How do I help my mom beat colon cancer

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How do I help my mom beat colon cancer

Postby gwj7 » Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:23 pm

**please read this. my life is falling apart

We just found out my 56 year old mother has colon cancer after she had a colonoscopy after having some minor symptoms. There is about a one inch tumor in her ascending colon. They also saw one of her lymph nodes swollen on a scan but they can't confirm it spread there unless they go in and take the lymph nodes out and test (from my knowledge at least).**How bad does this sound to you guys?** We are waiting to hear back from cat scan results in the next few days and she is getting a second opinion from a recommended doctor on thursday this week. Her current doctor is talking about some chemo before surgery and then doing that small hole surgery where they don't really cut you open much.

I CANNOT imagine my life without my mom. She has three kids. I am 18 and I have a twin brother and an older brother who just graduated college. I am supposed to go to college next month but I don't know if I should??????? My mom stressed to my brother and I that we NEED to go and continue on with our lives. She was talking about how she has my dad and so many people in her life to worry about her and help her, and we need to worry about school. How can I ever do this? I am going to school about a half hour away and I'm supposed to dorm there. Should I just live at home? Would this be a big deal? I don't even care about "the college experience" and I just want to be there for my mom because I have come to realize she is my life. I just don't think I can sit in class and go back to a dorm to study with her on my mind.

I also feel like everyone is so upset or very pessimistic about this. Maybe it is just the initial shock of cancer? (this is our first week knowing). I talked to my dad last night and I told him to remain positive like he was doing and I said it will all work out. He said that this is a very big deal and it might not work out. What kind of thinking is this????????????? I am so broken up with the thought of my mom dying and I won't accept it. I feel like everyone is giving up before the fight has even begun :(

I already proposed us going to the beach this weekend and I'm trying to lighten the mood. How can I do more of this? Is there anything that I can say to my mom to make her feel better? Anything I can say to motivate her to beat this? She tells me she is going to fight it for all she is worth but she has talked to me in tears as though she was saying goodbye like she was suddenly about to die.

Please pray for my mom that she doesn't have really bad cancer!! I need advice about life right now!!!!!!!! Thanks

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Re: How do I help my mom beat colon cancer

Postby weisssoccermom » Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:21 am

First of all, take a nice cleansing breath and let it out. Try to relax a bit.
Next, welcome to the club. Not a place I know you want to be but glad you found us.
Now, onto some of your questions. There really is no way that any of us can know how 'bad' this is for your mom, what stage she is, etc. until she has her surgery. Yes, they will take out many of the surrounding nodes - the doctor needs to do this in order to get a better idea IF your mom's cancer has spread into the lymph nodes or not.
From what you have written, your mom has had a CT scan which showed a 'suspicous' node but you didn't mention that it showed that the cancer had spread to any distant organs. THAT is a good sign so in the midst of all of this, be thankful for that.
There really is no reliable way to know your mom's stage until after the surgery and the pathologist has completed his report. Until then, try to relax. There truly is nothing you can do about what already has happened. Undoubtedly, your mom's surgery will be scheduled soon and not long after that you'll have some of the answers that you want but until then, you're going to have to try and continue breathing.
A piece of advice - I know you mean well and want to do all the 'right' things, but honestly, most cancer patients just want NORMALACY and it sounds like your mom is no exception. If normal means you go to school and live in the dorm, then that's what you should do, especially if that's what your mom wants. Like it or not, your mom is right - you need to continue on with your life.
As to the things you said your dad is saying - well maybe he's just being realistic. I understand it is hard to hear and certainly I don't know anything about the specifics here but you need to talk to your dad about why he is saying what he is. It's possible you're just misunderstanding what he is meaning.
Right now, my best advice to you is to, above all else, keep your life and the life of those in your immediate family as normal as possible. Sure, be there for your mom - help out around the house, run errands for her but let her continue to do the things that she WANTS to do. Oftentimes that drive - that desire to be normal, that need to accomplish things around the house, etc. are the motivation that a cancer patient needs to keep fighting. For example, if your mom wants to go 'dorm shopping' with you - let her. Maybe this is a task that she feels she MUST accomplish - it's a goal for her and may keep her going. For me, I HAD to teach my youngest to drive - it was SO important to me. Others want to continue to work, or finish a project, whatever - it's a goal that they keep striving for and that's a huge phsycological impact for a cancer patient.
You need to be there for your mom, but on her terms. Ask her what SHE wants, not what YOU want. I understand that may sound harsh but this is about your mom now. Be there for her, help her out when she needs it or asks for it but don't treat her as though she's an invalid. Remember your mom is scared too. The fact though that she said she was going to fight this is GOOD - just because she was crying doesn't mean she is saying goodbye. I might suggest to you, as the only girl, and a young adult, you and your mom take a day to go away - just the two of you. Spend some time with your mom by yourself listening to what she wants to talk to YOU about. Make this time GIRL time.....things will happen on their own and maybe you can get a clearer picture of what's happening, what your mom wants, etc.

