Family Matters
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Cancer

My father-in-law was diagnosed a couple months ago with Stage IV non-Hodgkins lymphoma. My husband seems to be handling it better than I am, somehow--I'm a high-strung person in the first place, and I've been an emotional wreck ever since we found out. He has his moments where he feels like everything is crashing down around him but mostly he's pretty good at viewing things in a realistic and practical way, and I'm really proud of him for how he's handling things.

The doctor says it's incurable. He's responding pretty well to the chemo but the doctor still doesn't think he'll ever see remission. He says it's "just a matter of time," but that how MUCH time is up in the air right now.

I guess I'm mostly just venting, but I also need help. How do I be there for my husband? What do you DO in this situation? It's even harder because his family lives so far away--we're in Minnesota and they're in Ohio--and I know the distance and not being able to physically be there for his family is hard on him. I want to support him and help him through this--especially if or when the worst happens--but I don't know what to do. Especially since I'm torn up over it too--I've only known him for five years, but I love my husband's family almost as much as my own and I'm so scared of losing my father-in-law. I'm scared that I won't be able to be there for my husband if I'm so emotionally wrecked myself.

Again, mostly just venting, but if anyone has any words of advice or comfort they would be appreciated.

Also, does anyone know if there is any kind of precautionary screening a person can get for lymphoma to help detect it early? Because my father-in-law is the fourth man in my husband's family to have it and my husband is understandably concerned about his own health. Maybe that's a dumb question but it's something we'd like to look into if possible.

Re: Cancer

  • I'm sorry to hear about what your father is going through. If your husband doesn't have a regular physician, it's time he gets one and goes for a full physical and it's important that he mentions this history to his doctor. They can tell you if there are steps for screening that they can do or if he needs to go see a specialist. Based on family history, insurance may cover more tests then they normally would. I was able to get mammograms starting at 37 yearly due to the age my sister was when she came down with cancer.

    In regards to support, check in your local area to see if there are any support groups for family members who have a loved one with cancer. Being around others that are going through a similar situation may help you to deal with the emotions you are going through. Make sure that your husband is talking to his dad as often as possible, and see if you can finacially afford to go visit him for a weekend. Even if you can't both go, try to arrange it so your husband can go. That is assuming he wants to. He may prefer to remember his dad in the healthy state he was and not see him in his current state.

     

  • I"m sorry to hear about your FIL as well. 

    I may suggest individual counseling too, for yourself. Don't push your husband, he'll need time for this to sink in. He may find hearing about your success in talking to someone encouraging for him too. Sometimes it's nice to share your true feelings without feeling like someone is judging you.

    As far as support, do what you can, you're only one person and you're hurting too. I lost my mom 2 years ago, just having my husband physically at the hospital was a huge help. It's hard the gauge needs of another person, so ask him to be open, he may need time to himself and that's ok. Support the rest of his family too, his mom, his siblings will be having a tough time and they may not feel they can vent. If you're not close enough to be there physically talk on the phone and then let them vent. They may want to hear you too.

    If your FIL is in treatment, ask the hospital or treatment center about support groups for the family members. If you live at a distance they might know of something more local to you.

    I'm not sure if you're religious, but prayer may help with your anxiety. A lot of churches have prayer hotlines and baskets. 

    Finally as PP said, go visit if you can. Go early so that you have the good memories of him in good health. Your physical presence will go far and give whatever family is there a much needed break. If he's healthy enough to go out, try a day trip. Is there something you've all wanted to do but didn't have the chance? Make that the reason to go now, maybe that will keep his spirits up.

    I wish you the best of luck, I really wish there was more I could say.

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