Inspiration for My Siblings Who Are Ill

Updated on April 25, 2008
K.B. asks from Minneapolis, MN
24 answers

I have three siblings, all who are sick :( My twin brother has prostrate cancer and is deciding on surgery or radiation; my older brother has lymphoma and multiple myeloma and has gone through radiation and starts chemo next week; and my sister has a blood clot above her heart and waiting for ablation surgery/procedure.

We are putting together a care package for each of them. For those of you who have seen a loved one going through chemo/radiation/heart stuff, what would be helpful to include in the package besides gobs of prayers and love? Also, if you know of REALLY funny movies and books that are REALLY just fun and hopeful, please send your list to me.

Thank you for your suggestions, and if so moved, for your prayers. It is a very sad time in my life because they are my only siblings.

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So What Happened?

Thank you for your thoughtful ideas. Now, I have a great list of movies, books, and comfort items for my siblings so I'll be going to the post office alot. K.

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A.T.

answers from Davenport on

All the Chicken Soup (for the soul) books are good. Readers Digest because the articles are short and usually upbeat. Keep in mind that often when you are really feeling awful it may be difficult to concentrate on long articles or books - not for everyone, but for some. MP3 player preloaded with their favorite music. Gum. Mints/peppermints. Change for snack machines.A tote bag (maybe customized with family and pet photos) to carry goodies and distractions. A special pillow (favorite color, customized in some way) and matching throw. Small polished "worry" stone (Rose quartz or buckeye or other fancy marble) - just something to hold in their hand and "worry" with their fingers - could also be a special "lucky" coin or other small keepsake. Small brag book with pics of family - either taken specially for the book or old favorites or a mix, vacation photos, dream vacation photos, etc.. Anything that will remind them that they are loved - a cap from favorite sports team, travel mug from their favorite vacation spot. Phone cards if they don't have a nation-wide cell phone.

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J.M.

answers from Appleton on

K.,
I am so sorry you and your family are going through this rough time. My father had AML and went through Chemo and radiation. I would suggest their favorite movies, books, something to keep them occupied. If they are going to be in the hospital anything that would make them feel more like home, pictures of family, favorite blanket or pillow from home any thing to make it more peaceful/ relaxing and comfortable as possible. Good luck.

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R.B.

answers from Sioux Falls on

K.,

Sorry to hear of all of the heart ache that you're going through. My parents have both passed on from cancer. To go through loosing my parents was the hardest thing ever. I think the best thing that I ever watched was The Secret! There is a man in the DVD who is called the Miracle Man. He was in an Airplane accident and was paralyzed from the neck down. Every day he visualized only thoughts of wellness and walking. The doctors said that he would never walk or breath on his own and he did.
The DVD is about being positive, being grateful, but also about minding your mind. What we think about we bring about. I wish that when my parents were alive I could have shared this DVD with them.

You can get the DVD at www.thesecrettv.com (or something like that). That DVD has changed my life and it was also featured on Oprah.

Take care and hope things get better for you and your family.

Roxanne
[email protected]____.com

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M.K.

answers from Minneapolis on

I am so sorry to hear your siblings are ill. It must be very difficult for you.

I would definitely send some pampering products. Radiation and Chemo can be very drying to the skin. Send some hand creams, foot creams, body lotions, etc. Make sure they do not contain mineral oil or fragrances. I have some great recommendations. You can fine pure ,safe and beneficial products at www.arbonne.com. Let me know if you are interested in learning more about these quality products. I can help you get them at a discount and your siblings will love the results!

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A.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

My sympathies and well-wishes go out to you and your entire family. Hard times always make you stronger, and there is always a reason for the hardships in our lives. That being said, I'm sure all three of your siblings are trying to wrap these illnesses around themself and "finding" themselves again. They are also probably relying and grateful of the family support they have. They have to be having thoughts about life/and the thoughts of death. Therefore, what about helping them remember all they have fulfilled in life through srapbooks and/or video clips. Getting things together and working on a piece of history with them will keep their focus on the things they have already captured in life, and is a great way to bond with your family. Even if noone is a scrapbooker, there is tons of software out there, both paper sets and digital. Then, you and your siblings will have accomplished something together.

I haven't done this formally with family, but when both sides of my grandparents died, family had fun looking through photos and remenissing (sp) about good times we shared with them. How much MORE fun would it be to do it with those individuals in person.

Just a thought.
A.

