Important Decisions in the Process
I’ve learned that it is very important to talk clearly about her wishes and then follow them. In a family group there can often be dissention about what is the “Right “thing to do, the right actions to take. It boils down to what she wants. Nothing more and our job as a family is to support those goals. It is hard at times. But that is the primary concern.
A second thing to stress is making sure that her wishes are written down- having an advanced directive and a written will can save a lot of family stress. Her wishes around any issue about the children or her care are clear cut, no room for argument, all set up before she is under the influence of opiates or in ICU on a ventilator. This saves many family situations from occurring.
Another issue to look at is how much to share with teenage children. Do you keep them out of the loop to save stress, or do you give them basic information, so they don’t imagine things? Many hospitals have child psychologists on staff for children of cancer patients. They help families deal with the roller coaster emotions they are going through.
Fourth is research. Be proactive in your care. We have genetic marker for the cancer. Thank God there was financial aid available for the testing, through VA and the cancer support group. It can be very expensive. But it gives us clear guidelines about family issues around this type of cancer and when we should have checkups, who is at risk and what the best outcomes can be.
Perhaps the most important of all things is communication. Keep those conversations going! Cancer patients ten to become isolated as do the families. Be there- even if you are only sitting by the bed. That presence can give a patient hope and a lot of security, just knowing they are not alone. Be prepared- for all the phases of grieving that they and you will go through. The anger is often the hardest part to deal with. They will lash out at you, the staff, the world, God anybody and anything. Don’t let it drive you away. Stop, take a breather and then get back in there. They need to know that you are not going away.
Cancer can rip a family apart or it can build a family into a strong, loving group of people that can get through anything life has to offer.