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  1. #1

    Two Years to Live

    What should be one's approach to a close friend when the friend is diagnosed with terminal cancer and given two years to live?

    What can be said and what should be said?

    How does the diagnosed person move from shock and despondency to acceptance and living for each day?

    How does a friend help a person with two years to live?
    Steve

    Dum spiro spero....While I breathe, I hope

    Tourette Canada Forum

  2. #2

    Two Years to Live

    I would sit down and have a heart to heart and ask the person what they wanted me to do, ask them how I can support and help them, Im sure people have different ways of dealing with something like this and have different needs from the people around them, only by talking to the person concerned can you give them the best support possible.

  3. #3

    Two Years to Live

    Hi Steve,

    I have never gone through having a friend die of cancer so can't be much help. The little I have learned about end of life processess and having terminal diseases is that friends disappear becase they can't handle being "in pain with" their friends or family.

    Perhaps just being there as you always have and just being yourself is the best gift you could give.

    If you read the different websites on this topic it may help prepare you and give you some understanding.

    Common questions on how to help:
    http://www.massgeneral.org/cancer/cr.../questions.asp

    http://www.cancerbacup.org.uk/Resour...ingwiththenews

    http://www.acponline.org/public/h_care/dying-gd.htm

    Take care

  4. #4

    Two Years to Live

    Hi Steve,

    I would treat them as though they are the same person who you have known all these years. I would let them know if they needed to talk about anything you are there for them. Treat them as they are "living" not "dying."

    My grandmother, who was my best friend, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The doctors told her how long she was supposed to live. My grandmother told them that she would be the one to decide on how long she was going to live. She was told she would only live six weeks. My precious grandmother lived over a year from the onset of symptoms. She lived a year from the time the doctors began to treat her. She was 79 when she died...just a month shy of her 80th birthday. I learned two valuable lessons from my grandmother: never let anyone tell you how long you are going to live or the person who you are. She told me once in the 70s when the women were burning their bras: If I want to be equal, then I am. I don't need to burn anything to be WHO I am. Rambling...sorry...but I learned so much from my grandmother. I miss her just as much now and she passed away over 20 years ago.

    Steve...show your friend the same love and respect that you have before. Please know we are here for you.

  5. #5

    Re: Two Years to Live

    Quote Originally Posted by TSOW
    What should be one's approach to a close friend when the friend is diagnosed with terminal cancer and given two years to live?

    What can be said and what should be said?

    How does the diagnosed person move from shock and despondency to acceptance and living for each day?

    How does a friend help a person with two years to live?
    My eldest sister was given 2 years as an optimistic prognosis last year ,,, just over 3 months later she was gone.

    I let my sister always lead conversations and offered whatever practical help I could ... I did my crying/grieving away from her but she knew we all loved her and were grieving ... mind you we did hold onto each other, wordless but crying, a few times and no words were needed. Sis didn't have a lot of time for coming to terms with things ... it happened very quickly and much of it in the hospital.

    Maybe finding out as much as you can about what she's going through will help you know better how to respond and to help her. Anything that helps lessen pain or worries is good. They worry about those left behind and about how their death will effect everyone else, especially if they have family/kids, responsibilities and commitments, pets, whatever. Anything that helps to cope with symptoms and treatments ... and helping take care of their business for them ... and letting her speak whatever she wants to speak.

    I miss my sister bigtime and still go to pick up the phone to call her ... :( But I'm glad her suffering ended and she's free of all that.
    Hugs from Kanadiana ...

  6. #6

    Two Years to Live

    Hi Steve!
    I think you have some really good suggestions here, don't have much to add except a few things I could find. Also, I think that the biggest thing for me would be to live each day to the fullest and if that means telling your friend how much he/she means to you, b/c as others have said you never know if those 2 years will be less or more, and I have known people w/ a terminal illness where they died very quickly and others who defeated the odds, so to say. But I think one of the worst things about death is having regrets, so being aware of the reality of death does help somewhat in terms of not having a guarantee of time.

    I guess things would also depend on the age of the person w/ the terminal illness and the illness itself. Like Kanadania said, maybe finding out as much as you can about the illness will give you suggestions in how to repond and what to expect. It's always frightening to venture into unknown territory and cancer or any other illness like that doesn't really tell you what's to come tomorrow.... it just does.