The biggest thing I can tell you is to take this ONE DAY AT A TIME. There is so much unknown right now but no matter what, there are treatments and choices. Having a cancer diagnosis isn't necessarily all doom and gloom. I know it's hard to wrap your head around this but now is the time for you to step up, show your mom what an awesome job she has done raising you and just be there for her when she needs to cry, when she needs a break or whatever but most importantly, let your mom still be your MOM. Show her that you still need her - for guidance, for laughter and just for being your mom. That's about the best thing right now that you can do for her.
Dx 6/22/2006 IIA rectal cancer
6 wks rad/Xeloda -finished 9/06
1st attempt transanal excision 11/06
11/17/06 XELOX 1 cycle
5 months Xeloda only Dec '06 - April '07
10+ blood clots, 1 DVT 1/07
transanal excision 4/20/07 path-NO CANCER CELLS!
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Re: How do I help my mom beat colon cancer

Postby soccermom » Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:40 am

You have already gotten some good advice. As a mom myself the thing I wanted most was just to see my kids carrying on with their normal lIfe and not letting my situation stop them. It might not be too bad for your mom so try not to worry yet. I was a mess and it didn't turn out as bad as I thought. Best of luck.
Stage 2A colon cancer
T3 N0 M0
0/21 lymph nodes
Jan 2012 to June 2012 Folfox
9 rounds of oxi

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Re: How do I help my mom beat colon cancer

Postby RixInPhx » Wed Aug 01, 2012 5:00 am

I'm so sorry that you've qualified as a caregiver to join our group, but you've come to the right place.
Your mother's cancer has been caught in good time for maximum positive results of treatment.

x2 on everything stated above, especially weisssoccormom's very complete response.

This is NOT a death sentence by any means, so think of your mom among the 80%+ survivors of lower-stage CRC unless you hear differently on her staging.

Many surgenos prefer to shrink the tumor with an initial course of an easy chemo, like 5-FU + Luecovorin, and that seems like is proposed for your mom.
By all means get a second opinion if you want.
And seeking an oncology surgeon board-certified in CRC is the best course of action IMO.

Your mom and her needs can easily be fullfilled by you away at college, if you have a car and it's only 30 mins travel.
Make the time spent with her special, like maybe gifts of labor such as doing HER laundry, housecleaning, etc.

A weekend at the beach sounds like exactly what your family could use.
Of course, you and siblings and dad do the work :D

Finally, a guy's perspective: We tend to be more realistic/rational about physical things, and we set aside emotional issues that are usually of more concern to women; actually, we're kinda oblivious to such :roll:
Your dad's approach is probably similar to the way he's handled other family issues, and isn't likely to change.
C'est la vie.

HTH, Rick
M 61, Dx 6/10 CRC st 4, unknown primary CEA 843
2 kg peritoneal mass, met to skull; no surgery
Various regimens of all CRC chemo drugs
Mets to lung 8/11 CEA 135
Folfiri/Erb/Ava 12/11 CEA 320
No progression 5/12 CEA 192

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Re: How do I help my mom beat colon cancer

Postby Cb75 » Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:45 am

I've been on both sides of the fence, where my mom has had colon cancer and now I also have colon cancer. My simple advise is to continue on living your life as normal as possible. As the days and weeks go by, your mom will find a new normal. One of the hardest parts of havingg this disease is seeing how it affects the ones you love. In some ways its easier to be the person with the disease than the one watching your loved one suffer and not being able to fix it. At this point you don't know the extent of your mom's diagnosis. Be there to support her in any way she needs and tell her and show her how much you love her. Sometimes a hug can work wonders. Keep your spirits positive and realistic.
39y female Stage IV
diagnosed April 2012
sigmoid resect May 2012
liver resect Aug 2012
Folfox Oct 2012
lungs Sep 2013
R and L laser lung resection Nov 2013/Feb 2014
FOLFIRI and Avastin Apr 2014 ongoing...

