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Advice for Caring for my Wife
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Advice for Caring for my Wife

My wife  was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer one year ago this month.  She has progressed from oral chemo, to infusions and is now also getting radiation for tumors in her bronchial tubes.  No one has told us what the prognosis is. We have finally worked up the courage and are going to ask that question the next time we see her doctor.  I don't expect it to be good if he tells us at all.  Are there any husbands out there who can give me some advice on how to help her deal with this?  How do I keep her spirits up?  Any comments and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
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Avatar_n_tn
I'm not a Husband...but a daughter who's mother has stage IV metastasized breast cancer. It's covering 75% of her body. She's 58 and is a widow. My Father passed in '92. I know she wishes he was still here to help. She feels bad for me and my brother to have to deal with this.  This type of situation takes a village. It's a lot of emotional stress. I can imagine how you are feeling. The only advise I can give you is to let her feel what she is feeling. Don't take things personal if she gets easily angered at times. The prognosis is the all famous mystery. I really think that the Doctors don't like to play God. I know that in a very recent surgery my Mom had the surgeon told me a few things that he didn't mention to my Mom. I only think they spare some of the brutal truth  to keep as little stress from their patients as possible. There are always miracles that can happen. You could always ask to speak to her Oncologist in private if there are some things you feel you want to know...without upsetting her. I always feel like I want to be prepared...but you never can be. It really is different for every one... my Mom has been dealing with this for the past 16 years. It's a horrible monster of a disease. This time I know it's different. Malignant Pleural Effusion...is about as final  stage as it gets... every web site and forum like this one say there's a 3 - 6 month survival rate. There are days she still acts like my Mom and drives me nutts....but I keep remembering that I do have this time now...and that I don't want any regrets. It's easy to say we're all gonna die some day. Though it's so different to know that the person you love so much has to go through this and all you can do is be there... try to keep them as happy as possible and pray that they get through this. Recently my Brother spoke to a friend who said that there is a church in California that mainly focuses their prayers on Cancer patients. A massive group of people sit and pray for the people who's names they receive. He said this guy told him that many miracles have happened so far. This is our next step...at this point what will it hurt. Once I find out the information I'd be happy to share it with you. In the mean time I'll pray for you and your wife.  My Brother and I are going to start  going to counseling as well. There are counselors that specialize in this. It wouldn't be a bad idea for you and your wife to go...together or alone. Take care
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi, Sorry to hear about your wife's condition.
I am afraid that your wife is in stage IV and prognosis is not good in comparison to other stages. It is also to  difficult to predict the disease free survival period.
Do face your surgeon about this and discuss about the management options.

Good luck
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326352_tn?1310997895
There is a book called Breast Cancer Husband that was really good.  I think it helped my husband deal with his feelings as well as how to help me with what we were dealing with.

I wish you and your wife a miracle.  You never know what might happen.  Keep your friends close to you.  Always find humor in everything.  Hey, I came up with the 10 best reasons to be bald!  And I did a bad-buddha impression since I was pregnant (don't touch the belly, bad luck!).  If you go to church, have your pastor and some of the congregation to come pray over her for healing.  All this might not help, but it doesn't hurt and sometimes the lifting of a spirit makes the bad seem more bearable.

My favorite inspirational songs during my chemo (and somehow it played too and from my treatments) was "If You're Going Through Hell, Keep on Moving" (country song, sorry if you aren't a country fan) and "Life Ain't Always Beautiful, But It's A Beautiful Ride".

I'll keep you all in my prayers.
Lisa
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks folks.  I guess I was just at one of my low points.  Talking about this kind of stuff with friends is hard, they can't understand the way someone who's been through it does.  I am hoping for a miracle and would appreciate your prayers for my wife.  If you have time, say one for me to help me keep a smile on my face and to be strong for her. I realize now that there is no set formula for how to get through this.  Everyone is different.  We'll just take one day at a time.  Lisa, I just read the book "Breast Cancer Husband".  That helped.  I just read the lyrics to the two songs you mentioned.  Those helped.  I just remembered something else.  When we first found out about her cancer, we were sitting in the waiting room at the Doctor's office.  I had my arms around her and she had her head on my shoulder.  I guess we looked pretty down.  An old man across the room looked at us and blurted out, "God don't give you nothing you can't handle."  I hope he's right.

God bless you.

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326352_tn?1310997895
I'll be glad to keep you in my prayers.  

Oh, on the "God don't give you nothing you can't handle", it makes me think of the LoneStar's "Mountains" song:  (this is just a small excerpt)

I've been around and I've noticed that
Walk-in's easy when the road is flat
Them danged 'ole hills will get you every time.
Yeah, the good Lord gave us mountains so we could learn how to climb

This world ain't fair
It can knock you on your butt
You can just lie there or you can get back up
You gotta get back up


And it's been a BIG climb for you and me!  Get back up everyday and keep climbing.  (But don't you just wish God wouldn't make the mountains seem so big?)

