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Both of us

My husband and I both have cancer. He has squamous cell carcinoma which spread into lymph nodes, I have invasive ductal breast cancer. He’s being treated at a hospital an hour and a half from our home, I’m being treated locally. It’s a nightmare. If anyone can give me survival tips, i’d Really appreciate it.

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Hello,

I am so sorry to read about your family. I am sending you a big hug. What is the current status of your treatment and diagnosis? Is there anyone to help you around ? As you both going through treatment, it's must be hard to sort everything what needed. I know it is heartbreaking and helpless situation. But please try to be strong because that will give you energy and help you to stand. Try to eat healthy, and do any kind of exercise. I know it's very tiring during treatment but if you just can walk few minutes a day that would be better.

I am 43 was diagnosed TNBC last year, stage 2. I used to feel very low to think about my future but I constantly push myself to be strong to enjoy my present life. I have small children, I want to be there with them...

If you have any specific questions you can ask me.

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Thank you so much for the hug. I do try to stay strong to take care of both of us but sometimes it seems overwhelming. Right now i’m Beginning radiation following a lumpectomy and he’s getting more tests and scans. Your tips on diet and exercise are great. Thanks .

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Nancy you will both have to take one step at a time. You will get through this. There are many here to support you. We are also dealing with a double whammy. I have cancer stage 4 breast cancer that has mats in my bones and. My hubby had late stage Parkinson. I am his main caregiver. I have help from Albert Healh Care. We have had to get used to a lot of new normals. We take a day at a time. Not knowing who will outlive the other. Our main focus is staying together until the end. I am 72 and hubby is 78. We are grateful for being together. But live in fear of those trying to put us in two separate homes. Mainly health professionals. It is easier for them that way.. My husband is continous care and I would be assisted living. They can be 100 kilometers apart. It is a struggle but we are alive and in charge of our own lives still. Remember that you have choices. You know what is best for you. Live every day to your fullest. Decide each day to be happy no matter what. Fight for what you need .Do not take no for an answer if you need help keep asking . some one will eventually listen and you will get what you need. God bless you and a group hug.

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Noelle, thank you for your answer and hugs to you and your husband. One of my greatest fears is that I won’t be able to take care of my husband when he needs me. You’re so right about needing to adjust to a new normal. Every day is different - trying to juggle treatment and test schedules for both of us is very challenging. I am going to have to learn to do as you suggest and keep asking until someone really listens. Thank you so much.

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Hi Nancy

I so get how overwhelmed you are. Two years ago this week, my husband was diagnosed with WTC lung disease 3 days after my biopsy for breast cancer. My best advice for you is to take this one day, one hou, or one minute at a time..... whatever gets you through it. Reach out to friends and family to help. You don’t have to be at all of his appointments nor does he have to go to all of yours but don’t go alone. On the days that I “lost it” I used an easy 18 minute meditation video on YouTube call Blissful Relaxation that got me through many sleepless nights. Find time to enjoy your life. Keep your daily routines as normal as possible. Every time I had an unpleasant appointment, I made sure to counter it with something good. I’d buy myself something I really didn’t need, go to a movie, a show, out to eat.....find what makes you smile and move forward. I don’t know where you live. I’m in NY. I called SHAREs Breast Cancer National helpline and joined a support group. Last but not least I went into therapy and temporarily went on antianxiety meds. All of this together got me through. Two years later I’m smiling and enjoying my life again.

R in NY

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Hagar, thank you. I think right now I probably do need to take it a day (or an hour) at a time. I’m lucky to have my son and daughter-in-law in town to help out. I know I don’t have to be at all of his appointments (and there will be times I can’t), but my anxiety level skyrockets when i’m Not there. Thanks for the idea for meditation. I’m going to try it tonight. And we’ll both try to find a routine and things we can enjoy. I’m glad you’re at a point where you can enjoy life again. I hope we’ll get there- Nancy

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Hello Nancy,

I am also sending a hug your way. I know how hard it is when just one partner has cancer, so I cannot imagine how hard it must be for you and your husband, not just physically but mentally and emotionally too.

Is there a way that you can both be treated at the same hospital? Can you get some help in travelling backwards and forwards to hospital appointments? If you have not already done so, I would recommend accepting offers from friends and family for help. How about setting up a rota system, so that different people can help out on days you most need help?

