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Posted by spa2018 on Dec 5, 2018 3:46 pm

Hi there, I am the partner/caregiver of a wonderful guy who was diagnosed with advanced stage 4 cancer, mid-October. Everything has happened so quickly, and I am trying to gain as much insight as I can from members of this group on dealing with a terminal diagnosis, advise on any alternative pain management that has worked for you or your loved one and how to be strong and the best way to support my husband. I am thankful to have been told about this group. Sending positive energy. 

Re: Intro

Posted by LPPK on Dec 5, 2018 4:03 pm

Hello spa2018‍  welcome to cancerconnection.ca  where information and support is always available. All of us here understand the whirlwind you are pulled into with the diagnosis of cancer. 
Some caregivers that can answer many of your questions  are Cynthia Mac‍,   jorola‍ ,  Lacey_adminCCS‍ ,  Brighty‍   and   Aly‍  
Elizabeth06‍  can offer insights on stage 4 cancer. 

What kind of cancer does your partner have?  Do you have any family support?

We are here for you.

Re: Intro

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Dec 5, 2018 8:18 pm

Hi, spa2018‍, welcome to Cancer Connections.

I think I'm best able to address your query about how to stay strong and support your husband. I was caregiver for my father last year, when he was diagnosed with cancer just two months after my Mom (his wife of almost 59 years) died.

I wasn't always able to be strong -- but I was also dealing with grief, too, and for the first time in my life I found myself "responsible" for another human being. It was a tad overwhelming! The first day of Dad's chemo, I took a break and went to the ladies' room in another wing of the hospital to have a mini meltdown, mopped myself back up, and took Dad a coffee. 

I think the best way to be strong is to have a network of people you can talk to -- the counsellor at the cancer center, or Gilda's Club if you have one in your area, and, if you have work benefits, line up some counselling through them. You cannot stay strong if you try and keep it all in -- something is going to blurt out at some point. Journaling helps some people, too.

One of the best things you can do to support your husband is to care for yourself. Plan an evening out with friends, have a regular yoga date, or gym date, go visit family members, get your hair done, set up a schedule of manicures, if that's your thing. He won't feel any better if he sees the affects of this journey when he looks at you, and self-care will help you feel better when you look in the mirror, too

Being organized will help you in both the strength and support department. If you can make some meals ahead, it will make it possible to get a quick dinner on the table if you get home late from an appointment, and it wouldn't hurt to check into some convenience foods - my grocery store has pre-made salads, and my Dad gets pre-made frozen dinners from the hospital -- they're nutritionally balanced and freshly made to order, and all he has to do is heat them up. 

Recruiting help is important, too. Having someone who will stand in to take your cat for a few days if you have to travel, or getting someone in to make sure the driveway is cleared, or having someone to sit with hubby while you can get to yoga or nip out for groceries will serve you well. When asking for help, be as specific as you can. If your "driveway guy" knows that you have an appointment on Monday, he'll know he's got to put you on priority that day. If you've got someone coming to stay with your husband while you're out, and you've left some laundry on, be sure to let them know they could help if they'd put it in the dryer when the washer beeps so that you can be ready to fold when you get the groceries put away.

Finally, I recommend that you do your best to keep the communication flowing between yourself and your husband. Talk about the process, and your feelings, and be really frank about your emotional well-being -- I know this sounds counter-intuitive to being strong, and I'm not suggesting that you do this every day, but check in with one another. This can be done on a day or at a time when you're both feeling fairly strong. Sometimes the patient shuts down, and it gets hard, but good communication from both of you will add strength to both you and your relationship.

If you have any other questions, just chime in. There are a lot of people who are here to help.

Re: Intro

Posted by jorola on Dec 5, 2018 8:46 pm

Hello spa2018‍ 
Welcome. I am glad you found this place. Cynthia Mac‍ really covered the main points about caring for yourself as a caregiver. The only thing I would add is if you feel you are still losing ground and getting really depressed, please speak to your doctor.
I see you also asked about alternative pain management. Is your husband's current regime not working? Is he wanting to avoid using opioids?  I would encourage him to speak to his treatment team about his concerns/wishes. A pain specialist can be consulted to assist with cases where one is available. I hope one is accessible for your husband. Often trying to find just the right combination and dosage takes time. It takes trial and refinement but working with his doctors they should be able to find something that works for him. Not all the medications may be opioids either. It depends on the source/cause of the pain. Is in nerves? Muscles? Bone/joint pain? General pain? Each responds to different medications.
Of course there is always medical marijuana now too. I use it as I have two types of severe arthritis. It helps with the pain and so that I can actually get some sleep. Many doctors are very willing to talk about this option as well. So this is another option for your husband.
Please let us know if you have any questions and any member here will be glad to help.

Re: Intro

Posted by Brighty on Dec 5, 2018 10:46 pm

Hi spa2018‍  welcome!      Cynthia Mac‍  and jorola‍  pretty much covered everything....................I will add a couple things................take things one day at a time...live in the moment because all we really have is now.    Create happy memories you can hold in your heart forever............also, I found what also helped me was keeping my "mundane" routines.    Go to work, do your laundry, go grocery shopping, watch your soap operas.  It sounds a bit weird, but when you keep the other parts of your life "normal and mundane"   it feels like you still have the comforts of your every day normal life still there, and not everything has been taken from you.       Don't isolate, sleep, eat and care for yourself.    My therapist always stressed self care to me, and I thought it was selfish but it absolutely not selfish.   It took me a while to learn that.    You need it to keep your sanity.      If you feel overwhelmed, take breaks and not ask......... demand help!!!!!     I wish I would have done that before I fell apart.    I've heard that Marijuana is great for pain.   There's a lady I work with who manages her cancer pain with medical marijuana and she comes to work and functions because of it.  It is doing wonders for her.    Please feel free to post with any more questions, or just to vent.   we are here to listen!

Re: Intro

Posted by Aly on Dec 12, 2018 5:03 pm

Hi spa2018‍ , sorry for the late message! What kind of cancer does your partner have? If you don't mind me asking, what province are you in? I may be able to point out some better resources in your local area.

Late in replying, thanks and diagnosis

Posted by spa2018 on Dec 17, 2018 5:58 am

My apology on the long delay in responding to your insightful messages regarding my husband's illness.
It is taking me a bit to familiarize my self with the site, but I'll get there.

My husband has advanced stage 4 bone/lung cancer...

Thank you for your responses, I truly appreciate it.


Posted by spa2018 on Dec 17, 2018 5:59 am

I live in Prince Edward Island.