have taken a couple of weeks off to be around dad. Mom needs my support, too. Thank goodness she has the Lord in her life and that gives her a lot of comfort. She asked the my sisters and I pray that my dad be taken quickly so he will not suffer. He is eating well but he has lost a lot of weight. He once weighed 220 and is now down to 180 or 190 depending on what he says from one day to the next. His face looks shrunken and ashen. He spits blood and sputum up in a cup and wipes with mouth with a rag. He walks stiffly. He can’t walk far without being winded. You can hear wheezing in his voice when he has a normal conversation. Today is April 15, 2007. I want to go to my dad’s doctor appointments and get the full scoop on his condition. My husband has been around him and is shocked by how much dad has deteriorated in 2 months. I will miss him very much. I need more hope and faith for the afterlife. Thanks for reading this. Debbie

  4. I am sorry to hear about all of your loved ones. I am in a similar situation with my brother. He was diagnosed with brain cancer almost 3 years ago now. He did a round of chemo and raditation almost immediately after his diagnosis 3 years ago and they told him that it was gone. After almost an entire year to the day, they realized that the cancer had come back once again with a vengeance. He underwent another round of raditation, without chemo this time, and the cancer apparently was gone once again (but the drs were always a bit concerned about the “scar tissue” on his MRI’s. So we saw his 38th and 39th birthday come and go. Now his 40th birthday is coming up on July and hopefully he will be around for that one. He was taken to the hospital in August and was told that he probably wouldn’t last through the week or maybe just had weeks to live. He is still going as strong as he can. It is hard as you all say to see this terrible disease take over a person who was once a “strong” and “self sufficient” man. It is a slow and frustrating progression for all of the family members and friends around him (not to mention himself). It is hard to accept the fact that this disease is taking everything away from him.

    I pray for you all and hope that your loved ones aren’t in pain and that you and your loved ones are living life right now…

    Let’s all hope for a miracle cure for this terrible monster!

  5. Dear Candice: I pray for your brother that he will enjoy his 40th birthday with a clean and healthy slate. My mom and dad went to the oncologist today. Dad was given sleeping pills and a prescription to increase his appetite. He will give chemo a try. The scariest thing I witnessed two days ago was when he was looking at his cell phone to call a friend and suddenly his eyes blinked crazily and quickly and then his head bobbed up and down extremely fast and jerky. All of this happened within 10 seconds. He said he just had another fast headache. A fast headache? I am now concerned that the small cell cancer may metastasized to his brain. Dad doesn’t want any undue affection or attention and Mom said to take each day as it comes. Very difficult to do when your father is disintegrating in front of you. Geoff started this beautiful site to express his sadness of his father’s illness. Something good comes out of all of this; closeness to others, valuing life more, reaching out, taking stock on what is truly important…Thanks for being there! Debbie in California

  6. Thanks for your prayers Debbie. It’s a hard situation as I just moved to another town quite far away with my husband and 2 small children. It’s hard to deal with so far away with only my parents (well into their 70’s) and my sister to help out. I hope that your father is able to mask the pain with the medication and that he’s not suffering at all. My brother is refusing to take his medication as I think that he feels it’s the one thing that he’s in control of in his life right now. He doesn’t want to become “addicted” but does that really matter right now? We are only concerned about his pain control and his quality of day to day life right now. I guess in his mind sometimes he thinks that the cancer is gone, but we all know to the contrary. We have been told that it’s just a matter of months now, but he’s been fighting this demon for almost 3 years with a super power strength of somesort. I am not a really religous person, but I sure have been looking to the strength of a higher power to get my brother and my family through this awful time. He is my son’s only uncle and it will be hard on them when he is gone. They are almost 3 and 4 months, so it is hard to say how it is going ot affect them once he is gone. Hopefully my brother will be around for a lot longer now.

    I hope that your dad gets the fast headaches taken control of. He doesn’t need that affecting his quality of life on top of everything else.

    My thoughts are with you and your families. Thanks for starting this lovely site Geoff. I am glad that I finally decided to check into this awful disease on the internet and was so pleased to find this site.

    Sorry if I vent sometimes, but it’s one of the ways to get the anger out without my family seeing how upset I am…

  7. Y’know, I never thought this site would be anything more than a place for me to babble incoherently without being interrupted or having someone change the subject in mid-sentence. I know I don’t get a heap of traffic here, but at least I’ve already said my part.

    My dad’s illness and eventual death was hard on my family, notably my mother, sister, and brother-in-law, who were physically closer to my father than I was. I think to some degree I’ve never come to terms with that, and I’m not sure that I can. That distance thing is hard to overcome.

    If this site has proven nothing more than a place for two people to connect and share their experiences to help themselves, then every penny I pay to keep it up is well spent. And if nothing else, it helps me know that I’m not alone.

    Thank you both for sharing yourselves.

  8. Geoff, thanks from the bottom of my heart that you keep this website up and running. It’s great to find other people going through similar experiences sharing their thoughts and heartfelt emotions. It’s a nice place just to go and read the stories from other people and know that we aren’t alone in this terrible battle.

    You are never alone and there is always somebody out there listening…

    Thank you to the both of you…I will keep you posted and Debbie you do the same to me too.

    Geoff, how are you doing after all of these years??

  9. It’s been over five years since my father died. But I still hear his voice, feel his spirit, and remember his teachings. You remember both the good and the bad, but the good tends to win out in volumes.

    The worst part was the hole that formed with his absence, notably at the following Christmas dinner. Wasn’t quite the same. But then, it wasn’t the same after my grandmother (his mother) died in ’96.

    I don’t know about you, but I have a wonderful family, including aunts, uncles, and cousins. So it’s never a case of feeling alone. Just different. And with the impending arrival of my first child, there’s a great deal of hope of resparking many of those older memories. Just that I’m now the father.

  10. Congratulations on the impending arrival of your first child. I am sure that it will change your view on life. It certainly has for me. My brother got diagnosed with brain cancer one month after my first son was born so it was like my son was meant to come at that time to help all of us through this terrible time. I was 6 months pregnant with my second son (who was born just this past Dec 28) when we found out that my brother had become terminal with no more hope for any more treatment. You know, I have always said that both of my sons came at these certain times to be able to help all of us have a bit of happiness with new life. 2 lives have come into the world to replace the one that is slowly disappearing. That’s how I see it. They will never replace their uncle but they certainly came at a special time and we will always remember the time that they chose to come into this world to bring a bit of happiness at a time when there is so much grief and pain.

    I wish you and your families all the best times to come. Your child will be able to sit and listen to stories about is grandfather with great awe when he or she is older and will appreciate how precious life is.

  11. Hi Guys:

    I came across this website completely by accident but in a way it has been cathartic for me to read what others are going through in losing a loved one to cancer. My Mom passed away almost ten years ago but at times it feels as if it happened yesterday. Although she fought her illness for a long time, over seven years, (mainly because she wanted to see me finish college and get a job, which she did), I still sometimes feel like I did not have enough time to say all the things I needed to say. These days when I hear somebody talking about having a loved one who is sick I tell them, “be sure that you let them know how you feel about them because when they are gone its too late.”

    I know I’m rambling but I also wanted to say to the people who spoke about the pain of watching a loved one fade away, it is a difficult thing to have to go through but just know that this means that you have a chance to show them just how special and how loved they are and also to learn even more from them.

  12. We are both confronted with the imminent loss of our dads. Mine has inoperable lung cancer, and I just found this out on Saturday morning.

    If you want to, you can reach me at kfurey@shaw.ca, and rant all you want. I know.

    God bless,
    Kim

  13. I am glad that this site is helpful to people as well. I stumbled across it quite accidentaly during the summer and I haven’t checked it out again for awhile. I decided to tonight.

