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what would you do if...?

Discussion in 'CycleChat Cafe' started by Kirstie, 21 Jan 2008.

  1. ..sorry this is going to be a morbid thread....

    What would you do if you'd just been told a close family member has inoperable pancreatic cancer? I just got told this today - this morning in fact. I'm a jibbering wreck - we all are. Can't string two words together, sit still, concentrate for very long, stop bursting into tears etc I guess it's shock. I don't know what to do with myself, but hey, I'm not the one with the cancer...

    So I have: offered to go home and keep everyone company - my mum said it was OK for now and I didn't need to go; I have also bought a copy of 'It's Not About the Bike' for my auntie, who is the one with the cancer. Hopefully I'll be able to give it to her soon.

    But it's not a death sentence, right? She's been offered radiotherapy so they must think there's some chance of getting rid of it. I've tried reading stuff on the internet but it's either scary or incomprehensible.

    Has anyone else been there with this and what did you do? I just want to help my family as much as possible. I'm on my own right now and will be until tomorrow. Need to share! Sorry...
  2. Danny

    Danny Legendary Member

    Very sorry to hear your news.

    I'm afraid I don't know enough about pancreatic cancer to comment on the likely prognosis.

    Based on the experience of a close family member who had advanced bowl cancer I can only offer the following advice.

    - Make sure you aunt is well informed about all the treatment options, and their potential side effects. She needs to be able to make well informed choices about what treatments are best - or indeed whether further treatment is in her best interest.
    - Make sure she has plenty of support, and that she and the family understand what services are available if needed. Depending where she lives there will be support available from District Nurses, Social Services, Macmillan, and perhaps the local hospice (who often offer day care support).
    If your aunt is struggling to look after herself, you can ask Social Services to carry out an assessment.
    - Be positive. Many people can live for years with so-called inoperable cancer and still have a good quality of life. And some like Armstrong can overcome apparently impossible odds. Giving her "Its Not About The Bike" is a good place to start.
  3. Danny

    Danny Legendary Member

    PS Feel free to PM me if you want more advice on accessing services for your aunt. We unfortunately have a lot of experience in this area.
  4. marinyork

    marinyork Resting in suspended Animation

    I'm very sorry to hear your news, I don't know what I'd do.

    One of my friends mothers died from pancreatic cancer (adenocarcinoma origin) at a relatively young age quite a number of years ago. Not all pancreatic cancers are that, if that is the case then that's good news as some pancreatic cancers have reasonable survival odds. Unfortunately it's certainly not the case for what I wrote above. You never know though. Whatever the case Dannyg's advice sounds good.
  5. Bigtallfatbloke

    Bigtallfatbloke New Member

    I dont know about the individual types of cancer & I am not a medical chap. However for the last three years a close friend of ours has been fighting bowel cancer. She has 4 young children. She had to have several ops, and full Chemo, but A few months ago she was given the all clear, and the most recent check up confirms it has not returned.

    ... there is hope.
  6. Mister Paul

    Mister Paul Legendary Member

    I'd recommend going along to see the consultant if you can. I did when my mom got lymphoma, and they were great.

    They'll be able to explain all about treatments. Radiotherapy is sometimes done palliatively (to slow things down) and sometimes as treatment. You can listen to a hundred opinions on here, but you need answers specific to your aunt's case.

    Like Danny said, there's plenty of support available. Macmillan nurses are fantastic.

    And again, like Danny says, some cancer is starting to be seen more as a long-term disease which needs to be managed rather than something immediately terminal.
  7. tdr1nka

    tdr1nka Taking the biscuit

    Keep positive as best you can, difficult though it might be, there is always hope.
    Dannyg has given you the best advice I could imagine.

    Stay strong,

    T x
  8. OP

    Kirstie Über Member

    Thanks all.
    I'm trying to be informed as much as I can about the treatment options...and I am starting to draw up a list of questions that we might want to ask the doctors so we are all as fully informed as we can be.
    I tried to read about the cancer itself but found it confusing. It's not got a name yet, as they've not had the detailed biopsy results. But I guess when they do we'll know more and I'll be better informed...
    My auntie can definitely look after herself at home, I think she's just a bit depressed at the moment. She's actually putting weight back on and losing a lot of the symptoms because she's had a bypass to the tumour put in and so the pancreas is working pretty much OK.
  9. Danny

    Danny Legendary Member

    Depression is an understandable and common reaction to a diagnosis. I'd know that I'd feel pretty depressed if I ever find myself in that situation.

    But if it looks like it is becoming an issue, agencies like Macmillan can help your aunt, and the rest of the family, by providing counselling and support.
  10. Jaded

    Jaded New Member

    Bear in mind that the patient (and particularly but not exclusively the older patient) may hear differently what is said to them from what the health professional is actually saying.

    Dad was sometimes too polite to ask the soft spoken health professionals to speak up or to explain their jargon in layman's terms. If I was there I could translate, but if Mum was, she couldn't.

    The last letter he got from the specialist was 'good news'. He told the whole family that.

    I read it when going through his desk a few months later. There was one bit of good news in it.
    I don't to this day whether he understood the medical jargon in the letter and wished to be positive, or whether he just took in the one bit of good news.

    Pancreatic cancer has several forms, some of which are very aggressive.
  11. Cathryn

    Cathryn California Correspondant

    Oh Kirstie, I'm so sorry!! How awful.

    There's excellent advice on here already about getting information etc. I would beware the internet though...the times I've used it to look up symptoms, I've terrified it.

    Go and see your Aunt when you can. Feed her ginger champagne cocktails, play something on your accordian and tell her you love her.

  12. Maggot

    Maggot Star of BBC 5Lives Ballot Box Brigade

    Around and about
    My tip, for what it is worth, is when you have a list of questions for the consultant write them down, all the ones you have. When you go and see him/her take that piece of paper and a pen, when they ask if you have any questions get it out and refer to it. I can guarantee the Dr will not be phased or put out by this, and before you leave ensure all of the q's have been answered to your satisfaction and understanding (I really am not suggesting you are in anyway dim, but medics can drift into medical speak and lose people, we all do it in our "field" I dare say). If there is anyone a step removed, your partner maybe, take him along to ask the questions (obviously this may not be appropriate), but this may be just a one off chance to get the answers to the questions which are bothering you.

    I have a background in psychiatric nursing, and have seen rational, intelligent people collapse when we ask them "Do you have any questions?" They then go away forever frustrated that we did not give them the answers they wanted and distrusting Drs and Nurses because we can't communicate!

    All the very best with everything Kirste.
  13. Cathryn

    Cathryn California Correspondant

    Clearly I haven't terrified the internet, it's terrified me.
  14. trio25

    trio25 Über Member

    I can't add anything. But just want to say I'm thinking of you and it must be hard not to be with your family at the moment.
  15. Fnaar

    Fnaar Smutmaster General

    Sorry to hear your news... I've found that giving time, a listening ear, and helping someone to laugh when they want to and cry when they want to are good things to do. :tongue: