cancer, fear & friendship.

@MsTickle (25191)
Australia
May 21, 2012 3:53am CST
Later this week I will be taking a very dear friend on a 4 hour journey for her to have an operation to remove her bowel cancer. My elderly 84 year old friend has never had an operation and never had any type of anaesthetic and she is very afraid of waking up in the middle of the op, not waking up at the end and the outcome in general. Her specialist has explained that they will remove part of her bowel and connect the two sections afterwards. They will then check the nearest lymph glands and if they discover that the cancer has gone there then that will be it. They will close her up and make her comfortable for the remainder of her time here. She is so afraid, really scared and her hubby and I are scared for her. My friends, what do I say to her. It's such a long journey and the 3 of us will be having fearful thoughts and I simply don't know how to handle things. Any suggestions would be really helpful and I would be grateful too. Neither she nor her husband are religious.
2 people like this
19 responses
@RitterSport (2452)
• Lippstadt, Germany
27 May 12
sorry dear MsTickle that my answer is that late, didnt get to everything online last weekend....... I think the best thing you can do for your elderly friend and her husband is simply being there, getting her to the hospital and if allowed being there when she wakes up from the surgery. Guess that says more than words ever could.
1 person likes this
@MsTickle (25191)
• Australia
28 May 12
Hi Sweety...it has all turned out well so far. As the driver, it's my job to drop them off then come back. I dropped them off the day before the surgery because she had to be at the hospital first thing the next morning. The surgery went fine but I don't know the results of the pathology report. I will pick her up again when the hospital says she can come home so I will find out more then. I spoke to her via phone last Sunday and she sounded ok so I was relieved that all her fears were over. Thank you for being a friend.
• Lippstadt, Germany
28 May 12
hi dear MsTickle thanks so much for updating me on your friends. I am glad that apparently everything went well so far and I hope your friend can come home soon. Its easier to get well again in your surroundings you are used to.
1 person likes this
@RawBill1 (8537)
• Gold Coast, Australia
24 May 12
Wow, that is a really tough one. I have been trying for three days to think of something helpful that you could talk to her about, but I have come up with nothing. Just being with her and showing your love might have to be enough. No words can replace the fact that you will be there for her. I wish you and her the very best.
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@MsTickle (25191)
• Australia
24 May 12
Hi Bill, and thanks for thinking for me. I spoke to my friend the other day and her family and friends had been in touch and there was lots of love and support for her. By the time I spoke to her, she was much more relaxed. We did the trip to Dubbo yesterday and had quite a few laughs on the way and her op was this morning. Of course I can't get any info from the hospital cos I'm not family. Her phone isn't on and so I'm in the dark as to how the op went but I'm sure things are OK. I'll know in a few days. I'll be going over to pick her up again some time next week. Thanks again Bill...
@RawBill1 (8537)
• Gold Coast, Australia
24 May 12
Hopefully it went well! You will have to start a follow up discussion to let us all know how it went. If I was religious I would pray, but I am nowhere near it! I am glad that you had a few laughs on the way. Laughter is a great form of medicine.
@Lakota12 (42605)
• United States
21 May 12
am wondering why they wouldnt go on and remove the bad nodes????? They did mine all 18 of them on the right side when they took my boobs The best thing is to go in with a positive feeling. Try to get her in that mood on the trip. ANd I am sending her all the energies I can hugsssssssssssssssssssssssssssss to all of you blessingssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss
1 person likes this
@Lakota12 (42605)
• United States
21 May 12
your welcome as was the same with my hubby Bladder cancer has no warning and when we founf d out it had already gone up the spine nodes no operation at all and his kidneys had a hard shell over then so he could only hold about and once of urine
@MsTickle (25191)
• Australia
21 May 12
Apparently, with bowel cancer there are no symptoms and it is usually discovered too late for anything to be done. We are hoping it has been caught early enough. Thanks for the good wishes and healing energies Lakota.
@sid556 (30973)
• United States
21 May 12
Hi there Ms.Tickle, What a great friend you are for this lady! There is so little you can do for her other than just be there as her friend. It's ok to let her know that you too are afraid for her health but assure her that you wil be there for her. If in fact, her cancer has spread, that will be devastating and as a friend, the most you can do is to be there and help her accept her plight. I had a friend that was diagnosed with terminal cancer a few years ago. As a friend, it was as important to her that I accept her fate as it was that she did. She actually accepted it quicker than I did once she had the diagnosis. Right now..just be there for her and hope and pray for the best along side of her.
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@MsTickle (25191)
• Australia
21 May 12
Hi there sid, I'm getting a bit of a feel for things as I read the responses here. It's helping my own frame of mind. This lady is so vital, has a fantastic memory is a keen gardener and breeds budgies. It's hard to imagine her helpless on an operating table much less succumbing to this dreaded disease. I'm thinking she is probably also afraid of the indignity of the procedure and I don't know enough about it to be able to reassure her on that side of it. I'm thinking though that she has been able to discuss that side of things with her family (the females).
@meapas (2436)
• India
21 May 12
Hi, A few things first and foremost. I always emphasize friendship in any relation. Wow and behold, what do we have here, a relation in a friendship, Hats off to all of you three really sweet human beings, take a bow dears. One thing jars a wee bit, why are we traveling for 4 hours for an operation. If we do have no alternative, then still why do we have to wait for the last moment to travel that distance especially considering all your ages, not to speak the state of your body and mind taking a strain of such a long journey. A normal journey itself on its own for an elderly person is nothing short of a health hazard. Here we have a person who is aware of her condition and so the mental balance will be something that will have to be closely monitored. A humble suggestion would be to travel a couple of days prior to the operation, reach there without anxiety, humor her and keep her calm, do not discuss any negativity, just talk of post operation plans, that brings joy to her face, as if the operation is no big deal. In short say everything to take her mind away from the operation. I know it is easier said than done, but trust me I have done it on numerous occasions, for I always believe in the theory 'It is all in the mind' Finally, she and her husband are not religious - true. However You and all we Mylotters make up 2,42,157 while I am writing this and my guess is there is democracy at God's place. and a prayer from us will not be out of place, and your friends need not be any wiser regarding that. Take care and God bless.
1 person likes this
@MsTickle (25191)
• Australia
21 May 12
We live in a remote area and the surgeon attending my friend operates at the particular hospital we are going to and it is one of the biggest hospitals in this region. My friend has toi ring the hospital today between 1pm and 3pm to find out at what time she will be operated on on Thursday and then we will travel over to be there on time. This is OK with us as we don't want the added worry about being away from home any longer than necessary. At these times I believe it's best to be in familiar surroundings. Pray if it makes you feel better and if you want to pray for strangers pray for those most desperate criminals in gaol. Thanks for the good wishes and Brightest blessings to you.
@meapas (2436)
• India
22 May 12
Hi, Both the points you raised was at the back of my mind while answering your post last time around. Yes unfamiliarity and prolonged absence from your comfort zone is best avoided. I sincerely hope all goes well and she will be less anxious through her journey. As for prayers for strangers is something I have been doing from as long as I can remember, for deep down I know if I am alive and kicking today may be a direct culmination of similar prayers from absolute strangers we bump across streets,buses, trains and other public places where we are without the watchful eyes of our parents and well wishers. As for criminals let me add there mostly two kinds, one a hard core and other a circumstantial one. The hardcore one is beyond redemption as there is neither remorse nor sentiments anywhere but the circumstantial one is someone who could be catered to. I have had the privilege of meeting both the types through my friends in the penal services and the medical fraternity in whose company both these type are found in abundance. Still since you have mentioned it I will include both in my future prayers, for there must be some reason for you mentioning it right out of the blue. God comes to you in so many ways one can't say. God bless all the three of you.
• United States
21 May 12
That is a very difficult and scary situation indeed. I do not think that there is any "right" answer to this. Many have suggested not talking about the surgery and her illness but rather acting like everything is fine and taking her mind off what is going on by talking of other things. If this seems like what she wants, then that is great. On the other hand, some people need to talk about their fears and concerns, especially as they are about to confront them. If she wants to talk about it, then let her. It is perfectly normal and natural to be frightened, so you should let her know that. Of course, you should also try to reassure her that you believe that everything will be alright, but if she truly does not think it will, then you should not downplay her fears, either, because her fears and concerns are valid. Sometimes insisting that everything will be alright when someone does not think it will, especially in a situation where there is a very real possibility that things will not be alright, can do more harm than good. It is difficult sometimes to find the right balance. You are a good friend, though, so I have confidence that you will do what is best in this situation.
1 person likes this
@MsTickle (25191)
• Australia
21 May 12
My boss has talked with her a couple of times on the phone and she has been very pleased about that. I guess she has been given the reassurance she needs but I believe it needs to be ongoing in these situations. It's a little difficult for me to be able to be there for her when I'm the driver. There is a limit to how much attention I can give her when I need to be focused while driving such a long distance. I am trying to figure out what I can say to her to reassure her and let her know I am thinking about her in my heart and wishing her well. I think too that it's a very personal time and I don't want to overstep any boundaries. Gee this is hard. I think I will give her a ring soon and see how she's going. Thanks p.a.
1 person likes this
• United States
22 May 12
I definitely agree that the reassurance needs to be ongoing. If she is like most people, then the reassurance will last for a while, but without continued support and reassurance the fear and concern will resurface ... it might even resurface with continued support and reassurance, which is also natural. Calling is a good way to take a minute to let her know that you are thinking about her, and I am sure that she will be happy to hear from you. I also agree that it is a very personal time, and sometimes it is difficult to know what to say at any given moment, especially when emotions are running high, because what might be the right thing to say one minute turns out to be the wrong thing the next minute. All you can do is to try, and I am sure she will appreciate all your efforts, even if it might not seem like it at that moment. It definitely is a difficult thing to give a lot of support and reassurance when driving a long distance. Also, don't you have medical problems of your own that you are going through right now? You are a really good friend for caring so much and trying so hard.
• United States
21 May 12
Perhaps one of the three way to offer comfort from surgery fear in the following link may help. http://voices.yahoo.com/overcoming-fear-upcoming-surgery-3817424.html?cat=5
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@MsTickle (25191)
• Australia
21 May 12
That was a great link thanks whiteheather though I think I can improve on the doctor one. I'll be ringing her shortly to have a chat and I hope I can allay some of her fears then.
@slickcut (8141)
• United States
21 May 12
Ms Tickle, I can understand how she feels because i have had a few surgeries myself...I was once told by my surgeon that they have something to put you to sleep,they know exacially how much you need and they would never allow you to wake up during a surgery,they are on top of the situation at all times,,,also they have the same meds to wake you up after they are done,so tell her what my surgeon told me and maybe that will help her not to be so afraid.....
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@MsTickle (25191)
• Australia
21 May 12
Slick? Wow, haven't heard from you in ages. It's nice to see you. Yes, I was just responding to someone else that my friend had an appointment with the anaesthetist last week and they did a lot of tests and reassured her but I'm not sure how reassured she actually is. Thanks for joining in. I'll be ringing my friend soon to have a bit of a chat and I'm hoping I can find the right things to say.
@ElicBxn (62535)
• United States
22 May 12
always go for the best outcome... "They take out the cancer and you will be fine." 84 is a good long life, and even if it has spread, it could be a while before it affects her.
1 person likes this
@MsTickle (25191)
• Australia
22 May 12
All very true. I've spoken to her today and she's making jokes so that's a good thing. She's been on a liquid only diet since this morning and she seems really fine. Her family have been on the phone and giving her lots of love and support. Because she seems a lot better, I'm feeling better as well.
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@worldwise1 (14887)
• United States
21 May 12
Hello Ms Tickle. When I saw your post I was moved to respond. First off, I would like to say what a loving and caring friend you are. Dealing with catastrophic illness is never easy - for the one concerned or their family and friends. I think it would be helpful to pass the long drive by talking about happy times you have shared in the past. I am sure that you will be able to come up with many pleasant instances. Also, you have to give her hope. Talk about what she would like to do in the future; projects she might be working on, gardening, etc. I wish your friend well, and I hope the outcome will be positive. If you are a praying person prayer always helps at times like this.