    I found a few research findings that might be relevant:
    - there's been an interesting finding about a "fighting spirit" (Spiegel & Kato, 1996) which is said to prolong life compard to having a hopeless/helpless attitude and difficulty in expressing distress. The latter was related to a shorter survival rate and the fighting spirit included things like having anxiety, depression, guilt- the key was that these emotions were openly being displayed and not "swept under the carpet" or forgotten about.
    - Glinder & Compas, 1999 found 2 types of self-blame in people w/ terminal illness: characterological and behavioral self blame. In the first type- which is a stable personality trait, people blame themselves and experience helplessness where as in the 2nd type the blame is directed at specific behaviours (ie. I smoked, which was the trigger). Afer one year, the characterological type of self-blame was associated with more damaging outcomes for the patient.
    - Helgeson, Cohen, & Fritz, 1998 found that "support of spouses, family members, and friends can help cancer patients by increasing their access to information, strengthening a sense of personal control, fostering self- esteem, and boosting their feelings of optimism". Protecting a person w/ a terminal illness from reality was not a very helpful strategy (however, perspnally I think and like others have said, the person we're talking about is still the same person as you knew him/her before this, so treating them differently doesn't make much sense, but it's more about trying to figure out how to best be there for them)

    I also found the following websites:
    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/gri...ORCESSL=false&
    http://www.findarticles.com/ (search under “dealing with terminal illness” in “free articles only” and it gives you a bunch of results...)

  7. #7

    Two Years to Live

    Thank you my friends for the wonderful insights and resources.

    At the present time, my cousin is still trying to come to terms with the diagnosis, and has little patience with people who try to convey feelings of consolation.

    His reponse is "It's easy for you to say, you're not the one who is dying".

    Another friend who had a similar experience a few years ago had access to support services which helped him and his wife face the reality of the diagnosis, and to make their preparations and plans together in a positive spirit.

    Unfortunatley I did not ask my friend much about where such support and counselling services were offered, though we were able to enjoy a wonderful relationship righ up to his final day...he managed to completely accept his situation and approached life in a positive and constructive manner.

    I'd like to find out what type of organizations provide this type of support and counselling.

    Has anyone had experience with the resources available from the Canadian Cancer Society?

    Your kind words and support is appreciated!
    Steve

    Dum spiro spero....While I breathe, I hope

    Tourette Canada Forum

  8. #8

    Two Years to Live

    I'd like to find out what type of organizations provide this type of support and counselling.
    In my area, I've noticed support groups mentioned in the newspaper along with other community events like chess clubs, etc. Local hospitals or hospices may certainly know since they often sponsor support groups or educational meetings.

    Another link:
    Suggestions for Talking with the Person with Cancer - Cancer.org
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

  9. #9

    Two Years to Live

    In my experience, the best thing to do is just to be there for your cousin. There's nothing you can say that will make reality go away, and reality is pretty difficult for him to deal with right now. When he's ready, he'll reach out. The most important thing you can give him is to be there when he does.

    I don't know what organizations are available in your area to help your cousin come to grips with his diagnosis. I do hope others from that area will be able to give you some tips in that regard. Having support, both professional and family/friends, is very important to people who are dealing with an incurable disease. Still, the key thing to remember is that he must decide when he's ready to accept that support. He must grieve first, and in his own time.

  10. #10

    Two Years to Live

    Hi again,

    I would think that your cousins doc and the local hospital, especially cancer ward, would have a list of good local resources and their contact info for new patients and their loved ones. I would call them. The must have a "Cancer Care Clinic" or somesuch???

    There are also support groups ... meeting, also online support groups. I came across many of them when I was searching out information for my sister. Unfortunately I didn't hang onto the links once she passed on. A google search for "cancer support forums" may bring you some good links.

    Take care ... remember, this is a blow and a loss to you too. I discovered a lot of loved ones of those dieing of cancer in those sites. And the cancer sufferers themselves, their posts, are astounding to read as they go through their journey with it. Both extremely sad, and extremely inspiring.
    Hugs from Kanadiana ...

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