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Old 25-03-2017, 08:20 AM   #1
pixiedust_11
 
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Bereavement.

Hi all,

Recently a very close friend and colleague of mine has been diagnosed with an extremely rare kind of cancer. Statistics show that the prognosis is generally not good, and therefore they're going to throw literally everything they can at it to fight it. Whilst this is positive, it obviously means that my friend is about to go through a very demanding period of time. He will be starting chemotherapy this week, and if his body responds well he may be a candidate for surgery.

Could anybody advise me as to how I might be able to best provide support for him? So far there has been a lot of emotional support in the build up to this but I have had no experience of anyone having gone through chemotherapy so I don't know what to expect. His work is closely associated with where he lives and so when he's not around in the office he is only a short walk away, meaning there's the potential to support in both his home and work life.

Thank you for any advice or comments in advance - I'm desperate to do whatever I can to make this as easy a ride as possible and so I'm eager to learn from those who have had first/second hand experience of this.


Last edited by pixiedust_11 : 12-11-2017 at 11:56 AM.


Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world awaits in darkness for the light that is you.

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Old 28-03-2017, 12:57 PM   #2
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I don't have first hand experience in this but talking to others in second hand I know that people who are fighting cancer do certainly feel lonely because friends don't know how to communicate or know what to say or whether they are being a burden or they find visiting too upsetting so the friendship drifts apart. This is such a shame as it's when the patient needs their friends the most. What I would say it to try and keep 'normal' levels of communication. They may not feel up to having visitors often but if you normally text, keep texting or snapchat whatever. Offer to pop in perhaps with a hot drink from a coffee shop rather than saying can I come over for a cuppa as that implies that they have to be well enough to 'entertain' and make tea etc which they might not be up to. Keep the humour going, laughter can keep spirits high and is great for physical health. It's going to be a rough ride but with your support I'm sure it will make this experience a much easier one than without love and support.

Sophie.x



Soon... Now will be then...Today will be yesterday... Present will be past...And thought will be memory... So...Live for the future! Make your future how you want it!

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Old 29-03-2017, 10:09 PM   #3
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I'd keep up with your friend by popping by with coffee/tea/hot chocolate. I would also suggest running errands or bringing by home-made meals where all he has to do is heat them up again.

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Old 03-04-2017, 12:06 AM   #4
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My best friend is undergoing chemo. She has it every 2 weeks and she's had 3 sessions so far.
She is wiped out for the first week and she isn't able to do much at all.
We, her friends, Have a Whattsapp group in support of her and we have a rota to help coordinate who is going in to do visits, make lunch or tea for her.
She doesn't have a partner or any family nearby so she's basically being looked after by a core of about 6-8 friends.

The chemo is cumulative in its affects and affects individuals differently.

mouth ulcers is quite common and my friend finds sucking boiled sweets helpful. If they get really bad sucking on ice pops or ice cubes is supposed to help.

my friends hair is thinning but it wasn't supposed to be one of the side effects of the particular chemo she is having so it's been a bit of a shock. But we've found out where to get a wig from and we're going to go and have a look at them in case all her hair does come out.

Fatigue is a big thing with chemo. My friend has 3 hours of chemo IV on a Saturday and then is sent home with a chemo bag lasting 48 hours . This really knocks her out. I saw her a couple of days ago and she was drifting in and out of sleep. In the second week after her chemo she improves and is able to do more.

We take her out for little walks or for a coffee /something to eat.

She is allowed alcohol but not for 48 hours prior to chemo or 48 hours after chemo

She's had quite a bit of trauma in her life in hte past 12 months culminating with being diagnosed with cancer in Dec 16. She had 2 major operations in Dec and now the chemo. She has another operation after the chemo is finished.

She's stage 3.

Just being there for your friend to make a snack or drink. Talking about the cancer. Being positive. Think of something to do with your friend when they#ve finished chemo/treatment as a goal to look forward to.
hugs, reminisce about the good times

don't lose hope. positivity really does help when it comes to beating cancer.

I'm so sorry your friend is going through this.

Good luck and all the best
xxxx

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Old 03-04-2017, 01:32 AM   #5
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Everyone has already mentioned really fab ideas!