    I got a phone call from my mother tonight telling me that the doctor and nurse had told her that I had better catch a flight home soon. My brother has been fighting this demon for more than 3 years now and now is his time to leave this world. It’s a sad time for all of us but it’s also a time that when he does leave we know that he is no longer in any pain or suffering. He will be in a place where he can be free from drugs, doctors, nurses, pain, etc. what every terminal cancer patient goes through on a daily basis.

    I pray for everyone’s loved ones and may one day there be a cure for this awful monster so lives can be saved and not taken in such a cruel manner.

    God bless you all.

  14. All the best to you, Candice. May your family hold together through the storm about to end, and remember your brother with only the best of thoughts.

  15. I just wanted to let everyone know that my brother died on Sept 20 after a valiant and brave battle of 3 1/2 years. He ended up having to go into Palliative care (something he didn’t want) but had to be done as my parents weren’t able to care for what he needed at that time. He was in the hospital for 4 days and died a peaceful death. That’s all we could have asked for. It’s harder on us now with him gone but he’s in a place free from his pain and suffering now. We are left with our suffering, but I am sure it’s much less than what he went through for so long.

    I hope that everybody else’s loved ones are hanging in there. I pray everyday that this terrible monster will be taken care of with a cure…

    Thanks again Geoff for the kind words. We held strong until the end for Gary and now he’s looking down on us I am sure with a smile on his face from being free of pain now!

  16. Just wanted to also say that Gary did make it to his 40th birthday in July and he said that it was the best time of his life! So that’s a memory that our whole family will hold near and dear forever and thank goodness for cameras!

  17. I too stumbled upon this site.. it’s nice, in a way, to see that you guys have picked up the pieces and managed to move on. Hopefully, one day I’ll be writing back here to say I’m doing the same.

    My wonderful grandmother, with whom I spent a huge part of my childhood with, survived bowel cancer 4 1/2 years ago. As a result, she emerged from the operation with a colostomy and a clean diagnosis – they were confident they removed all the cancerous pollups.

    In August, she had a blockage in her digestive tract, something common with colostomy patients. It turned out to be just scar tissue that had built up, and was a relatively easy operation. However, when x-raying to determine the cause of the blockage, the doctors found quite a few ‘spots’ on her liver. The diagnosis was quick: liver cancer, a secondary cancer that had spread from her first.

    We were all shocked, but resolute to handle ‘one thing at a time’ as she recovered from the blockage operation. The doctors told us that, while they could not treat the cancer, it was one of the hardiest organs, capable of healing and regenerating itself. She was on her feet the day after the operation, eager to begin her recovery.

    We all got together for Thanksgiving, mindful that her time might be limited, and wanted to spend as much time as possible with her. We made plans of spending Christmas with her. We also made arrangements to have her move into an assisted living home, as we knew that at some point the cancer would catch up with her. With what has turned out to be a blessing, her #1 pick for a nursing home just had an immediate opening, and we were able to move her in last Monday.

    Maybe we were naive, or just overly optimistic, but we recently got a phone call that has totally flipped my world upside down. This Thursday, during a checkup, her doctor said the cancer in her liver was growing very quickly, and that she only has two months to live.

    I’m absolutely devastated, and absolutely crushed. I just can’t imagine this integral part of my life not being there anymore. As she lives over 5 hours away, I’m making as many arrangements as possible to get down to spend time with her, but I feel so guilty that I can’t do more. I spend every day on the phone, relishing the sound of her voice.. knowing that I soon won’t be able to just pick up the phone.

    The doctors say that, as her cancer progresses, so will her pain. As that happens, she’ll be placed on heavier and heavier doses of painkillers and sedatives. When that happens, she’ll literally just fade away from us. Already, I can hear the strain in her voice, and I know that she’s putting on a brave face for us.

    Guys.. how have you coped with this? I just can’t help but breaking down every time we talk, and I wonder if each will be the last time. I *know* I have to be strong when I go to see her and won’t be able to lose control of my emotions.. but I just don’t know how. She’s handling the news well.. much better than I am capable.

    I guess I’m just not ready to say goodbye.. are we ever?

  18. Candice, I’m sure I speak for everyone who’s come to this page that our hearts are with you and your family at this hard time. All of our hopes and wishes to you. May Gary find the peace he deserves.

  19. Chris, I wish I could offer some advice on how to deal with losing a loved one without them actually passing away. Sadly, there is no silver bullet that gives you a direct way to coping.

    My father experienced a serious stroke before he died, and while he was lucid enough to recognise myself, family, and friends, he wasn’t really aware of what was going on. I knew he was in pain, but it was hard to know how he really felt. It wasn’t my father — it was a man who looked and sounded like my father, but the fire was already dying.

    All I can suggest is to continue to treat your grandmother the way you always have. Make her feel normal, at least as normal as is possible. For someone nearing the end, they need to know that life does go on, that those who love them aren’t going to distance themselves or treat them any differently. Patterns often help people deal with the difficult.

  20. My brother too was on a large dose of painkillers and medication during the last year of his terminal illness. He started to have massive seizures just a few months before he died and consequently he really wasn’t too coherent and didn’t move very much from his bed. He slept probably about 22 hours a day and with the added medication to stop the seizures he wasn’t the “Gary” that I had known for my 33 years in this world. We knew that he was in a large amount of pain so really him sleeping alot gave us the hopes that his pain was at least being managed. With me being so far away (a 15 hour car ride but only an 1 hour and 1/2 plane ride) I only got to talk to him over the phone. The last time I did talk to him I could tell that he wasn’t in reality anymore. It was tough but we still continued to talk to him as if he was his old self.

    I didn’t make it home in time to be able to talk to him in person while he was awake. Because of the seizures he was put into a drug induced coma and just slipped away from us peacefully and hopefully pain free in his sleep. There were times of struggles of breathing, but all in all it was very peaceful for him and for our family as well. We all talked to him as if he could hear us for those 4 days that he was alive though. Sometimes there would be a slight change in breathing that gave us the sense that he could hear what we were saying to him. It was very comforting to me thinking that he could hear me and his nephews talking to him. My parents, my sister and I would tell him that it’s okay for him to leave now and he would be in a better place free from his horrible pain. I like to believe that he heard us and decided to leave after he had heard his nephews in the roon (they are 3 and 9 months old). Nickolas (my 3 year old) was blowing kisses to him as he was sleeping and telling him that he loved him. You know, Gary passed away the evening after our whole family was in the room together with him. I think that he was waiting for that moment to have all of us together with him. It was a very special time and I am sure that he loved to hear the voices of his nephews (he didn’t have any children of his own).

    Chris, I know that it’s hard watching somebody you love so dearly slip away. You just have to remember that as the pain increases you just have to kind of accept that maybe they will be in a better place free from pain once they slip away. It’s hard dealing with it and you can never prepare yourself for the end. You just have to be strong and know that your Grandmother I am sure cherishes each phone call and visit that she has from you and your family. You have to be sure to remember the good times and hold them close to your heart. You just have to remember to treat her like a living person still until the end comes. I know that my brother never came to terms with his diagnosis right up until the end so we had to deal with him as if life was going to continue on forever for him. Not sure if that’s your situation but you still have to continue to treat them the same as before they became very ill (maybe a bit sofer sometimes though!). I wish you and your family well.

    Geoff I appreciate the kind words. You have been so supportive over the past few months since I have found this site. I will definately be returning to talk with everyone else who comes across this wonderful sounding board!

  21. Well, thanks guys. I really appreciate that you’re willing to share your experiences and feelings. It’s so difficult to casually discuss this with people who haven’t gone through a similar situation. Their eyes cloud over shortly after their “I’m so sorry to hear that”..

