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how can I help my family?

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I am fortunate enough to be a part of a very large and extremely close family. My grandparents had eight kids and it grew from a family of ten to a family of close to 40, so far. We were raised with the ethic that family comes first no matter what and that has stayed with us for over fifty years now. We have lost my grandparents in their old age, but that is what comes with time. But now one of us, an Uncle of mine, has been diagnosed with lung cancer which has spread to his brain. It is Stage IV and as he suffers through this, so do each and every one of us. Humor and laughter has always dominated our family, but I am not sure how that fits into a situation like this. I am going to visit my Uncle in a week and he has gone from the independent hard working laid back and content man I always knew, to a wheelchair bound constantly monitored dazed and sad person who does have his good days but sees them as numbered, I think. I am not sure what to do or how to act or what to say when I see him, and I do not want to make him feel like an invalid but I want to help, I just don't know how. If anyone could help me and share any creative ideas they have used to help their loved ones deal with cancer I would more than appreciate that. If anyone has any suggestions at all, I would more than appreciate them as well. Thank you. Aimee

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I can only speak for how my husband and I have wanted to be treated - we have odd senses of humor - dry, sarcastic and we laugh at everything.

I keep thinking about this and I just think we have to treat the person the same, the situation they're in differently. Talk to them about normal things but don't feel like you have to avoid the cancer. If you bring it up and he changes the subject, there's your clue! Talk about something else....I know I do that with my friends - I don't mind talking about it, I just don't want to talk about it all the time. I like to hear about their lives and their children. One thing I can tell you that does drive me crazy though is when people complain to me about what I determine to be "small stuff", that someone else puts too much emphasis on. That's probably just my petty personality but you're asking right?

If your uncle is a Christian, don't be afraid to pray with him. Some people are uncomfortable with that but if you're not, do it.

Each person is differently, just let your love for him guide you on what to say and do - I know you'll be fine...you know why? You cared enough to ask for advice.

I am a "care-giver" to my husband who has SCLC, he is 41. I see peoople being uncomfortable around him and I see his friends who have chosen not to call - try and be yourself and not show pity - just concern.

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If you used to be a happy person and is now very withdrawn, visit him as you would have a year ago...take the laughter to him.

While I was healing from my surgery, it hurt so bad for my chest cavity to do ANYTHING, take a deep breath, cough, laugh...SNEEZE (ouch!)... People were SOOO careful around me, trying not to make me laugh, and it was so hard emotionally to not have the laughter (I'm a natural-born joker). My first good laugh was watching a really stupid TV show and I laughed myself into a fit of tears. Yeah, it hurt - hurt bad, but the laughing still felt good through the pain (which was a heck of a lot better than the pain of the other mentioned "functions").

Keep things light, but if he wants to talk some and open up and chooses you, decide if you can handle being the listener. Not everyone can... I hope your uncle gets past the depressing stuff, accepts and goes back to his old self in many ways. This disease ain't for sissies...

Chin up, deep breath...and take your newest supply of jokes and leave him laughing!

Take care,


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Aimee, be as normal as you can be. Humor and laughter are probably even more necessary. Share memories of good times. Help him focus on some short term goals where he feels accomplishment, something to live and fight for. He needs a bit more attention from the family now than before, so keep in touch. And don't put off things you want to do with him, for him -- do them. Good luck. Don

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