I just want to add a few things, first off (if it's okay with them) help them get the support and care they are entitled to. Unfortunately it can take a while to get carers in or even just an assessment for both what health & social care stuff needs putting in place. I know with my dad and with my gran now we are having to push to have carers in etc. And thats something that someone undergoing chemo shouldn't have to be worrying about.

Also, cancer can impact massively financially. So try and find out your friend is entitled to. I know with my dad they came round to the house to assess him for PIP as he was too unwell to go to an assessment centre. Your friend should be able to get a blue badge for the car as well. I'm not sure what other benefits he may be entitled to. But it may be helpful for him to be informed, or have a friend who can be informed on his behalf.

Finally, it sounds like he's doing great at getting at the house right now, but if he becomes to weak or it affects his mobility for another reason it is definitely still good to encourage going out every so often. A way you can do this is by hiring out a wheelchair. We are doing the for my Grandma as she loves to be outside. And obviously there are huge benefit of getting out from 4 walls and having some fresh air.

I hope this helps a little and I hope you are okay. I've been through it, this is my 4th time now my Grandmas ill so I know how draining it can be for family/friends. Remember to look after yourself.



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Old 05-04-2017, 07:44 AM   #6
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Thank you very much for all of your suggestions. He has had his second session of chemo earlier this week and now has a 3 week break I believe, which even after just 2 sessions he says he is relieved. It looks like tiredness and general sickness is kicking in now. I know he's in a lot of pain, but he's dosed up on meds. I saw him at the weekend and helped him tidy the kitchen/wash up. He wouldn't let me do it all myself but helping was a good compromise.

One thing I do worry about is accidentally saying something which might be hurtful or offensive. Last time I was with the family they were sharing some of the hugely insensitive things they've heard from complete strangers who are aware of the illness, demanding they know every little detail. Whilst I would never do that myself, I'm worried that even a simple 'How are you?' would come across as being stupid, as it's obvious that he and his family are not okay. This is an extremely aggressive and rare cancer, so there's not much beating about the bush to be done.

So my question is, how else could you express your love for someone without making any blunders? Something along the lines of: 'It's lovely to see you' or 'You're looking much better today' (but even then could that cause offence?) I'm sure there's a lengthy list of things you're never supposed to say to a cancer sufferer but I just don't know what they are beyond my own common sense.

I am otherwise trying to be as positive/hopeful as possible, whilst allowing him the space to be emotionally honest and express himself however he needs. Luckily I'm quite good at listening and so I think that's a relief for him, knowing he can talk about the darker stuff away from his children. So I think that means I'm doing okay...? I hope that makes sense - and thank you again. This is hugely draining but can't be anywhere near as bad as what it must for for him and his family.



Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world awaits in darkness for the light that is you.

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Old 12-04-2017, 12:45 PM   #7
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Heya,

I don't have first hand experience of this but just wanted to drop by and say that I think the best thing to do when dealing with situations like this is to just be natural and go with what feels right, particularly when one is a very empathetic and emotionally intelligent person, like yourself! I think that if you over-think it and try so hard to avoid saying anything that could potentially be seen as a 'blunder' then you risk also avoiding saying lots of things that are really supportive, real and natural. I hate those things on fb that are all about "ten things not to say to someone with xyz". I just think it makes people think that they have to tread on egg shells when really the only thing to really not do is to say nothing.

Sorry for this ramble. It sounds like you are doing a wonderful job of supporting him (I hope you're also taking care of you and giving yourself space to talk to others about how his cancer is affecting you) and I hope that his treatment is successful :)

(P.S. I adore your signature quote)



Well find a way to fight it, we always have.
It's not how tragically we suffer but how miraculously we live.


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Old 12-04-2017, 01:24 PM   #8
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I think like J says just try and be natural. Many people with a big illness like Cancer will already feel like they are a burden on people so won't want people treading on egg shells. Just be honest if you do think your friend looks a bit brighter, you can always back it up with asking them if they feel it. I know through going through caring for people myself that looks can be deceiving sometimes and certainly with my dad he looked ill to us that knew him but to anyone that didn't they wouldn't have had a clue. He looked far from death which is how we knew it would turn out. We were all quite surprised at times how well he did look for someone so unwell.

Another thing that I didn't add in but it reminded me when you mention him wanting to do stuff and you guys coming to a compromise. Is that it's so important for many people to keep independence. Lots of friends family, think they are being helpful by taking over doing lots round the house and such. But that can be really important to someone unwell feeling they are still capable of doing things. Obviously you have to weigh up the risks, and some people will need to give in to some assistance, but be aware this can be very challenging for some.

