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The phone call we all dread

The phone call we all dread

Old May 27th 2010, 9:32 am
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Default Re: The phone call we all dread

We're dealing with this right now too. My stepfather has just been diagnosed with lung cancer due to asbestos (he worked with it in the 50s). I'm sure the smoking didn't help either though. I heard there was possibly a lesion on his liver as well, but we'll know more the first week of June after more tests.

We have booked to come back in September...yes, it's 3 months from now, but it was all we could afford as I'm taking the kids back with me and we're staying for 5 weeks. It gets pricey hauling the whole family over.

I'm going primarily as support for my mom. I don't know what state my stepfather will be in by then. He has already told her that if the prognosis is not good, he wants to refuse all aggressive treatment and just let things progress on their own.

Good luck...it's terrible to go through and it does make things worse being so far away.

Last edited by Japonica; May 27th 2010 at 9:36 am.
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Old May 27th 2010, 9:33 am
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Default Re: The phone call we all dread

double post...sorry...

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Old May 27th 2010, 10:15 am
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Default Re: The phone call we all dread

Originally Posted by Japonica View Post
We're dealing with this right now too. My stepfather has just been diagnosed with lung cancer due to asbestos (he worked with it in the 50s). I'm sure the smoking didn't help either though. I heard there was possibly a lesion on his liver as well, but we'll know more the first week of June after more tests.

We have booked to come back in September...yes, it's 3 months from now, but it was all we could afford as I'm taking the kids back with me and we're staying for 5 weeks. It gets pricey hauling the whole family over.

I'm going primarily as support for my mom. I don't know what state my stepfather will be in by then. He has already told her that if the prognosis is not good, he wants to refuse all aggressive treatment and just let things progress on their own.

Good luck...it's terrible to go through and it does make things worse being so far away.
Very sorry to hear there is someone going through this at the moment. I just think you have to call it as you see it and hope for the best. My mum said that she isn't going to have aggressive therapy either. We are due back there in September too, but I'll just go by myself if the situation gets worse. Very hard with a 4 month boy.

Thoughts are with you.
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Old May 27th 2010, 12:57 pm
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Default Re: The phone call we all dread

Originally Posted by Smudger82 View Post
Up at 3am this morning, speaking to my mum who has today been diagnosed with lung cancer and secondary stomach cancer. It's pretty bad and the prognosis is quite poor.

I just wondered if anyone else had been in the same situation? Did you just drop everything and go back to the UK? Obviously we'll be heading back, but we're due to go back in August anyway. We would have a ton of stuff to organise here to pack up our lives, jobs, rented unit, sell car etc.

Just wondered if anyone has had to do the same thing and if there are any pitfalls we haven't accounted for.

Cheers
I'm so sorry to hear your news & truly hope things turn out well.

In Jan 2003 I got the call from my Mum, but the situation was a bit different for me. It was she who had moved abroad some 12 years previous. The C was very aggressive and it was treated with an operation, radiotherapy & chemotherapy.

I could not just drop everything and to be honest it was torture....I'll explain....I had just split from my husband of 16 years, was forced to start a new job because I could no longer work shifts. I had to take reduced hours and reduced wages and was just making ends meet as a lone parent with a 8 year old son. I had no financial reserve as the Divorce left me with increased debt.

I wanted to get to my Mum, but was not able to until 7 months later in the August. I just wish I could have been there for her sooner. She was so ill with all the treatment and I felt I had let her down by not being there for her sooner. The distance was a hard obstacle for me to overcome, but thank goodness she is still here with us today.

As things stand now, she has such strength and is the one who is totally behind me in our plans to go to Oz. She always tells me that you should always follow your heart. So that would be my advice to you. Whatever your heart tells you to do, it is probably right. But please do not do what I did and beat yourself up about circumstances out of your control. If you need to get back to the UK & you have the means etc. then, don't think twice.

Take care and my warmest wishes are with you.
x
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Old May 27th 2010, 1:30 pm
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Default Re: The phone call we all dread

Originally Posted by DadAgain View Post
I first got the call that my dad had cancer back in 2001. Within a week he was in hospital and had a kidney removed. I thought hard about dropping everything and flying back - but resisted and opted for a well timed holiday a couple of months or so later.

