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How can I support my long distance partner whose father just got diagnosed with stage 4 cancer?
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Hello- my long term partner's father was recently preliminarily diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer (will be doing a biopsy later next week) and needless to say he's been really down. We're in a LDR with a 15 hour time difference and I have felt utterly useless in terms of being there for him.

He's not the type to openly talk about his feelings and doesn't have much of a support system which makes me worry even more- his parents are immigrants who don't speak much English and are very reliant on him for everything, and he has an older sibling who lives nearby but has always placed most of the burden of caring for their parents on my partner.

I'm worried that by the end of all of this he will be completely burnt out and that he will continue to put all the burdens on himself at the expense of his mental health- and it really upsets me that I cannot be there for him.

I would really appreciate any tips on how to navigate this situation. Thank you.

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8442 Posts

@jyc welcome. So sorry about this situation and about your partners father's cancer! just wanted to give you a few ideas how you can help out from a distance. Thank goodness for technology!!!! You can arrange grocery deliveries, have meal drop offs, arrange respite care so your partner can have a break, keep in touch by phone and by zoom, offer to send out mass emails to ftiends and family members about updates on how his father is doing, offer to look into local resources for help for whatever is needed such as cleaning services, meal prep, nursing care… and basically just keeping in touch by text, phone, and spending quality time on zoom….things like that. I'm sure others will pipe in to offer other suggestions. Thank you for reaching out… we will help you navigate through this!!!

8442 Posts

@jyc your partner may find it hepful to talk to the cancer centre social worker too where his father is being treated. He may also need to sit down and talk with his sibling about dividing up the tasks and care. Plus whomever else he can think of thst can pitch in. Neighbours, friends. Im wondering if tbe cancer info line might know anything about language interpretators . Try and give a call perhaps. 1888 939 3333. Let us know if you need anything else and we'll find it for you. This community is a wealth of information.

1956 Posts

@jyc @Brighty has given you some great ideas….

I wonder if your partners parents have links with a local place of worship - might be a source of help, and there may be folks who attend who speak the same language?
And I’m sure his mother is going to want to do a lot for his father if she can and he will need to take his lead from her once they know what the treatment plan is.

It must be hard to feel so far away and to want to support. It will change your relationship for a bit as your partners focus has to change but it sounds like you re prepared for that.

best Wishes Essjay

1108 Posts


good morning and welcome to this community.
how lovely that you are so tuned into the mental health side of caregiving….not many folks ‘get that’ part of things, (unless they have been there themselves). 💙

you are 100% correct; many caregivers expend all their energies--physical & emotional--to care for a loved one.

just the fact that you are aware, and able to help is so so amazing. I hope your partner is the type that will ‘rally the troops’ for their dad.
if they can involve the friends, neighbors, and even reluctant sibs to lend a hand it will be a much better experience for everyone.
things like visits, meals, help with cleaning, drives to appointments, and perhaps translation support can all be so helpful.
cancer I found is so isolating, the very best thing for everyone is to keep social connections open and the gift of time is GOLD.

I have been a caregiver & a cancer patient both; and I found the caregiver role harder…to be long distance from your love will be stressful for you….in some ways you are also now a caregiver.

WellSpring is a wonderful place that offers caregiver and patient support. they have chapters all across the country - you, your love, and your FIL could all access their programs from wherever you are. I just received a list of May offerings from the Calgary branch last nite…take a look I think there are a few online sessions that may benefit you all.

as far as a language barrier, @Brighty gave you the Canadian Cancer info number - they are able to provide service in a number of languages….1-888-939-3333.

read thru the posts here - search with ‘caregiver’ or ‘#caregiver’ tags and you will find many many folks are in the same storm as your family.

and as for the FIL there is much information here about ‘lung cancer’ treatments and many stories shared.

I can only imagine how stressful this is for you. dont forget to take care of YOU in all of this.

we welcome you all here. thank you for your post.

#welcomenewmembers #Caregiver #lungcancer #cancerinthefamily #wellspring #caregiversupport

1108 Posts

one more thing--- @Lianne_Moderator posted this just yesterday. wise words.

#caregiversurvivaltips #selfcare

10 Posts

@jyc I am sorry that you and your partner and his family are facing these challenges. Others have provided good suggestions. Time management is an important tool for mental health. Any support that could ease pressure from the things he has to do may allow him more energy and time for supporting his parents and LD video chats with you. Helping him set up a cleaning service or meal delivery could be useful. Living across the world from loved ones does pose challenges for impromptu chats due to time difference, but you will figure out system that works for you both and your sleep cycles that may already be interrupted due to stress. You will find much support in this community.

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