I am glad you are doing okay so far. I can totally relate to it being draining, if you need to offload anywhere we are here. And there are people in the real world who can help out. Just keep an eye on your own levels of tiredness so you don't burn yourself out.



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Oh eyes like wild flowers within demons of change ♥


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Old 13-04-2017, 08:11 PM   #9
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Thank you so much again for your input I do really appreciate it. Today we had a huge event at work (probably one of the biggest in the year) and it meant so much to him that he could attend. He came to rehearse people beforehand but then had to leave because he was just so shattered. He left with tears in his eyes. It's so heartbreaking. He's been to this event 30 years on the trot in his line of work and this is the first he's had to miss. I just wish so very much I could take his pain away. It's physically awful in that he is now getting mouth ulcers (I suggested ice cubes and boiled sweets by the way, so thank you for the tip!) and is also experiencing horrendous pain and fatigue, but it is also emotionally difficult. He is being faced with his mortality in ways which nobody would ever expect.

I just want to shower him with love and praise for doing so well despite all he faces, and yet I just find myself wanting to cry all the time because it breaks my heart just a little more to see him not on his truest form. It's just heartbreaking. Cancer is indiscriminately unfair.

I'm so sorry for the rant. I'm just tired from all the stress and extra effort at work and on top of this I'm having to watch one of my closest friends deteriorate before my eyes. I just so hope the chemo works so he is given a chance. I hope it works so it makes all this pain worth it.



Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world awaits in darkness for the light that is you.

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Old 18-04-2017, 10:58 AM   #10
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That sounds really heart-breaking to watch and I'm glad you've posted about your feelings about it (and you definitely don't need to be sorry for doing so!).

Does he have any contact with cancer charities such as Macmillan? I know that Macmillan nurses/helplines can be a really crucial lifeline for people dealing with cancer.

With regard to wanting to shower him with love and praise, would you find it easier to do that in a card or letter? Depending on his personality and your relationship with him, maybe a funny or silly card with a more serious message from you inside might make for a welcome break from the solemn "thinking of you" cards that he may well have received.



Well find a way to fight it, we always have.
It's not how tragically we suffer but how miraculously we live.


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Old 19-05-2017, 05:12 PM   #11
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I'm sorry I haven't replied to this in a long time. The truth is I felt strong and didn't want to over-rely on others. Today I totally broke down at work. I've been powering through everything at work to ensure the show carries on, but one tiny trigger all of a sudden reminds me that I'm only human, and that this is incredibly painful.

He has finally been put in touch with a charity who are helping him with his pain management and the emotional aspect of things. I'm so pleased, because it means he can talk to someone who can explain that certain aches and pains are simply side effects of his meds, not because the cancer is getting worse. It also means that with this added support, he can enjoy time well spent with family and friends, which is valuable.

That being said, he was hospitalised about a month ago and he was very unwell. He is now back home and has finally restarted treatment, but they were reluctant to do this, probably because they didn't see how it would help with his quality of life. I think they wanted to call it quits.

Maybe it makes me stupid and I'm only setting myself up, but I have never once let go of hope, and despite what doctors and nurses say, I still hang on to that. I stand firm with him in his optimism because I don't know what else I can do. I don't know how else to be. Does that make me totally naive?

I'm sorry for the ramble. I guess I feel better for having written it.



Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world awaits in darkness for the light that is you.

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Old 19-05-2017, 06:54 PM   #12
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No need to apologise, I'm glad that you were feeling strong, though perhaps given that you struggled at work today it's important to still allow yourself to get support even when you're feeling strong? You are indeed only human (though a pretty awesome one!) and that's OK and not a weakness or anything like that.

I'm glad that he's getting support from a charity; it sounds like it's very helpful.

I don't think holding on to hope makes you stupid or nave. I think it is important to know in the back of your mind that the prognosis isn't good, but optimism is a good and powerful quality.

I'm glad you feel better for having written it, we're always here to listen :)



Well find a way to fight it, we always have.
It's not how tragically we suffer but how miraculously we live.


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Old 02-11-2017, 07:04 PM   #13
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Hi, please feel free to ignore, I just had to post here. My heart is breaking so much. I received a text today from my friend, how he feels so horrendously awful and unwell. How the pain is beginning to subside but the tiredness is really setting in, and how he just wants nothing more than to sleep. He says he sees no other way out.