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Re: How do I help my mom beat colon cancer

Postby CRCSue » Wed Aug 01, 2012 8:12 am

All good advice from the people who responded to you. For me, the first month after diagnosis was the hardest for me and my family (husband and 2 boys , 18 and 16). Once the treatment plan was established and begun, things were much easier. Like others said, you need to live your life and help when needed. If you are hanging around the house treating your mom like an invalid, she will begin to feel like one. The hardest part is the uncertainty.
Good luck with your mom and in college.
Age 51
Dx rectal cancer, stage II 10/11
5-FU/Rad completed 1/3/12
LAR, temp ileo 3/12
ileo reversal 5/16/12
Port removed 7/6/12
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Partial mastectomy 2/1/13
Margins unclear, revision surgery 2/22/13
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Re: How do I help my mom beat colon cancer

Postby KimT » Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:30 am

I agree with everyone else about normalcy. I tried to carry on as usual and it is important that your mom's life not become about her cancer. She is not just the sad lady who got cancer. She is a mother and a wife. She has many roles and having cancer is only a part of her life, not the whole. When I was diagnosed with cancer the second time, I literally blew up at my oncologist's office because of the sad looks of pity on everyone's face. I'm not dead yet and I don't like it when people look at me as if I'm dying and should be pitied.

As for your dad, it's okay for him to express his emotions and he's right. It may not work out. That is a fact of life. After I was diagnosed with the ovarian cancer, I had a talk with my 8 year old son. It may not work out. I could die of this disease. I could beat it again and get it again as I have lynch syndrome. I have high risks of cancer. I'm not afraid of dying and I don't want my son to be either. I wish I didn't have to talk about these things with my son as he is so young but I do think it is important to talk about the bad side of it as well. Your mom will have bad days. Let her talk about what frightens her. For me, I got so sick of the pep talks. I wanted to talk about how scared I was. For the most part, people don't want to hear about the bad stuff because it scares them.

Good luck to you and your mother. I know it is overwhelming now but you will see that life does go on....even with cancer. You will find a new kind of normal. But let this be a lesson to all of your family. Love each other. Appreciate each other. Never take each other for granted.
2/10 dx colon cancer
right hemicolectomy 3/19/10
Stage 2a 0/43 nodes
Lynch syndrome
3/14/10 colon resection/ removal of metal clips
Nov 11 dx ovarian cancer

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Re: How do I help my mom beat colon cancer

Postby Guinevere » Wed Aug 01, 2012 11:28 am

I agree with all the other moms who have encouraged you to go to college. Not only does this give your Mom an feeling that life goes on, it's something for her to look forward to, something to strive for.
Last year when I was diagnosed, my son had plans to get married in September. This gave me something to work towards when the chemo and radiation seemed like they were going to get the best of me. I was able to attend the rehearsal as well as the wedding and danced at the reception!
One thing to remember, she might try to get something she believes is important done and part way through not be able to finish. Please feel free to ask her if she minds you (or someone else) finishing it up for her. In our attempt at "normal" life, we tend to do this. What a fantastic moment when we can complete it - like finally cooking a real meal for the family we love! Do the things when you visit that you see need doing and learn to spot them. I've learned with some family members who want to help, they wait on me to tell them what needs doing when I feel they're perfectly capable of seeing the dust or seeing the kitty litter needs emptying and little things like that. Sometimes, it's just to much for me to enumerate at the moment.
This is not to put it all on you. These are things you can share with other family members as you go forward. Really, it's not the end of the world. There are good treatments now that offer lots of hope. It's good, though, to be realistic in the midst of the hope. I'll bet you and your dad and brothers are going to be such a blessing to your mom.
God bless and good luck in college ~
(Mighty Queen fighting the Beast!)
Hrt atk - Feb 11
CRC4 DX - Apr 11
APR liver rsct, procto - Jul 11
Folfox/Avastin - Sep 11
Xeliri - Nov 11
Iritux - Jun 12
Break - Jan - Mar 13
Iritux - Mar 13
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Folfiri - Oct 13
Exhausted treatment options - May 14

