Please help. Family member with breast cancer.

  1. My family has been going through a difficult time this year with cancer. First my aunt with bone cancer, then my uncle with colon cancer (he just went into hospice today) and now my 35 year old sister in law was dignosed this past August with stage three breast cancer (it's already in her chest). My family is small. My aunt and uncle are my mom's only siblings and I only have one sibling and that's my brother.

    I'm not really sure how to handle all of this. My sister in law and brother are coming with their two young children this weekend and I don't know how to act around her. Geez, I'm an idiot. I guess my biggest question is should we tell her and my brother that my uncle is about to die? Also, do you think she wants to talk about her illness or am I supposed to pretend like everything is fine? My brother said she is sick of everyone having sad faces around her. I've sent her cards and books, but this is the first time that I will see her. She has lost her hair and I know she will be uncomfortable with the wig.

    I'm so sad when I think about what she is going through. I love her very much but I'm not sure she realizes it because our relationship hasn't always been perfect. We have never been openly mean but there is some underlying tension. We are both strong women and for some weird reason she seems to resent good things that happen in my life. Don't ask me why. My brother and I have never been like that and I would want nothing but good things for my brother and his family. It must be something that goes on in her family? Anyway, none of it matters. I just wanted you guys to know so that you could understand how she may be feeling around me.

    So, that's the story. I'm sorry this is so long. Has anyone had cancer or have someone close to them have cancer? Please help me. :lecture:I need someone to give me a "cancer for dummies" course on how to act and what are some things that I can do to help. Thanks so much.
  2. I'm so sorry to hear about all that is going on in your family. (((hugs))) My mother is a breast cancer survivor and was diagnosed 3yrs ago and is cancer free now. I know how you must feel. Tell them what's going on in the family, as they have a right to know. As for SIL, letting her know that you are there for her and love her is what you should do. Acknowledge what she is going through and let her know that she can talk to you about it if that's what she wants. She may just want people to not feel awkward being around her, and behaving as if she does not have cancer may be her coping mechanism. She's going to need that positivity. My mom had stage 2 breast cancer and I cried every day (we're extremely close, talk daily and see each other every week) but I never cried in front of her other than the day she told me. I wanted her to be able to be with me without worrying about how I was handling it because it wasn't about me. She said later that was all she really wanted. You'd be surprised how many people back away when a friend or loved one has cancer and they need the support and love of those close to them. Your family is in my prayers.
  3. -Thanks Rockstar. I'm so glad your mom is better.

    - Caitlin, those are great sites. I don't know why I didn't think of that? Thanks for looking them up.
  4. I think that the person with the cancer might be relieved if you said something like "I want to be there for you, if you want to talk about how you are doing, or the cancer, or the treatment or anything, or just want to be silly, go get ice cream, whatever, you tell me" That way, you let her guide when she is ready to talk.
  5. Thank you Irishgal. I'm a little worried about tomorrow, but you all gave great advice. I can't imagine what she must be going through right now. The last thing I want to do is make it any more uncomfortable for her.
  6. I had a sister that had stomach cancer. I was not living near her at the time, so I would go and stay with her when she was not in the hospital. When she was in the hospital, everyone came into town. When she was home, most of them left. She and I had good times and were able to have some good conversations during those visits.
  7. Kiss - you said you "had" a sister with stomach cancer. I was just wondering if that meant you lost her? I hope not. That would be horrible. Gosh, this thread is sad.:crybaby:

    It's no wonder why people seem to withdraw around people who are dealing with cancer. It's just too difficult to even imagine what they are going through. I just heard 1 in 8 will get breast cancer. :wtf:
  8. *suzi*, I am sorry to hear about the tough time your family is going through. As for whether or not to mention her illness to your sister-in-law, I think it depends on the individual. When I had cancer some years ago (*only* the first stage, thank goodness but to me then it was like the bottom had fallen out of my world), I didn't mind if people mentioned my illness.

    Those sites mentioned by caitlin would be of great help, agreed.
  9. Suzi,
    I am so sorry... My mother is two years CLEAR after going through treatment for breast ca.
    I work in the Oncology field. I can tell you, people just want to be treated normal. When you see her, hug her, tell her you are sorry and if she wants to talk about it, your there to listen.
    THEN, leave it alone... tell her she looks GREAT bald!!! :idea:
    Put her at ease. She is uncomfortable. She is scared.

    She will talk about it, if she wants to. If she doesn't, she won't.

    I use to be alot like you...I was so worried about what I would say, I would do....
    Don't think about yourself.....your discomfort...:sweatdrop: :nogood:
    Just put that energy into her and your brother.

    They have a long struggle ahead of them. They need as much support as they can get.
    I will be thinking of you all.

    I pray that everything will be ok....
    I am very sorry about your uncle. Your family has had their share..:crybaby:
  10. Thanks Passerby. I'm glad you are okay now. Puddin, that would be a very difficult field to work in, but I am glad there are people like you doing it.

    They just left and the day went well. I asked her if she had read the book I sent her (it was written by a friend of Sheryl Crow who had cancer as well). She said that my brother read it because she doesn't want to think about cancer. She just wants to remain positive. I guess I would feel the same way if I was ill with something. I just wish my brother had told me all this. Men... Ughh... I wouldn't have sent the cards and emails. He didn't even tell her that my friends and I had raised money for the Susan G Komen breast cancer walk. I'm not sure if I understand. My brother and I can usually talk about anything. In any case, I got the message that she wanted things to be normal so we just talked and played with the kids. It was nice.

    The only hard part was the fact that she looked fantastic. I mean that in itself was great, but the reason she looked so wonderful was because she was down to like a size zero and she had on a very stylish wig. She had always hated her curly thick hair and the wig was classy and straight. So, I wanted to tell her how gorgeous she looked, but how do you tell someone THAT when you know it is the result of a terrible illness?

    Cancer is such a horrible disease. Sadly, this will probably not be the last time that I will say or do the wrong thing. I guess I'll just have to keep trying and hope that I don't goof things up too much (although I wouldn't put it past me).
  11. I like Irishgal's advice, *suzi*. Let your s-i-l know that it's up to her if she'd like to talk about it or not--her option. I'm a firm believer in keeping family members informed about important health problems. The older generation in my family never told anyone anything. I didn't find out about my own mother's breast cancer till after her mastectomy!!! I will not do that to my children or sister.

    I'm so sorry for all the sad things happening in your family. ((hugs))
  12. I agree with you Boxermom. My parents are both from other countries and they don't talk about sickness on my father's side. His brother came to stay with us when I was a kid because he was getting treatment for stomach cancer. HE didn't know he had cancer. My dad's family wouldn't let us tell him.:wtf:
  13. *suzi* i send you lots of hugs and i know how you feel and must be thinking. My mom had breast cancer maybe 2 yrs ago. It was the hardest time since i was the only one here to help her. If this helps ( and it will ) Visit this i found one where i live and this was the best support group i ever went . It helped me and mom understand everything that was going on. I wish you lots of luck and LOve my prayers .:flowers:
  14. Thank you Booga. I hope your mom is cancer free now. I can't believe how many of us have mom's with the disease. My hairdresser told me how one of the girls had to shave off her mother's hair. I'm not usually very emotional but that was the saddest thing I could ever think of and we both started crying.:crybaby: ((Hugs))