Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

Perspective Is a Big Deal When Dealing With Fear

Posted in cancer, Caregiving, Illness, Self Care on July 20th, 2009 by Jim Hughes – 2 Comments

Perspective is a big deal, no matter what we’re dealing with in our lives.

Tweet About WSJ Article

Tweet About WSJ Article

For example, we can have cancer, and our perspective may be, “I’m dying of cancer.”

Or, we can choose to have a different perspective:  “I’m living with cancer until I pass.”

This example is from an article in today’s Wall Street Journal discussing a program for helping cancer patients deal with their illness.  While it’s dealing with cancer patients being able to find meaning for their lives in the face of their illness, it has a lot of value for those of us facing other challenges.  I highly recommend that you read it.

With cancer, nearly everyone’s biggest fear is dying.  But it’s usually unspoken, unsurfaced even.  Once it’s surfaced, the fear can be dealt with.  One can choose to adopt a perspective that gives life meaning and purpose, that takes control away from the fear.

But this principle is much more widely applicable.

Any chronic illness — heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and any of so many others — generates fears.  What if I have another heart attack?  What if I have to live in a wheel chair?  What if I …?

Your fear may not be from a medical condition, but from a situational condition.  What if I lose my lose the ability to live at the standard of living I’ve become used to?  What if I lose my job?  What if I …?

So what fears are you, or those you love, living with that haven’t been dealt with?

How could you, or could they, benefit from a change of perspective?

Worth some thought!

My good news is tempered by awareness.

Posted in cancer, Caregiving, Personal on June 24th, 2009 by Jim Hughes – 1 Comment

Late Monday afternoon, we received really good news from Dad’s doctor.  The pathology report on the tumors and surrounding tissue removed from Dad’s bladder last week turned out to be a noninvasive, non-aggressive type of cancer, and it had been completely removed.  That means that he doesn’t need additional surgery or chemo or radiation and can just be checked every three months for reoccurrence.

As my daughter Sara said on hearing the news, “The quality of life just got better for all of us.”

We’re certainly rejoicing in this unexpected good news.  Our thankfulness is hard to even express.

But my joy and thankfulness is tempered by awareness of what is happening to others.

  • That same evening Eloise and I attended the viewing for a dear friend, spending some bittersweet time with his wife. They were like extra grandparents for our kids when they were young, even keeping all three to allow us a special trip to Amsterdam.  Less than a week elapsed between his cancer diagnosis and his death.
  • At the same time as our good news was being broadcast in our church’s prayer email, the news was also sent out that a friend’s mom diagnosed with lymphoma six weeks ago was going home with hospice care.  She passed peacefully last night.
  • I did chaplaincy rounds yesterday afternoon at M.D. Anderson, spending time with several people who have not received good news.

My awareness makes me realize all the more how special good news is, and it fuels my thankfulness.

My awareness also makes me more compassionate to friends and sojourners whose news is not good.

And I understand better that life is a bittersweet mixture of rejoicing with those who are rejoicing, and mourning with those who are mourning, and that both can be happening at the same time.

Personal Caregiving: Some of This Week’s Activities

Posted in cancer, Caregiving, Personal on June 21st, 2009 by Jim Hughes – Comments Off

This promises to be a busy week helping Dad with his medical things.

Monday morning Dad’s having a colonoscopy.  He’s had some concerning symptoms, so my prayers are for negative findings, and safety during the procedure.

It’s also probable that we’ll get the pathology report Monday on the two tumors removed from Dad’s bladder last week.  We’d love for it to prove his doctor’s opinion that the tumors are an aggressive cancer wrong, but should it not, it will start in process setting up appointments for followup diagnostic testing and consultations.

He also has an appointment this week with his audiologist.  We’re hoping his hearing aids can be tuned or repaired to get his hearing back to where it was a few months ago.