Eating a healthy diet is a must. I am planning to see a dietitian to see what else I can do to improve my diet. Could you do the same? When I am feeling energetic, I will cook up a large batch of food and then freeze several portions in Chinese takeaway containers. Then when I am not feeling up to cooking all I have to do is pop it in the microwave and there's lunch or dinner taken care of.

One thing that my oncologist recommended was to stay active. I know that when you are going through treatment, exercise does not sound very appealing but I find that I feel so much better when I have done some exercise. Even going for a short walk to pick up a newspaper can help, or perhaps you can go swimming. I was off work last week and was not very active and I felt worse than when I am working! So exercise and getting up and about really helps.

It is so important to try and conserve your energy when you are not feeling well, or your husband is feeling unwell. You can both lean on each other and offer each other encouragement and support.

All the best to you and your husband,

Sophie x

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Great ideas - thank you. Unfortunately it’s not possible for us both to be treated at the same place. I will be asking family and friends for help in the next few days, since neither of us can be in two places at once. I appreciate the idea about cooking and freezing- I’m thinking slow cooker meals will really come in handy now, and I took your suggestion and made an appointment with a dietician. I so much appreciate all your kind words and ideas. Nancy

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You're welcome, Nancy. I need to start using my slow cooker again too. They really come in handy!

I'd best get to bed. It's getting late.

All the best,

Sophie

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Sister/Warrior: We are our best advocates, of course after Lord/ God. When I know better I do better, and I share this information with everyone who will listen. Please try not to use plastic containers in the freezer, but you can use specific plastic safe freezer bags to store your foods in the freezer. Please don't reheat foods in theses plastic containers in the microwave, some plastics even supposedly safe stamped plastics #4, #1, and #5, when frozen or heated after an unspecified number of times will leach toxic cancer causing chemicals. Some of these plastics like frozen dinner plastics are made for a safe one, or two time use. I very rarely use my micro wave oven to reheat food, let alone cook with. I use my stove oven, and I purchased a toaster oven a few years back to cook or reheat small servings of food. Yes you have to stay on top of cleaning it, to avoid having any unexpected guests, but it is so much healthier than using a microwave oven We have to question, research, and investigate (everything) in our environment that can contribute to the causes of cancer. The air we breathe, the formaldehyde substances in furniture, new cars, rug liners, and the nonstick pots, and pans we cook with. Also shower curtains, and shower curtain liners. You can't forget the unhealthy foods, and drinks we ingest. I have tried to live air conditioner free with what I thought was natural clean air. I live in a city with manufacturing plants, and factories that contribute to the poor air quality, and polluted water systems. Now in my adult years I have been diagnosed with asthma. I am going to purchase a couple of air purifiers, and air conditioners to help clean the air in my house. I am now researching air purifiers with Hepa reusable air filters before my purchase. You would be surprised at the many other things that contribute to the high cancer rate. Sister/Warriors there are some things we can't change, but the things that we can change that will make our lives healthier, and happier. Sisters we are not living in the 18, 19, or 20th century. We have the power to make the difference. Use it warriors. God bless us all. XoXoXo

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Thank you - you’ve given me a lot to think about.

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I agree with you when it comes to reheating food that's been stored in plastic containers. When I take the leftover food out of the freezer I put it in the fridge to thaw out. Then I transfer it to a china plate or bowl to reheat. x

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Greetings: Sister/warrior: I/We do pray God will give you, and your husband peace, and more importantly restoration from this disease.Amen. The miracles/testimonies are on this HealthUnlocked site. I am awaiting your praise report.

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I am a breast cancer survivor. I had a double mastectomy in 2002. Had 2 different types of cancer. I just looked ahead not backward. Where are you from. I am from Long Island New York. I’ll answer anything I can if you have a question. I am sorry both you and your husband both have cancer. Hope you both have support to help you get through this

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Thank you, and i’m Happy that you’re a survivor. Thanks looking ahead instead of behind will surely help. I appreciate your support.

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Nancy, some of the best things people can do is lose, weight, exercise, get greens everyday, drink green or black tea, and occasional fasting, if possible.

None of this is easy. Both my husband and I have been diagnosed with cancer.

