Post # 1
My aunt has had a form of lymphoma for about 8 years but it was very small so they felt monitoring was the best course of action. At her last scan, everything looked good. 11 months later, she has been feeling really sick and went to the hospital the other day. She has masses all over her lungs/abdomen, as well as a lump in her groin. She was told last night she will have to start chemo. I’m really heartbroken, especially for her. The first thing she said when she saw us last night at the hospital was “guys, I don’t think I’m going to make your wedding”. She is as devastated about it as I am. I am praying that she can get the chemo done quickly and be well enough to be there. She is my dad’s only surviving sibling and my mom is my only child. Growing up I only had my parents, one set of grandparents and my aunt. I need her to be okay 🙁
Anyways, that’s my emotional rant.
Now I have a question… if she is going to start chemo in the coming weeks it is really going to ruin her Christmas. Have you been through chemo or known anyone who has gone through chemo? What kind of kinds would be helpful/thoughtful for this process? Any tips/things that might help? I know everyone experiences a bit differently but if there’s any items someone going through chemo might appreciate in a gift basket or something that would be super helpful! I’m totally clueless about this and want to give her a gift she can really use and will totally appreciate when she’s not feeling so hot.
Post # 3
So sorry you’re going through this 🙁 It is such a difficult time, and every little kindness helps, I think. Here are my thoughts:
My dad went through chemo and I know that he appreciated having an iPad at the hospital to distract him, although I know that’s pretty pricey. He would also get the chills a lot so a lovely cozy blanket would also be nice. Maybe a cute hot water bottle?
My siblings and I also discussed having gourmet organic meals sent to our parents’ place since neither had energy to cook. So maybe something along those lines? Maybe sign up for organic groceries for delivery every couple of weeks?
I will try to think of more things.
Good luck! xo
Post # 4
- Wedding: July 2014 - Backyard
I am so sorry about your aunt. I will keep you all in my thoughts.
I think talking to her (and visiting, if possible) frequently, especially when it gets difficult for her, will mean the most. I know a lot of people were “scared” to be around my mom when she was sick and those who would visit made her the happiest of all.
Post # 5
@mu_t: I’m really sorry to hear that, I hope she’s able to get better! As for the chemo treatment, I’m a cancer survivor. I never did chemo, but did a very strong radiation dosage that felt pretty similar from what I’ve been told and seen.
Chemo is exhausting, and there’s really no way around it. The person becomes very ill, and is usually vomitting or having some form of bowel problem. Then there’s just the constant nausea. Instead of a giftbasket of food, I would recommend a gift basket of something to keep her mind occupied. If she likes crosswords, wordsearches, cryptos etc, pick a few of those up for her. If she likes to read, find out her favorite genre and chose a few good titles from it.
Heck, some people even like a coloring book! Just remember that she will be very VERY tired, so may not use the gift immediately, but it’ll be there for her when she’s ready.
Post # 6
Guys! Thank you SO MUCH for some really great suggestions!!! This is totally helpful. Thank you for your kind words. I would totally appreciate it if you keep my aunt in your prayers 🙂
@GooteyBootey: you give me hope, thank you 🙂
Post # 7
So sorry to hear 🙁 I was just telling my FI how we are hearing of more and more people being diagnosed. A girl I work with was just diagnosed yesterday, another lady I work with has a daughter who had lung cancer some years ago and just found out it is back, and FI’s step mom beat colon cancer a while back and now has lung cancer 🙁 It is such a terrible thing. A positive attitude seems to be the key.
I cannot answer your question on chemo. I really hope she has a great Christmas. Sending positive vibes!
Post # 8
My mom went through chemo years ago for breast cancer. Your aunt is going to really need the support of your family through these coming months. The most helpful thing you can do is to just be there at appointments or around the house (if you can, of course. not sure if you are in the same location as her). After a chemo session, my mom pretty much couldn’t get out of bed for a week. I took charge of making meals, doing chores, and running errands. My mom would say that it’s the feeling that things are still moving along normally that brought comfort to her. Gift-wise it’s good to give things to help pass the time during chemo. Books, magazines, tablets, and kindles are all good things. A family friend recently finishd chemo and my aunt had a cool gift for her too – she gave a box of dark chocolates and every time she finished a chemo session, she could take another piece of chocolate. They called it the chemo advent calendar. I would avoid food gifts initially, though, because people react differently to foods during treatment. I hope that your aunt’s treatment goes well and is over quickly.
