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Grandmother has lung cancer: New Here and to this battle 
Started by SeaGlass81
03 Jan 2013, 8:49 PM

Hi everyone and happy 2013,

Over the recent holidays, my Grandma whom I'm very close with was diagnosed with cancer after being hospitalized with what was thought to be severe sciatic nerve pain in mid-December. The cancer was first discovered in her hip, where they determined it was advanced and then late last week after a CT scan of her chest they found a mass in her lungs near her heart. Her doctors just confirmed that the source of the cancer is her lungs and that it's stage IV which has spread to her hip and is causing her a lot of pain. They have also informed us that it's not curable, and that chemotherapy is not recommended due to her age (79) and her diabetes. They've recommended radiation to help get her mobile (she's been bed-ridden for weeks) and she has decided to undergo treatment starting next week.

Until now, I have been fortunate not had any cancer in my family or close friends and though I know cancer survivors, I've not been faced with the challenge of something this...well, close and finite in my 31 years. Simply put, my incredible grandma is the glue that holds our little family together; she is and has always been a tough, proud and amazing role model for all of us and I'm so afraid to lose her, but more so, to see her in pain, struggling or unhappy.

Now dealing this reality, I'm having a very difficult time figuring out how to feel/act/live my life normally. I'm feeling low, less motivated by things that matter to me and so afraid of what the next year will hold for her and of our family.I find I have times where I'm almost relieved to at least be armed with the knowledge of what we're dealing with despite the gravity of it all, then the next moment I'm paralyzed with grief and fear of what my life will be like without her just a phone call away. Furthermore, I live a distance from her (in BC and she's in AB), so I just feel helpless and sometimes guilty that I can't be there to see her and support her as often as I'd like.

I'm grateful for so many things, but right now I am feeling blinded by the fear and uncertainty with all this knowledge.I was blessed to be able to see her daily for a week over Christmas (which is when we first recieved the diagnosis) and she has been in good spirits overall. I guess I'm just unsure of what the future holds for all of us.

I don't know if I need advice, but jsut having a place to type it out and talk with others feels like a relief.

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Reply by NatR
03 Jan 2013, 10:27 PM

Dear Seaglass81,
Thank you for finding this forum and sharing your personal pain.  It does help to share it- in some ways I think personally it helps us to accept what is happening to our loved ones- just to write it out!

I am thinking of your closeness to your beloved grandma and your young age.  It's not easy to know that someone you count on is sick and you can't change the facts.

Knowing the diagnoses and doing the steps that will ensure quality of life, mobility, in the face of the seriousness of the diagnosis - all least helps a bit, a feeling of providing some comfort - ability for your grandma.

i know others will add their insight for you - I just wanted you to know my heart goes out to you.
is there any way you can Plan to see her more often over the next months? Perhaps talking and planning times together will lift all your spirits.

its wonderful you got to be with her over the holidays.

sending you best wishes and encouraging you to keep writing when you need to.  Sharing burdens even by typing it here - is better than bottling it up.

one thing about the forum is that everyone here cares and tries to understand each point of view, each story. 

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Reply by SeaGlass81
03 Jan 2013, 11:29 PM

Thank you so much for your thoughtful note, natR - I am so appreciatove of this support both from the forum/online community and of my friends and family.

I love in Vancouver and my Grandma is in Calgary, so it's tricky for me to visit as often as I like with a full time job and busy life here. I am in the process of planning at least 2 trips in the next 4 months and again in the summer if possible. We just got word that she has been moved to the cancer center in Calgary, where she now has access to a phone so I can call her often just to chat and let her know I'm thinking of her. The staff/nurses have been wonderful where she is and I have an aunt who is nearby who sees her daily... that's really comforting just to know that she's not alone.