@MsTickle (25191)
• Australia
21 May 12
Hello dear friend. It's been a while and it's really nice to see you here. I agree with you about giving her hope so I will try and think of a few outings the three of us might take in the future. We do a fair bit of swapping of cuttings and so there is always something about the garden to talk about. It's turning bitterly cold here though and so there isn't much happening other than dreadful frosts killing things. It's actually a great time to be warm and snug in hospital. Thanks for the good wishes. I would say that the outcome will be positive but with this disease in this area it's just not known until the surgeon has a look. Hugs to you.
@bunnybon7 (51403)
• Holiday, Florida
22 May 12
gee thats a tough call. is there anything she particularly likes to talk about that cheers her up? does she like some kind of music you could play that cheers her up? i mean there must be something you have noticed that helps her. you may have to talk to her about the surgery some more and just keep on assuring her she will be ok.
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@MsTickle (25191)
• Australia
22 May 12
I had a couple of phone chats to her today. Her family have been in touch by phone. All her loved ones and friends have been reassuring and supportive and she seems much happier, less fearful and so I'm sure she will be fine.
@missybear (11391)
• United States
21 May 12
That's a very scary feeling knowing that you only might have a short time left to live. I really don't know how I would handle the situation but I think that you are doing a good thing by being with her throughout this ordeal. I hope everything works out OK for your friend. I have the same fear about surgery, I never had any and the thought of not waking up scares me a lot. It does happen but I'm sure the odds are against it.
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@MsTickle (25191)
• Australia
21 May 12
Absolutely. My friend had an appointment last week with the anaesthetist. They check her bloods, do an ecg, breathing test and so on to make sure they know how to proceed to get her under, keep her under and bring her out again when the op is over. It's all to do with her weight and height and there is basically no guess work involved. It's all worked out scientifically. Anaesthetists are specialists in their own right these days. I hear what you are saying though about imagining you might die soon. That has to be on her mind and her husband told me that she was crying a lot and so on. She has sort of joked about her fears in my presence, so I guess maybe I should just try and reassure her as much as possible.
@JenInTN (27515)
• United States
22 May 12
Hi Ms.Tickle. I hate that you and your friend are going through this. It is tough and there are no easy answers to ease the fear. I remember having the one and only surgery I have ever had and I was, at one point, looking for the exits. I told the nurse that I had changed my mind..we weren't doing surgery. She smiled and said..let me get you hooked in and give you some medicine and if you still want to leave..we'll unhook you and let you go.One shot of that medicine and they could have took a limb and I would have never known the difference or cared either way. Maybe it will help if you have your friend express her concerns. That is not going to ease you though unfortunately. In that case I would say just stay strong for your friend and try to be as positive as possible. Sounds like she needs that too. Take care and I am sending tons of well wishes.
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@MsTickle (25191)
• Australia
22 May 12
Hi Jen...we've spoken a couple of times today on the phone and my friend is sounding much brighter. It seems the fear has been replaced by all the attention she has been receiving from friends and family. Lots have been in touch, sending love, support and reassurance and it has done the trick. Thanks for your support too.
• China
22 May 12
Hi,Mstickle.Two of my closest family members had cancer too,and though they didn't have to take the operation,I could feel that they are sometimes very scared.And I do also remember the operation I had when I was a little girl,same thoughts had occured to me at that time fearing I would wake up in the middle of the op and might not be able to see my parents again.That kind of fear was bacause of the uncertainty about disease and operation.So maybe if you tell the lady more about her cancer and the details of the op,she it would be easier for her to overcome this.Also, the support from the trusted ones do have amazing effects,let her know you are always with her and let her feel your love.Last,when the patient herself is anxious,you should stay calm or at least pretend to be calm so she will know things are not that bad and can be handle.Hope this could help,and best wishes to your friend.
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@MsTickle (25191)
• Australia
22 May 12
Your own experiences are a good description of things here. My friend is much easier in her mind I think because of all the reassurance of her doctors and her family. You've been an excellent source of reassurance for me...thanks and thanks for the good wishes also.
@Thoroughrob (11744)
• United States
21 May 12
Just keep her busy talking about other things. Try to make her trip as stress free as possible. It will be hard, but I am sure that she would appreciate it.
