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Making a cancer patient feel pretty

 
 
Reply Tue 19 Jul, 2005 04:01 pm
A while ago we found out my mother had breast cancer. Since then she has undergone the surgical removement of the cancer tumor and another minor surgery to prepare her for chemotherapy.

She has started chemotherapy and recently she's trimmed her hair and I feel that was a big blow for her. Other than that I'm very proud of the way she's managing all this as she's very positive and certain that this is only a phase she'll remember in time. What are little things I can do to make her feel pretty? Right now I've tried to hug her as much as possible and to comment on details such as her clothing and such. Any feedback would be appreciated.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 3,994 • Replies: 23
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jul, 2005 04:35 pm
You're a good guy for doing this, JoeFX. I know this role m'self.

One idea is to stimulate a non-visual sense. We're all very wrapped up in what we look like, but there's also aroma and the feel of clothing. Potpourri or perfume might be appreciated (but ask, make sure it won't make her nauseous). There's also nice feeling clothes, like soft lambswool or silk or the like. Lace is good, and little detail-y things, like a nice bracelet or watch, something for her to look at and think of you. There's also a lot of waiting with chemo. Does your mom like to do things like crossword puzzles, or enjoy novels or the like? If so, maybe get her a bunch, particularly things she can do quickly and it won't be a problem if she leaves stuff at the doctor's by mistake -- maybe go to the local library or bookstore and just buy a bunch of cheapie paperbacks. It'll be good for her to have little things to look forward to.

One thing you can also do, in the vein of stuff to look forward to is to tell when you will next visit or call, and make it another thing to look forward to. Then your mom can say to herself, "I need to keep the line clear on Thursday at 5 because Joe is going to call and I don't want to miss his call." That definitely helps.

Like I said before, you're a good guy. Welcome to the brotherhood/sisterhood of chemo support people.
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Noddy24
 
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Reply Tue 19 Jul, 2005 04:37 pm
Flowers.

Cheerful, current gossip.

Ask her advice.

Admire her courage--but be sure you know that your shoulder is available.
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ehBeth
 
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Reply Tue 19 Jul, 2005 04:43 pm
This Canadian side of this group has been enormously helpful for a couple of my good friends.
look good feel better ... click
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shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jul, 2005 04:52 pm
http://a1204.g.akamai.net/7/1204/1401/04122212011/images.barnesandnoble.com/images/8850000/8857497.jpg

This is a fabulous book.
If your mother loves quick reading about women, inspirational stories etc..
I would recommend giving this to her as a gift.

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?userid=X28DnoqBXq&isbn=1584794127&itm=1

I would suggest ( hearing this from other cancer survivors ) , to keep her surrounded by family and friends. Familiar people who wont stare.
The most common theme I ran into talking to cancer survivors was the discomfort they felt in public. People were always staring, then smiling the " Pity smile."
That seemed to have more of an effect on the women I knew then anything else.
Offer to GO do things for her. If she goes out, try to go with her so that the pain of peoples rudeness is minimized.

Your mother is very lucky to have someone like you who cares so much about her. This is a hard road for everyone. I wish you all the best in your efforts to help your mother.
I wish your mother a gentle , swift recovery.
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Pantalones
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Jul, 2005 05:50 pm
Thanks for the replies.

I live with my parents so the visits are done daily in a sense.

The waiting period is something that concerns me as my mother is a very active woman and she's out of the house most of the time so when she's forced to be on bed she doesn't know what to do. Crosswords seem like an excellent idea to cover that up, she's already on a book club so she has material to read. She doesn't read english so I can't give her shewolf's book but I'll print some texts from ehBeth's site.

Family has been incredibly supportive as her sisters go with her to all the doctor's appointments. Luckily my family is very close so we are not lacking in that kind of support.

She's very positive and conscious that this is just a phase and that a year from now this'll probably be over, so the mood here very similar to what we're used to.
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ehBeth
 
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Reply Wed 20 Jul, 2005 05:56 pm
I noticed the Spanish language option - hope she can find a support network - it does seem to help enormously.

JoeFX - are you in a large enough community that there might be dragonboat-racing?
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edgarblythe
 
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Reply Wed 20 Jul, 2005 06:46 pm
You are doing well, Joe. Keep up the great work.
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Pantalones
 
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Reply Fri 22 Jul, 2005 07:31 pm
Excuse my ignorance Beth, but what is dragonboat racing?
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CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Jul, 2005 07:41 pm
Joe, you're not far from San Diego. Here in town is a day spa founded by a plastic surgeon, who will offer to breast
cancer survivors free spa treatments - once a month.

Look it up under SK Sanctuary in La Jolla.
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Lady J
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Jul, 2005 11:58 am
CJ, that sounds like a wonderful treat! I wish there had been one of those spas in the Sacramento area when my mom had her cancer.

Joe, first and foremost it sounds like your mom has a great attitude and outlook on this situation. That does wonders for the healing process. And the fact that she loves to stay as busy as she has always been is going to do a lot to further her successful outcome.