This utterly broke my heart. I think his time is nearly here. I think he wants to let go but is afraid. He has not texted me like this since he first received his diagnosis at the beginning of the year when he was in shock and really needed support. Doctors thought he'd be gone by the summer and it's November. He is remarkable, but this breaks my heart into a thousand tiny pieces. I just want to help but there is literally nothing I can do.



Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world awaits in darkness for the light that is you.

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Old 02-11-2017, 08:41 PM   #14
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I can understand the fear and pain and feeling of helplesness. What you can do now is probably to just be there. To listen and to help ease his fears a little bit. And it is okay to be sad and heartbroken. It is also okay to show this. You don't have to pretend.

I wish i could somehow say something that could help you through this. It is going to be hard. Maybe it is going to be one of the hardest things you'll have to get through. But you can do it.

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to him. That is all you can do now. And please reach out for support when you need it.

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Old 05-11-2017, 03:33 PM   #15
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^I can't add anything to the amazing post above but just wanted to say that I'm thinking of you.



Well find a way to fight it, we always have.
It's not how tragically we suffer but how miraculously we live.


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Old 06-11-2017, 05:50 AM   #16
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Thank you both, know you're right that I just need to let myself be sad. I am so afraid of feeling this sad, it is causing me severe anxiety. Grief has never ever served me well in the past and does not do good things for me. I had to leave work last week due to a huge migraine attack. These only ever happen to me during times of extreme stress. Ii have been awake since 4am not knowing what to do with myself. I'm sorry i just needed somewhere to post. I will pull myself together I am sure.



Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world awaits in darkness for the light that is you.

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Old 06-11-2017, 09:14 PM   #17
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This is not a matter of pulling yourself together. Nobody in their right mind would ask you to do that right now. It is a terrible thing to be in grief. It is lonely and painful and heartbreaking. I hope you can find the strenght to reach out. I think a lot of people would be welcoming and kind in that respect. Grief is something we all experience and it is also something that, despite the pain and emptiness of it, can bring us closer to each other.

Don't pull yourself togetherbecause you don't have to. If you can, then try to tune in on what you really need right now and then try to seek that out. And don't be alone too much with your thoughts.

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Old 07-11-2017, 04:50 PM   #18
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Thank you Zurg you speak very kind words that mean a lot. The horrible thing about grief is that we are so used to being in control of it that we expect ourselves to follow a certain pattern. I'm scared of not being in control of how I feel, which I know is what grief will do to me. I feel so physically sick. I can't tell if it's post migraine fatigue or anxiety, but either way it's like a storm cloud hanging over me.

I am going to have to try so hard to be strong. Everyone at work is affected but they know how much this is going ot hurt me. I'm just waiting for the news now. It's horrible. I responded to his text asking him to never forget how loved he is. I hope that echoes in his mind. I hope this end is peaceful.

I'm sorry I just need to keep writing here which I hope is okay. I just need a safe space right now.



Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world awaits in darkness for the light that is you.

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Old 07-11-2017, 06:50 PM   #19
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Please keep writing. I'm sorry but I don't really have any words. I just hope you can allow yourself to experience whatever emotions you may have in a safe way. Reach out to the people around you who are going through a similar time too if it helps, it's good to have people there who understand and are able to support each other.





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Old 09-11-2017, 03:10 AM   #20
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Thank you. The fact that we will all have to go through this together brings me a little comfort, I could not face another bereavement alone. Can't sleep again but I am not crying this time. Worried sick. I have abig meeting at work tomorrow. If he goes when I am away from everyone and at this meetin I think I will lose my mind and stop functioning. I could just do with lying in a darkened room and never lleaving. I feel so fed up and dejected by everything that has happened in the last couple of years. I feel selfish for wantig this to be over even though I know what that means.

I'm sorry for moaning, I just need to get it out of my head so I am not alone with it. It's 3am in the morning and I'm afraid of sleep but Is'm also afraid of being awake. Thank you for being kind. It is helping tremendously. I feel exhausted from emotion. I honestly did not think it ws humanly possible to feel as much as I have felt in the last two years. My heart just hurts so much for all the breaking. Feelings are horrible.



Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world awaits in darkness for the light that is you.

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