He recovered and was given the all clear so life continued wihtout incident for a while.

Then in one of his now routine follow scans in about 2004 he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was advised that it wouldnt have been picked up if it wasnt for his cancer history and regular scanning regime - so not to panic too much as it was still asymptomatic. Once again I wondered about when would be the time to come back for a visit... was it more iminent that I thought? ... I resisisted the temptation to run home.

Over 6 years later now and Dad is still going strong.. we've holidayed over there a couple of times and he's holidayed over here a couple of times. (and in that time my sister has been diagnosed and succesfully treated for cervical cancer twice... 2nd time having been given a 30% chance of success and seeing out the year ) The lung cancer is still there and still growing - but slowly. Doctors have suggested that the growth rate is so slow its unlikley to be his cause of death since old age will kick in before the cancer is significant.

Just remember all cancers are not equal - and one anecdotal story of someone dropping dead 3 weeks after their first diagnosis does not mean your family are in for the same experience. Cancer treatments are improving all the time, slow cancers are not necessarily death sentences any more.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do. Make sure you're as informed as you can be before committing to any drastic action.

DadAgain - your story sounds so similar to mine own story of my mum and your positive ending made me feel so much better about her current situation. In 2005 she was initially diagnosed with kidney cancer (we were still in the Uk at the time applying for visas) Last year through regular x-rays lung cancer was diagnosed, I found this very hard to deal with being over here but couldn't afford to go home and her prognosis looked very good as the tumor was very small. The operation went well and she recovered from op with no problems. She now has 6 monthy scans again and is closely observed. Hopefully this will be the last she has to deal with

My dad is now going through his own issues and will have a heart bypass in a couple of weeks, would love to be there with him but its just not possible.

Smudger - I think you have to make your decision on the individual case and from the info you gain from appointments with medical staff who are in the knowledge. Sorry to hear you are going through it at the mo though as its very difficult being so far away.
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Old May 27th 2010, 1:52 pm
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Default Re: The phone call we all dread

Originally Posted by Smudger82 View Post
Up at 3am this morning, speaking to my mum who has today been diagnosed with lung cancer and secondary stomach cancer. It's pretty bad and the prognosis is quite poor.

I just wondered if anyone else had been in the same situation? Did you just drop everything and go back to the UK? Obviously we'll be heading back, but we're due to go back in August anyway. We would have a ton of stuff to organise here to pack up our lives, jobs, rented unit, sell car etc.

Just wondered if anyone has had to do the same thing and if there are any pitfalls we haven't accounted for.

Cheers
I am going through this too with my mum who has been diagnosed with gall bladder cancer - the prognosis for this type of cancer is also poor. She has a stage 3 cancer that has spread to her liver and had a major operation to remove the cancer a few weeks ago. A couple of days after coming out of hospital she had a stroke and was rushed back in again. She is now back at home being looked after by my dad and sister.

When I discussed with my dad about returning to the UK to see mum, I got told by my dad that I would be more cumbersome if I was there. We were a very close family up until I emigrated in 2004 and things have been extremely strained ever since I left. We communicate by email and have only spoken a handful of times.

I know it sounds bad but the other thing that I am struggling with is - I don't want to go back! It fills me with dread thinking of returning to the UK.

Not a day goes by that I don't think about my mum though and I am currently planning a trip back to the UK for Xmas to see her but not looking forward to it at all. I just don't know how I will feel if I don't go back to see her one last time, or how I will feel if I didn't get to see her one last time.

At the end of the day you have to do what you can live with - some will say to return others will tell you they couldn't afford it, or couldn't go etc - it is definitely THE most negative side to emigration and can be heart wrenching.

My husband took the telephone call in Feb to tell him that his dad had died suddenly and he had to decide whether to return for the funeral or not as money was tight. In the end he went, although I have spoken with others who didn't return for a close relatives funeral because they couldn't afford to at that time. We didn't have the money either, so it went on the credit card, its an expensive business returning to the UK.

Ultimately, we made the decision to move our lives abroad and unfortunately we have to live with the negative consequences of that.

