Caring for Mum and Dad during the fight against Cancer

Hi,

I am not an ovarian cancer patient. My mum is. She is 67 has stage 3 and has had the first of 3 lots of chemo to shrink her tumour. She has been told she will then have the tumour removed. She has also been told she will never be cancer free as it has spread within the abdomen.

She is doing ok. But I live away and can only visit at the weekends. My dad is looking after her and he is really struggling. Not with the practicalities but his grief. He can't focus on now, there is a dark cloud of what will one day happen when she can't get any further treatment.

How can I help him? How do you guys do it?

Thanks in advance for your advice x

14 Replies

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  • Firstly welcome, and thank you for being such a supportive daughter, I'm sure your parents really appreciate your time and care.

    Post op your mums surgeon will have a better idea on what the longer term prognosis is for your mum. Her oncologist will also be able to talk about the future once her chemo has been completed. There are new ideas and treatment plans being devised all the time. Please don't assume that because they say they can't remove it all that they will simply give up.

    Your poor dad is obviously struggling and I can understand that, my husband had some wobbles along the way, we were lucky I suppose in that I made friends with some of my fellow chemo ladies that I saw every week and my hubby made friends with their husbands and so they were able to talk and share some of their fears and realise that they were all scared. Maybe your dad needs to speak to somebody, maybe there needs to be a supporters of cancer victims group too?

    Please try to encourage him to speak to somebody who understand. Your mums CNS will be able to put him in touch with people who can help. If he wants to come on here I'm sure there are some of us who will be able to help him some way. He needs looking after too so he can look after your mum.

    I hope your mums surgery goes well and that her recovery is speedy and without event. Take lots of care of you too ❤xx Jane

  • It is just as hard in many ways for those close to us to come to terms with the diagnosis. But your Mum is only 67 and once she's recovered from her operation and the remaining three chemo she is likely to not need looking after as much, if at all. I don't know why she was told she will never be cancer free as I think it is quite unusual for medical people to use words such as never. I've read about many Stage III and IV patients who never recur again after their initial treatment. The chemo will be doing its work now, shrinking the tumour and anything that has spread and then the surgeon will do his best to remove everything cancerous. The remaining chemo usually mops up anything remaining. A prognosis may be clearer then. There are many more treatments now than what there used to be in the past.

    Although your Dad is coping with the practicalities, he may be finding it quite exhausting with all that is going on at the moment. Would he be willing to employ a cleaner to take away those types of tasks, even if only for the short term? I think Macmillan offer support to carers who need it. You could contact your local branch and also the Ovacome nurse on this site, who will be able to give you advice how your Dad can be helped with this worries about the future.

    I expect both your parents are pleased to see you at the weekends but you must remember to sometimes get some "you" time as well.

    All the best to your family.

  • This is a wonderful post-I have found it really encouraging, thank you.

  • What a lovely daughter you are! Dad needs support or it will drag him down,OC isn't all doom and gloom and can be managed,so they will still have good times together and he needs to realise this.

    Once she has the op,although she will need help,she will start to feel better and will potter about remarkably soon.

    You also need support and guidance,it is early days,but having some small outings to look forward to, or even sitting in the garden now the weather is getting better all helps lighten the mood.

    I know you are there at weekends,maybe you can encourage dad to have a couple of hours out on his own then,just so he gets a break?

    We are all here,we have all been through it and if you need someone to talk to there is always someone to support you,

    Love

    Carole xx

  • Hi there the good news is that you can live a long life with a manageable disease and have good times in between treatments. I suggest you get your parents to seek support groups which are extremely beneficial. So your next step would be to find our from the team what supports are available to your parents and how to access them, They may have helpful leaflets with contact numbers etc, It is a hard step to take but worth it.

  • A friend said to me last night that sometimes people are scared to hope. I guess my dad is.

  • Nandeb, your mother's doctor is WRONG! I was diagnosed stage 3C hi grade serous epithelial ovarian cancer Nov 20, 2015, 16 months ago. I was filled with cancer from top of my diaphragm to the top of my rectum, including omental caking. I am currently in pathological remission with normal CA125 and feel great!!! It is imperative you find the best surgeon for your mother. She'll need a specialist gynecological oncologist surgeon who can get her to an R-Zero from surgery to give her the best future. Then the chemo can kill off any residual disease. Perhaps a positive, life affirming doctor for a second opinion is in order.

  • I think it's my dad's bleak outlook that is the problem. She's ready to fight. We are talking about a summer in Spain and moving house to near me. They get MRI results today regarding proximity to spine. He's all doom and gloom and I'm saying " well regardless the chemo has started to shrink it" he can't see that.

  • Nandeb, If your dad Google's this disease it will scare the life out of him. Please have him join a support group. This one is a terrific place to start. There are carers and husband's and children taking care of their beloved mothers, wives and daughters here. Your dad needs to know this is manageable. Tesla

  • Hi Nandeb. I was diagnosed 3C, age 65. That was 5 years 4 months ago. I am currently in my 2nd remission (have been for approx. 20 months this time). I am fit & well. The cancer had, like Tesla said above, spread up to my diaphragm. It was in my lymph system & spreading. I had 2 ops and the chemo fought it off both times. Chemo isn't pleasant but it all worked out as well as can be expected.

    We all on this forum know how frightening this is to begin with. But you learn to live with it. You get over the shock and it becomes a part of your everyday life. I know someone who was told her OC was terminal and given only 6 months to live. That was around 12 years ago - it never returned. I know another person who's had OC and also breast cancer - she's been cancer free for around 30 years. In my case, I had a rapid diagnosis, I've had good support at home and at the hospital I attend and also from the OC support group I belong to. That's what you'll want for your Mum.

    As I see it, your Dad is the biggest problem. You can't change what's happened to your Mum but your Dad can change his attitude. I think you have to point that out to him. If he is pessimistic, it will rub off onto your Mum. That's the last thing she needs. Even if he has to pretend until he gets used to it, make him see sense. Can you do it ? Best wishes. Pauline.

  • This is the hopeful attitude I need to inject into things. Dad does "try" to be brace but he's so stressed it's not covering the obvious. I might need to be tough about it. If I small row moves him forward I guess it will be worth it.

  • Your parents may qualify for some help with homecare. We have 2 carers per day to help me look after my elderly mum-I have stage 3 ovarian cancer and am on chemotherapy and am very grateful for the help. After my op I was in a sorry state of mind and posted on this group and the replies were so helpful: " it hasn't happened yet" and "enjoy today". I was given Citalopram by my GP for depression although I never took it. I asked around and found that many people take this and say that it really helps and that it makes them feel neutral about things. Sending best wishes, Wendy

  • My mum was on 10mg citalopram prior to diagnosis. They have upped her dose. Dad has depression a few years ago and also had citalopram. He wasn't sure it helped but I think it does numb things. Flat is better than an emotional roller coaster. I have asked him to go to GP I hope he goes.

  • Mum was diagnosed with secondary bone cancer on her spine and ribs. More bad news. shevwas also admitted last night with an infection. Good thing is that seems under control swiftly.

    I can see why Dad worries so much. He is there dealing with it all.

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