    I’ve made an effort to make things as ‘normal’ as possible when we talk. It’s heartbreaking when she starts talking about how she needs a new pair of winter boots, or how she worries about how the roads will be when I come to visit in the winter. She knows her illness is terminal, but her hope is inspiring.. and devastating, at the same time. Does that make sense?

    I work in the home healthcare business, and was able to send her a wheelchair. As her strength wanes, getting around has become more and more difficult and this wheelchair has made all the difference in the world to her. She’s always been independent, and I feel so good knowing that she won’t have to live out these final days trapped in her room.

    I appreciate your advice.. thank you both.

  22. I hope that you are able to see her and talk with her as often as possible. I am sure that she looks forward to these times as I am sure you will cherish them as well.

    I am glad that you were able to send a wheelchair to her. Mobility is a hard thing nearing the end of life and it sure makes a difference to their lives (it did in the case of my brother anyways).

    I know how you are feeling about discussing it with people who have never been in the same situation. I found this site very helpful if even just to vent at how unfair it was.

    I hope that you are keeping your chin up and remembering the good times ten fold. Cherish those memories.

    My brother never accepted that he was going to die so we always had to talk in the future with him. He had big plans as I think that he thought a miracle was going to happen, as we all did. It is heartbreaking but you can only hope that she hangs on as long as she’s comfortable and not in any pain. My brother held on a heck of alot longer than anybody, even the doctors, had thought. He had the will of fight in him and hopefully your grandmother puts up the same sort of fight. I am sure she doesn’t want this monster to get the best of her!

    I wish you well.

  23. Well, we’re at the end now. She’s gone downhill MUCH quicker than any of us imagined. I went to see her last Wednesday and she was in fantastic spirits.. laughing, talking like her ‘old’ self. By the afternoon, just a few hours later, she was throwing up and falling asleep. She finally told my fiancee and I that we might as well head out as she was going to get some sleep.

    .. by Saturday, she could barely move or talk. My mother went to see her, and talked to her for 20 minutes out of 10 hours. By Monday, she was unable to even have a coherent telephone conversation. They’ve now upped her doses to such a level that she’s pretty much in a drug-induced coma.

    This is it. Oddly enough, it’s become easier for me to talk to people about. I realize that wanting her to hang on any longer is pure selfishness and that she’s all but lost to us now. What a way to pen a chapter in your life though.. The thought of losing the person who has had the most influence on my entire life is a devastating prospect.. and it’s staring me right in the face.

    Again, thanks for letting me vent here. It’s been nice to read your stories too.

  24. I’d hesitate to call it “venting” (you are talking it out, but without the anger usually associated with venting), but you are more than welcome to share your thoughts and experiences. Actually, we should also thank you. Those of us who have shared stories here gain strength through people like you, also willing to share their thoughts.

  25. I just got the phone call 20 minutes ago.. my grandmother has passed away. I stayed up all night last night, sick with grief, because I just *knew* it was imminent.

    Geoff, the nicest thing to see is that other people, like you and Candice, have picked up the pieces and got on with their lives – that’s the biggest struggle right now, I think. I’m stuck between needing time off work to cope and wanting to make things ‘normal’ again.

    The most difficult thing now is that she didn’t want a funeral at all. She wanted to be cremated without ceremony. She wanted us to keep her urn. You know the sound a record makes when you suddenly pull the needle up? Without the regular closure of a memorial service or anything, that’s kind of how I feel her life ended up. It’s completely what she wanted, and is totally what we’re honouring.

    Not venting, you’re right. Just sharing!

    Chris

  26. My deepest sympathies, Chris. I’m certain your grandmother will be missed by many.

    I know what you mean by the needle suddenly pulling up. When my grandmother died, I wasn’t able to attend her funeral — a long-standing regret. I’ve had to make peace in my own way.

    In lieu of a ceremony, perhaps a wake? A party, to celebrate her life. Family and friends who spend happy hours, talking about their memories of her, singing, eating, and being what she brought to your lives — togetherness.

  27. Chris – my heart goes out to you! Perhaps your family can have an informal gathering at some point – a time to share memories and stories, to laugh and cry, or in the case of my own family – eat and drink way too much. Take a few days off, do something special for yourself and give yourself a bit of time to think and reflect and remember the happy times. The “new normal” will still be there when you’re ready.

    Since 2001, my husband and I have each lost both parents. With both of my parents we were left hoping that the end would come a bit sooner than later. Dad had COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and was fighting for every single breath towards the end. We saw him the last time a month before he died, and he could only talk for a few minutes at a time before needing to rest. Mom had altzheimers, which progressed very quickly the last year or so and she really just wasted away, both mentally and physically, until her death a week before Christmas last year. We spent most of last fall waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop. With my inlaws – one went to heart disease and the other to pnemonia – both relatively short illnesses.

    And now, with the exception of a few aunts and uncles, we are the “older generation” that’s supposed to have it all figured out…… At least that’s what I used to think. 🙂

  28. So sorry to hear about your Grandmother Chris. Take some time off for youself to deal with the grief. I hope that in time the pain at least subsides a bit. It will never go away…I still cry a few times a week and it’s been 2 months since I lost my brother.

    I hope that you cherished each and every moment you had with her during the last days. Remember those and all the good times that you had with her before this awful illness came into your lives.

    It is hard to have “closure” without a funeral as such I am sure. With my brother we didn’t know what his wishes were so we did something very low key which we think he would have wanted. Geoff is right about having maybe a “gathering” of a few close friends and family to have dinner or just to sit around and remember the good times and the funny old stories. You have to remember those things and I am sure that your Grandmother would have wanted you to remember those things about her.

    I hope that your Grandmother is in peace now wherever she may be. Just remember that she can always see you and would be proud to have a grandson as caring as you are.

    Take care and my deepest sympathy to you and your family.

  29. Thanks so much for the well-wishes..

    Well, we’ve just decided to get all the immediate family together for a brunch next weekend. She really was the tie that bound everyone together, which is really apparent in how people are even finding out about her passing. One of my cousins, unfortunately, found out on Facebook about it because no one thought to call her (it would have always been my grandmother who had everyone’s numbers, and made the calls!). You really come to appreciate just how much they did when they’re gone, and gaps like our ‘communication’ issue become apparent.

    Candice, it’s nice to hear that the emotions still remain. Despite wanting not to feel so heartbroken, I’m just terrified that once I come to accept that she’s really gone that I’ll be at the other end of the emotional spectrum and will feel numb and callous about it.

    Lyn: I cannot imagine losing my folks that way, and really realize what a mixed blessing my grandmother’s liver cancer was. They gave her 2 months to live, and it turned out to be 4 weeks. In the end, she just fell asleep and never woke up. Before that, she just had trouble keeping food down, and we were able to stabilize her pain with medication. Thank goodness for Canadian healthcare – I can’t even imagine what it be like to see a loved one in pain because the family can’t afford the pain meds.

    I really have to say, that talking through this, especially with people that have gone through very similar experiences, is very therapeutic. It’s been a draining experience to have to explain everything my friends/employer.

  30. Like some of you, I just stumbled across this website. I was looking for an explanation for the way that I am feeling about my dad’s cancer. We were told in May of this year that he has lung cancer, stage IV, non-small cell, and then this past week we found out that it has traveled to his brain. He started radiation treatments, but we have not been told any prognosis. Last weekend he began losing his balance and it was then that the doctors suspected the brain tumor.

    I am 50 years old and have moved home to help take care of my dad. My mom is continuing to work everyday, as am I working full time and finishing my bachelor degree in the evenings. I thought I was handling this all pretty well, but for the past two days everytime I get alone I cry. I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to go anywhere and I certainly don’t want to talk about this to someone who does not understand.