Post # 9
my mom went through breast cancer twice. She always appreciated meals that were frozen that just had to be thrown in the oven so she didn’t have to cook. If your aunt lives alone, small meals are good because chemo seemed to always make my mom not hungry. Also if you have the time, make sure she is never alone when she goes to treatment. She will need something or someone to distract her from what is going on around her (usually a lot of crying 🙁 ).
The big C word is not the huge looming monster it used to be. It is so amazing how far science has come along in the past couple of decades. Have faith and be strong even if you don’t feel like you are on the inside. Things can and will get better. Keeping you and your family in my prayers.
Post # 10
@CarterLove: I agree with you, cancer unfortunately seems to be everywhere. my aunt’s good friend who is also supposed to be coming to our wedding just found out her cancer spread to her brain 🙁
@bleusteel: thank you so much. my parents live about 2 hours away but are moving up to my aunt’s house. my aunt is a widow and never had children so she only has my parents and me, unfortunately. she has a lot of friends that are all great and is really involved in her community/church so i hope she’ll have a lot of support. i only live about 25 minutes away so these are great tips – i will try to be around as much as possible. i might make some more bland meals like chicken noodle soup and the like and put it in containers that can be frozen. good idea.
Post # 11
@DandSwedding: thank you so much, your sweet message made me tear up 🙂 i really appreciate the kindness of everyone. it helps to be able to talk about it with people not directly involved!
Post # 12
Some chemo/radiation is more easily tolerated than others.
Fill her freezer with easy to prepare foods.
Make sure she has gatorade or some such electrolyte solution for the nausea/vomiting.
See if there are protein drink flavors that she likes – boost, ensure etc
Clean her house or hire a service.
Look at her home and see if things are ‘easy’. if it’s multilevel – maybe make sure she has a little fridge and microwave near the bedroom/bathroom instead of having to go upstairs/downstairs to the kitchen
Post # 13
@fascinated: great ideas! i will definitely get all types of those drinks and we can test them out and see what she likes/can tolerate. her house is just one level so that’s helpful! i think my dad is going to move in with her for the time being and he is so insanely clean… but t he cleaning service is an amazing idea. i might run it by him just to take something off his plate.
Thank you everyone, this is super helpful!
Post # 14
@mu_t: I’m so sorry to hear your news.
As for chemo, well, unfortunately I have more knowledge of how it can affect people than I’d like since my DH has been on chemo since June (with a break of a month in between). He’s also been through a very long course of radiotherapy which comes with its own challenges.
What I’d say is that chemotherapy affects everyone differently. For sure, we assumed it would be a nightmarish hell of constant vomiting but this element is now very well managed by oncologists and my DH has neither lost his hair nor suffered from acute nausea. That’s not to say he has breezed through it unchanged either.
What your aunt can expect is a range of side effects that will differ in seriousness as well as the individual chemotherapy drugs used. If she’s only just about to start chemo then it may well not ruin Christmas since the effects of chemotheraphy are cumulative and increase over a course of treatment. They don’t necessarily click in right from the start. However, since her general health isn’t good, chemotherapy will be exhausting. In fact, it exhausts everyone, no matter how (relatively) well they were at the outset.
She might well develop very sore hands, feet and mouth. She might well lose her tastebuds. So a basket full of things to pamper her – hand and foot lotion, mouthwashes and similar nice products will be much appreciated. Also, if she has to have IV chemo, things to read while the long and boring treatment is taking place. It is quite usual to lose your appetite once the effects on the tastebuds arrive but be lead by what she wants to eat. My DH lost all interest in chocolate, for example and has never got a taste for it back again. He loves ginger beer though so his treats of choice are a little different from what they used to be.
Be aware that she might develop acute cold sensitivity very soon. So warm socks, handwarmers or other similarly cosy presents are good.
Finally, let her know that she has a choice so far as treatment is concerned. I am not suggesting that she doesn’t accept chemo because this might be a life saver (my DH was told, in June, that without chemo he would not live to see Christmas) but she needs to ask difficult questions in order to be able to make the best and most informed decisions for her. Everyone’s cancer is different and everyone will tolerate treatment differently.
My warmest wishes to you and your family though.
Post # 15
@mu_t: I don’t want to talk about it publicly but I love you so you can PM me if you wish.
Post # 16
@mu_t: Also consider a shower chair.