It really does help just to get it out wherever I can and I'm already feeling a little lighter knowing that I'm not alone on this journey :)

Thank you for listening :)
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Reply by moderator | modératrice
04 Jan 2013, 1:27 AM

Welcome SeaGlass81,

It does help to know that you're not alone doesn't it? While no one is living your experience exactly, we have several people sharing on the forums who have experience with caring from a distance and caring for a loved one with lung cancer, as well as people your age who are coping with the reality of losing someone close. Here are a few threads you may wish to explore and take part in. When you post a message, they will receive an email notifying them that a new message has been added.
And NatR understands a lot about caregiving up close and from afar. She started this thread that might give you some ideas or you may wish to add ideas to.
I'm sure it helps your Grandma just knowing how much you love her. I look forward to your sharing here on the forums.

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Reply by NatR
09 Jan 2013, 6:02 PM

Dear Seaglass81,

How is your week going?  How are things with your grandma?

You can feel free to come and type updates whenever you have the notion.  Someone will respond.  

I know how hard it is to deal with fear, unknown, impending loss of a loved one.

I think the best thing you can remember is that you have a wonderful relationship with your grandma...and that you have kept in touch and visited as often as possible.

That doesnt help make anything better about your grandma being sick, but your support and love for her does help.  She knows you are there for her and have been.

I just was thinking about you and wondering how you were doing,

Sending best wishes..
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Reply by SeaGlass81
09 Jan 2013, 6:26 PM

Good morning NatR,

Thank you SO much for your kind message and for thinking of me - that really makes me smile and it's so comforting to know I can come here and write as I need to. This week so far has been ok for me; I've had several chances to speak to my Grandma on the phone this past week and my cousin (bless her heart!) sent me a video of her via iPhone which, though it made me get a little emotional and teary, was SO nice to recieve and see.

My grandma remains in relatively good spirits all things considered; she's been tired and has been affllicted by more pain in her hip which has required her pain meds to be increased so that she can remain comfortable. Of course, this also has an affect on her mood and demeanor as we all know how strong those medications can be! She started radiation therapy yesterday, so I'm hoping to hear from my family today as to how it went.

For me, I'm finding the moments where I want to cry or stay in bed are becoming less frequent; for a while there I was resigned to think that nothing in my life (all those little things) could ever be as significant as what is going on with my Grandma...I felt lethargic and sad and mostly just wanted to sit around and feel, well, sorry for myself. After a week of letting this all settle a little more and getting back to my routine, I have found that I have been feeling mostly optimistic. I am trying to do my best to focus on the positives where I can; my Grandma is loved so much, she has lived a full, long life, she is in a safe place where she is recieving terrific treatment and she has people around her for support, both near and far. Also, when I do start to feel low or bad about what's to come, I try to focus on the things that my Grandma wants for me; to be happy, to be healthy, to have great opportunities and to seize them when I can, living my life to fullest. This week, it's become clear to me that she worries more about how WE are all handling the news then she is about her own condition...I don't want to add additional stress/concern to her, so the best thing I can do is stay positive and make sure that I am happy for her. She deserves that :)

I have booked a trip to visit her next month and my mother will be joining me - we'll have 3 days to spend with her and I hope that this impending trip will give her something positive to look forward to and to stay positive for. In the meantime, I will continue to call her as often as I can, send her cards and small gifts and support her with my energy and love from where I am.

I will continue to write here when I can and as I need...I alwasy feel much better writing out my thoughts and I thank you and everyone here so much for your support and time. It will make those tougher times easier and the good times even better as we contiune on this journey.

With gratitude,
Crystal :)
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Reply by NatR
09 Jan 2013, 6:36 PM

Dear Crystal,

That is pretty amazing news...and I am delighted to know how things are going.  I certainly understand how you felt...but I am so proud of you...your love for your grandma and her devotion and worry about all of you is an inspiring thing to have happen.

You are right. We get one life to live.  Your Grandma has lived hers.  She is getting support and care.  She wants you and all her family and friends to keep on living, and make every day count.

