Caring For a Terminally Ill Loved One

Written by Lorraine Kember

family_terminallyillCaring for a terminally ill loved one is overwhelming. To constantly bear witness to the ravages of the disease knowing you are powerless to stop it is a huge burden. We want and need to do something to help them but don’t know where to start. We refuse to believe that there is nothing that can save them and search for miracles only to find that there are none.

In time we come to accept that they are dying and begin grieving for the loss of them in our lives. Our grief is compounded by our sense of helplessness. There are so many frightening and unanswered questions. What is going to happen? When will it happen? Will there be much pain? Living in expectation of a loved one’s death is like sitting on a time bomb, knowing it is going to go off and being powerless to stop it.

The two year journey of my husband Brian’s diagnosis with terminal cancer has taught me many things, above all, the true meaning of love, and the strength of the human spirit. As I witnessed his incredible courage, it brought forth in me a fierce determination to ease his journey. Ours is a story of love and devotion, testament to the vows Brian and I pledged to each other on our wedding day, May 17th,1969. “In sickness and in health, until death us do part.” We meant every word.

I could not stop my husband from dying, but I could help him live.

My acceptance of my husband’s impending death came with a fierce determination to help him achieve quality of life for the remainder of his days. I knew that I needed to understand more about his disease in order to help him, so I sought knowledge. I asked questions about his disease, and studied the pain and symptoms he would experience as it progressed and ways by which to manage them. I learned a lot and through this I came to realize, that although I could not stop my husband from dying - I could help him to live.

My knowledge allowed me to be one step ahead of the disease progression and gave me the opportunity to have medication — and later, physical aids such as oxygen, wheelchair etc – on hand before Brian needed them. This alleviated much fear, pain and discomfort. My knowledge regarding pain management and symptom control, enabled me to take an active role in his care, working hand in hand with his doctors to obtain for him a quality of life few thought possible considering the nature of his disease.

Get the help you need to manage the pain

Whilst the majority of cancer patients do experience chronic pain, only a small percentage of them have adequate pain relief. This is often due to the common belief that large doses of medication, such as morphine and methadone (used for pain control in lung cancer sufferers), will sedate them and prevent them from functioning normally. Sadly many people suffer unnecessarily due to this misconception.

The object of pain management is to always be in front of the pain. Good communication with your loved one is imperative; so too is their honesty in relating to you, the nature and intensity of their pain. Encourage them not to brave it out by letting it reach debilitating levels before asking for relief. This results in a situation where they are chasing the pain instead of being in front of it. Untreated chronic and debilitating pain kills. It kills the will to live.

Despite his illness, there were times when Brian felt well and these were spent in the pursuit of his hobby, his passion, his true enjoyment in life — fishing. I always had a supply of his medicine on hand so that I could keep him out of pain no matter how long we spent on the water. I constantly marvelled at his ability to keep pulling in fish despite his lack of strength. I believe his love of fishing transcended any pain, weakness or discomfort he experienced. For him, at these times, there was no thought of sickness and death. For me, watching him, loving him, the thought of death was always on my mind.

Deciding about chemotherapy

In time, Brian’s condition worsened until he could not even drink water. Dilatations were no longer an option and he was offered palliative chemotherapy to shrink the tumour. It was the only hope of prolonging his life.

Like many before him, Brian had vowed that he would not undergo chemotherapy. Having heard stories of chronic fatigue, nausea, and hair loss he was fearful of the treatment. But there is a lot of truth in the adage, “You never know, until it happens to you”. For Brian, where there was life, there was hope, and any means of prolonging that hope he grasped with both hands.

Palliative care (symptom control)

Despite a terminal diagnosis, there is still life, and survival may range from months to several years. Many people believe that Palliative Care is intended only for the end of life, and do not seek their help until the final stages of terminal illness. Due to this unfortunate belief the quality of life that could have been achieved through their services is not realized.

The Palliative Care Team, consisting of pain management specialists, nurses, doctors, chaplains and volunteers, work together, to provide the best possible pain and symptom control for the patient, whilst at the same time offering physical and emotional support to their families. I believe the services of these wonderful people should be embraced from the time of terminal diagnosis. Had Brian been in their care sooner, much of his suffering, and mine, would have been alleviated.

Our journey’s end

We have spoken of death. I asked Brian if he was frightened and he said, “No it will be nice to sleep”. We spoke of his parents and the hope that they would be waiting for him. When he asked me about his funeral, I told him of my plans for a seaside memorial. He was pleased with my decision. I have remained strong and I believe I am helping Brian to die well, just as I have helped him to live for these past two years. It comforts me that he is not afraid of dying. He knows that his long courageous battle is almost over; he has accepted it and is at peace.