Hope you make the right decision for you and your family. It is a tough time for anyone going through this. All the best.
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Old May 28th 2010, 12:06 am
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Default Re: The phone call we all dread

Originally Posted by Smudger82 View Post
Very sorry to hear there is someone going through this at the moment. I just think you have to call it as you see it and hope for the best. My mum said that she isn't going to have aggressive therapy either. We are due back there in September too, but I'll just go by myself if the situation gets worse. Very hard with a 4 month boy.

Thoughts are with you.
Thinking of you too. I can understand how tough it is with a 4 month old as well. My husband is staying here (someone has to be earning) and I'll be bringing our two kids with me (they're 5.5 and 2) and for the older one, she remembers my stepfather very well and he's the only grandfather she's ever had. I just wonder how he'll be when we're there and I don't want it to be too much for my daughter, seeing him so ill.
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Old May 28th 2010, 6:46 am
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Default Re: The phone call we all dread

Originally Posted by Japonica View Post
We're dealing with this right now too. My stepfather has just been diagnosed with lung cancer due to asbestos (he worked with it in the 50s). I'm sure the smoking didn't help either though. I heard there was possibly a lesion on his liver as well, but we'll know more the first week of June after more tests.

We have booked to come back in September...yes, it's 3 months from now, but it was all we could afford as I'm taking the kids back with me and we're staying for 5 weeks. It gets pricey hauling the whole family over.

I'm going primarily as support for my mom. I don't know what state my stepfather will be in by then. He has already told her that if the prognosis is not good, he wants to refuse all aggressive treatment and just let things progress on their own.

Good luck...it's terrible to go through and it does make things worse being so far away.
Can I suggest you look into hospice for when your mom is no longer able to care for him? When my dad became too ill to stay home his VON nurse talked to him and my mom about Carpenter House in Burlington. The care is absolutely outstanding and it will give your mother time to stay with him while still taking care of herself. (You're from Edmonton, eh?)

Smudger, you have to do what is right for you. When my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer he asked me not to come and said he wanted to have his surgery and chemo before seeing me. It was only when my sister emailed 18 months later to say he was now palliative that I decided to go. He died less than 30 minutes after I left the hospicee to head back to Australia, but I got to spend 12 days with him helping him to die. Some of my favourite memories of my father are sitting beside his bed rubbing lotion on his dry hands. And of feeding him pea soup (where's the vomit smiley when you need it?) because it was his favourite thing ever. On the other hand, my MIL just passed away in April and my husband didn't want to see her or go to the funeral. I think it was just too painful for him to see his mum so sick.

Do what feels right for you and remember that lots of us have been through it. My thoughts are with you and your family. xx
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Old May 28th 2010, 7:08 am
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Default Re: The phone call we all dread

Originally Posted by Dorothy View Post
Can I suggest you look into hospice for when your mom is no longer able to care for him? When my dad became too ill to stay home his VON nurse talked to him and my mom about Carpenter House in Burlington. The care is absolutely outstanding and it will give your mother time to stay with him while still taking care of herself. (You're from Edmonton, eh?)

Smudger, you have to do what is right for you. When my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer he asked me not to come and said he wanted to have his surgery and chemo before seeing me. It was only when my sister emailed 18 months later to say he was now palliative that I decided to go. He died less than 30 minutes after I left the hospicee to head back to Australia, but I got to spend 12 days with him helping him to die. Some of my favourite memories of my father are sitting beside his bed rubbing lotion on his dry hands. And of feeding him pea soup (where's the vomit smiley when you need it?) because it was his favourite thing ever. On the other hand, my MIL just passed away in April and my husband didn't want to see her or go to the funeral. I think it was just too painful for him to see his mum so sick.

