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How do you function?


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I've only been dealing with my moms diagnosis for a little more than two months, but I find it consumes my every thought. I try distracting myself with my other obligations and priorities, but it just keeps creeping back into my thoughts. I find the "what ifs" and how long questions constantly consume me. When I'm not with her I wonder if she's really ok or has she developed another symptom or side effect. When I am with her I watch her and find myself wondering is she in pain right now? Is does this terrible cough mean that the crud is dying off and she's getting rid of it or is it just growing and keeping her from breathing and it's making all that mucous?

I can't imagine if this is consuming my mind like this what it must be doing to her or any of you other patients.

Any of you go through this and what did you do to get those thoughts to STOP? Maybe long enough to sleep or just get through the day?

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For me, as a patient, I needed solid information. I get that from the faculty and participants at cancergrace.org - a forum moderated by practicing oncologists. They've answered a million questions. They also have a relationship/partnership with LUNGevity, so I keep it in the family.

Beyond that, you can talk to your own doc about some anti-anxiety medications - they can help you to function when there is so much situational stress. Also, there may be caregivers support groups you can attend - it helps to know you are not alone and you can learn valuable coping skills. Try a Gilda's Club in your location, or a local cancer center (at a hospital.) There are a number of groups here that are open to anyone dealing with cancer - you don't have to be treated at the facility either.

It's so important to care for yourself - you'll do a better job for everyone!

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Dear D,

I wish I had an easy answer for you. But I do not. By the time my Mom was diagnosed, I already lost my sister and dad to brain cancer. Mom also had breast cancer. When she was dx with lung cancer, I felt like a pro with the doctors.

I did learn that people in pain will show it in their face. The doctors show us the typical pain graphic, with one being a big smile, and a ten being tears, and a big sad face. I've learned that it is true in reality. You will be able to tell if she is in pain by her face. She can't fake that. Look for that distress. It's very difficult to disguise.

Know that her cough is something she thinks about. I know I do. I am not in fear about it. But my faith holds me strong.

I don't know what else to say other than to explore your belief system about the next life. And if the anxiety is horrid, do ask your doctor for help. It is not a weakness to ask for medication to help. The situation is horrible, and full of stress. I know I needed medication during my Mom's struggle to help me endure.

Judy in MI

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Although I do appreciate all the advice. I am not comfortable going on anti- anxiety meds. I have used them in the past and I hate the way they numb you to EVERYTHING! Plus, I feel like I need to be as alert and sharp as possible to care for my mom. I need to be able to correspond with the dr's and the other things I help her with. So, other than maybe trying some sleep aid when I am not with her I just don't wanna risk the side effects. Thanks though seriously!

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I think Stephanie and Judy have covered pretty much what I would say here. I do find that time and treatment plans as they progress do begin to "normalize" life considerably. For get about that "how long" thing. No one knows. I looked at mine expectancy in the beginning and I'm well into that and still living life even with ongoing chemo. And don't dismiss the anti-anxiety aids too quickly. I do Ativan as needed and don't feel any particular difference beyond being calmer. I think they've come a long way with meds in all areas.

Remember to take care of yourself.

Judy in KW

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