Hi there - my beautiful father has been struggling with cancer over the past year and a half. First it was esophogial which at first responded well to his major surgery but at the beginning of this year the cancer spread to his leg and he has been undergoing further radiation therapy (having had the max chemo with the first cancer). Dad has been amazingly positive throughout all of this and despite the earlier set back this year when it returned he has been quite optimistic as to life expectancy. As my brother is a specialist in the hospital my father is in - he has always been very honest about the reality of dad's situation (as much as anyone can be with the unknown) in this past year dad has been in and out of hospital more and more with the last recent bout due to pneumonia and poor mobility - at which stage he asked the question about life expectancy (thinking it would be years) and be told the truth about it being at most a year and more than likely months. Since he has come out of hospital I can see his mobility has diminished significantly and he sleeps most of the time whereas only weeks ago he was still fairly active given his condition and could stay awake and hold conversations. I am concerned that he is giving up on life due to this news from the doctor - he does refer to the end of his life mater of factly but he still seems cheery when he is awake (and sometimes a little bit out of it due to the meds)
I have no idea how to handle this as none of my friends have or are going through anything similar - my brother can speak from experience working in this field but want I want to know is:
*How do you try and keep things as normal as possible for someone with a terminal illness? He seems to easily discuss when he is not going to be here anymore and I want hints on how I can listen to this without crying in front of him and making it harder?
*Also how do you boost someone's moral when they have a terminal illness? He has always been so optimistic and although he hasn't said anything now about how he feels (even though I have said it must be hard and he can talk about it anytime) I want to ensure I can do the best I can - this week I have been off work and spending time with him all day feeding him etc and taking him for little walks/ drives but he still sleeps most of the time, is this normal?
*How do you handle this situation with your employer - I have a fairly hard core job which I work hard at and don't want to jeopardise but I also want to be there for my father if he needs me - is it possible to take planned carer's leave as I have several weeks entitlment accured?
How do you try and keep things as normal as possible for someone with a terminal illness?
To keep things normal, just be normal. That's how I did. My partner and I would talk about his prognosis and chance that he wouldn't be a survivor. We cried and screamed together while at the same time we tried to be optimistic. You never know there might be a miracle or any new drug discovered. I think it's not bad to be realistic about the situation but also keep your head up. We agreed on talking openly about how each of us feel and cry if we need to as a way to let things out of the system. There is no need for you to be strong for your dad. He would be more than happy to be the stronger one to support you even though he's the one that's suffered. I told my partner that he didn't have to be strong for me and could cry with me but after all this we would continue to fight.
*Also how do you boost someone's moral when they have a terminal illness?
It's nice that you try to be there for your dad. From the sound of it you don't have to raise his morale. Perhaps he can come to terms with his future. My partner was always optimistic and continued to fight up until the day he died. Just be there for him is the best you can do. And for sleeping a lot even with little physical activities, I think it's normal side effects from all the treatment. My partner spent a lot of time in bed/couch resting during the day.
How do you handle this situation with your employer - is it possible to take planned carer's leave as I have several weeks entitlment accured?
You have to discuss this with your manager and hopefully he/she will be very understanding.
My manager is very understanding even though his hands are tied with all the policies and procedures as working for public services. I was not allowed to do work from home but I can do flexible work hour. I was allowed to use personal leave (carer) whenever required up to the limit that I accrue. I could work long hours and use those extra hours to take time off here and there. In the past 14 months through this journey, I only used my flex and personal leave to spend time with my partner looking after him. I am lucky, he was very independent up until the last week of his life so I could manage to work full-time while being his sole carer.
thanks so much for the advice Peanutz,it sounds like you had a similiar and hard situation (I hope things are working out for you now?)
I really do want to be strong for dad - as he has always been so strong for me and I think by being strong for him I can try and make things as normal as possible (I forgot to mention he is a typical english man and hates fuss - mum on the other hand fusses and wants to talk about dad dying all the time which he hates and stresses him out)
I need to work out how to tell him how I feel but not stress him out - as of course I want to make sure he knows he is the best dad and how much I love him but would love any tips in how to do this in a non fuss way - and I am concerned as he is on strong meds (which can cause him to say trippy things) I don't want what I say to cause him stress especially if the meds muddle things up?
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.