Hi everybody...after I learned that my younger cousin was just diagnosed with ovarian cancer I've been doing research and have learned a great deal from these posts. Thanks so much for all of you who are enduring your own pain, yet seem to find the time and goodness in your hearts to help others. You're all to be commended and appreciated for your wonderful and brave attitudes. I lost both of my parents to cancer (mom to uterine, dad to prostate), and have a sister who is a cancer survivor (non-Hodgkin lymphoma). I'm wondering if any of you might share some thoughts on what we as a family can do to support our cousin, who is 28 years old. Do we become knowledgeable and make suggestions? Do we simply support her emotionally? If we try to help too much will she become agitated? I want to do what I can but the last thing I want is to be a burden or cause her additional pain. Thanks so much. Also, since I've been reading and learning of others' experiences in this forum, I was so very touched by Donna's story; what a beautiful and brave woman. It's so sad, but when one gets to this point we can only pray that they are peaceful, and I hope this is the case for Donna. Has anyone heard from her husband with an update? Thanks again, ladies, for all that you do on this forum. It's so very appreciated.
Has your cousin already been through the debulking/staging surgery? If so what stage is she? No, I don't think your help will upset her or cause her pain. I am almost a year out from chemo and find myself wishing I had some of the help that was there for me when the cancer was first found. One thing I really appreciated was when a friend was willing to sit and talk to me during my long treatments. I also appreciated the meals, groceries and help with my grandson. I loved the notes in the mail and the calls just to see if I needed anything. I appreciated when people were honest with me and said they were scared. I was scared, too. It bothered me some when people said I looked great, when I looked like something from a Halloween movie. I could list alot more, but I am cooking Manwiches for the kids. I may return to add more later. I wish you all the best. Marie
Marie had some good suggestions. You know your cousin better than we do, so you know the kind of person she is. I would add that there will be many days she'll feel like she's been hit by a truck. Although people have good intentions, there are certain things you might not want to say, even though you think it sounds good. If she has chemo that takes her hair, don't say things like, "It's just hair. It'll grow back." Yes, it is just hair, and it will grow back, but when you lose it, it's personal. Marie is right about the help with groceries and meals. When I was in the middle of chemo, there is no way I felt like going to the grocery or to Wal-Mart, and even if I did, I had chemo brain so bad I'd just stare at the food not knowing what to do with it. Plus, those are places where lots of people spread their germs, and it's not the best place for someone with reduced blood counts to be hanging out. If she is the type of person who doesn't like to ask for help, then just do it for her, and don't give her the chance to say no. It's really hard for one person to do everything for her while still taking care of their own family, so maybe you could volunteer your services to organize the rest of the family on a schedule. Aunt Betty takes dinner to her on Tuesday, and Cousin Todd sits with her during chemo on Thursday, etc.
As far as researching and making suggestions...I guess that depends. I think it's a great thing for friends and family to learn about the disease, and what it does. Maybe one of you could go to doctor appointments with her, because when you get hit with such a diagnosis, sometimes you don't hear everything the doctor is telling you. Having a friend there to take notes helps a lot. She may ask your opinion on some of the treatments she's been offered, and if you know a little something about them, you can better offer your opinion. Just realize it is her decision to make. Nothing says you can't talk to her about research you've done, though.
I think you are a great cousin and friend for coming here and looking for ways to help her. I know she must be grateful for that. Please do keep checking in and letting us know how she's doing...and maybe you can talk her into coming here herself if she has questions. No matter what treatment she may be taking, there's a pretty good chance there will be at least one or two here who have had it and can offer some advice.
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