Lisa -- love music, if you can't tell, to lift my spirits.  If you need anything else, please holler at me.  even if you just need a sounding board.  And I TRULY believe that there is a purpose to all of this, and sometimes that purpose is for us to help our fellow man in any way we can by having gone through it before them.
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330974_tn?1215368760
hi i am also 3c/4 2yr breast cancer survivor iam 38,married one 16 yr old son.my husband has ben unbeleivable thru these last 2 yrs, he is always there,helps me when i cant get up from bathroom floor while throwing up,has helped in all kinds of horribly humbling situations,then when i am strong again he lets me go about my life as usual. all i know is the unwavering quiet way that he has supported me has given me the strength to get thru.i have god and my church to help and my spirits seem to stay the strongest when i get to work and enjoy my regular life. there is a book that has really helped me' cancer as a turning point 'by lawrence lesham it is not very godly but the whole focus is keeping a great attitude to beat cancer .i am in calif and in my area an african healer came last year and found me in crowd knew i had bc and prayed for me it was very very cool. i hope your wife keeps her spirits up and you all have a merry xmas, ps i am ordering th book cancer husbands for my husband so thanks much, jay
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Avatar_n_tn
i am 44 years old. I have stage 4 breast cancer. It started in my ribs and spine. I was supposed to start tamoxifin (tamoxifen) on july 8, 2006. During the month of testing cancer spread. left pleural effusion, abdominal lining. I happened to be at the hospital on july 8th to meet the team and start tamoxifin (tamoxifen).  Lucky for me. Bloodwork inidicated that my calcium was so high, i was going to have a fatal heart attack that day. hospital called my contact numbers to find me and bring me back.  Started infused chemo. Taxotere with Avastin. The thought was i wouldn't live to see second chemo. Cancer went away everywhere except bones. Stil here. The day i started that chemo, i stopped all pain meds.  The day I stopped chemo, cancer started to move again.

the prognosis is that stage 4 cancer patients do not live longer than 3 years from the day of their fist chemo treatment. those that do it is rare.  Somebody told me that people like me are literally one foot step ahead of death.  

I spoke to a cancer researcher who was nominated for a nobel prize many years ago. He told me that there will never be a drug to cure my cancer or stop it from spreading. His words were that it is impossible as at stage 4, there are too many cells.

Today i have cancer in my liver, spine, ribs, abdominal lining, pelvic fluid and most recently shoulder blades and I have a small right pleural effusion.  here is the upside. Although cancer is throughout my liver, my liver function tests are good.  I have hair again. I feel normal. i'm happier now that i'm not looking for cures and trying to control it. I went to israel for two weeks in october. Just spent my birthday weekend (dec 15th) in new york. Okay it was difficult as i've started to have shoulder pain. But I had a great time. I look better. I'm working and enjoying life.  

I am on my fifth chemo drug...oral.  Will not take any chemo that will make my hair fall out. I'm not saying your wife should not.  I needed that first treatment to save my lfie.  they say i'm a walking miracle because i'm not supposed to be here. Chemo drugs only work for a while. However, as long as there is a chemo drug to switch to, I'm not concerned anymore.

here is what you can do.

1... Do not tell her that there are new drugs coming out everyday. You will beat it and be a survivor.  Why, because it is not true. There are not new drugs coming out everyday. Drug studies go through a pipeline which run every few years.I have estrogen positive, herceptn negative cancer.  All the new drugs are for herceptin positive patients. there will probably not be anything new for me for another year or so.

2.  You can help her by pushing her to see friends, go out to restaurants etc...

3.  do not cry in front of her. do not treat her like a tragic cancer patient. treat her like she was before cancer.

4.  At our stage there is no such thing as fighting cancer. What we have to fight is depression.

this past summer i had enough. My mother is in denial and has said horrible things to me. I do not speak to her anymore. I couldn't take the financial pressure or the way I looked. I had overcome the fear of death but I was terrified of the dying process. I was there once and I have no interest in going there again especially because when i was there the first time around, i didn't know it, Now I will be terrified. I told my doctor that i thought it was unfair that a dog is given a lethal injection and i just have to suffer, when i have suffered so much.  this past weekend, my friend's wife said something interesting to me. She works with her husband who is a veterinarian.  She said that if i had my way, I would have taken that lethal injection in august and i would not have been here in new york with my friends celebrating my birthday. She was right. I live in toronto.

I'm sorry that you both have to go through this. Just have fun with your wife. Let her talk of her fears and the reality of her disease. It is insulting when people tell me that there are new drugs everyday, I will live many more years etc....Do they think i'm stupid?  It is better to say nothing than to lie.

good luck.  Don't worry.  Your wife has more time than you may think.  She is only starting her first infused chemo.  As Lance Armstrong wrote, we are all going to die, the only difference between people with stage 4 cancer and normal people is that we walk around with it hanging over our heads.

As I am a walking miracle, I can say that miracles do happen. Have faith!
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330974_tn?1215368760
i love your story especially what you said about  the dying process i am also ok with dying but i do not want to suffer or be bedridden or be in a hospital , i like you wish we could be put to sleep when that time comes. my friend died a couple days ago she was only stage 1 she was very ill for the last two weeks and i am sorry for that.i love my life and have never been happier or had a better xmas i am so grateful for all the things in my life.merry xmas jay
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