Grieving over a terminal cancer diagnosis

by Pam
(Lincoln, NE)

On our Wedding Day, 9/4/70

On our Wedding Day, 9/4/70

On our Wedding Day, 9/4/70
Before my 175-lb. weight loss

Maybe I've started grieving too soon. My husband of 42 years was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer that has already spread to his bones. We may has as long as ten years, maybe longer, left, but it might be much shorter than that. He is only 60, I am 62. I am completely devastated at the thought of life without him and have not been able to quit crying. I need to get past this, so that we can at least enjoy some quality time while we can. As Valerie Harper has said recently, don't hold the Wake while you're still living! It's not time to plan a funeral yet, and yet I can't stop grieving over the loss of a stable, healthy future with the love of my life.

Comments for Grieving over a terminal cancer diagnosis

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May 13, 2013
grieving over a terminal cancer diagnosis
by: silver

I wish my mom was still alive so she could talk to you.My dad was diagnosed with a blood cancer(Multiple Myeloma)that attacks the bones.It invades the bone marrow and kills the immune system.I don't know if this medicine works for his type of cancer but they used Aridia(spelling?)It hardens the bones and protects against breakage.That was the hallmark of my father's disease.The avg. life span of that cancer was 2 yrs.He lived 13 yrs with help of a dr at the cancer center.I miss my dad and I send you prayers.GOD give you peace and support.Like you said,give all the love you can while you can.My husband died 2 yrs ago this month after 33 yrs of marriage.I have the relief that I told him many times a day how much I loved him.I hope you get lots of time before GOD takes him home. Cherish it all.Make memories to hold onto later.Take lots of pictures.I send love and support to you.

Mar 14, 2013
by: Anonymous

My partner was diagnosed with terminal cancer only 7 weeks before he passed.
The grieving started immediatley for both of us unfortunately. Everything changed from that moment onwards. We spent the first week in disbelief, didn't leave the house and were basically freaked out. My partner at that stage was still working and didn't feel sick, just a small ach in his stomach. There was no way we could pretend to be normal, although we desperately tried. Then he had to make all the awful phone calls to family and firends to tell them the gastly news. It was painful to watch him do that. They gave him 3 months maximum, and he kept saying I can't believe I'm going to be dead soon. No one could. He was only 47 and full of life.
Greif starts from diagnosis and just gets worse afterwards unfortunately.
The good thing was we had 7 weeks to tell each other constantly how much we loved each other and had a "very special" personal time together. I said to him we will do this death thing together and we did. He died peacefully in my arms at home knowing he was very very much loved.

Mar 14, 2013
by: Anonymous

I can tell you know what you need to do. 16 years ago, my Charlie was diagnosed with an incurable genetic lung disease. It felt like our life was over, and it was as we know it. He was able to get a lung transplant in 2003 so we had 8 more years than we might have. I wish I could say we took full advantage of them, but I am not sure we did.
You still have a chance to do so,and believe me, you need to do it for both of you.
Charlie died in April of 2012. The loss I/we felt before does not compare in any way to the devastation I feel now without him.
I would give anything to have those very hard years back again. I beg you to take full advantage of the life you still have.
I wish you peace and joy. Julie

Mar 14, 2013
Grieveing over a terminal cancer diagnosis
by: Doreen U.K.