I am so pleased you are going to see her.  Keeping in touch, letting her know you care by surprise calls, notes, small gifts...and just by your thoughtfulness..I can see your grandmother has done well.  Not just your parents but your grandparents also have much to teach us about connections, about living life...and you are so right to concentrate on the positive and let some of the negative things go.

Each of us was born into this world...we didnt ask to come, we cant change what happened, we just have to live our lives the best we can...some of us...(and I speak about myself here;) have so much yet to learn...and its just one day at a time.

I am so very glad to read your words today.  Your notes will help others who browse the forum and look for comments they can related to.

I hope that your visit is warm, loving and memorable...for you and your grandma.
I know its bittersweet to see the videos..but you will treasure each one and hold it close to you...and in years to come...your grandmas voice, her laughter and her hugs will be remembered and will still live in you.

Thank you for sharing this with me and the rest of the readers.
Hugs across space and time:)
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Reply by SeaGlass81
11 Jan 2013, 11:41 PM

Hi all,

This week has been a rollercoaster. Today we recieved the news that my Grandmother's prognosis has changed again. The doctor's have given her an estimated 4-6 weeks......

....I am in a state of shock, amplyfied by tears and confusion. The doctors told my aunt that my planned Family Day weekend trip may be too late...that's in 4 weeks.

I have booked flights to go and see her next weekend. It will be when I may need to say my goodbyes. I am full of fear, silver-lined with gratitude and surrounded by grief and frustration. Part of my doesn't want to believe this is happening and part of me just wants it to be over already.

I spoke to my Grandma last night - she sounds sad, tired and frustrated. My gut is telling me she's ready for this to all be over, too.

Despite all the gratitude I've been feeling, this is hard ... HARD... to swallow. As co-executor of my Grandma's will, I'm also faced with the tasks of starting to deal with her estate. I can't even think straight. The doctors have recommended that we start looking into palliative care or hospices...I don't even know where to start.

I will try to keep my mind occupied. I want to try my best to remain a positive beacon for my family and my Grandma. Everything feels like it's shifting and once again, I'm feeling like I'm required to 'stop everything' to deal with this...

How do you keep living when I know that my Grandma is lying in a hospital dying?

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Reply by NatR
13 Jan 2013, 1:06 AM

Dear seaglass81,

Your note about the changes in your Grandmas condition - really made me want to reach out and give you a hug.

there is no easy way to deal with an update like that.  I am so glad you already planned to go and see your grandma - and that you are moving up the visit.

its heartbreaking to lose a loved one, it's not easy to visit knowing it may be for the last time.  What you said about your grandma and her reaction - that she is tired and it seems like she is ready to give up fighting - this is her body saying its time.

i wish we could just put in new batteries for those we love - and watch  them keep going as always - but that isn't realistic.  I want you to know that you are an awesome granddaughter and I know your heart is breaking.  That's the really difficult thing - losing loved ones and learning that in some ways we never lose them, the lessons they teach us, the jokes they shared  the secrets you whispered to each other, so important for you to hold in your heart.

its a different walk for each of us - grief.  You will find your way.  Don't hide it  or feel guilty about it  we are here for you.
try and take one day at a time as to think too far ahead will be overwhelming .
you will find a lot of support on this forum and I am sure your circle of support in life will also help you through.

we are strangers but we all travel a similar path.
tonight you are in my thoughts and I wish you strength and peace 
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Reply by SeaGlass81
13 Jan 2013, 1:42 AM

Hi NatR, 

Thank you so much for your kind messages and support. As it turned out, my Grandmother's condition has taken a sharp decline. Late last night I made the decision and booked flights to travel and see her today. I'm at the hospital now, sitting with her as she rests and visiting with my cousin who is also here. The rest of my family is meeting here at the hospital first thing in the morning to discuss her condition with the doctors...it's not looking good. 

The staff here have been terrific and supportive; they understand that we are all facing challenging times. I'm trying to stay grateful and to keep tears at bay for the sake of my grandma. 

Thank you again for everything. 
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