    My mother is in a state of denial, so we do not discuss what the future holds. This is all very difficult and reading your postings has helped me to understand a little better about why I feel the way I do. Thank you.

  31. Judy I understand your pain and emotions. I cried almost everyday for 3 1/2 years while my brother battled his brain tumor. It’s a tough thing to have to deal with…any kind of illness to a close family member or friend is completely devastating. It’s only human nature to feel grief and to be confused. I know what you mean about not wanting to talk to anybody though. I was that way and kind of still am even after my brother has died. I am thankful that I have a husband who lends his ear now and then when I need to talk about it.

    This site is a fantastic place to voice your emotions and feelings as we are all in the same situation with our loved ones.

    Chris, I am glad that you guys have decided on a gathering to honour the memory of your grandmother. I am sure she would approve. It is hard to let everybody know of a passing. We spent countless hours going through the phone numbers in my brothers cell phone to call his friends. It’s a non stop thing for a couple of days to have to let people know and it’s totally draining. I hope that all goes well and you come out with some great memories.

    I hope that all of you can find peace in the memories created by a lifetime of knowing that special person.

  32. Judy, your situation sounds very familiar. Hopefully you’ve been told the complications of brain cancer treatment?

    Denial is normal, even for people who aren’t victims themselves. It’s hard to deal with, to come to terms with. But it does happen, in time. Be aware of when denial turns to anger or fear — that’s when you will be needed most, to help support both your parents.

    Never feel like you can’t cry. I was separated from my father (I live in a different province, and couldn’t travel frequently at the time), so my sister had to do what you’re doing now. I can only imagine how hard it was for her, and how much she relied on her now-husband to get her through all that.

    Remember to take care of yourself, though. Life must go on, and that includes you.

  33. Thank you Candice. I feel very blessed to have found a site just as this one.

    Chris, I too am sorry for your loss. My grandmother died five years ago and I still miss her and even still grief her passing. I attended a funeral two years ago of someone else’s grandmother and completely lost it afterwards. It amazes me to see how attached we become to people in our lives and how we can take it for granted that they will always be around. On my Grandma’s last birthday my mother took a picture of her and gave each family a copy. I so treasure that picture. I don’t think your feelings will become callous or numb when you love someone that much. At least with me, the heart ache is becoming more of warm memories. It helps to talk about her and share how wonderful she was with other people.

    Thank you for sharing from your heart.

  34. Geoff,
    Thank you for your kind words of encouragement and for starting this site. These past couple of days have been very hard. My dad has lost another 6 pounds and I have begun to think that he is really dieing. I believe that there is more cancer, they just haven’t found it yet. Am I wrong to be so negative? It just breaks my heart every time I have to leave him to go to work or school. I can’t stand to see him sleep. I have to watch to see if he is still breathing. I think that I have given up hope because everytime we go to the doctor there is something else wrong. Funny thing is that they did some blood work and everything came back “perfect” as the nurse said. Daddy is so weak and looks so pitiful. He told me today that he can feel his bones in his thighs.

    I am really trying to stay afloat here, but I feel like I am drowning.

  35. Geoff,
    Thank you for your words of encouragement. This has been a very difficult week. My dad looks so pitful and I believe that there is more cancer just waiting to show itself. It is so hard to just sit by and watch someone die. His blood work is “perfect”, but he continues to loose weight.

    I feel like I am drowning without a life-jacket!

  36. Judy, you’ve probably read a lot of the replies here. There’s a lot of people who have gone through what you’re going through, and hopefully you’ve seen that there is a light at the end. It’s hard. It’s painful. But there are people behind you, to support you. Know that they’re there, even if you’re not necessarily seeing them. If you need to ask questions, vent, ramble — please feel free to do so. Every little thing helps during times like this.

  37. Judy it’s a hard thing to watch a loved one become weak and as you put it “pitfull” especially if they were once a truly strong human being. When you know that they are dying it just makes it that much tougher to deal with and forever asking “WHEN???”. Life would be so much easier if we were all given a date and time when we were going to die, but some people get dealt a terrible hand and go before they and anybody who cares for them is ready for them to go. It’s never fair and never easy.

    Even with your father’s blood work being “perfect” what he already has still may cause him to lose weight. It’s his body’s way of dealing with the invasion. I hope and pray that he’s not in any pain and the discomfort that he does have is being handled in a good way by the doctors. I know it’s hard, but in time his meds may have to be increased to deal with the “invasion” of his body. As far as a prognosis, sometimes they can be drastically wrong. My brother lived a whole year after he was given just a few short weeks to live. The human body is an amazing thing and with a strong willed mind it can live alot longer than any person could think. My brother was on the brink of death so many times in his 3 1/2 year battle but he held out for that long. It was amazing the ferocity that he fought this demon with. In the end, he knew that it was time to go to free him from his pain. It was much more than just the cancer at the end and I hope that your father doesn’t have more complications than just the cancer to deal with.

    I pray for you and your family. Hang in there. Be positive and just hope that sometimes miracles do happen. You never know. It didn’t happen for my brother but maybe it can happen for your father.

    Take care of yourself. Enjoy every minute you have with your father and cherish the memories. Even while he’s sleeping and you have to watch for breaths, just cherish the time you have being by his side even just holding his hand. In the end…hopefully it won’t be for a very long time for your father…it will all be worth it, having those great quiet memories.

  38. I am having a really rough day today too. Even just christmas shopping is hard this year. It will be the first one without Gary and it’s hard. I keep seeing things that I think would be perfect for him and then snap back to reality realizing that he’s not going to be there with us. I know that I have to be strong and seem like I am in the spirit for my boys (3 1/2 years old and almost 1 year old). So being with my parents and my sister for this christmas is going to be hard but I am hoping that the light and joy in my boys eyes is all we will need to pull though. I am so sad though. I just can’t stop crying today and it’s hard being so far away from family. I am in a different province and can only use the phone but I guess it’s better than nothing.

    I just keep beating myself up for not going home for Gary’s 40th birthday in July. I knew in my heart it was going to be his last but for some reason I chose not to go. I know I can’t change the past but it would have been one of the greatest memories to have had with him. It was such a special time for him as nobody thought he would reach that milestone.

    Anyways just venting a bit as I am pretty sad today. Thanks everyone for your listening ears!

  39. Judy – all I can say is take it one day at a time (both now and later). And if someone offers you the proverbial life line, life jacket, whatever, – take it. It may be a simple as a chat on the phone with someone, or lunch, a hug when you really need it…. (please take a virtual one from me right now). We also went through certain family members being in denial, and it was really hard when the reality of the situation hit home.

    Candice – here’s a virtual hug too! Like you’ve said – you can’t change the past, but you can influence the future. Would it help to create a new Christmas tradition for your young family that would help you remember the happy times with your brother, and help your young sons know the person that their uncle was?

    This time last year we were really dreading phone calls, especially at odd hours (too many 7 am phone calls from Ontario over the years). I still have a Christmas gift that I got for Mom last year that she never got (I need to pass that on to someone else – Mom hated things going to waste 😀 ). In spite of it all though, when the time came, things really fell into place. We were able to get flights from Calgary to Ottawa (3 hr drive from my hometown), able to get our two dogs into the boarding kennel (that’s usually booked solid for 2-3 weeks over Christmas), the weather in Ontario was decent for driving, the piece of music that one of my sister’s really wanted sung at Mom’s funeral – well – one of the members of the choir (that Mom and I both used to sing in) had won first prize at a regional music festival the year before with that very piece of music. When we arrived home mid-morning on Christmas Eve day, there was a message on our answering machine from a couple of friends inviting us to come for Christmas dinner (we gladly accepted). There were so many things that could have been really difficult that went smoothly and we’re really grateful for that.

