March 21, 2009,
L.G. asks from Mesa, AZ on March 18, 2009
Looking for Suggestions on Things to Do for and How to Help My Mom Thru Chemo
My mom is starting chemo for breast cancer tomorrow.. for those of you who have been personally affected by something like this, what can I do to help her? She doesnt want anyone to go with her to the chemo treatments, I have thought about making meals for her, but not sure how hungry shell be. I am going to go rent her some movies, buy magazines etc.. what else can I do?? I know this is going to be hard on her and want to make sure she knows Im here to help in any way possible.. shes so strong of a person, she would never ask for help... Any suggestions are helpful!
A.N. answers from Phoenix on March 19, 2009
Just being there is sometimes enough...my grandmother went through chemo for breast cancer and her hair fell out and her skin was really dry and cracked. I do not think it was as hard on her as it was for all of us. She slept a lot and sometimes it seemed like it was all day every day. The chemo just wore her out. Just be there and that if you notice she needs anything just get it for her. Keep her company an spend time with her. You only get one mom.
J.L. answers from Albuquerque on March 19, 2009
There is a national foundation called Cleaning for a Reason, they provide free cleaning service to women undergoing cancer treatment. Their website is www.cleaningforareason.org and their phone number is 8-###-###-####. Please contact me if you have any questions, I will keep you and your mother in my prayers. God bless you.
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K.V. answers from Phoenix on March 20, 2009
i had a friend who recently had a long fight with cancer. I cooked a lot for him and his wife , like cupcakes and such. Also they loved doing puzzles. They have a mat that you can roll the puzzle up and take it with you and they loved that. Maybe by some older classic DVD's like Princess Bride and such. Anything that is easy for them to do during the recovery times of chemo.
S.P. answers from Albuquerque on March 19, 2009
Hey, I know how hard it is seeing your mom go through this. My mom went through it about 7 years ago. You know,she really did appreciate the home cooked meals. I have to admit it was my husband; he's the amazing cook. Just being there for her to listen and joke around. I felt that just by hanging out and doing things together to help keep her mind off of the treatment was the best thing I could do for her.(That is how we ended up here in New Mexico in the first place!) I also tried to give her massages and fix her scarves.
I think whatever you do with love & sincerity will be so appreciated. It's just so amazing to have family nearby to help ease teh discomfort in whatever form need be. Even if that means giving her privacy and space in dealing with the treatment. My prayers are with your family. S.
A.S. answers from Phoenix on March 19, 2009
First, I just want to say how sorry I am that your mom has to go through this again. I'll be thinking all good things for her. My husband had a different kind of cancer, and so I don't know if your mom will experience the same kind of responses, but here's what we learned:
1)Different chemotherapy drugs have different side effects. Your mother's oncologist will probably have handouts about each drug, and the internet is great for gathering information about side-effects specific to each drug.
2)Each person's body chemistry is different, so each person experiences chemotherapy differently. My husband was young and strong and we were told his treatment regimen was not one of the harder ones to tolerate, but in his case, unfortunately, this proved to be untrue. He had a hard time, especially with nausea. There are usually several drugs the oncologist can give to combat every side-effect. If the one your mother's doctor prescribes doesn't work, advocate for her immediately to get one that does. There is no reason for your mother to suffer unnecessarily.
3)Dehydration can be a real problem. If your mother doesn't feel like drinking anything, encourage her to take at least a sip of something every 10 minutes or so. My husband's favorite thing at this time was watered down orange Gatorade. If your mother doesn't feel like eating, don't push it. If she doesn't feel like drinking, stay on top of her. If you can't get her to drink enough, take her to the hospital for an IV. If your mother doesn't want to go to the hospital and you feel like she needs to, don't defer to her, take her in. A cancer patient isn't always the best determiner of what he or she needs in the moment. That being said, give her her dignity at all times.
4)Handle any insurance issues for her. The last thing a person who is fighting for her life needs to be doing is arguing with her insurance company, and it does happen, believe me. If her insurance company says no to a drug that is going to make your mother's treatment easier in any way, get on the horn, sister. I once made someone call a supervisor at home after hours to get my husband his anti-nausea medication.
5)Strong odors and flavors can really be hard for a person undergoing chemo to take. Also, ask your mom's doctor before you give her any over-the counter stuff. My husband was told not to take anti-oxidant vitamins because they interfered with his chemo drugs.