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A.H.

answers from Minneapolis on

I'm assuming that it would be difficult to visit in person since you are putting together care packages. In that case, the phone card suggestion is a great idea. Also, the comfort food suggestion is great as hospital food is not good! And after the procedures that your siblings will have, they likely will not have much of an appetite- and hospital food only makes it worse. Baked goods that will keep without refrigeration likely seem your best bet (think heart healthy/low sodium/low fat/low cholesterol for your sister- the hospital will likely put her on a restricted diet). And of course, books written by a comedian would be great. Find out their favorite and search the book store websites. I know Bill Engvall has a book called "Just a Guy" and George Carlin has a few books. I do hope that someone is available to stay with them for the first night after their procedure as that is often the most difficult night. If you can't, please pass along to someone who can that this can mean a lot. My husband had open heart surgery a little over a year ago and the nurses all told me I should go home and get some sleep. He said he was fine and I should go. Things seemed to be going well, so I did. It took a few months for him to admit to me that he really wished I had stayed because that first night was horrible for him. He didn't have any kind of crisis that night or anything, but he was terribly uncomfortable and really needed my strength. It's a regret for me that I wasn't there. One person who can lend strength and comfort can mean a lot. Lots of phone calls and prayers from you will lend support from further away and will certainly mean a lot.

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M.N.

answers from Green Bay on

Hi K.,
I'm so sorry to hear about your siblings.. Cancer is such an awful thing! My mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer just over a year ago... She had a lumpectomy and started her chemo. The first three months of chemo went really well and then the second batch that would have been three more months went horribly wrong.. It was an extra procedure that was optional but that was supposed to increase her odds of no reoccurance. However, she just couldn't handle it and ended up with an abcess in her bowel.. Her immune system was just too weak from the chemo to fight it and she ended up with surgery and a colostomy bag... She was in the hospital for months and for awhile their it was looking very bad... Our son was born in January while she was in the hospital and we were so excited to give her some uplifting news:-) Anyway, I'm rambling so I'll try to wrap this up.... She is now home with her colosomy bag and progressing slowly each day.. . She is very weak and thin from lack of appetite and atrophy... She had been tube fed in the hospital so her weight has decreased dramatically... However, she just got on a new pill that is supposed to help her digest her food better and increase her appetite. She can not have her colostomy bag removed until her weight and strength increases. She lives seven hours from us so that is hard.. However, we took a trip over Easter so that she could see our daughter and her new grandson which perked her up a bit. So, we too are in need of many prayers. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.. Prayer does work:-) As for material to send to your siblings.. I sent my mother-in-law lots of letters, uplifting cards and colorings from my 2 1/2 yr. old and lots of pictures;-) Also, lots of phone calls were appreciated even though she didn't have energy to be on the phone long. Hang in there and God bless!

Melissa

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M.O.

answers from Appleton on

Dear K.,

I am so sorry to hear about your siblings. I will try to make this as brief as possible. The most important thing to do,for your family is pray. I pray that your siblings Know the Lord. I have been through cancer. Please pray not only for healing but for their spiritual needs as well. Please make sure they are eating well. NO SUGAR!!!! Take probitics, and if you can juice by all means do so. I recommend the book. Beating Cancer with Nutrition. It is from a Mediacl Dr. (Most are not trained in Nutrition), God designed our bodies to heal themselves. Not with drugs but with rest, sunlight, proper nutrition and prayer! I will pray for your siblings. Again, I am sorry to hear of your pain. May God bless you! Yes, also laughter is so wonderful. If you like slap stick, Go for Airplane, its old but its a riot! Or Naked Gun with Leslie Nielsen!
Tracey

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L.M.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi, K.. I too have siblings who were sick. My brother had testicular cancer, and my sister had leukemia. Luckily they are both in remission. When my brother was sick, I drove him anywhere he wanted to go because after his urgury to remove some lymph nodes he was restricted from driving. I took him the 3 hour drive to see his girlfriend every weekend. He went through 6 months of chemo, lost his hair, was very, very sick. Through it all though he was very positive. I agree with the posting about the Secret. There is a book as well as the movie. Being positive is so very important in the healing process.
My sister spent three months in the hospital hooked up to her chemo. What was helpful to her is seeing her 11 month old every day. My mom watched him and kept him with her and would bring him to the hospital once a day to be with her. But lots of us gave her and her husband blockbuster gift card so they could pick up movies and get new ones when they needed to. She also loved soft pjs, slippers with the rubber bottoms, and because she was there so long she had a fridge in her hospital room we would store snacks and drinks in.
It is hard to be the sibling who is doing well when you have to watch them go through some pretty harsh treatments and you feel kind of helpless. Hang in there, always be positive, and just ask them what they want or need from you. Everyone deals with illness differently, and just knowing you're there when they need you is probably more meaningful than anything else you could do. My prayer are with you and your family.