    We all miss her a lot – I was a bit surprised that Mother’s Day was the hardest day for me this past year. I do fondly remember the things we used to do together – and mostly little things – baking cookies (one of my sisters emailed the recipe for Mom’s rather famous butter tarts to me today. Getting shaken into my tights when I was a little girl, her teaching any number of dogs new tricks, her teaching all of us to learn to do things for ourselves, shopping road trips…. With Dad – I remember him fondly every time we go to the vet (who is very much like my Dad was) art shows, and particularly every time I sit down to a seafood dinner – a shared passion of ours!

    I’m not going to say that any of what we’ve all experienced or are experiencing is easy, but it does get better a little at a time.

  40. Thanks for the hug Lyn and the suggestion of starting new traditons now. That’s a very good idea and something that I hadn’t thought of. It is just going to be very hard on my parents for future years to come. This will be their first christmas is 39 years of Gary not being around. I know that my boys will light up the morning with us being there but we won’t be able to travel there each year. So we will have to figure out something new like you said.

    I am glad that you were able to move on and adjust the holidays for you and your family as well.

    Take care and thanks for the words of wisdom. They are much appreciated.

  41. I just want you all to know that you have helped make a weighed-down day a little lighter.

    Today happens to be the day they put a time limit on my dad’s life. When my dad was first diagnosed with cancer, I was 6 months into saving for a big cross-country move. One month later, he was admitted to the hospital and had to have one kidney removed to completely remove the mass. I put the move off for a year. He had had many tests to conclude that they were able to remove the entire mass, there was no sign of any other problems. So, to make a long story shorter, I moved and started a new career about 1100 miles away. I have been here for over 2 years and since then they have found cancer in his adrenal gland, esophogus, and in both sides of his lungs.
    On June 28th of this year he went in for the biggest surgery yet. The doctors had found that the cancer in his right lung (at this point, there was only one) was not actually in his lung but behind it. So, he had to go in for an open lung biopsy in which they removed a small amount and 2 ribs to go along with it. That night my 28 year old brother committed suicide.I had to run home as quickly as possible. I have never been so exhausted or distant in my life.

    So far, that is the last time I have seen my dad. Considering the circumstances, he looked great. Since the 5 months since I have been home he has started to take steroids, that have made his appearance change dramatically. I have seen pictures and would not even recognize him. He is so weak now, he can’t even walk to the mailbox anymore.
    Now, today I am informed that he has about 3 months. My mother will be taking him home in the morning to “make him more comfortable”. The only other person in the family to help out is my older brother who will not get out of a rehabilitation center until March. I guess I feel like me being here is selfish, but right now financially I can’t go home to stay. My husband has a great job, but is just as financially dependant on me as I am him. My mother is going through all of this by herself while trying to grieve for the loss of her son, and there is nothing I can do. It really is so hard to talk to friends without feeling like I am putting them in an akward situation, because there is nothing they can do either.

    I cannot figure out how to say this without sounding selfish. I am 26 years old, with what seems like the world on my shoulders.

  42. Brandei. You sure have alot on your shoulders right now. I am so sorry for the loss of your brother and the situation that your father is in. I was in the same circumstance with the illness of my brother who battled cancer for 3 1/2 years. I too, also moved away this past March (he became terminal in Sept of 2006 and was only given a few months to live but lasted a whole year). It certainly is hard being away in times of crisis but you do have to live your life as well. I felt terrible being so far away, but my husband was working and I have 2 small boys to raise. It seems selfish to want to continue on with your life, but you have to do it for yourself. You can’t sit around and wait for your father to pass. Doctors can be wrong and hopefully they are in your father’s case and hopefully a miracle will happen.

    I know how hard it is to talk to “friends” about your family crisis. That’s why a site like this is wonderful. You can freely and openly talk about your situation and feelings with people who have been in totally the same situation.

    I am sure it’s very hard on your mother but with the help of your other brother I am sure they are doing the best that they can in the situation. I would have loved to be with my brother during his last few months, but us as well, financially we just couldn’t do it and I couldn’t up and leave to go be with him. I stayed in contact by telephone and by webcam. That was nice to be able to see him that way too.

    My brother too started taking steriods and changed his appearance dramatically as well. It was very shocking when I finally did go back to see him the week that he passed as I hadn’t seen him for awhile. You will always have the memory of your father from before he started changing and you have to remember all of those memories as well.

    I too am only 33 years old and have my boys to keep living for. I am sure with the loss of your brother it’s doubly hard, but you have to keep going on for the sake of you and your husband. Your mother has a hard job ahead of her but I am sure she will do the best that she can. Also if he is having homecare, it’s the best thing in the world. My mom too did it on her own as I only have a sister living in the same town. She worked full time so basically my mom and dad were the primary caregivers.

    I pray that your father isn’t in much pain and discomfort. Always remember that he will never judge you for not being able to be there with him. As in the case of my brother, Gary didn’t like me seeing him in that kind of state and understood that I had a job to do with my family as well.

    Please spill your guts if you need to. This site is a great place to get advice and just express your feelings.

    Take care of yourself first. There is only one of you. When the going gets really tough then it will be time to be with him and until then just do the best you can where you are.

  43. I agree completely — homecare is the best option if you can handle the cost. It was so important to my family to have my father at home in those last weeks. Not so much for us, but for him. (Ironically, he believed he was in some fancy homecare facility, not even recognising the cabinets he’d made himself.)

    I have to also back up Candice — look to those around you: friends and family. Not just for your support, but also for theirs. Your family needs you as much as you need them. It also helps ensure long-term ties.

    It wasn’t easy for me when my father died — I found out early one morning, and flew out that day. I’d had to listen to his decline at a distance. I’ve felt separated ever since. My family is still there, but the saying “you can never go home again” rings very true. Every 7 March, I try to remember my dad in my own way.

  44. With help, my Mom was able to look after Dad at home until the end. He wanted to face things on his own terms, not surrounded by all of our high tech wizardry that would have prolonged his death, not his life. The Victorian Order of Nurses were a tremendous help as was community home care and of course – several of my siblings. They are all within 2 hour drive of where we grew up – I’m the one that moved away (4 hours by air, plus another 2-3 hours of driving)

    It’s tough trying to support the caregivers at a distance and you do feel so separated. I checked in quite often on my sister that was the one helping the nursing home staff look after Mom (she could get Mom to eat when the rest of the couldn’t). I was quite concerned about whether she was getting totally burnt out and she really appreciated someone not only asking how Mom was doing, but how she was doing too.

    We also have some really dear friends that live just outside my old hometown and they have been a huge help to us over all of our many trips east to deal with family crises. After a bottle (or two) of wine on one of our visits, we came to the realization that we have become what our parents were when we were young kids. Scary! And humorous!

    Brandei – it’s okay to be selfish sometimes and get mad at the world – you do have a huge load on your shoulders and have already lost someone who might have given you support with your father’s illness. Like I’ve said here before – all you can do is take things one day at a time. Lean on those around you a little – you’ll be there for them to lean on at some point in the future.

  45. Thank you guys for the words of wisdom! I am a person who laughs and talks alot, and I have found myself being distant and quiet. It feels great to get it out! Candace, thank you so much for the web cam idea. I thought my parents were a little old fashioned, but it turns out, they loved the idea. Thank You All!

  46. I am having a rough time so far as it’s only been 3 months since my brother Gary died. So it’s hard for me to get into the spirit this year. I am trying my best for the sake of my 2 boys though! They will take the sadness away on Christmas morning we all hope. How are you holding up Lyn?

    I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a better 2008! I know that I will be on this site over the holidays for support though!

    Take care everyone!

