• Struggling with how to help my sister through this next step in her life, I'm looking for some ideas?

    Asked by sissuperhero on Tuesday, November 20, 2012

    Struggling with how to help my sister through this next step in her life, I'm looking for some ideas?

    Hi my younger sister is a breast cancer survivor and just finished 11 months of treatments, chemo and radiation. She has been taking tamoxifin for the past couple of months. She is lost and very depressed... and cries several times everyday ... doctor has put her on an antidepressant a few days ago. I have been there through everything. I want to help so badly and try everyday to suggest and push her to do things that I think may help her cope better. I do get it and know that nobody is in her shoes and can say how she feels, but I do know I'm there for her.
    She is hard on herself and finds it difficult to be positive. She is tired of being tired and wants her energy level back and wants to understand what her new normal will be. She is afraid the cancer will come back.

    What should be saying & doing to help her through this, she is my superhero & my best friend I want to do everything I can to help her through this difficult time.

    8 Answers from the Community

    8 answers
    • Peroll's Avatar

      Antidepressants will take a coupld of weeks to become effective (I know this from personal experience) and often the dosage or medicatiion needs to be adjusted since there is no test to know how much is necessary. So for now the best thing you can do is be there for her and provide objective feedback on how she is doing to her DRs. Once the antidepressants begin to work you can plan activities, easy at first, that will get her back into shape. Remember it is sort of like being laid up for the past 11 months and it will take some time for her to get back to where she was. Support her and let her come back at her own pace. Her energy level should get back to normal after a few months. If there are particular pain areas then get physical therarpy help with them to bring them back with out injury.

      almost 4 years ago
    • Nancebeth's Avatar

      It must be so hard to be the caregiver, standing by and watching not knowing what to do. We, the sick, have to just be sick. It's hard to be sick, but I imagine it is hard to watch a loved one be so sick. I had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction followed by chemo. I was taking Tamoxifen but I stopped because the side effects were too much for me to handle. I needed my life back.
      I write a blog that might help you and/or your sister. nancebeth.blogspot.com
      She is lucky to have you. I fought my cancer without any family.

      almost 4 years ago
    • cancervivor's Avatar

      Do you think you could get her to get on the site and talk to some of the people here? Or is she totally against that? We had someone in the family that really needed help to talk to but refused to talk to anyone. They eventually worked it out on their own. I'm sure it was harder that way.

      Hope you get her through it.

      Thanks for being a good Sister and Caregiver. As a Cancer survivor, we all appreciate those who take care of us, whether we say to or not.

      almost 4 years ago
    • Harry's Avatar

      I think you are doing everything you can. And I can understand that, as the older sibling, you want to protect your "little" sister. I'm an oldest brother (of six) myself. But, this isn't something you can fix--as much as you'd like to. All you can do is be there for her and you are already doing that. You really can't "push" her.

      almost 4 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      I was told that for every month you are in treatment it takes a month to get back....so she was in treatment fro 11 months...she needs to give herself 11 months to finish healing...good idea for the anti-depressants, but they take time to work...and maybe talk therapy as well...the fear lurkes in the back of many survivors minds, but we need to not let it take over....I'm 6 1/2 years post Dx...its takes time...and like in Tx, post Tx sometimes is one day at a time....Honor her feelings...let her know you care and are there for her just as you have been....Another good website is breast cancer.org Lots of good info and discussion boards...maybe she would want to check that out...or in person support group in her community....thanks for being a caring sister...

      almost 4 years ago
    • lynn1950's Avatar

      Thank goodness for sisters. I was in your sister's shoes when I finished treatments. It took a while to find the right meds and then for them to kick in. In the meanwhile, therapy, meditation, and Yoga helped me. Crying may be disturbing and difficult for you, but it really helped me to clear the air. I actually would listen to music that would help me cry.

      Just keep supporting her by being positive. This is a time of baby steps for your sister. With time it does get better and her fear of recurrence will subside.

      almost 4 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      Yes being a care giver and loving sister is a very hard job, in many respects harder then being the patient. I speak from personal experience having been both. Let your sister know that you are there for her. Validate her fears, but try to let her know, that she can live a full and wonderful life even with this uncertainty. Even though anti-depressants take a few weeks to kick in a pharma consultation with a doctor who treats cancer patients would be very helpful (I have done this and and I started seeing some results in a about a week,) Another thing I am doing is seeing a therapist who specializes in helping cancer (in my case I was in a breast cancer protocol, and am fortunate to be able to see my therapist again) to help cope with the day to day issues that are specific to treatment and managing the disease. She is helping me untangle all the things on my plate, prioritizing them, how to delegate tasks, chemo etc. I make of list of things to accomplish between sessions and report back on my progress

      Speak with your sister and her oncology team about referrals for both pharma and therapy.

      almost 4 years ago
    • carm's Avatar

      Hello, my name is Carm and I am an oncology/ end of life nurse so maybe I can give you some info to ponder. The fact that your sister is on Tamoxifen tells me that hormones were in part driving her cancer. Now, with the Tamoxifen, no more estrogen and that is kind of like a chemical menopause. It does take 2 weeks for anti-depressants to reach their therapeutic level. You need to help her understand that lack of estrogen is probably contributing to her mood change and this is very common. There isn't a patient here who hasn't at one time or another been afraid of recurrence, but this is her life she is living, not the disease. When and if it returns, she will know, she doesn't have to keep looking over her shoulder. She needs to look ahead at the life waiting for her to resume her life. Never give this disease any more power that it has. It came into her house, so who is the landlord and who is the squatter? The energy will return when she starts to see that the disease does not define her. As a caregiver, your role is to support her but you can't tell her what to do, only support her decisions. Sometimes tough love is needed. If she wants to cry that is her right, but you don't have to attend the pity party. There is no reason why she can't live a normal life with this disease. She needs to get mad, get angry and lace up those gloves and step into that ring. Everytime that disease gives her a problem, she needs to swing back and let it know she is the one in control. These responses are correct, she needs to get on this site and introduce herself to an incredible circle of warriors. They will make her battle ready. What these members can teach here you cannot buy for all the gold in this world. Best of luck to you, Carm.

      almost 4 years ago

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