Do what feels right for you and remember that lots of us have been through it. My thoughts are with you and your family. xx
Thanks Dorothy...yes, Edmonton. I definitely will look into it. When my husband's aunt died from pancreatic cancer in 2005, she was in hospice...I'm pretty sure it was pilgrims...and her family all say that the staff were amazing. They made all the difference in her last months. My mother is in a wheelchair...my stepfather has been the one looking after her, so I imagine that time when she will need help will be sooner rather than later. My aunt lives with them, she's a retired RN, but still, she's in her 60s and although I imagine they'd want him at home as long as possible, they'll have to sit down and make plans. My stepfather's pretty much a realist and "put it all out there" kinda guy, so I hope the three of them can come up with a plan for his care options and not just avoid the issue. I guess I can talk to her about this over the next few weeks. Geez, these kind of conversations you don't think you'll be having with your parents..."So, ahem, what's the plan for your hospice care?"

I'm sorry about your father and MIL. It must have meant so much to him to have you there. From what you said, about him passing right after you left, it sounds like he had been waiting for you and could make the transition at peace. Wow.

I guess we'll see how things go in the meantime. More scans and tests coming up and we'll know more by mid-June.
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Old May 28th 2010, 7:52 am
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Default Re: The phone call we all dread

Yes it is the phone call we all dread, have received similar on two occasions having been here for a long time. First happened early on in our emigration with kids, new home and jobs to think about. Best to get advice from people in home country and assess the situation. We received the news one May and we were going back in the September. Decided best for wife to go immediately on her own for three weeks and then continue with plans for the September. This worked well as my wife saw her Father for the last time as he died 10 days before the September trip. Best advice is have no regrets but do not jeapordise your future in Australia - that is what my wife's Father said to her. All the best
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Old Jun 12th 2010, 5:09 am
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Default Re: The phone call we all dread

Smudger...I was just wondering if you heard any more news...thinking of you and your family...

I'm waiting to hear the results of my stepfather's latest scans this week. From what my mother said, he's not doing too well, so I'm not expecting good news.
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Old Jun 12th 2010, 7:29 am
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Default Re: The phone call we all dread

Originally Posted by Japonica View Post
Smudger...I was just wondering if you heard any more news...thinking of you and your family...

I'm waiting to hear the results of my stepfather's latest scans this week. From what my mother said, he's not doing too well, so I'm not expecting good news.
Hey, she has been for tests and the are a bit baffled. The biopsy the took didn't contain any cancer, however that could be because they couldn't get a sample from the exact area. She goes for an ultra sound. As ever with the NHS, it is taking ages, with entire weeks between appointments!

Sounds like you guys are having the same. Best wishes, I have everything crossed for you.
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Old Jun 12th 2010, 8:20 am
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Default Re: The phone call we all dread

Originally Posted by Smudger82 View Post
Hey, she has been for tests and the are a bit baffled. The biopsy the took didn't contain any cancer, however that could be because they couldn't get a sample from the exact area. She goes for an ultra sound. As ever with the NHS, it is taking ages, with entire weeks between appointments!

Sounds like you guys are having the same. Best wishes, I have everything crossed for you.
Thanks and best wishes to you too...sorry to hear about the mysterious results and I hope you get some definitive answers soon...it would be great though if her tests turn out negative (here's hoping!)...for us, we'll know one way or another this next week and I'm doing my best to support my mother from here and make sure she asks the "tough" questions for my stepfather...about hospice, about pain relief...all that stuff and gets it out in the open...
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Old Jun 12th 2010, 3:19 pm
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Default Re: The phone call we all dread

Originally Posted by Smudger82 View Post
Hey, she has been for tests and the are a bit baffled. The biopsy the took didn't contain any cancer, however that could be because they couldn't get a sample from the exact area. She goes for an ultra sound. As ever with the NHS, it is taking ages, with entire weeks between appointments!

Sounds like you guys are having the same. Best wishes, I have everything crossed for you.
I hope that the ultrasound can give a definitive answer. I can understand the frustration with the wait. If she were to have it as an inpatient, it would only take a few days to happen, possibly sooner.

(These delays are practically the same the world over. Here in the US, we have a 15 week wait to see a pedatric dermatologist!)
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Old Jun 12th 2010, 4:18 pm
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Default Re: The phone call we all dread

Good advice has already been proffered and I'm not in any position to add to it. But, if all at BE think positively for you and your mum, it can only help. Yes folks, it really does work. Best wishes.

Alistair.
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