Brian and I travelled many miles on our last journey together, miles of emotions, spirits, courage and strength. I thanked God for granting me the courage and the strength to walk beside him to his life’s end and for the peace I found in the knowledge that I definitely made a difference.

Take a look at your life.  How would you describe it? Contented? Rushed? Exciting? Stressful? Moving forward? Holding back? For many of us it’s all of the above at times.  There are things we dream of doing one day, there are things we wish we could forget.  In the Bible, it says that Jesus came to make all things new.  What would your life look like if you could start over with a clean slate?

Living with hope

If you are looking for peace, there is a way to balance your life. No one can be perfect, or have a perfect life. But every one of us has the opportunity to experience perfect grace through a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.

Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? You can pray it right now, and Jesus Christ will come into your life, just as He promised.

Is this the life for you?

If you invited Christ into your life, thank God often that He is in your life, that He will never leave you and that you have eternal life. As you learn more about your relationship with God, and how much He loves you, you’ll experience life to the fullest.


For more information about cancer please visit the Canadian Cancer Society or the American Cancer Society for a list of resources in your area.

 

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43 Responses to “Caring For a Terminally Ill Loved One”

  • Doris Beck Doris Beck says:

    Sandy,
    So good to hear from you again! and you are so right…very wise! I liked what you said about that each of us has our own journey and assignment from God! So true! And so each day we can choose how we approach the challenges that we face, whether with fear or with faith and joy. Today I choose joy! :-)

  • Sandy says:

    Hello Erica! What a blessing that you found this site and had the courage to voice your prayers and concerns! Each of us has their own journey and their own “assignment” from God; lessons to learn; dreams to fulfill. There is really only two ways to exist and one is to live in fear; the other is to live in love. Usually if we have anger, sadness, etc., it is because of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure and so on. When we operate with only love in our heart, things tend to work themselves out for the best, as long as we accept God’s will. Your husband seemingly has a lot of faith and also a lot of love for you. What a gift! None of us knows how much time we have here on Earth and that is why it is SO important to live in the present. If we worry about the future or fret about the past, we may be missing the most important parts of our life; the present. May God bless you on your journey……

  • Doris Beck Doris Beck says:

    Erica,
    I am so glad that you were encouraged by Sandy’s story. As I read your comment I had to think about a comment that a friend made as he battled cancer, ‘cancer isn’t in control, God is’. Although that doesn’t change your situation, hopefully it does encourage you know that He not only knows exactly what you are going through now, but also that His grace will in fact be sufficient should your husband lose his battle with cancer. But His grace isn’t given today for what might happen….sort of like the children of Israel and the manna in the wilderness….they only got enough for one day at a time! So God will be there for you!

    Let me pray for you!

    Dear Heavenly Father,
    I lift Erica and her husband up to you right now and thank You that You are in control. You know exactly what they are going through and You are at work even now. Lord I agree in asking for healing for her husband and peace for them as they walk through this. Thank you that You are their Refuge and their Strength! Amen.

  • erica says:

    Sandy, what a lift in my spirit. Im hurting for my husband so much. I cant stop the tears and I’m praying for the healing but i still have this fear of doubt that over takes me he has be dx with stage 4 SCLC has gone to his brain. He is being so strong he has this attitude.. “THEY WILL TREAT IT TILL THEY BEAT IT” and mans report will not stand in the court of God!!.. I try to put on the happy face but its so hard because I dont want him to go. Life with out him just will not be the same for me how will I go on and what can I do now to be and encourage ment to him I feel like im tearing his spirits his comforting me CAN YOU BELEIVE THAT.. The Love we share is so real and theres only he for me and me for he. I appreciate the word you have given and God bless you and kep you.
    Sincerely!

  • Doris Beck Doris Beck says:

    Sandy thank you so much for the update!!! I love the reminder that cancer isn’t in control, God is! As you put it so well, “The only report I listen to is God’s….when he calls, I will listen, but until then, he has me doing other things with my life. It’s not over ’til it’s over. I choose life!” Keep on keeping on!

