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  • Dads Partners' Diagnosis - do i get involved in her care



    3 replies

    Edited by kittyirvine 5 years ago

    hello all - new to the forum but all to familiar with the scourge of cancer. My mother died 7 years ago of lung cancer having been a smoker since she was 12. She died at 71 and from initial diagnosis to dying was a mere 12 weeks. Within 3 months of mum dying my dad took up a "friendship" with an ex girlfriend (a widow twice over but with no children) he had before he married my mum. They have been together for the last 6+ years, going on holiday together and he would visit her at the weekends. My relationship with her, while not close, is fine but i have always left them to do their own thing but invited them to any family events such as our wedding. I like her and think she's been good for my father. A few months ago she started complaining of pains in her legs which the doctors decided was peripheral artery disease from heavy smoking. She also has COPD. After this diagnosis my father cooled off the relationship as she could no longer "look after" him. I was seething at this behaviour as it was typical of his selfishness. She has no nearby family and supports her 90 year old sister! The pain continued and now following a raft of investigations she has been diagnosed with Lung Cancer. She's undergoing a biopsy tomorrow to see what stage it is at. Given her weight loss, pallor and the fact she's now on morphine for the pain, i fear the outcome will be a very poor prognosis. My dilemma is that i feel compelled to become heavily involved in her care as i can't bear the thought of her going through this herself while my father stands aimlessly looking on a situation he has no idea how to handle. I am an ex Nurse so know what is ahead having also nursed my mum. The questions i have to this forum is how do i approach my dads partner and ask her what i can do to support her - or indeed if she wants me to help her. I live some distance from both of them but would make the effort to be there for her.  Can anyone advise me? Thanks in anticipation. 

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  • Clare

    Edited by Clare 5 years ago

    Hello Kittyirvine,


    Thank you for sharing with us here on the community. It’s understandable that you are finding this situation a dilemma particularly having nursed your mum through the same illness.


    It can be difficult to know how to initiate the conversation with somebody about what help or support they would like from ourselves. If you feel direct questions would be awkward could you drop her an email or card, offering your time and support? Perhaps suggesting a time you could call or drop by to see her?


    While it’s understandable that you say that you feel compelled to become involved, especially as you see your dad not coping, it’s also ok for you to think about what type of support you would be comfortable to provide. We talk to people whose family and friends provide many different levels of support that they find equally valuable. Whether it’s being the person they know they can talk about anything with, doing the shopping, helping them arrange care at home or being the one who provides care. We have information on how friends and family can help that you may wish to look at -


    We hope that others on the community will share their experiences and suggestions with you.  We are here for you and your family with a listening ear.


    Take care,

    Clare – Support Line Officer

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  • kittyirvine

    Thanks for the kind reply clare. The biopsy wasnt performed as the nodes they took last week confirmed its a small cell carcinoma on the right side. She is being referred to oncology for discussion of treatment which i know to be palliative not curative. She had to travel some distance to the hospital for the investigations and she was surprised and delighted to see me as she hadnt been expecting it. Unlike my mum, she was quite willing to speak about her diagnosis and is ready for what lies ahead. I have explained that although i live some distance away, her treatment will involve being less than 50 miles from me so i'm happy to do whatever i can for her - she seemed pleased with that and even the small things i did this week for her helped her feel not quite so alone. Mentally she is bright and there's almost some relief at the definitive diagnosis. I'll be in regular touch with her and will offer what she is happy with - she is quite strong willed which is good. Thanks for your words and I'll check back with updates. It's sad that we are now seeing a generation of older people with smoking related lung cancer -  hoping the next generation avoid it!

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  • Clare

    Kittyirvine, it's lovely to hear that you have had such a positive reaction from your dad’s partner to your offer of support. It sounds as though you being at the hospital meant such a lot to her. It will be good to hear how you are both doing.


    Take care.




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