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One other thing, start supplementing with vitamin D with vitamin K ( combo capsule on Amazon and other locations) daily.

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Nancy, here is a story about someone in the same situation as your husband. If you cannot travel to MD Anderson, ask your local oncologist if they would consult with the oncologist mentioned in this story. MD Anderson is very good at doing that. Best to go there initially, however, so try if you can.

My Squamous Cell Carcinoma Journey

BY VAN SIMMONS

I didn’t think much of it when my neck got sore during a hunting trip in November 2014. But after my wife, Vicky, pointed out that I had a swollen lymph node in the area where I was experiencing pain, she scheduled an appointment for me to see a doctor in our hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee.

When antibiotics didn’t help, I had a needle biopsy. My results came back negative, but my doctor urged me to have the node surgically removed, just to be safe. Two weeks after the procedure, I had my stitches removed.

That’s when I learned why I’d been experiencing the soreness and swelling: I had tongue cancer – specifically, stage IV squamous cell carcinoma of the left base of the tongue. My doctor had only seen four squamous cell carcinoma cases like mine. He gave me only a 50% chance for survival.

Vicky and I were devastated. But I was determined to defy the odds. I needed to get better not just for myself, but also for Vicky and our three daughters.

My squamous cell carcinoma treatment at MD Anderson

We first sought treatment in our hometown and in nearby Nashville, but after hearing about a friend’s success at MD Anderson, we decided to travel to Houston for treatment. We were on a plane within three days of getting an appointment.

After meeting with a my oncologist, Neil Gross, M.D., as well as a radiologist and dentist, I was given my squamous cell carcinoma treatment plan -- six weeks of intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) followed by chemotherapy.

After a brief return home, I started two months of intense treatment – radiation Monday through Friday and chemo on Wednesdays. The radiation was painless, but I experienced side effects like dry mouth and loss of appetite. During chemotherapy, I also dealt with dehydration. Thankfully, my MD Anderson care team knew what to do. They ensured that I received fluids during the rest of my treatment, and I barely got sick again.

During my last week of squamous cell carcinoma treatment, though, I couldn’t keep liquids down. By that point, I’d lost nearly 40 pounds and needed to eat, so I was given a feeding tube. It made me tired, but it kept me nourished and hydrated. Within two weeks, I returned home to Tennessee.

An unexpected pulmonary embolism

After my first day at home, I had severe pain in my back and shoulders. Thinking it was dehydration, Vicky and I went to the emergency room. There we learned the real cause of my discomfort – a pulmonary embolism. I had blood clots in my lungs.

My doctors kept me in the hospital for monitoring for a week, but I was still thankful to be back in Tennessee with my family.

Life after my squamous cell carcinoma treatment

Two months later, I returned to Houston with Vicky and our daughters for my first post-treatment check-up. Our girls were eager to finally see MD Anderson and meet the staff I had told them so much about. I didn’t realize how appreciative my daughters were, though, until my 8-year-old thanked my speech pathologist for saving her daddy’s life.

After my scans and appointments, Dr. Gross came in with two words: all clear. There was no evidence of disease. My entire family rejoiced.

When I was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, I’d asked God to get me through cancer to show me something big. I now live everyday like it’s my last and appreciate every breath. As I’ve learned, some things are unpreventable, so you’ve got to have faith and give it your best fight.

I know I’m glad I gave mine.

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Thank you so much for sharing this story and for your advice. We are lucky to be in the Atlanta area and my husband is being treated at Emory Winship. He has wonderful doctors and his story is much like your husband’s. My biggest problem right now is trying to coordinate appointments and transportation so we can be with each other for support. So far, with help from family and friends, it’s worked out but tomorrow he has an appointment for a PET scan in Atlanta an hour and a half after my appointment here - and it’s an hour and a half drive. Hopefully i’ll Get there in time to talk to his oncologist. Every day is a learning experience. Again, thank you for sharing.

Nancy

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That is a LOT on your plate Nancy! One thing that might be really helpful is to streamline communication, having a system to help organize rides, meals, etc. without requiring your direct input. If you don't already have something like this going, check out CareCalendar.org or Lotsahelpinghands.com.

Sending you both lots of love!

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Thanks. I’ll look into those.

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