When your loved one has cancer, everything changes. Preparing for the worst is a natural response, but making sure that you have all the facts is the most important part of making decisions. I think you’ll be surprised how difficult that can be sometimes…
I got some great news this morning. A friend of mine has been battling cancer for two years and was coming to the end of her treatment options. There wasn’t much more they could do; the cancer was spreading, and her overall health was declining.
Her goal? To see her daughter, get married in October. So, as a last resort, the doctor suggested a new clinical trial.
Today, the doctors confirmed that this treatment is actually working!
Here’s where it gets complicated…
There is no way to fully prepare yourself for what’s coming when your loved one has cancer. Preparing for the worst is more complicated than you think.
This is a really difficult thing to watch people you love go through. No one can be prepared for the information or decisions that are being thrown on them (and sometimes on you) week after week. On one hand, you have to protect yourself. You have to try on some level to get ready for what’s coming but on the flip side, you already understand that this is too big, and the outcome is too uncertain.
Except for God, no one actually knows what’s going to happen.
Cancer is a tremendous amount of stress to deal with. You are always preparing for the worst, and planning a future can feel impossible. One day you are preparing for death, and a few weeks later as you are coming to terms with death… you find out that whatever treatment you have been doing is working. It’s like a roller coaster ride of emotions that you can’t keep up with.
My Dad had a very similar experience. You are always preparing for the worst on some level, but at one point, he was having some really significant issues and after some discussion about the possibility that our treatment wasn’t working, he had made the decision to stop treatment and enjoy the rest of his time.
When he made that decision, it was like he flipped a switch.
Everyone deals with stress differently. My dad was a commander and when he gets stressed, he takes control and gets things done. He made an entire bucket list to do which included some things he wanted to get situated to make things easier for us when the time came.
My mom, my sister and I, however, were all at different stages of grief while we were trying to process and deal with all of this information. My sister was stuck fully in the denial stage. My mom was an absolute wreck and I cried for an entire week, over literally everything. Preparing for the worst is devastating.
Here is the worst part, if he could have, he would have completed the missions to make life easier on his own. But throughout this ordeal, my dad completely lost his hearing. We have a caption phone at my parents’ house and it works great for us, but it’s kind of clunky if you wanted to have a conversation with a business or a doctor.
So, we helped him preplan the funeral, make last minute arrangements, and connect with end of life care. Add that to the text messages, emails and even a few phone calls pouring in about details for the services, where to find important papers and information, which charities to donate money too… I would do anything for my dad, but let me tell you, IT WAS THE WORST WEEK EVER.
We had some of the most heart-wrenching conversations. And, now we have prepared ourselves for the worst possible outcome and cried a lot.
Daddy has accepted his fate and planned everything out so it will be easier for us. We are not quite there yet, but we are working on acceptance when…
We attend our appointment with the medical oncologist to discuss the decision to stop treatment and find out that the treatment might actually be working, and it is strongly recommended that we continue.
We are now completely changing tracks and completely changing our mindset.
And so naturally, we all responded differently.
Daddy was having some difficulty switching tracks and was focused on finishing all the half-started missions. I was thrilled, totally bounced back and was ready to help him finish the missions, which didn’t seem as hopeless anymore. My sister was super excited and happy to report that she was right, and we were all wrong. And, mommy was “cautiously optimistic” definitely hopeful but always preparing for the bad news as well.
This is pretty much how we live our lives now. It’s emotionally exhausting. Seriously.
You’re headed in one direction when BANG! You have to completely switch gears and head in a totally different direction. And it happens constantly.
Cancer is a huge bunch of looming unknowns. There are no 100% answers to any of this.
If there were we would already have a cure.
This whole situation is a difficult, painful and draining process that is really hard to deal with. There is no “wrong way” or “right way” to deal with any of this. You do the best you can, and you take it day-by-day.
You do your best to work through it however you have to work through it and let everyone else do the same. For me, a healthy dose of perspective helps me keep going. The reality is, God is the only one who actually knows what’s going to happen. It makes no difference how I feel or what I think because everything will happen according to God’s plan.
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