In the last year and a half, both of my parents have had cancer and to meet them, even during the treatment phases, you would never even have known it. They each approached it like, "eh, another bump along life's highway, let's get it fixed so we can get on with things." They each chose radiation as their form of treatment and I know that is a LOT easier than the chemo your mom is going to go through. Keeping her sense of humor will definitely help.

I used to treat my mom to a spa pedicure when I would visit. Even though I lived over 100 miles away and didn't have a car, I would managed to make it once a month. She had never had a pedicure before this and fell in love with the pampering she got from the knees down. We also used to play "beauty parlor", where I would wash her hair for her and blow dry it in different styles just for the fun of it.

Dad was tougher, because all those froo froo lady things didn't appeal to him. But I used to go with him to the hardware store or the bank help him fix the sprinklers and all the little handyman/woman chores. Just he and I spending time together was comforting for us both.

One thing I just thought of, but never did myself...when your mom is feeling rather run down from the chemo, someone might read to her from a book that she loves. I know for me, when I am having an especially painful day and it hurts to even hold a book, my fiance and my kids before that, will read to me. It is so relaxing!

In essence, just spoil her rotten. Fix her favorite meals, rent her favorite movies, buy her some elegantly smelling bath washes or french soaps. If she likes to wear makeup, have someone doll her up so she feels pretty even though she may be feeling kind of yucky on the inside.

But most importantly, I think the best thing you can give her is a gift of your time. Just being there as you already are. Smile
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bluefin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jul, 2005 12:37 am
Cancer
hello
sorry to hear about your mother and happy to read you are doind so much for her
the best thing i can suggest is dont treat her like a patinet but a normal human being
take her out on outings and small vacations, arrange family dinners etc
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Pantalones
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Jul, 2005 02:44 am
Thanks guys and girls, will definitely check that spa out CJ.

Bluefin, I've tried to keep a balance between treating her like a patient and treat her just like I used to. I think the best way to juggle this is by treating her just like before except when the days after the chemo when she feels down and must be in bed, those days I stay in the house to be there if she needs something and do extra house chores she normally does herself.
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OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Jul, 2005 03:02 am
When Deanna Favre went through it; Brett Favre shaved his head in solidarity and I think that was the classiest move ever. I wished I had thought of it when my mom went through it.

There is an episode of Sex in the City, where Kim Catrall (spelling?) goes through it, buys a wig, ultimately says "[email protected] it" (it was too hot) and pulls it off in front of hundreds of people... only to see a half dozen or so other women do the same.

Tell her you took the time to post the question in the first place, too, and she'll likely be proud to have you. Good luck to you and your mom, dude. Take care of both of you.
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Pantalones
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Sep, 2005 11:42 pm
Thanks to all who have replied. OB, I thought about shaving my head but I didn't go through with it because of various reasons.

Just to keep updated, my mom is doing great. Most of the time she's almost as active as she was before the operation and treatment, obviously the days after chemo she rests but being aware her body limitations and following doctor's orders she's been fine. Last wednesday she got her 5th from 7 chemo so she's been happy it's almost over.

On the other hand, I'm scared she's taking the radiotherapy too lightly and that she'll feel sad when she's told she needs to extend the treating period for a few more months.

What's the general experience on radiotherapy? I have no clue what to expect from it or how long it generally lasts. I have an idea, don't know where I got it from that radiotherapy is softer on the body but harder on the mind when comparing it to chemo, but that's about it.
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Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Sep, 2005 03:16 pm
I've had two bouts of cancer, two bouts of radiation therapy. I don't enjoy it, but the alternative seems worse.

My first go-round I was very uncomfortable and resented dedicating two hours a day five days a week for eight weeks "just in case". I was tired lot of the time and suffered an inconvenient nuclear sunburn on the interior of my abdomen.

The second time around (different cancer) I decided that I might as well overlap chemo and radiation and be finished with the whole mess ASAP.
Radiation + Chemo is definitely worse than radiation alone.

The second time I was lucky enough to join a very clubby, supportive group of people who were also in my time slot for radiation treatments. One black woman had some of the most magnificent street clothes I've ever seen--she was a joy just to admire.

You're mother sounds like a sensible woman--she'll do what she has to do.
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Pantalones
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Feb, 2006 07:01 pm
Thanks to everyone who wrote something here.

As an update my mom finished her radiotherapy on December, she feels perfect now. I wasn't with her for the last three months of the treatment because I was in Italy in a student exchange program, I decided to go because she was feeling good and positive throughout the process. I'm back living with my parents now, and everything feels so normal as if she never had undergone surgery and treatment. Her hair is growing back now.

Everything worked out fine, I'm very thankful for that. She said the only side effect was feeling very tired while she was taking the radiation, but that might've been from the daily trips she did accross the border.

I'm happy Smile
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Feb, 2006 08:11 pm
Good, Joe. I've been through the rads too.

So far so good. Well, that is similar to most of us.

Nods to your mom.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Feb, 2006 08:13 pm
On the other hand, some deal with downhill diagnoses...
and I think some on a2k deal with that.
Tough stuff.
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Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Feb, 2006 08:52 pm
JoeFX--

Glad all is well.
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