  47. Hi. I stumbled across this website on google. I… am feeling a bit conflicted. My father is dying of brain cancer, and for the first time in just over a year, since he was diagnosed, I found myself wishing ‘he would just die already.’ I’m trying to understand that the feeling is not unnatural, but I’m still beating myself up over the guilt.

    He’s not doing so badly, really. He feels sick all the time, but he can still mostly get around and there’s no incredibly noticeable changes. Sometimes he gets confused and his short term memory is pretty bad… But other than that he’s just my same dad, feeling really crappy. I guess the reason I had the thought was because I feel helpless and I don’t know what to say when he tells me he feels bad. I wish there was something I could do to help, but I can’t even feel right telling him that he’ll feel better later, because he probably won’t. And if he were already gone, I wouldn’t have these worries.

    The one I’m really worried about is my mom. She’s taking it so hard. (sigh) I think all I really needed to do was vent. Thanks for being there.

  48. Hi, Becky.

    Yep, it’s normal, alright — especially if the illness is protracted. I think many of us have gone through the guilt. You’re fine, so why do you have to feel so bad, darn it? But it’s your parents, and you immediately feel protective.

    To some degree, the only thing that can help for now is to be there. Even if it’s just to talk.

    Please feel free to say whatever you need to say here. Hopefully we can offer some level of support for you, and allow you to vent as needed.

    All our best to you and your family.

  49. First – Merry Christmas to everyone!

    Candice – I’m doing good – and thanks for asking. I was thinking early this morning as we were tearing around getting groceries and stuff that we were doing exactly the same thing at this time last year, except that we had flown from Ottawa back to Calgary really early in the morning on Christmas Eve day last year (Mom’s funeral having been a couple days before) and had to get a turkey and restock our fridge.

    Becky – yup – guilt = normal. Will it get better? Eventually….. I wish I could say that there is something magic that will make things better, but it’s just dealing with things one day at a time. And please – vent away! The short term memory problems and confusion are terribly frustrating – both for the one having them and for the people around (my Mom had alzheimer’s). But – you just do the best you can and realize that sometimes it’s the disease talking, not your parent. Best wishes to you and your family – you will find the strength to deal with what will come, and it’s okay to yell that it’s not fair at all! 🙂

  50. Hello,
    This forum sure took off, ‘father terminal’ appears to be a very searched topic, as I came across this site on google like Becky did.
    I have been reading everyone’s story and they are all so sad and unfair. I am literally scared to death right now as I don’t think my dad has much time left. On 11/13 THIS year, yes only about 45 days ago now, my dad, the greatest man EVER, was diagnosed with cancer. It turned out to be liver cancer. They were going to remove the largest tumor, which is in his stomach, but he was never strong enough to undergo such a major operation, and with all the fluids they were pumping him with, he declined daily until they decided to move him to Hospice. The tumor in his stomach has grown SO rapidly you can actually see it and I’d imagine it’s pretty painful, although he has said he is in no pain since he entered Hopsice the week of Thanksgiving. I was home with him at Christmas (he was in the Hospice unit for about one and half weeks, then ‘stabalized’ so had to be moved to a nursing home) and from Friday to Tuesday he deteriorated. This morning when I called him, I couldn’t even understand what he was trying to say. I just kept telling him ‘I love you SO MUCH’ and that I will be back to see him and be with him tomorrow. I know there is not much time left now. I can’t believe this all happened so fast, and to a health conscience man that worked out for 3+ hours a day. Cancer has no filter on who it attacks obviously. I am trying to deal with this the best I can as I am an only child and just turned 30. I never thought I’d been dealing with the death of my father at such a young age. My mom is staying pretty strong through this it seems, but she is now having physical pains as she tries to deal with this, and the fast progression of his illness. She always thought my dad would be taking care of her in their old age, not this. It just completely sucks and is so unfair. Thanks for listening and best wishes to all of you who’s stories I read today.

  51. It’s brutally unfair! When these experiences are “some” years in the past, it’s easier (easier, not easy) to be a bit philosophical, but in the middle of it, it’s absolutely gut wrenching. Please accept a virtual hug and wishes for the strength to deal with everything.

  52. I hope that everyone is hanging in there. Best wishes to everyone for a brighter and happier New Year! I hope that everyone made it through the holidays okay. It was tough for our family as Gary has only been gone for 3 months but we pulled through. My thoughts and prayers are with everybody who is braving the battle with cancer and for those who have already fought it!

  53. I want to thank everyone who has told their story on this site. Not only have you reinforced that how I feel is normal, but to get through my own family disaster I keep telling myself I am not alone, not the only one – I now know this is true.
    My Dad, 55yrs, apparently healthy was diagnosed mid Sept 07 with a terminal cancer called mulitple myeloma. To prove that he really was sick the cancer errupted. Since his diagnosis he has been out of hospital for five days total.
    We have been hoping that the experimental drug regimes would give us a miracle, but we were told earlier this week that he has maybe only weeks (months if we’re lucky) to live.
    The thing that I am struggling with the most is that I live 1000km (about 620 miles?) away. I’m only 30, have just started my own company interstate, and can’t afford not to work for any great period of time. I feel so bad that I can’t be with my family every day at the moment, but I know I also need to make sure I can support myself and have a life to return to when the worst happens. To deal with it I try to talk to Dad on the phone every day. This isn’t always possible as the drugs he is on sometimes impact his ability to think/concentrate/speak.
    Thanks for reading, it feels good to tell the story to people who understand.

  54. So I just got off of the phone with my mom and now she may have skin cancer. Another form of cancer. Our family just cannot escape it’s grasp. I am not sure if I have told that my dad had prostate cancer in 1994 and has been cancer free since. So he’s so far the success story. Then as you all know, my brother passed away from brain cancer this past September. Now my mom. I am just past the point of being upset now. It is just the icing on the cake. I know that at least it can turn out to be nothing and if it is something hopefully they have caught it soon enough! I am crossing everything on my body right now! Her biopsy is at the end of the month and they got her in quickly. Originally she was at the bottom of the pile for the dermatologist and she had to wait 6 months for her appointment but they had a cancellation yesterday and lucky for her they called her. I guess the dr saw her chart and put it to the top of the pile. So that luck was on our side anyways.

    Sorry to vent but the last few years haven’t been great ones and it seems like it is never going to end…luck has to change soon for our family! Please send out positive vibes for us!

    I hope everyone else is hanging in there.

  55. Hey guys – I just came back to see how everyone was holding on. This holiday season was really rough. My fiancee had a cousin die and an uncle pass away all within 2 weeks of my grandmother passing. We literally shuffled from one funeral to another. The only thing that really helped me pull through alright was the knowledge that my grandmother would want nothing more than life to continue as normal. She passed and wanted no fanfare : no funeral, no visitation, nothing. Trying to make everything as normal as possible was in line with respecting her wishes.

    Christina : liver cancer is exactly what my grandmother had and I can personally attest to how much it saps the strength. All told, I felt like her passing was rather gentle. It was devastating watching her fade away a little bit more every day, but I found solace in the fact that we could medicate to alleviate any discomfort she was feeling. There was something gentle in the way that she fell asleep during my last visit and never truly woke up again.

    I think the common theme I’ve read from everyone here is just how .. HOPELESS it feels watching someone go through a terminal illness and not being able to do anything. I mean, these are the people who have always been there for us, no matter what, when we’ve been sick. My grandmother was the one wiping my forehead with a cool cloth when I’d be sick.. and now, she was the one who needed ME.. and there was nothing I could do.

    It’s still been under 2 months since she passed away, and I’m still not sure how I’m coping with, or if it’ll ever be a wound that heals. Like I’ve said before, it’s nice to read posts here and know that, despite anything that happens, life can and does go on.

