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supporting someone going through chemo

supporting someone going through chemo

Posted by SQLC on Oct 27, 2020 9:44 am

My husband was diagnosed with colon cancer stage 4 one year ago with mets to his liver. They were able to remove the mass in the colon and he had chemo and then surgery to his liver. He now has "spots" again on his liver and is back on chemo. I am trying to be supportive  and understanding, and I am willing to do whatever it takes. He is tolerating the chemo well but is having trouble with focusing and memory. My problem is with the cold weather and Covid he is bored and unhappy and irritable. He really has no indoor hobbies and with his lack of concentration I am not sure he could start one now. Any suggestions?

Re: supporting someone going through chemo

Posted by Brighty on Oct 27, 2020 11:31 am

SQLC‍ welcome! So sorry for what you are going through.     Lack of focus and concentration  are common chemo side affects.    Does he enjoy going for walks?   Nothing like some fresh air and a walk in nature to calm the soul.     How are you coping?  I will try and come up with some more suggestions  for you for indoors.  Hang tight.  
Help is out there. All you have to do is reach out.

Re: supporting someone going through chemo

Posted by Brighty on Oct 27, 2020 11:50 am

SQLC‍  I'm brainstorming  with my co workers  now... some ideas...painting or art (courses on line) puzzles... book clubs(on line)   maybe simple books that dont require too much concentration.. cooking???? Trying out new recipies... movies.... 
Help is out there. All you have to do is reach out.

Re: supporting someone going through chemo

Posted by MCoaster on Oct 27, 2020 12:17 pm


Welcome to somewhere I personally found to be a tremendous source of caring support and knowledge.

Your husband is in a scary and probably previously unknown place and as Brighty‍ said chemo can not only effect a person’s body but mind as well, as you are experiencing with your husband.   He is very fortunate that he has you as his career.  Cancer certainly does not only effect the patient but also the caregivers who bare a tremendous amount of emotional impact as they end up being the only person they care for can express their frustration.

Would he be interested in using a computer to reach out to others, watch programmes about things of interest to him or play some of the games?   Can he see the outside world from where he is?    Does he have others in his “bubble” whom it is safe to see and who can give you time to recharge?

Please, if it would help, use here as a place to make contact with other caregivers, those who have been diagnosed and also a safe place to vent.

Caring thoughts. 


Re: supporting someone going through chemo

Posted by Trillium on Oct 27, 2020 12:41 pm

Hello SQLC‍ 

If he comes here to this support site he will find comfort in connecting with others who are in the same boat he is. Even if he reads the posts. Brighty‍ and MCoaster‍ have given many suggestions. Maybe if assigned the job of cooking for one night or more will be motivating. And graphic novels come in both fiction and non fiction. I took my son to the comic book store and bought myself an English graphic novel about Einstein, which was read from back to front in Japanese style and one about Monet the artist which reads like a regular comic book. Easy to read but really interesting! Maybe your local librarian would have suggestions too.

There are many interest magazines - Scientifc American, Psychology Today, iPhone or other tech interests, photography, model railways, cars, Playboy (just kidding), whittling, etc.

You tube has many How To videos on any subject you can imagine: Build a doll house or make toys for relatives, scale model boats and cars, chess set or other game boards. Also library books on art or craft subjects like leather making.

Get him a free Lee Valley Tools catalogue just to look at. The occupational therapist at his treatment centre would have invaluable suggestions!

So glad you joined us!


Re: supporting someone going through chemo

Posted by Mammabear on Oct 28, 2020 10:38 am

Yoga? keeps his body moving. Lots of men don't want to explore yoga but it helps with breathing and focus and of course core strength and flexibility. there is a website that has a ton of free yoga videos, all different levels, focus areas and length (you put in your parameters and search). www.doyogawithme.com  no need to subscribe. I just do the free ones. there is a 20 min morning stretch which is great. If he is a golfer and you have carpet he could setup a mini putt in the house using cups. Keeps him moving but not strenuous. 

