I hope it’s ok for me to post here. I’m going to visit my grandmother this weekend and could use some advice.
Three weeks ago, my aunt (my grandmother’s youngest child) was diagnosed with stage 3c ovarian cancer. She went in for surgery yesterday ~ the plan was to do a hysterectomy and remove part of her colon that had been damaged because of a tumor pressing against it. I don’t really understand all the details, especially since I’m hearing them third-hand, but from what I gather, they weren’t able to perform the surgery. The doctor said the cancer had spread to her uterus, was “still growing” and they didn’t want to disturb anything, so they re-positioned the tumor (which has been causing my aunt a great deal of pain) and performed a colostomy. We are waiting to hear the pathology report, but they don't believe it's in her lymph nodes. For now the tentative plan is for her to be released on the 5th and to begin chemo sometime soon. She's doing remarkably well and is in great spirits ~ she sat up while in recovery, is in no pain now that the tumor has been re-positioned and is telling everyone that she's not giving up and is going to fight and win this battle.
We had made plans to visit my grandmother over a month ago ~ she’s about 3 hours away from us ~ but last night, there was some discussion about her wanting to come here to see my aunt. No one thought that was a good idea as she’s in her 90’s, has been having her own health issues and would be extremely run down as a result of making the trip….but of course we all understood why she’d want to be here. I told my mom that I’d wait to cancel our hotel reservations until we knew for sure what my grandmother’s plans were. I got a call this morning from her wanting to make sure we were still planning on coming ~ in the voicemail she said she’d decided not to come here.
I called her back and from the sounds of it, the family (her two other daughters – including my mom – and her son) has talked her out of making the trip. Also, it appears that my other aunt (her oldest daughter who lives in the same retirement community) may be leaving on Saturday to come here and help take care of my aunt….leaving my grandmother by herself. I know everyone is hoping that our visit there will be somewhat of diversion for her ~ she’s been staying in her room a lot and the last three weeks have really drained her physically and emotionally. She told my mom she feels guilty celebrating the 4th of July with my aunt being in the hospital, but at the same time she wants to see us.
She’s a very stoic woman and although extremely loving, she’s not one to show her own emotions. She was crying when we were on the phone but she did her best to hide it. My mom says I shouldn’t let her just sit around and cry while we’re there and that I need to make sure she gets out of her room and walks around. Honestly, I’m at a loss as to how to handle the situation. I don’t think we should try to ignore the elephant in the room ~ obviously we are all concerned about my aunt ~ but I also don’t want to dwell on it and depress my grandmother even more. My inclination is to follow her lead on everything, including whether she wants to play cards or just take a nap.
Any advice or suggestions would be most welcome as to how I should handle this weekend visit. Thanks in advance!
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07-02-2009, 10:31 AM #1
07-03-2009, 05:45 AM #2
I think your children alone would bring so much joy to your grandmother. Take her for a few little outings... nothing that would wear her out too much, a little lunch, a park, etc. or just go and visit with her. If you are there to visit, do some of the normal things you would with her. Like you said, play cards, take a nap, etc.
But I don't think you should ignore your aunt's cancer either. Even though she is 90 and her "baby" is 60s or 70s, it is still her child who is sick. Let her talk about it, ask questions and let her tell stories about your mom and aunt when they were children, or when she was young too... how did she meet your grandfather? And let her cry too. It would be hard enough to have your child sick and dying and not be able to go see her; so she needs to be able to talk about it too. Follow her lead like you said, but do allow her time to talk and and worry and mourn if she needs to.
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles." — Audrey Hepburn
07-07-2009, 05:58 AM #3GingerILRegistered User Over 5,000 Posthas no status.
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First of all, of course it is OK for you to post here--anyone affected by cancer is "welcome". (((HUGS))) I am so sorry that you and your family have to deal with this. It sounds like you have a very close and supportive family and that will be a great comfort to all of you in the months and years to come. Mary gave you some excellent advice about your visit with your Grandmother (which by now is already over), so I hope it went well. I can only imagine how painful this must be for her--her "child" being struck with cancer, and she not being able to be there for her. I'm sure it was a great comfort to her to have you and your children there. Regardless of how stoic she is, just having you there to listen when and if she wants to vent, is surely good for her.
Please let us know how things went with your trip, and also please feel free to come here to vent/seek advice about your aunt's situation as your get more details.GingerIL
7 year battle with IF/Immune Issues
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07-08-2009, 01:12 PM #4SuzCaRegistered User Over 5,000 PostStatus? We don't need no stinkin Status!!!
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What Mary said. Your G’ Ma may be old and a bit frail, but her "child" is sick and she needs support. In the old days, as recently as 30-40 years ago, people were taught not to talk about illness. That has changed.
Go and see her, talk about your aunt, say loving and hopeful things about her, hug her, let her cry. Encourage her to remember this or that about your aunt. Look at pictures together. She needs support while she faces her daughter's illness. Now is not the time to be shy. Again, your G'ma has been taught to be stoic, but we have discovered it's not the best thing. Loving support is the best thing and a certain amount of openness is required.DD Fia, Ten going on 15!!
Breast Cancer Survivor - In Support of all of our survivors.
07-08-2009, 01:39 PM #5
Thank you for the responses. We were there Fri/Sat/Sun and it was a good visit, if somewhat tiring for DH and I. We spent most of our time there playing cards and/or board games. She also held the baby a lot ~ he recently started smiling more and she would get so tickled when he'd smile at her....he really helped lighten things up at times. As expected, there were some sad moments too but we talked through them. It got a little sticky during mealtimes because people would come up to my grandmother or aunt K and ask how my aunt M was doing. One time, a gentleman was talking rather loudly to some other people about my aunt....he was saying how things didn't look good...etc. I don't know if my grandmother heard him ~ DH didn't hear him, so it's possible she didn't ~ but after I kept looking over there, the people with him realized my grandmother was in the room and he stopped talking.
As for my aunt, we're still not sure what the prognosis is. Aunt M was supposed to be released from the hospital yesterday but she had some complications with her colostomy, so they wouldn't release her. I'm not sure when she'll be coming home. Also, the pathology reports were supposed to come back yesterday but when I talked to my mom in the late afternoon, they hadn't heard anything yet. From what I understand, they won't begin chemo until she heals from her surgery so that's at least another 5-6 weeks. The main concern is that it will spread even more during that timeframe. Initially, she was staying positive and upbeat, but lately that's started to fade ~ which is understandable. For now, we are waiting on the pathology reports and hoping that it isn't in her lymph nodes.
Thanks again for the advice. I'm sure I'll be back here as we get the results.
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