• Sister in law

    Asked by toninette on Monday, July 21, 2014

    Sister in law

    My sister in law was just dx'd with pancreatic cancer; chemo starts next week. No clue what stage, will be her assistant/buddy/chef/driver/comedianne. What can I do for her?

    18 Answers from the Community

    18 answers
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      You have already made the first step just by declaring that you will be there. Find out what her dx is, stage, particulars of what the plan is and report that back here. Lots of great people will chime in and give you some tips on how to be a great caregiver and how you can help her more. From a 3 time patient, thank you for being a caregiver and stepping up!

      over 5 years ago
    • barryboomer's Avatar

      Just be there for her......Listen and don't judge.....

      over 5 years ago
    • glam's Avatar

      be strong....be faithful.....be patient....and be by her side..... hug her as much as you can....say how important she is for you......everything else you will learn together and if we can help we will be here for you both....wishing her a very successful treatment (cancer killing)....God bless you and continue blessing all of us

      over 5 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar

      Being there will be enough. The two of you will figure out what to do as time goes along. Thank you for your humanity. Very best wishes

      over 5 years ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar

      Your willingness to be there for her is a lot!!!!! Build her up and help her see that cancer is not an automatic death sentence, no matter the stage of her cancer. Have fun together!

      over 5 years ago
    • cam32505's Avatar

      It sounds like you will be the one to take notes and help ask questions when she goes to the doctor. Sometimes the patient is so scared that they don't even hear what the doctor is saying. So, you need to be the strong one and take in everything and ask questions if you don't understand. Then, just enjoy the time you two will spend together (there will be lots of that).

      over 5 years ago
    • myronbob's Avatar

      sounds like you're already doing it . good luck bob .

      over 5 years ago
    • Jalemans' Avatar

      Of course, being there with her is the most important thing, but from a practical perspective there are a few things that could help you help her.

      Get a planner, or use the calendar on one of your devices to keep track of appointments, what days to take specific meds, etc. Get a small notebook to write down things you want to remember from appointments & more importantly questions as they arise when you are at home. A journal can be therapeutic & also is helpful to look back & see what happened at a prior point. Get some good lotion. If it is likely she will lose her hair (it will probably take a few weeks) you can shop for hats, scarves, or a wig while she is feeling good. Pick up any OTC meds that you may need (check usual symptoms listed from doctor's info or ask here for her drugs) - maybe prilosec, Tylenol, a stool softener or ammonium. Pick up a few items from the grocery store to have on hand -- I suggest some bananas (peel & freeze to make smoothies) & other fruits, maybe some lime/lemon to put slices in her water, ice (if she doesn't have an ice maker). Also, think about what you may cook for her that is high in iron & vitamin C; spinach, red meat, various beans all are high in iron. Someone gave me a cookbook "Living With Cancer" that earmarks recipes by things like good for nausea etc.

      Anyway, just some ideas which might help & make you feel more prepared. Hope this is helpful!

      over 5 years ago
    • Jalemans' Avatar

      Oh, a couple more... A folder to keep all her medical info in, a small tote to keep the folder & planner, water bottle, snack, magazines/book --I can just grab the bag when I go for an appointment or chemo. If she is going to lose her hair you can call the American cancer society & they will send her a coupon & a catalog so she can order a wig or hats or whatever.

      over 5 years ago
    • BuckeyeShelby's Avatar

      I like the fact that you have comedianne listed. My sense of humor got me through treatment. Sometimes, you'll need to take her lead. She may not feel well enough to eat much or be entertained. And one big thing -- please remember to take care of yourself and take breaks when you need to. Having you get burned out does no one, including yourself, any good. Thanks for being there for you sister-in-law.

      over 5 years ago
    • meyati's Avatar

      Try not to over think this, because it can make your mind spin out of control. I write everybody's appointment on a calendar by the phone. Some of my appointments are set up 6 months in advance-some are in the next few days. My son schedules his VA appts for Mon and Wed morning-fortunately he did that before I got cancer-We're a one car family. So we work around each other's appts.