Re: supporting someone going through chemo

Posted by Nix on Oct 29, 2020 9:26 am

Hello SQLC‍ - I am currently undergoing chemo and my mom is my carer. I have noticed that as time goes on I am getting a bit snappier with her sometimes. I am sure it’s the stress, fatigue and frustration building up that are causing it. A few things I have found to be helpful:

- I am forcing myself to get out for short walks as often as possible. Even just to the end of the street and back. Somedays I don’t feel up to it physically, so I skip those days. I also try to just sit outside for some fresh air, after spending 3 days straight in the house last chemo cycle I was so cranky and getting outside helped. It will be a challenge as it continues to get colder but bundling up and short trips outside are better than nothing.

- I have tried to keep as many of my pre-chemo tasks as possible. So, for example even before my diagnosis I was ordering mine and my mom’s groceries online (we don’t live together and she doesn’t have curbside grocery pickup where she lives in the country). I would pick them up and then take hers to her. Now that she comes and stays with me every other week to help after chemo I still do our orders online like I always did, and we go together to get the food and then she takes hers home when she goes. I usually spend 4-5 days building the grocery order because my focus isn’t always great but it makes me feel useful to still do that task I always did.

- When I am feeling up to it I tell my mom to let me make the meal. If your husband cooks maybe asking him to let you know if he ever feels like helping or taking over? I also try to do whatever chores I can. This week I gathered all my laundry and changed the sheets on my bed before running out of steam. My mom is here again now and will wash the laundry for me. However I feel good that I managed part of the process myself.

- Not sure what your husband’s chemo cycles and side effects look like but mine are every 2 weeks and after about 10 or 11 days I start feeling pretty good. On day 12 I always have a dressing change for my PICC line, blood work and oncologist visit to prep for my next chemo. I drive myself to those appointments, take the scenic route, turn on some music and sing along. It always makes me feel rejuvinated and helps me mentally prep for the next cycle. If your husband gets a couple really good days maybe he would like to take himself for a solo drive? Alone time can be helpful.

Wishing you both the best.

Re: supporting someone going through chemo

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Oct 30, 2020 7:04 am

Hi, SQLC‍ - I’m going to chime in with the suggestion of audio books. There are free app downloads from your local library (Libby, Overdrive, and there’s one that starts with “H”). Once downloaded, you have your library’s entire collection of audio books, e-books and DVDs at your disposal.

I like audiobooks because I often fall asleep when listening, and it’s easy to go back to where I left off. I tend to create a “bookmark” when I put my device down to listen, so if I fall asleep 10 minutes later, I can get to the spot where I crashed a little faster. 

Some people might find listening easier than reading when it comes to being able to focus.

Also Audible has several great resources, including a 21 day meditation program by Aptive.

Further to Nix‍ ’s suggestion, even if he isn’t able to cook a whole meal, he could perhaps assist you in the kitchen as a “sous chef” or help you with other tasks around the house that are within his capabilities. (Now might be a good time to exercise your “Honey? Can you help me with this? Card” as often as possible — if for no other reason than it will also take some of the load off of what is on your plate right now.)

It sounds as though he might be big on communicating, but I believe firmly that it will help the two of you to have some conversations around his frustrations and your own. To that end, if you need help yourself, you can contact your local cancer centre. They’ll have a social worker to help you (him, too, if he reaches out) through some of your frustrations.
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: supporting someone going through chemo

Posted by SQLC on Oct 30, 2020 7:49 am

Thanks for all the helpful ideas, I will try them. It is so good knowing there is support out there!

Re: supporting someone going through chemo

Posted by Trishfw on Oct 30, 2020 10:25 am

I am just finishing Chemo today.  I am soo happy!
I have a long way to get yet but this part will be behind me today (OK. Give me a week)

i too suffer from brain fog.  On day 3 to 5 I’m not good for much.
As I recover my strength I am able to to move around and try to take a walk to the mailbox.  It helps fresh air, moving slowly but 
i have a tablet and play word games, match three and Solitare.   I might have 3 or 4 games started at a time. I bounce between them
all as my concentration and attention span doesn’t last long.  I particularly like the game called crossword jam.  Apple store and Google play. For free.
I hear June’s Journey (also free) is pretty good.  You can join groups and even play it together.