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B.N.

answers from Davenport on

I will pray for you to be strong, then I will pray for your siblings.
My husband was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and now doing great. Peolpe don't know what this form of cancer is and think it can just be removed but it is in the blood. It is there. My husband had a stemcell tranplant due to his illness.
The thing he wanted most was for us to be there.This might be hard for you if your family is scatered but just knowing is enough. My husband loves m&ms but, this changed, so we learned to give what he craved in moderation because now he will not touch the things he craved. Squirt (soda) this was the thing that helped with the thirst. Laughter I agree is the best. I can go on but...even thuogh we all have been touched with cancer in one way or another this is the bond we all have in common but, it is very different for everyone. We all understand life a bit more, love family a bit more but most of all hve faith a lot more. God Bless You

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S.W.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi K.. You didn't say how old the girl's are, but I also have twin boys and when they were 1-1/2, we went camping and I rolled up blankets (or put pillows)under the outer side of the cushion (so they would have to roll UP the cushion - but didn't). I'm not sure if your following what I'm saying, but it worked for my kids. I actually had to do that with one son for several years because he always fell out of bed! (and still does once in a while now, and he's 13 now!)

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L.B.

answers from Sioux Falls on

The best thing you can give your siblings is laughter. It is going to be a long road ahead for all of them and laughter will keep them going. My mom has been thru breast cancer twice now, and though I dont really remember her first bout and what we laughed about (I was 16 and scared I was going to loose my mom, so I dont remember much, just that we laughed) but the second time we talked about how the first time she lost all her hair and while walking in the yard one day, her wig got caught in the apple tree, but she kept going, not realizing it was gone. It was pretty comical. When I went thru jaw surgery, my family kept teasing me about my face and how I looked like a boxer after a match. When people would ask about it, they would say things like you think she looks bad, you should see the other guy. I believe in all my heart that laughter IS the best medicine.
Another thing that will help them is something that will make they feel good about how they look. Surgery is going to leave scars on them and make them feel ugly. Chemo may cause your brother to loose all his hair. Getting them things that will help their appearance could mean the world to them. A special hat for your brother, a great shirt that wont show her scar on her chest (if that is how they are removing the clot), anything that you think will help them get thru the whole they look different, so they arent the same anymore. Good Luck!

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L.M.

answers from Minneapolis on

For straight-up, silly fun, the movie "Galaxy Quest" is a hoot. It's a spoof of the sci-fi television shows like "Star Trek," etc. But, it's a loving spoof and fun story in itself. If any of your siblings enjoy sci-fi, Tim Allen, Alan Rickman, or Sigourney Weaver, it's a fun choice.

Another funny movie that many of you might've seen is "Young Frankenstein." "The Princess Bride" is very fun, too. And, if you'd like to check out a classic, black and white comedy from the 1930s, watch "Ninotchka" with Greta Garbo.

Finally, a film with an Irish setting, "The Secret of Roan Innish." Heartfelt and winning - it's a story about a girl trying to unravel the mystery of a family story that one of their own had married a selkie - a seal who became a woman.

I'm sorry for their illnesses, and I wish you strength, peace, and grace as you support your siblings.

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K.M.

answers from Janesville-Beloit on

Hi K.,
What a difficult time this must be for you. My thoughts and prayers are with you and my family. My aunt received numerous care packages, and she received a lot of personal products, especially bath salts and lotions; however, she said the smells made her nauseas after her treatments. There was one scent she found, Rosemary Mint, that soothed her and helped. The scent of mint/peppermint helps sooth tummies. Also, tea, especially tea with ginger as an ingredient helped. The other thing she appreciated was comfort foods. Many foods made her throw up, but homemade mac and cheese was something she craved. See if you can figure out a favorite comfort food that you could make ahead and maybe freeze.

Best wishes.

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L.F.

answers from Minneapolis on

K.,

I will pray for your family.

When my aunt had multiple myeloma and was in the hospital for an extended period of time, I sent her a stained glass sun catcher to hang in the window of her hospital room to brighten up the room. I found it on-line and it was a (celtic maybe?) symbol for hope and strength. I also got her a gift subscription to Net Flix so that she would always have a stock of movies (and she could choose them herself). Her daughters, my cousins, put a little (fake) tree in her room and decorated it with ornaments and photos. They changed the ornaments according to the season/holidays. My aunt's favorite ornaments were the ones made by children in our family.

I hope that helps with ideas.

As an aside, what is it with multiple myeloma? I had never heard of it 5 years ago. Now 4 people in my life have been diagnosed with it. They are all quite young, too -- ranging from mid 30s to early 60s. The literature describes this as an old man's disease. I hope that researchers soon find a cure. By the way, there is a Twin Cities Multiple Myeloma charity walk every fall. This year it is on Sept. 28. See http://www.mmrfrace.org/find_an_event.html.