      over 5 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      Hugs, healing vibes and prayers. You have lots of great advice. I would like to add, "traffic cop". I found that I needed someone to manage all the people who want to see and/or speak to me critical. There were days I was just to emotionally and physically exhausted from treatment to interact with anyone. Some days 5-6 people would contact me, and then no one would be in touch for days. DH and DD let people know when was a good time to call or visit, and sent out regular updates, so we were not inundated by well wishers. This meant I got to see and talk to people when i was able and to enjoy the visits.

      DH got a card holder for both of us - they contain 1) my insurance info 2) a wrist band from the hospital so I always have my patient number on me 3)cards from all my doctors and team members. we keep this in our wallets. This way we have critical info on us at all times. You never know when you have to call someone.

      As your your sister-in-law what she needs. This will change as treatment progresses. When I first started infusion therapy. DH came with me to every appointment from the blood draw till they sent me home. After 1.5 cycles we realized that this wasn't working, he was burning out, and I need quite time. So I had him come towards the end of the treatment to pick me up and take me home. He also only went to "critical" appointments - like scan results. The same went for my scans which took 3-5 hours. after the first 2 sets, I called before my last scan, and he came to take me home (in fact we even arranged for friends to this). I am blessed that I live a mile from the hospital I was treated at, so this was a very workable solution.

      One more thing take care of yourself, and make sure you have other people who can step up when you are unable to be there personally.

      over 5 years ago
    • Judt1940's Avatar

      Make sure she lists you as having access to her medical records so you can call for her. Know all there is to know about her diagnosis, stage/grade. She's lucky to have someone committed to being with her. Make sure you have what you need, makes for long days.

      over 5 years ago
    • Judt1940's Avatar

      How far will you travel for chemo? Reading SueRae's commit made me think, I had an hour trip, daughter had to drive me. She would take work with her. Had I been closer might could have done alone, not sure with meds they give. I felt terrible about taking up her time.

      over 5 years ago
    • lilymadeline's Avatar

      You sound like a wonderful sister in law and friend! Just listen to her, let her talk about cancer when she wants to without judgement or answers. But also try to get her mind off of it sometimes, take her somewhere fun or to a movie or something. Cancer patients feel overwhelmed by the disease at times and need a break. And take care of yourself as well, it can be easy to get burnt out as a caregiver. I would look into a support group for caregivers and also a support group for her as well. Hopefully there will be a cancer support community in your area that will offer support groups, exercise classes, etc. All free for cancer patients and their loved ones. Good luck and God bless!

      over 5 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar

      The LiveStrong organization has a great guide and planner. http://www.livestrong.org/we-can-help/guidebook/
      As a caretaker be sure you both have "Me" If you don't take care of your self and your interests you will burn out and both of you will want to kill each other.

      over 5 years ago
    • mabel's Avatar

      All great answers! I found the chef part to be the most difficult, my sister would crave some food, then 5 minutes later decide she doesn't want it. Small portion sizes, homemade broth, boost drinks.
      A crossword puzzle or sudoku book to distract her from the chemo. Just being there and letting her vent. Lots of hugs. Keep the doom and gloom relatives and friends away from her.

      over 5 years ago
    • kalindria's Avatar

      Lots and lots of great info here. Much of what you do will depend on what your sister-in-law needs and wants. Be flexible and cheerful but if she wants to be serious, be prepared for that as well.

      As LilyMadeline said, please schedule some time for yourself too. Caregiver duties can be very taxing and you will need to recharge your batteries.

      Finally, if your sis-in-law is likely to lose her hair, you may want to request a free scarf here: http://www.goodwishesscarves.org/donate.html. They're beautiful and come with the story of a survivor. I found it very uplifting.

      Thank you for your generous and willing spirit. Hugs!

      over 5 years ago

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