• want to know the best way to deal with my dad's emotional ups & downs when he is actively going through the emotions of dealing with cancer

    Asked by christina on Saturday, September 8, 2012

    want to know the best way to deal with my dad's emotional ups & downs when he is actively going through the emotions of dealing with cancer

    do i try to cheer him up or do i give him space. he is a 58 well accomplished man who has more to do in life

    6 Answers from the Community

    6 answers
    • FreeBird's Avatar

      It's difficult to offer thoughts without knowing your dad, or much about his condition. I think the best thing you can do for someone emotionally is to be a good and compassionate listener, without feeling that you need to solve everything. Tell him you love him, and that you're there to help in any way you can. When you look to far into the future, it can be scary for anyone even without cancer. I try to keep my dad focused on today, and having good days. Focus on what he does have and what he can control, rather than what he does not have.

      My dad has been through a stage 2b non-small-cell lung cancer, and kicked it's rear end completely. Then this year, he was hit with a surprise new cancer-- this time stage 4 pancreatic/biliary.

      Sometimes just something simple like going out for a ride together helps.

      over 8 years ago
    • TracyC's Avatar

      I had cancer two years ago and had the experience of seeing things from the side of the patient instead of the caregiver. It is a time when you are so overwhelmed by all the physical changes. I went from having a full time teaching job, a busy family life as a mom and wife, an active church life to basically no life. I was too sick to work, too tired to do much else, and when I looked in the mirror I didn't recognize myself. Weight loss, hair loss, tubes, scars..... it was overwhelming.
      I would have days when I would do fine, but then, I would have a day where I felt almost a darkness taking over and an intense feeling of emptiness or maybe it was depression. It would threaten to take over, and sometimes I would have to make myself get up and do something, even if it was just a load of clothes.
      Now, it sounds like you ARE helping because you care enough to ask what to do. Be real with him. It was amazing to me how differently i was treated once I was diagnosed. I felt like I was wearing a scarlet C on my shirt!! People either avoid you or focus on how you look and say crazy things about how great you look when you know you look terrible. Or you hear horror stories. I don't know what it is about having cancer that compels otherwise well-meaning people to share their most horrific experiences with cancer with you. I can't even begin to tell you how many dead relative stories I had to hear!!! I learned to shrug it off. People mean well.

      The best thing that happened to me is I had a husband and ten year old daughter that gave me hope and kept me grounded. So that I could sometimes hear about their lives and it wouldn't have to be all about me.

      The next best thing was that I had a few friends who treated me normally!! We talked. We laughed. And they didn't make cancer the elephant in the room. I could feel like my old self with them.
      I had one friend that would just show up and clean my house or cook dinner.

      A few days, I would go away somewhere relaxing like to camp at the river, or I would wear a wig, and long sleeves to cover tubes and just go out of town. I could be treated like a regular person for a few hours. It was great.

      Also, my oncologist put me on a drug called Ativan. He said for nausea. I found out it was also an antidepressant.

      Without knowing your dad it is hard to say what would work for him. I know I felt I had to put on a brave front for everyone and always joked in public and really minimized my pain and symptoms for especially my parents. I knew I couldn't tell my mom things without her getting really upset or trying to fix it. It may be that way with your dad. You need to know you can't always fix how he feels and that is okay. I will pray for you both.

      over 8 years ago
    • maddie1's Avatar

      I agree with TracyC. It is hard to cope with and I know as a caregiver it is difficult to watch someone you love suffer. I know personally as having both roles of caregiver and patient that giving both support and space are important to all parties involved. You know your dad - sometimes just asking what a person would like or need is helpful.

      over 8 years ago
    • Mollie's Avatar

      Hi. My grandmother had non-small cell too. I found that it was a play it by ear situation. There were times when I could tell she just wanted me to sit with her in silence and other times that I knew it was the right thing to do to try and make her laugh. And yet there were times to "really talk" about everything. You know your dad. Just do your best to read his mood an respond in like. It's so hard...I know. And there were times I knew I didn't say or do the right thing but she knew I was doing my best. Good luck.

      over 8 years ago
    • cyberwings' Avatar

      Hiya Christina,
      Your dad is going to try to be brave for you. He's Dad. Always has been. As a parent, I did not want to lean on my children with my Dx. It is in the natural realm of parenting to want to 'protect' our children. It is as natural as the day is long. You do not mention if your mom is in the picture ... but in any case, I agree totally with FreeBird, that the best thing anyone can do is just 'listen'. Don't try to 'fix' it. Let the moment be as it is. An up moment, a down moment, they are all natural displays of emotion. They don't need 'fixing', they just need good ole fashion 'listening'. And honesty too. If you do not know how to respond to Dad's emotions, it is okay to say that too. It is okay to say ..."Dad, you are having ups and downs since being diagnosed, and I do not know how to respond to it. I love you Dad. I don't always know what to do Dad, but please know that I love you and I am here for you." (how i wish folks would have done something along those lines instead of trying to 'fix' me. the stress of dealing with the cancer dx was more than i could bear let alone trying to 'fit' into all the molds that folks wanted me in.')
      Anyway, my two cents, for what its worth. You sound like an incredible daughter. Your dad must be very very proud. How brave of you to jump into these forum sites and ask your questions. God Bless You!

      over 8 years ago
    • Metalneck62's Avatar

      I have terminal lung cancer, I am doing as many clinical trials as I can, I say give him space, a hug is all he needs, let him know you are there, but the "God will be there and at least you will go to Heaven" speeches seem to make me angry, I leave when its time, but I need to know someone cares, give him a hug and kiss and tell him you'll be there when he needs you and leave it at that.

      over 8 years ago

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