    All the best, guys. Enjoy every second you have left, because you’ll lament over every wasted minute when it’s too late. It’s impossible not to feel some measure of regret: just find comfort in knowing that, in the end, you did the best you could do. Your loved one will understand.

  56. Although it is SO awful to go through life events such as these, somehow it’s reassuring to know you are not alone. My father did pass away, just a few days after my first post, on December 30th of 2007. I was lucky enough to be with him, although now it’s traumatic to look back on that day/night. Life now is still feeling non-reality; to do something as simple and ‘normal’ as walk around Target… I look at people and they are just going about their daily business. In my mind I’m thinking “how can they all be so normal?? Don’t they know they are one less incredible human being on this earth??” I do believe I will have a whole new perspective on life as my mom and I work our way through this. I am going to try and live every day to it’s fullest as I know that’s what my dad would have wanted for both of us. Thanks everyone. 🙂

  57. I am so sorry for your recent loss Christina. We all have a sense of what you are dealing with right now. Just take each day the best that you can. You need to deal with your well being as well as your family’s as well right now. Just remember that your dad is in a place free from his pain and suffering and he will always be with you in spirit. Remember all the good times and don’t dwell on the more painfull ones. I am just realizing that now after losing my brother 3 1/2 months ago now. Take some time for yourself to heal.

  58. Christina, I know exactly how you are feeling at the moment and can only pass on my wishes that the hurt of your loss ends soon. Just after my first post my Dad died (8th January). It all still feels like a really bad joke, and that I can still pick up the phone and talk to him. Every day I have the exactly the same thought that the world is a dimmer place without the intelligent, loving and charasmatic man that I love in it. I try to tell myself what my Dad would say – Even though he isn’t in my future it will still be a bright one.
    One thing that I am proud of throughout this situation is that I don’t regret anything, there isn’t anything I left unsaid or undone. I only hope that everyone else can have the same.

  59. Sorry for your loss Tenneil. It’s hard no matter how recent or far away the death is. I am glad that you said all that needed to be said. It makes it at least a little bit easier in that respect.

  60. Tenneil,
    I am so very sorry for your loss. Your dad was very wise to tell you your future will be bright regardless if he will be ‘with’ you or not. Believe he is now ALWAYS with you, on a deeper level than ever before. I am happy you were able to get out everything you needed to say. That is so important as you go through this most difficult time. Stay strong.

  61. HI. I LIKE MANY OTHERS HAVE JUST STUMBLED ACROSS YOUR SITE AND CAN HONESTLY SAY I AM TOTALLY MOVED BY IT. IT IS LIKE A WONDERFUL FAMILY SUPPORT SYSTEM, SOMETHING WHICH WHEN YOU HAVE LOST A LOVED ONE, YOU MISS TERRIBLY. I HAVE A FRIEND WHO’S MOTHER HAS BRAIN CANCER. I PERSONALLY HAVE LOST BOTH PARENTS. MY FATHER DIED OF CHRONIC PULMNARY DISEASE AND MY MOTHER DIED VERY SUDDENLY OF A MASSIVE STROKE AND HEART ATTACK. I DONT THINK THERE IS ANY EASY WAY OF LOSING ANY ONE YOU LOVE AND NOTHING CAN EVER PREPARE YOU. I HAVE SPENT THE LAST TWO YEARS GRIEVING MY MOTHER AND ALTHOUGH I MISS HER LAUGHTER AND COMPANY EVERY DAY, I ALSO REMEMBER THE HAPPY MEMORIES WHICH MUST BE THE BEST LEGACY ANYONE COULD POSSIBLE GIVE TO SOMEONE. THAT IS SOMETHING NO ONE CAN EVER TAKE AWAY FROM YOU. FOR ME PERSONALLY THAT IS THE MOST PRECIOUS POSSESSION IN THE WORLD! LIFE IS NEVER EASY AND ESPECIALLY NOT WHEN THE PERSON YOU LOVE IS HURTING OR ILL BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN GIVE THEM IS YOUR TIME AND LOVE TO MAKE THEM COMFORTABLE, SHOULD IT BE MAKING SURE THEY ARE IN COMFORTABLE SURROUNDINGS WHEN YOU CANNOT BE THERE (life does have to go on) OR BEING THERE TO LISTEN TO THEM EVEN THOUGH IT MAY BE UNCOMFORTABLE. I WISH EVERY WHO USES THIS WEB EVERY HAPPINESS AND HOPE I CAN HELP MY FRIEND THROUGH THIS DIFFICULT TIME. YOU ARE ALL SUCH AN INSPIRATION. TAKE CARE

  62. Thanks for your kind words of wisdom Carol. You are so true that memories live on forever and nobody can take those away from you. I am still grieving the loss of my brother 6 months ago and it is getting a little easier each day. The hardest times are the holidays but we are trying to make new traditions and keep the memories of the old traditions alive for the sake of my brother.

    Your friend will be grateful to have a friend like you in his/her time of need. It’s a tough time but with all that you’ve been through you sound like you will be wonderful support and know what to do and say.

    Take care and hope that everybody is hanging in there. It does get a bit easier with time but the hurt never truly goes away totally.

  63. It’s been a while since I’ve checked in to this site. I have to admit that when I last posted it was a very dark time in my life. Looking over what everyone wrote, I can see that everyone was also struggling with the same emotions, loss and disbelief.
    In a week or two will be the anniversary of Dad’s diagnosis and admittance to hospital for the last three months of his life. Whilst I still miss him, and have a difficult time grasping that he is no longer here it has gotten easier. I went through a phase where I forced myself to smile everytime I thought of him (even if I was crying), and it has really helped me get through the worst.
    Our family has also suffered more loss in the last few months. My grandma (my Dad’s Mum) was diagnosed with multiple cancers and died a week later after she saw the doctor. To lose both a wife and a son within six months seems to be taking its toll on my grandpa.
    I guess the point of my post today is if anyone is still experiencing the greatest of hurt, or anyone is commencing the horrible journey of loss I want you to know that it does get better. The rawness does go away. You can become truely happy inside again.
    Time helps, and so does the odd stange smile whilst there are tears in you eyes. Wishing you all a happier future.

  64. Hello again everybody. I just realized that I hadn’t checked in with this site for awhile now. We got past our second Christmas now that my brother is gone. It was somehow harder this year than last. I guess being that it had only been 3 months since he died 2 Christmases ago, we just plugged along but this past Christmas was hard as we had a whole year to think about it. The first year anniversary since my brother Gary died has been the hardest so far. It brought the date and time of death right into the forefront of my mind. It is getting easier but it’s hard to explain to my boys when I am sad. I have also heard my oldest son talking to Uncle Gary out the window. It is very touching that they still remember him and talk to him.

    I hope that everyone is hanging in there and taking it one day at a time. Oh and my mom didn’t end up having skin cancer, just the beginning stages so if she takes care of herself and stays out of the sun then she should be fine. She does have to get the odd mark burned off but it’s worth not having cancer!

  65. Love to everybody just take one day at a time no yesterday, no tomorrows, enjoy and embrace every happy memories, because this life is a journey and you had the privilege to share this journey with a great human being who give you his/her love he or she only finish his/her journey before us.

  66. I know these posts are from forever ago, but I wanted to thank you ALL for sharing your stories. My husband’s father is going through the very long process of colon cancer and I was searching the web for ways to support my husband through these next few difficult years since he’s already taking it hard as it is and I know the worst is yet to come. I learned more about how to support him through your stories and support of each other than I have anywhere else and want to thank you again for sharing your raw emotion, support and words of wisdom and hope.

  67. Thank you to all who have written here. It sure helps to read about what others have gone through.

    I just heard a few days ago that my father has a brain tumor. He wasn’t able to have a biopsy on the scheduled date because when the dye test was given, the doctor realized it was in a more difficult to reach place than first diagnosed. He was first thought to have had a mild stroke since he’s slowly losing strength in his left leg. Being in another country, I’m only hearing and not seeing. It is only by asking questions that I’m learning how bad it is.