@MsTickle (25191)
• Australia
21 May 12
I keep the trips as upbeat as possible with enough stops for comfort and coffee. We always have a jolly time and have got to know each others families just by talking. The three of us get along really well. I guess the best thing will be to play things by ear but to keep things as normal as possible. Yes, my friend...it will be a little hard.
• Philippines
21 May 12
Hi Ms. Tickle, you really are such a good friend. I understand how you feel, your apprehensions and anxieties are but normal for a person very close to the patient. I am sure your friend also feels what you feel maybe more of fear. I am a nurse, and i have dealt with some of cancer patients before when i am in active nursing practice. What we usually do is to reassure the patient that the doctor will do everything to make the surgery successful. All she has to do is to trust the doctor and pray to God if she is religious that the procedure will turn out well. You may also help your friend by just listening to her, express her fears and what she feels but don't give false assurance. Encourage her to talk and just listen,this will lessen her anxieties a bit. This is also a good opportunity for you to introduce your friends to God and encourage them to seek help from Him. Read the bible to her and pray,prayer can bring out miracles. Be strong for your friend and God Bless!
@thesids (22193)
• Bhubaneswar, India
21 May 12
Well, unfortunately I do have to disagree with you here despite the fact that I believe in Prayers bringing in miracles. It seems that you did not read the last few lines of the discussion where MsTickle says - the lady and her hubby arent that religious. Hence, making a specific usage of God or even any religious text would only make them feel gloomy instead of feeling relaxed and at ease... as this is something not so common to them.
@sid556 (30973)
• United States
21 May 12
What Sidssays is so true. If they are not religious then the most you can do is pray for her but to push prayer on a non-religious persson at this time would not be helpful.
@MsTickle (25191)
• Australia
21 May 12
Thanks for coming to my aid there guys. I was hoping that God would not be pushed down my throat as I don't believe in prayer. I believe that our life plans are set and won't be changed by anything. Certainly not by prayer. It may comfort some but it isn't a cure.
@thesids (22193)
• Bhubaneswar, India
21 May 12
Dear Ms Tickle How about discussing the sights that you see when traveling or even the family back home? I would recommend not discussing anything about the illness or even the surgery or hospitals or even doctors... It can be anything else - the safest, to talk about the interests of the lady. At 84, I believe she would be feeling more lonely and talking about her own life or about her would be great for her. She would feel happy and close to you and also feel elated that she has a great friend in you... I admire you Ms Tickle for the noble work you are into
@MsTickle (25191)
• Australia
21 May 12
Thanks mate. Yes, we usually catch up and talk about our families who all live a long way away when we undertake these journeys . I guess that's the wisest course. I'm probably worrying too much when I should just treat it like an ordinary trip on an ordinary day. I love being a volunteer driver thesids and these are my favourite clients whom I have become good friends with.
@sayo13 (414)
• India
21 May 12
i believe that her husband is here to play a crucial role, you and her husband need to behave as positively as possible and should never make her think or talk about the illness. you people should make her feel that this is a rough time in life and will go away easily. at this time people are bound to feel nervous , panicking, but you people have make her believe in herself and have a faith in doctors. the most important thing is she should not loose hope of getting normal again, make her as much happy and tension free as you can and make her feel the same way as before the discovery of the illness.
@MsTickle (25191)
• Australia
21 May 12
I think we need to be realistic and understand that her situation is constantly on her mind and that as the time of her operation approaches, so her anxiety will increase. Her doctors have been honest and up front with her from the start. They have not given her false hope but prepared her for the reality of her condition. I don't think there can be any sugar coating at this stage. I agree the husband is important here and it's a fact that these two are very close. I hope we are able to keep her in a positive frame of mind at least at some level.
• Australia
21 May 12
Just being there and supporting them is often more of a comfort than saying anything. Also listening to them as they discuss their fears and hopes... Try to stay strong in yourself and be positive.
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@MsTickle (25191)
• Australia
21 May 12
Yes, you are right. I need to let go of my own anxiety on her behalf. I'm just not sure how to comfort her and let her know I'm thinking of her while I'm driving them for 4 hours.