How to Help My Husband Deal with His Sisters Cancer

Updated on January 29, 2010
S.A. asks from Cheyenne, WY
8 answers

Once agin I turn to you wise woman to help me out with a family problem. a few years ago we where all shocked to find out that my sister-in-law has nonhodgkins Lymphoma. Whill I dont get on well with my sister-inlaw or my mother-in-law, i felt for the family. Jenny (the SIL) is my age had has a daoughter the same age as my son. Jen wnet through a raound or Radiation and was doing a lot better. This month howerevr its come back BAD. The Cancer is now in her bone marrow, and non of the family is a match for her marrow type. The doc's seem to be confused and they dont realy know what to do with her I think. They keep sending her to see more and more doc and we dont ever seem to get any answers and NOTHING is being done.
My husband is her older brother and they have a realy close family. However he just is NOT dealing with it at all. From some of the things hse has said he jsut kinda thinks its going to go away. When we found out that its getting worse I asked him if he had made his peace with all of this and he said "no, and I am not going to. Thats not how I work", I just droped it after that.
I guess my qustion has 2 parts to it. 1- have anyone of you out there had to deal with nonhodgkins Lymphoma what are some options and what helped. 2-If things dont go well how to I help my Hubby with this. I know he'll get mad (I would to) aBut I jsut dont know what to do for him. I have an older brother adn can understand the relationship he and Jenny have. He dose not want to think about it for right now and thats ok, but at some point he'll have to. ANY help anyone has to offer would meen a lot to me and the family.

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answers from Billings on

At first you wont want to talk about,because it hurts to much, but after a while try bringing up all the good things about her, the funny things. And over time you might be able to laugh and say,Ill see her in heaven. My dad died and thats how everybody had to deal with it.


answers from Phoenix on

I'm sorry to hear this. I don't know have personal experience with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. But I would suggest that you just be there for your husband. He will need to deal with this in his own way and being a support is all you can do. That will mean more to him than trying to push him into feeling something that he's not ready to. Maybe you can buy some books for him on how to cope with a family member with cancer and also losing a family memeber to cancer.

My father's been fighting Colan cancer for the past 2 1/2 years now. The doctors gave him 3-5yrs to live. It's not an easy thing to go through. I know that he will die but it's just not something that I can think of right now. I know that I have anger with it and I am scared. But right now I need to stay positive that he's going to beat this eventhough I know he won't. My husband knows that I'm going to crumble when he loses the battle. He's a wonderful silent support and I couldn't ask for more.



answers from Denver on

I've done a lot of work with LLS, they are a tremendous organization. I'd suggest starting here: they can help you find the local support you, and your family, need right now. Keeping good thoughts for you.



answers from Indianapolis on

19 months ago, I was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma. Much different cancer, much different treatment, much different disease. But, one thing is similar, the standard for treating recurrence is a stem cell transplant.

A friend of mine who was diagnosed with Stage IV NHL and had a recurrence a year later. She was able to get a stem cell transplant (there are 2 types, allo and auto that use different kinds of cells) and is doing well though she has the immune system of a 6 month-old now and has to be very careful).

I'd recommend your SIL see a lymphoma specialist. I don't know who they are in WY, but I would check to see if you can schedule appointments with people at Mayo Clinic, in Seattle (where stem cell transplants were innovated), etc.

For your husband, perhaps yourself, and your MIL, I'd recommend an organization like Imerman Angels ( They match patients/caregivers with people in similar situation to help them through the cancer process. It may be a parent grieving the diagnosis of a child. I was just matched to another 34 year-old Mom who needed someone to relate to. It is very helpful to both parties (the fighter and the survivor/caregiver) to help you get through the process.

Good luck! My family really let me down during my treatment and especially now afterwards. I hope her recurrence helps bring the family together and to mend old wounds.

There are a LOT of options. Just ask to be connected with a Lymphoma specialist. I can provide names of people I saw (though they're all in IL, IN, OH) if it helps to get other opinions.



answers from Pocatello on

My Dad had NHL he has had it for a LONG time. It is a cancer that can just go on and on. As far as I know its not one that you can ever get rid of but will go into remission. My Dad has had it since I was 11 and I'm 31 now. He has been through 4 rounds of chemo and radiation and the last treatment that they used was something that they called the "smart bomb". It was much easier on his system then the old style chemo, he actually gained weight after all his treatments were done!!! It only attacks the cancer cells instead of killing everything, pretty cool! Anyway, his sounds a bit different because its not in the marrow yet but I know that that is one of the progressions, either marrow, lung or brain will be next and then they will have to take a more radical approach. I like the stem cell option and if it is available I would seriously look into it.

As for the emotional side of all of this, your husband is going to need some kind of support system in place for him. He will need someone to talk to that is going through something similar, he could be resentful of anyone else that tries to help because they just won't understand. I have seen that before with my own siblings every time another round of chemo starts. Its a very stressful time, make sure that he is getting enough B vitamins and D3. A good multivitamin is helpful too. The last thing you need is to have him worn down too.

Take care.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Check out the book "The pH Miracle for Caner". It has helped many people.



answers from Denver on

I don't really have any advice to offer about your husband, but my stepdad had non-hodgkins lymphoma. He was able to use his own marrow for a bone marrow transplant, the did it in Nebraska, and it basically saved his life.


answers from Dallas on

I am sorry to hear your family is going through this. Have you all tried MD Anderson? My father had Chronic Lymphatic Leaukemia and it was the best place and most aggressive for difficult cases like his.

My father had 6 siblings, 5 sisters and 1 brother. His disease made them uncomfortable because their father died of the same thing a year before my father was diagnosed (I was 6 months old when he was diagnosed). They became closed off, stopped talking to him, they were just uncomfortable and didn't know how to deal with it, it sounds like they had a lot of the same feelings as your husband did, they ignored it thinking it would just go away. Now, one sister did donate bone marrow once for a transplant, but some of her sisters got made at her for doing it saying she was risking her life (not true).

So, for his second bone marrow transplant he had to do a few years later, I believe the doctors used his own bone-marrow since no one else would donate, sterilized it somehow and then reinserted it. It was something to that effect.

Anyways, all my dad ever wanted was support from his family. They visited him a few times in the 25 years of his disease (though the last 10 years he was half dead anyways), but were still very reluctant to visit and acted like they didn't know what to say, and his own mother pretty much abandoned our family, I suppose because we reminded her of her husband's death. All they had to do was act normal, joke around talk about the weather, their kids, sports, religion, the news, hobbies... whatever, but they didn't. Of course, when he finally died, they all came to the funeral and sobbed and said they regretted not being there for him and letting time go by.

Anyways, that is my story. All people with cancer want is support and love and some normalcy in their lives. Family can provide that because a lot of friends will run away out of fear too. I am sure it is rough for your husband to go through this as well, but if he doesn't come to grip with the reality of the situation, all he will have after his sister's passing is guilt and bad memories. Just be there to support him and urge him on for her, since she is the one that needs the strength right now. Hospitals have on site grief and family counselors that can help give words of comfort and advice as well. Your husband's attitude is a very common form of grief, but it can be quite difficult if not handled correctly.

Best of luck to them!

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