Wow - what a shock. Who knew that one day we'd end up here posting. We all kind of think it won't happen to us.
My name is John and I care for people with cancer.
This is all very, very new to me. I do not wish to take away from the personal stories on here of people who are first hand dealing with this.
In 2013, January, Australia Day... my beautiful daughter was born. She was a blessing... and shortly after, I left full time work to be with her and to start my own business.
It lifted off - and was successful relatively quick - enough for me to continue being self employed.
Then in June, I remember my dear old Dad calling me... who broke down on the phone, telling me that my sister (41) had Kidney Cancer and needed a kidney removed.
My poor family. It shook my mum and dad to bits. They were brave... but I could see it.
The great news was that they removed the cancerous tumor, she didnt need radio/chemotherapy, the past few scans have been cancer free and I really hope she lives a long life (she has 3 children to live for)
Then 2 months later, my grandfather had a heart attack. He lasted a while, was relatively chirpy once released from hospital... but died in his sleep a few weeks later.
My poor mom. First her daughter, then her dad.
Then now - literally the Thursday of last week... i get another phone call. Your dad has prostate cancer... its spread to his bones too.
His outlook is not to good. The doctor referred to it as not being "curable" but that in the coming days, likely tomorrow, they'll know how advanced it is and what outlook/treatments we have.
So at this point in my story. I'm kind of lost for words.
I've been beaten up this year by cancer... not personally, but my immediate family.
I've just grieved now for 6 straight months - and my poor old dad, well, I don't want him to die. He's 61 and only just known my daugter for 9 months. He has 10 more years to be there for her.
And my mum - first her daughter, then her dad, now her husband.
I'm 31 years old, male and I feel I should be stronger. But I'm emotionally a wimp. I'll cry at a song I hear on the radio... let alone coming to terms with losing my family. My poor old Dad... he's been such a big part of my life.
Anyway. Thanks for listening.
Oh you have been dealt so many blows, it's little wonder you're having difficulty coping. Sometimes life is unfair, and there's nothing that anyone can say to make you feel better. Have you touched base with any support services or a counsellor? I'm sure as a carer of cancer patients you are aware of the services available. This site is a good forum to vent as we all have been touched personally by cancer.
I'm only 34 and I'm currently fighting Lymphoma while juggling 3 kids and a job. I've had a tough year too, a month after my Nanna passed away I was diagnosed with cancer. My mum also had Lymphoma 4 years ago, so I can also relate to having a parent with cancer. Thankfully she's been clear since her chemo, which has made it easier for me to have a bright outlook on my future.
Hang in there, you're not alone! And congratulations on becoming a dad, it is wonderful to bring new life into the world. I should know, I'm a midwife.
HI John, you certainly have had a hell of a year. I do think you're strong. One of the things I learned during my husband's chemotherapy was that strength was not about not crying, but keeping on going through the tears. You obviously have been doing that. We're all here to cheer you on into 2014- hopefully it's kinder to you and your family. love Emily
Thanks Catherine and Emily, I appreciate you'd take the time to reply.
Catherine - what can I say. Going through this with 3 kids is such a challenge and I hope if anything that perhaps keeping busy is allowing your mind not to be idle.
In other words, while rest is so important - its also nice to have next to no time to think too much about things. I'm really happy to hear your husband is doing what he can to help you. I know its tough and knowing your Mom battled this and overcome it is so inspiring. I'm sure this will be just a speedbump along in your long life.
A little bit - you remind me of my older sister. She's 41 and she was the one i spoke of earlier who had a kidney removed that was cancerous. She has 3 kids and I just couldnt believe she was dealt this card, like you... because she has so much to live for.
Sure - we all do, we've all got something to live for - but you my friend, you've got 3 kids encouraging you every step. Best of luck. Sincerly.
Emily... thanks for your comments. May I ask you a question? How do I not slink into a big depression.
When I first saw my dad, last Saturday after the news... I walked into the hospital and just said "Well, you've got a fight on your hands"... but then I just broke down. I'm not very strong. I tend to tear up very easy... and I'm hoping that I reacted that way because it was the first time I had seen him since the bad news.
I really don't want to be the one who everytime I see him, I break down. I don't know how long we'll have with Dad... and I just want whatever time we have to be just like usual-- but instead of seeing him once a week like i used to, I'm lucky that we live close and I can easily see him almost every day. Spend a good hour with him every day until... well, who knows.
But right now - i think I'm scared of being depressed. I'm scared of grief. Emily... I want so desperatly to be the strong one. If you have any suggestions I'd love to hear.
Thanks again so much for listening.
Hi John, sadness and grief are very scary. Reacting to them naturally can be very valuable, though. Think about it from your Dad's point of view: your tears probably communicated how much you love him better than words could. I think it's also important to make a distinction between grief and depression. Grief is a natural reaction to sad events, depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain that is independent of events. Don't sell yourself short- you have had a terrible year, and it would be very unusual to get to this end of it without feeling battered.
My husband was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2011, and during his chemo I felt sad and stunned, and just kept doing what had to be done, because I had to. It wasn't until he was in remission that I really fell to pieces. I started counselling in November 2012, because I just couldn't stop worrying about the future, and grieving over the past. The counsellor also diagnosed a life-long anxiety disorder at that time (which wouldn't have helped....)
Counselling may be useful for you too, at some stage, if you feel that your grief is not allowing you to function. However, it seems like at the moment you're coping, but just worried about how you will cope in the future. It's a real cliche, but this is when 'one day at a time' becomes a golden mantra. (Or sometimes just one hour at a time.) Just take each event as it comes, and do the best you can with it. We can't live the future, much as we'd like to. Be kind to yourself, too- you're not imagining things, it really is that bad, and you've got this far. That's strength!
Thanks John, you're probably correct with the statement about keeping busy. I appreciate your supportive words.
In terms of depression, letting the tears out is a good way to prevent depression. Bottling up feelings and keeping a strong exterior is more likely to send the mind into a depressive state. It's when the feelings of sorrow and despair overpower daily functioning that depression rears it's ugly head. I have had a history of depression, and as such it has surprised me that I haven't ventured down that road yet. I do however, liken depression to rainy weather. If we have an umbrella in hand, we're more equipped to cope when those big black clouds come looming. Our metaphorical umbrella could be a Psychologist/Counsellor, the Cancer council helpline or Beyond Blue or a trusted family member or friend. You are not alone and it is human to feel sadness and despair. There are no medals for sweeping the feelings under the carpet. Your dad is lucky to have such a caring son.
You have had a terrible year, I think it's natural and healthy to be distressed by this news. I have just lost my dad from esophageal cancer. We nursed him at home for the past 9 months and I can still remember the day of his diagnosis. It's ok to cry with your dad, this will help you further down the track. Just be there as much as you can to support your mum and family through this difficult time. Take care of yourself.
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.