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Re: How do I help my mom beat colon cancer

Postby scattered edge » Wed Aug 01, 2012 11:57 am

Everyone has such great advice for you ... I was diagnosed Feb 2011..and spent the summer doing chemo. My oldest daughter started college that fall. It was really hard for both of us, but something we had to do to stay as normal as possible. Everything worked out - and her roomie (and roomies mom) turned out to be a great support system for my daughter :D the girls are even roomies again this year.

I am also a college student (no spring chicken college student :mrgreen: ) and my youngest daughter is involved in every activity/group/organization she can (hmmm..wonder who she got that from :roll: ) .. she told me she would not take on as much this year if I would not take as many classes as I have in the past - sheesh, they must think I cannot work full time and continue with a heavy class schedule AND do chemo (I can't ..but.. in the past have disregarded the signs that I am overdoing)

I also have the matter of fact attitude your dad does. It's just who I am. It is what it is. There is nothing I can do to make it different. I have discussed this with my girls - they are doing a lot of work around this place. Painting the house, hauling horses - they hook up the trailer, they check tire pressure, oil and fluids, lights etc .. they drive to the events. They change tires. I or their dad are along, we've just kind of turned the tables and let the girls learn .. they are very responsible, independent and have a lot of self confidence. I just smile and nod :D .. I am very proud, as I am sure your parents are, that we have raised such fabulous young ladies.

be well... know your mom loves you ... continue with your life as necessary for you and your family :D :)

resection 2/11/11
T3N2M0 (17/24LN)
joined the IV olympians ..... 7/12 mets to distant nodes
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Re: How do I help my mom beat colon cancer

Postby elise » Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:06 pm

You'll meet tons of people on this site who have cancer and live a pretty nice life! Don't completely freak out. Open your ears so that the family can talk and open your heart to see what makes your mom really happy. Maybe it's helping with little things like emptying the dishwasher or washing bathrooms. And maybe with the 20 minutes you saved her, you can take a stroll around the block together.

She's lucky that it's a small mass. Hope it's stage 1 or 2.

I had laprascopic surgery (2" incision and 3 small incisions) to remove 1/3 of my colon and I felt ok within a week. Felt like myself after 4 weeks! Honestly it was easier than having wrist surgery! And chemo is do-able.

Don't push your family to accept this too fast. Everyone needs time to digest.

Chin up, you can do it.
Feb - Stage 2 (T3 N0 M0) CC @ 30
Mar - R hemicolectomy, 18 LN
May-Nov 6 - Chemo (8 Xeloda)
Feb - NED
Feb - NED
May - Stage 4 - 1 liver met @ 32
Jun - Liver resection
Aug-Jan - FOLFOX 5 rounds, 5FU X 6
Ap, Oct - NED
Mar - NED

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Re: How do I help my mom beat colon cancer

Postby Ashlee H. » Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:32 pm

So much good advice - I hope you really take the time to absorb what people are telling you. Nothing you do can change anything about this cancer journey. Your mom will have to fight the battle. The first year is the toughest. Hopefully, she'll only have to deal with it for one year. The best thing you can do it to continue on with your life and make your mom proud of the woman you have become. Fatigue is one of the worst things you mom will have to deal with on a daily bases. I know I was one who just wanted things to remain normal and I overdid when I should have been using my energy to heal. So have everyone pitch in - keep the house clean, take out the trash, make your beds, clean the bathrooms, put gas in the car. Eventually, your mom will find a new normal. If she wants to cook and garden, don't take that away from her. Everyone in your family needs to listen to your mom's needs. As for college, check in daily with her and tell her stories of your day. That will be great medicine for her and build great memories. Don't tell your mom what she needs. Don't start bombarding her with all these magical cures. Your mom can do her own research. Sometimes people just don't want to know things - that is their choice. Cancer is life changing to everyone - your family will never be the same - but this doesn't have to be a bad thing. Be helpful, loving, joyful and continue with your life - that is how you help your mom.
Stage IV w/liver met dx 7-1-09
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