I try reading and I’m pretty sure I have read the same chapter several times.  Memory is way out of whack as well. It will be the most read book in history! 
i tried painting (watercolour). That was good for a bit.  Other things that come to mind are puzzles.  Maybe he would like building a model (cars. Planes etc)

i try to do research on topics that interest me.  My son has just been diagnosed with MS.  So that has been interesting, and I act as a part time care giver for him.  So on good days I drive him to appointments we get groceries and the stuff of life.  Go to Farmers Market.  We are both good for about an hour or 
two.  Then back home.
My daughter passed away in 2019 and I write her.  I bought myself a nice notebook so it more of a living letter.
if I get down and too irritable I write in the book.  Gets the stuff off my chest and makes thing clearer for me. She was my best friend
so why not?  
i really miss people.  I’m a bit of a home body, but getting out helps.  My friend who is helping me through this takes me out for car rides.  As the patient
I have missed the outside world.  When my treatment began it was spring, new leaves. Now it’s fall and those leaves are gone.  Here in Edmonton we have had snow. I hate to mention this but we’re sort of stuck more because of Covid.  So in the car we are in our little bubble and he often stops to
get me Dairy Queen.  A nice treat.
He also encourages me to try different foods that help with recovery.  I look up recipes, try some.

i can understand his irritation. I find that talking to my caregivers either by phone or those that I can see in person I find things that
can be interesting.  If not it goes on my list for later.  Written down so I don’t forget.  I mostly talk about what they are up to.  Don’t focus on me.  That gives me new ideas and a feeling the world is bigger than these walls I live in.

Maybe some of these can help.  Your Cancer Center might be a good resource for more ideas.  I like to think of the things I do as a buffet.  I might
do one thing for a bit.  Leave it and go onto something else. If it doesn’t suit me I don’t take it.  If I really like it I can always go back for seconds.
It has to be his choice, all you can do is put things on his buffet.
He is frustrated, he can make decisions,.  Let him.  You are able to go out do things, I know I get irritable when I see others live their lives but it has
proved to be the best motivator for me. Putting it not so gently he feels like crap.   Do your hobbies, take care of you too it might be contagious.

I wish the both of you the best of everything in your journey.


i had to learn to put on my big girl panties and get on with it.  That was what my sister tells me when I get too miserable

Re: supporting someone going through chemo

Posted by Whitelilies on Oct 30, 2020 4:40 pm

SQLC‍ Hello and welcome to our caring site......

How about soothing music? CD....cassette (do they still make those?? )......soft relaxing music....sooths the soul.

Sending Strength Your Way,



Re: supporting someone going through chemo

Posted by Trillium on Oct 30, 2020 6:39 pm

Trishfw‍ - So nice to meet you!  Thanks for sharing these great ideas. So sorry to read your son has recently been diagnosed with MS and that you lost your daughter just last year. It’s been a really rough 2 yrs for you.

Warm hugs if you need them today.

Re: supporting someone going through chemo

Posted by Whitelilies on Oct 30, 2020 9:15 pm

Trishfw‍ Hello......I am sorry for all that you did share earlier......what difficult times you have had.....YEAH for last chemo.
My mother in law had MS......(passed from old age)....I know a bit about MS....she was diagnosed at age 35, after having both her boys....the most common age group I read....and to females, moreso. 
How old is your son?  
Yes, with Covid, we are all basically home bodies......
I send you strength.

Keep posting....we are all listening......



Re: supporting someone going through chemo

Posted by Trishfw on Oct 30, 2020 11:28 pm

Thank-you for your post.  Your kindness is appreciated.
Yes it has been a challenging time for me and my family.
Now with Chemo under my belt (well in about a week so I can recover) I will have additional
strength to help him.  He is 38.  His life will change for sure.  He has lost mobility in his left leg.
He has a fantastic attitude and is now in contact with MS Clinic to get the supports he needs.

Much like the Cancer Teams I am dealing with.  I love being Canadian!

Once again thanks for your thoughts!



Re: supporting someone going through chemo

Posted by Trillium on Nov 5, 2020 3:09 pm

Hello Trish, is it possible the loss of mobility in your sons leg can return Back to mobility again. When are you finished Chemo? Don’t forget to ring the virtual bell here!