L.

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E.C.

answers from Iowa City on

Laughter is proven to aid healing, so find videos or audio recordings that will keep them laughing and let them shift their thinking completely to something/somewhere else.

I know a couple who went through some very difficult medical things, especially one pregnancy where she and the baby were (at various times) not expected to survive. They got themselves through the months and months of worry and stress by laughing. What provided that for them were recordings of Bill Cosby, but by the bits they've mentioned, top of the list must have been his album with the "Noah" series and one particular video titled "Himself."

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L.G.

answers from Minneapolis on

Here's a funny movie: Bringing Home Baby with Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant (I believe). It's the one where they have a pet tiger in their house. Hilarious.

I had a friend with cancer and I offered to make her a super healing antioxidant potion, but I made it her choice. She didn't take me up on my offer, but she seems to be doing well without it. Anyway, I personally find that stories about people who beat cancer without surgery or drugs are very inspiring. Lots of people find it very hard to believe, but I guess I'm one of the few who does believe that the plants that were put here on God's green earth were meant to heal us. If it's something that interests you, I'm sure there are books out there that describe people's amazing recovery stories.

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M.J.

answers from Omaha on

When i make a care basket for someone ill, I include unscented lotion and body wash as well as very soft Puffs tissues (unscented) and very sofy slipper socks. If someone is having surgery, I include a cute pillow for holding when coughing. I often incllude a soft squishiy stuffed animal. Elephants with the trunk up are a sign of good luck. A cute pen and a journal are sometimes helpful for journaling thoughts. These are just a few ideas that I hope help you. I make sure that items are unscented and soft, especially for someone undergoing treatment for cancer. Nausea is often a problem for them as well as very sensitive skin. The best to you and your siblings!

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J.T.

answers from Minneapolis on

K.,
I'm not much into movies, but the best to me are always the oldies. Anything with Laurel and Hardy in it, any old shows of Lucy, Carol Burnett, Tim Conway, Peter Sellers, Gene Wilder.

My heart goes out to you and your family. I will hold them in prayer.

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B.S.

answers from Dubuque on

K.,
You truely are in a depressing situation. Knowing that they will all have to spend time in the hospital, a nice new pair of slippers or a robe would come in handy. A hospital stay can be very lonely so maybe a calling card so they can call family and friends. Books, word puzzle books, playing cards, or some nice stationary with a pen.
God bless you and your family.

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K.D.

answers from Madison on

HI-
I have a friend/coworker who has Lymphoma...we have been volunteering to bring frozen meals and desserts etc.on a biweekly basis... We also take turns taking her kids (4 yrs and 2 yrs) to the park or for outings the days after her chemo when she is most wiped out so she can rest. Also, fun scarves or hats to wear for the hair loss. Also, we have a monthly night out to Pedros or somewhere to get her out of the house. Also, us coworkers have donated some of our vacation hours to her to cover what her disability doesnt...you could check with their work and coworkers to see if that is possible...Also, Deanna Favres book about her dealing with breast cancer is really good...hang in there, you sound like a great Sister:)

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P.L.

answers from Minneapolis on

K.,

I am so sad to read your story. I will definitely put your family on my prayer chain.

As for keeping the laughter going, I strongly recommend the Adam Sandler movie "Waterboy". Henry Winkler is in it as well, and it will keep you laughing. We have probably seen it a dozen times!

For reading material, I recommend the Mitford Series by Jan Karon. The stories revolve around a priest, Father Tim, who gets in to one thing after another! It's very light reading and quite humorous. The first book in the series is "At Home in Mitford". These books are available at the library. There are probably 4 or 5 books in the series.

If I think of any others, I will write another post. Good luck.

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E.B.

answers from Duluth on

Chemo can be very rough & the infusions take a lot of time & the patient is often chilled. A nice lap blanket, warm socks etc are always nice. My step mother always took a blanket/shawl we made for her to her infusions to wrap around her. She loved it and said it was very comforting.

May God bless you and your family

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M.F.

answers from Minneapolis on

My heart goes out to u stay strong and have fait let your love one's know you love them all the times sometimes just being there for them and taking the time and sitting there talking to them is the comfort they need I am not an expert on this but I just had my father in law who was like my own dad pass away almost one year ago in May 31, but I wish I would had spend more time with him, more then I did. and I know if you give them something they like even if its there favorite pastry or a picture in a frame for them to have or there favorite flower in a dollar vase they know you are thinking of them becouse u remembered what they like.

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