By the way, for a guy that’s nearing 85, Dad’s amazing in so many ways.  He bounced back from Wednesday’s procedure in rapid fashion, took care of several business items himself later in the week, and was at worship and class this morning doing his regular visiting with lots of folks.

And also, we’ll actually celebrate Father’s Day sometime during the week.  Today he was on his liquid diet and doing the prep for tomorrow’s procedure.  I suspect he’ll be ready for a nice dinner one evening soon.

Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers as we navigate some new territory for us.  I’ll post updates as we progress through the week.  Thanks for reading, and I hope your week is blessed.

Tomorrow’s an Early Morning

Posted in cancer, hospital visits, Illness, Personal on June 16th, 2009 by Jim Hughes – 1 Comment

Tomorrow’s going to be an early morning.  I’m supposed to have Dad at the hospital by 6:00 a.m. for his procedure.

I’ve never been a fan of early mornings.  Even for fishing, although that’s about the best reason I can think of for getting up early.  Eloise and I enjoy late evenings and slow starts to the morning.

Tomorrow morning’s difficult for another reason.  Dad’s procedure is to remove a tumor from his bladder.  The doctor seems confident it’s cancer.

Fortunately, the procedure itself is quick, although performed under anesthesia.  It only takes about 30 minutes to perform, and then after a couple of hours to let the anesthesia effects dissipate, he will be able to go back to his apartment.

We’ll appreciate your thoughts and prayers as we take this step which will help us learn what’s next.

“Your Dad Has Cancer”

Posted in cancer, Caregiving on June 7th, 2009 by Jim Hughes – 6 Comments

“Your dad has cancer” are words we never want to hear.  But in fact, those are the words the doctor spoke when he called me Friday.

My dad, who is approaching his 85th birthday, is happily quite independent.  We went through a spell a few years ago when that was not the case.  He was quite dependent on me.

But for the last year or so, he has been functioning quite independently.  That includes scheduling and going to his own doctor’s appointments.  In fact, I was unaware that he was visiting his urologist on Friday.

So the call from the doctor’s office came out of the blue.  I was in the process of mowing, and was just taking a break when the call came.

Mr. Hughes, your dad is here, and this morning I scoped his bladder to determine the cause of his frequent urination and urgency.  He has a tumor in his bladder.  If you asked me to guess, I’d say it was an aggressive cancer.  We’ll schedule a procedure to remove it and get a pathology report.

I asked a question or two, and asked that he also talk to my daughter, a nurse practitioner at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

It’s Sunday night as I write this, and I’m still in the early stages of processing what I heard mid-day Friday.  But here are some of the things that have been running through my mind.

  • This is more evidence that life’s not fair.  Dad has survived two wives who both died of cancer.  It doesn’t seem fair that he should have to battle cancer too.
  • I spend a lot of time with cancer patients.  I really don’t want my dad to be a cancer patient.  I don’t want to be a cancer caregiver.
  • Maybe because I know a lot about cancer, this won’t be as hard as if I were a novice.  Then again, maybe it’s gong to be harder because of my knowledge.
  • None of us gets an exemption from life’s struggles.  Being an oncology nurse practitioner doesn’t exempt your family from cancer.  Serving as a lay chaplain to cancer patients doesn’t get an exemption either.
  • Dad’s doing better with this news than I am.  He’s been expecting everything that comes along to be cancer.  I think that’s because he saw Mom develop it, and then his second wife, Carol.
  • We really don’t know what to expect until we get the pathology report.
  • I’m going to have to work a lot harder on my own self care.  I’m going to have to take my advice more seriously.
  • This is not a good time for me to take on additional care giving duties.  I’m already kind of full up.  I don’t guess that matters a whole lot, however.

I’m trying to take this news as much in stride as I can.  I’ve spent time in prayer about it.  I’ve asked my church family to also pray about it.

Because through all of the other thoughts I’ve had the last few days, one predominates.  Dad is in God’s hands.  This whole situation is in God’s hands, as are all of our situations.  Whatever is ahead, we will be sustained.