6)Ask your mom's chemo nurses anything and everything. The doctor prescribes, but the nurses tend to know the real nitty-gritty stuff. They are fountains of practical information.
7)Be flexible. Cancer doesn't have a schedule, and there are times when you think you're gonna be somewhere for an hour and you end up staying the night. Since you have small children, make sure you have someone you can count on to help in these situations.
8)Respect that this is a delicate balance, here. You'll have to really tune in to your mom to know what the right thing to do is sometimes. If you are ever in doubt, call the Dr. Don't hesitate to call because you're afraid to be a nuisance-call whenever you feel you need to.
9)If you are her primary caregiver, you'll be encouraged to "take care of yourself." It's almost impossible to do. Be patient with yourself and ask for help from your friends and husband without hesitation. Do the best you can, understanding that you are a human being with needs, too, even if it seems hard to meet your needs during this process. You will feel angry and helpless and hopeless and frightened and less-than, but you will still be a champion for your mother. You can do what you must do because you must do it.
There are probably about 10,000 other things I could write to you, but I am going to stop now. If you should feel like you would like to contact me for any reason, please don't hesitate. Oh, and get in touch with the Wellness Center. They are fantastic support for patients and caregivers.
All the best to you and your mother,
S.H. answers from Phoenix on March 20, 2009
I recently had a friend go thru chemo for breast cancer.. we bought her an IPOD and put music and books on CD on them so she would have something to listen to... bought her some nice scarves to wear since she was losing her hair.. its always hard.. best of luck, my prayers are with you...
I.K. answers from Phoenix on March 19, 2009
I have gone thru this with my own mom, but she had a different kind of cancer. All that I can really suggest is let her know that you'll always be there for her and even though she may not ask for help, but still pick up the house for her, do little things around her home so that it will be easier on her during those rough bouts that she will have. Even though she's saying now that she doesn't want anyone to take her to her chemo treatments, please be prepared that there will be some days that she won't feel up to driving herself and that you may have to take her. Always let her know how much you love her too. With the 3 yr old twin boys, please let them know that they can't "catch" the cancer from her if they ask questions and help them understand as well that there will be some days that grandma won't be feeling well. Letting them know about this now and being up front about it, will help them not be so afraid when they see grandma. Take your kids to see your mom on the days that are good for her. If you would like to email me for more support you can at ____@____.com.
I hope that this helps!
K.T. answers from Phoenix on March 18, 2009
Your situation is probably way different but this is what we did :)
-tell her I love you often
-have patience :) It took a long time for us to understand what we could do to take care of her and we work at it everyday. This is her 2nd bout of cancer and its been completely different from the first. As she goes through treatment, you'll figure things out along the way. Stay with her after the first treatment, just in case.
- after chemo, she sleeps alot and has to drink a lot of water (sometimes she has the runs then has accidents)
- try a bedside bell. my MIL laughed at me but it came in super handy. As matter of fact, she may even have gotten too comfortable with it!
- moved in with her. its been a huge change to the way we were living but shes more comfortable in her own house with her stuff
- opened the windows and brought the paper to her everyday
- change her gown everyday
- didnt let her stay in her room all the time. Even just pushing her to watch tv in another room
- encourage family/friends to write or call and visit-visit-vist. sometimes she turned people away when she felt really bad and they understood.
-we bought different hats as she started to loose her hair and finally a wig. this has actually perked her up and she actually goes for walks outside twice a day!
- we bought her a magazine subscription
- she was always nauseous so cooking meals was never an issue. (also,she was on a feeding tube)
- her first grandbaby was born right before she got sick and we would go in her room for 1 hr before bed each night
I hope this helps, email with other ?s
M.J. answers from Tucson on March 18, 2009
One of our MOPS mentors has been through chemo 3 times now. The ladies all got together and made her a love quilt. That way when she was alone or cold or just needed a hug she could pull it close to her.
You could get family and friends to bring you a scrap of 8" x 8" material and piece together a love quilt. If you are unable to make one buy a nice one that everyone can sign.
Is your dad and mom together? Is your dad alive? Just asking cause if it were me in the situation I would make sure dad had visits and food too. That would make my mom feel good.
Small freezer meals would be good. That way if she is hungry she can heat it up easy and not have to do too much prep work. Also a small scrapbook of your family with photos and well wishes maybe even cute stories about your kids. That way even though you are not there you are still with her when she needs you.