Hi Pam. On March 28th 2009. This was when my world ended. Steve was diagnosed with a rare and serious form of lung cancer called MESOTHELIOMA. Inoperable, Incurable, and aggressive. All I could think of was "My Steve is going to die." Everything raced so fast before me. I cried and cried and cried in the nurses office whilst she put everything in place for Steve's first Chemo, and then Radiotherapy. Steve was due to retire. He was 11 months into retirement when he died 10months ago. We were married 44yrs. I nursed Steve for 3yrs.39days. That was the time from diagnosis till he died. My heart is broken forever. I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL AND WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH. Steve didn't want to die. He became angry and depressed. Steve's cancer developed over 40yrs. It takes between 40-60yrs. to develop. I wish it had been 60yrs. before it developed. Steve would have been 85yrs. the time his parents died into their late 80's. Steve did not have any quality of life throughout his cancer. It does feel worse when you know you will die within a certain time span. But in reality NO ONE KNOWS WHEN THEY WILL DIE. The best you can do is enjoy every day packing as much life into every day and don't think of dying and death. My neighbour has relatives who were given a certain life span and have lived beyond this time. I heard story after story of people who lived longer than the time given. My Steve had an aggressive cancer and many people died within months or even weeks. My Steve lasted 3yrs.39days. That in itself was a miracle. I was not ready to let him go. In fact when he died I was devastated. I expected a miracle. I sent emails all over America on the God channel for Healing and I do believe Steve did have some years of healing. I heard miracle after miracle of people healed from cancer. I still can't believe my STeve is dead and not coming back. But I do believe I will see him again one day when Jesus decides to return to earth for his people who have believed in him. This gives me the hope to carry on living. But I miss him more than you know. He could have been here enjoying his retirement and his football and boxing on TV. and his 2 baby grandchildren. He deserved the best as that is what he gave his family for 47yrs. Steve died at 65yrs. I felt the same as you. "What am I going to do without my husband." "How do I go on in life without him." What you are facing now is normal feelings. They won't last long. But this is the start of your grief journey. The grief starts from the time of diagnosis. As hard as it is try and focus on Life and living. Laugh Cry, it will all take place. But laugh more. My heart breaks for you as I have been in this place. It feels so surreal as if it is a dream. May God comfort you now and give you and your husband the best years and longer than given.

Mar 14, 2013
Dear Pam,
by: Pat in Missouri

I guess you watched the interview with Valerie Harper last might. I saw it too. She came across as very strong and had words of wisdom for all of us, since we will all die one day. But you can bet that she has times of tears too. As she said, "I could have a stroke or a seizure at any time. It could be weeks, or days or hours." No one ever really knows exactly when death will come, but getting a medical diagnosis that includes a specific time period has got to be difficult to handle for anyone. How is your husband handling this?

I lost my fiance in 2011. He was only sick for 10 weeks, but those 10 weeks were horrible! He had sepsis, a full-body infection. It took 1 organ after another. He was on a ventilator twice and had 2 heart attacks in the hospital. He finally got strong enough to go to a nursing home for rehab, but deep in my heart, I knew something was still very wrong. He never regained enough strength to even stand up and walk more than 45 seconds. He died 9 days later.

What you are experiencing is anticipatory grief. You know loss is impending. I saw a Dr.Oz episode last year about a man who had been given only a few weeks to live. He and his wife decided to enjoy the time they had left. The man was a guest on Dr. Oz's show 1 year later, still alive and planning another trip to a wonderful place he and his wife had always wanted to go to.

No one gets out of this life alive. Unfortunately, sooner or later we all have to face it. I don't know what might help you at this point, but I am sure this is awful for both of you. One thing that will help, for sure, is to get all your financial issues worked out together, get his will ready, and help him plan his funeral. That way, you will honor his wishes after he passes. I did not have that sense of peace with my fiance. He had nothing on paper. I had to figure it all out afterwards. I think you might find some solace in speaking with a hospice counselor or chaplain. They are very helpful, kind, caring people. They work with those dealing with terminal illnesses everyday. I volunteer with a local hospice and recently helped set up a pet program for their patients. I can see how compassionate and understanding they are. Also, the act of helping others has been really good for me.

Treasure each moment you have with your husband now. Talk openly about what you are facing. I am sure you will find things that will help both of you and things you may even enjoy, such as a trip to Hawaii or whatever that you have dreamed about. My fiance was just 61 when he passed and I was 63. When I read your age, I thought how similar our situations. Advice from someone else may not seem like much when you are the one dealing with it, but I do feel your pain. I have been through it. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you find some help to get through this. No one should be left alone at a time like this. Please write back and let me know how things are going for you.

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