    Having children, it is not easy to just fly home and visit. Or deciding when it is most important to do this because of costs. Should I go now? Should I wait? Should I take the kids during a school break? And of course, no one can answer any of this for sure. Luckily, the support back home is immense. In that respect, I have no worries.

    Have a wonderful day.

  68. Um hi I am 16 and three weeks ago my dad was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. He just recovered from prostate cancer so this was like a slap in the face for us. The tumor is in the language part of the brain so he can hardly communicate. Its so strange to watch a man who was once so articulate regress into what seems like a second childhood. I stumbled across this and I was reading some of the posts, your words and just knowing other people are struggling in the same way I am was a comfort. so I figured I would write this in hopes of showing someone who is so despert they are googling how to deal with this horrible disease they are not alone .

  69. Hi All,

    I am so deeply sorry for all you have and are going through, but am also comforted to know I am not alone.

    My strong, wise, and fearless father has recently been diagnosed with primary kidney cancer that has metastasized in his neck, lymph nodes, and now his bones. The doctors say it is terminal and are not providing him with treatment – alternatively, they are hoping to make him comfortable by lessening his pain.

    I can relate to so many of your words, especially those about watching a loved one deteriorate before your eyes. I wonder each day if I will be able to converse with him the next time I see him, or if these are my last moments with Dad.

    I love him dearly – he is my best friend and I can’t picture my life without him in it.

    Today he told me, “the only fight you lose is the one you don’t show up to”. My Dad is a fighter. And he’s a winner because he refuses to give up.

    My heart goes out to all of you in these hard moments.

  70. Hi Carly,

    I can relate to you as well. My dad has been recently diagnosed with stage Iv insulinoma, a cancer of cells in the pancreas. It is affecting his blood sugar levels and it is a constant fight to raise them with meds and dextrose. The cancer metastasized to his lymph nodes, adrenal glands, liver and spinal column. He is unable to walk because two of the tumors are wrapped around his spinal cord. They just told me that he may never be able to regain his mobility in his legs. Luckily he is not experiencing any pain – yet – and I know what the future holds. I lost my mother in 2008 to scleroderma, and then my close friend died of pancreatic cancer in August 2012. My 14.5 yr old dog died New Year’s Eve of that year and my brother died the following month, January 2013 of brain cancer which was only previously diagnosed in December 2012. I was always closer to my dad, even while my brother and I were growing up. I am 41 yrs old and I lost and am losing my whole family. I will be familyless so to speak as my 90yr old maternal grandmother has early onset dementia and my maternal uncle lives in France. I have friends and neighbours that help but I wish my dad were healthy. I know I’m strong enough to survive this but I get so extremely sad sometimes that I am too afraid to start crying because I might not stop.

    What I have seen with the other people in my life and what I don’t want to see is my dad suffer. But I know that will be the inevitable fate.

    I’m meeting with the whole team (again!) as they may decide to respect part of the tumor. Surgery, not to mention the post op will be hard. My dad is still a relatively healthy 73 yr old strapping Italian man! Lol! The thing is I love to laugh and I don’t really feel much like laughing these days. Every time I’m at work I just want to be with my dad. I spend my nights and weekends at the hospital because I don’t want to miss any moment with my dad; to do other wise for me would be unthinkable.

    Wishing you all the best.
    Mena

  71. My dad was diagnosed last week with Oesophagusal Cancer, he has been in hospital 4 weeks, and home for 1 week. Finding food he can eat is hard, he has never been very adventurous food wise, he has had very loose bowel motions for 4 days, doctor has prescribed tablets for that today. Dad has always been independent until this, Mum died 11years ago with Pancreatic cancer. My only brother is overseas, although we do communicate every day, it is not quite the same as having him here to share the load. My husband is a great support, but not involved with Dad every day. Doctors are thinking of a 5day does of radiation might help. God knows with what. Sorry I am a bit
    emotional today. Thanks for letting me burble.
    Barb

  72. Hi Barb. I’m thinking of you as am going through something similar. I’m dreading the next few months.

  73. Thanks for that Kate, sometimes it just hits you. Be strong and thankful that we are able to support our love ones.

  74. Hi everyone….My name is Nitujit, I am from India.From the past few days I have been searching for a forum to share my emotions that I’m going through right now. I have read all the stories above and somewhat I feel that I’m not the only one going through this pain right now. My dad has been diagnosed with stage iv stomach cancer. Doctors said that at maximum he has 3-4 months to live. They tried to remove the tumour but said that it is too big and if they remove it then there might be immediate death due to excessive bleeding as it got attached to lungs. He is in ICU now with all these medications and machines going inside him. He hardly recognises us anymore. I can’t see him like this, he is in so much pain. I always think why him? Why not me. If I can replace him then I would do it any time. At times I feel like hurting myself. I just want someone to hug me and tell everything’s okay or I wake up tomoro to find out that its just a dream. I cant show my emotions to my mom also as she will get more stressed out. I m not yet ready to let my dad go….I’m just 24. We have so many things to do together.

  75. My Dad passed away 16th August 2015, amazing how quickly he went downhill in the last week. Miss him heaps, as my life has been so busy looking after him, taking him to appointments etc for the last year, am in a strange place. Take care everyone, my thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  76. Hi everyone, just wanted to say thank you for sharing your stories. .my father has been diagnosed with a chronic eventually terminal illness as there is no cure. I am 28 living over seas and very shocked at the moment. I feel better reading about others experiences. Thank you.

  77. “An ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
    Christopher Reeve 💗

  78. I’m not sure if anyone will read this but I have to put it out there.
    I need advice. After my mother passes I don’t want to say “I wish I would have…”
    I am an only child so my mother and I are very close. My parents divorced when I was 2 years old and he then disappeared making our bond that much stronger. She has been my best friend for the last 25 years.
    We found out a week ago that she has Stage 4 lung cancer. The doctor says 50% of the people he sees like her do not live past 8 months. So he says we are looking at months instead of years for her to live. She can only do chemotherapy because she has scleroderma. Doing radiation would kill her quicker.
    I would love to hear tips from people of the things they did with their loved one before they passed or even suggestions that people wish they had done with their loved one.
    I moved her in to my house when her COPD worsened so I am fortunate that I can take care of her and see her every day.

    1. Hi Kelly, I am so sorry to hear about yours mums diagnoses. From personal experience I can say it is one of the hardest things to go through. My mum was diasnosed with stage 3 lung cancer February 2015. At the time I remember such panic, thinking any day could be her last. She has gone through two rounds of chemo and three rounds of radiation to her brain, as the cancer spread to her brain just before Christmas. My advice is this, life is so fragile and none of us know how long we have left, enjoy every day you get to spend with your mum. Like you I live with my mum, she raised me as a single parent, a bond like that can never be replaced, and I’m sure having you as support will help her enormously. Also I understand the doctors are saying months, I can imagine that is so frightening, as hard as it may sound try not to loose hope. There have been many people who have surpassed doctors expectations, each person is different. My last bit of advice is on nutrition, my mum followed an anti cancer diet for 5 months and it helped her a lot, I firmly believe good nutrition will go along way. I got my mum good multivitamins, curcumin, garlic and vitamin c supplements. Also lemon water is fantastic. There is tons of information online too.
      Over the past year I have brought my mum on many day trips to places she had always wanted to visit, also we had a mother daughter photoshoot, which was a fantastic experience.
      Try look after yourself too, it is a hard road and one that can be incredibly lonely at times. I wish you and your mother all the best.
      Hugs
      Jen xx

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