    Heavenly Father,
    Thank you for the work that You are doing in Sandy’s life. You are her Great Physician and we thank You for Your touch on her body. May she be experiencing Your grace, peace and strength today as she is obedient to Your call on her life. Amen

  • Sandy says:

    Hello Everyone! Blessings! I haven’t written for awhile, so up to date: Doctors currently have me dead already, but I am dong really well! I stood up and witnessed in church about the power of God about a month ago. I am not listening to anymore negative medical reports. The only report I listen to is God’s….when he calls, I will listen, but until then, he has me doing other things with my life. It’s not over ’til it’s over. I choose life! Currently, my husband and I are working with our equine assisted therapy program helping returning veterans and kids-at-risk. I don’t think God is done with me yet! Smile, Sandy

  • Doris Beck D. Beck says:

    Gareth,
    Thank you for the update. I agree with Esther that it is Jesus who is right with you and by your side. Isaiah 40:29 tells us that,
    “He gives strength to the weary”. He himself says in Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

    Let me pray for you:
    Dear Heavenly Father,
    Thank you that You are the one that is walking this journey with Gareth. You are the one that is there right beside Him as he walks through this valley of the shadow of death. Father, continue to give him grace and strength for each new day. Give him glimpses of heaven as he approaches that day when he will pass over. Amen.

  • Esther Esther says:

    Dear Gareth H,

    I must confess that you are a very strong person, I admire your courage and honesty. I believe Jesus is right with you and by your side – every time. I want to remind you that with God, ALL things are possible. Knowing Jesus Christ is the best gift you have, you can therefore comfortably allow Him to have His way in your life. God bless you mightily dear.

  • Gareth H says:

    To all my dear friends,
    I find this week my cancer has spread to my lungs and now my liver, I guess the end must be near, my hopes are still high I can feel someone with me all the time (I guess it is my guardian angel)I talk and ask for advice and from them I find much comfort from this.
    Needless to say at times I get very apprehensive as is what to to be what to happen, my church each Thursday give a lot of help and comfort, it amazes me as to when one finds themselves in such desperate need help is there to be had, thank you all so very much I love and thank Dear God for all you help and support xxxxxxx

  • Doris Beck D. Beck says:

    Gareth,
    Thanks for keeping us posted! I have been thinking about you and praying for you as you walk this journey. Let me pray for you right now:

    Dear Heavenly Father,
    Thank you that You are the God of all comfort and I pray that in these days, You would bring much comfort to Gareth! Lord You have promised that You will be our Rock and our Fortress and I pray that Gareth would be experiencing you as just that. Give him glimpses of Your glory Lord, and an excitement that he will soon see you face to face. Give him grace and strength for each day Lord as you have promised. Amen

  • Sandy says:

    Hello Gareth,

    You are so strong in your faith, that my prayers for you are only a drop in the bucket compared to God’s love for you. May you be blessed fully, Hugs, Sandy

  • Gareth H says:

    Hi my friends,
    I have just been in hospital for a week as I couldn’t stand the pain, they have controlled it a bit with extra morphine, I had a visit from the specialist whilst I was there whom looked at me sadly to say the cancer has spread, by the look on her face I think I am near the end, its a funny feeling don’t feel depressed tearfull or anything, I will go to church on Thursday and ask God if he can provide me with courage and the strength to bear this. thank you for your support

  • Doris Beck D. Beck says:

    Gareth I’m so glad to hear that you have prayed that prayer to invite Christ into your life. Because having done so means that You have the living Spirit of God living in you and you have what the Bible calls eternal life! So truly you are on a journey that will see Jesus walking alongside of you and even carrying you when you can’t do it on your own, just like you experienced in the doctor’s office. It wasn’t just ‘like’ somebody was looking after you, but He was right there with You.That’s what I’m talking about.

    So my prayer for you is that You will continue to experience that touch of God in the days ahead and be so aware of His presence with you!

  • Gareth H says:

    Thanks D Beck for your kind words,all my life I have prayed be it not so much as now.I recently had a chest x-ray and upon seeing my GP for the result she looked at me and said Im sorry but the cancer seems to have spread to your lungs, I felt at that moment enveloped in something, and a huge feeling of love was around me, it was weird a feeling that I have never felt before but was like somebody looking after me.
    I have said your prayers and you know, I don’t ask God to take the cancer, away as I think my time has come, but to help make the passing more bearable, I have had a good life and so many treasured times I thank God for these.

  • Doris Beck D. Beck says:

    Gareth,I just wanted to add my own comment to Sandy’s. First of all, my heart goes out to you as you deal with this diagnosis. We have walked and continue to walk through this valley of the shadow of death with several friends and family and I just wanted to encourage you. God is the only one that knows the exact number of your days. Science and doctors can only guess.

    Gareth, in your first comment you said, ‘I am so scared and feel so alone, I go to church every Thursday this helps me a lot, please pray for me I had so many wishes for the future, now there is no future.’ You mention that you go to church, but nothing about a personal relationship with God. Have you prayed the prayer that is mentioned in the article above, asking Jesus to come into your life?

    Going to church is a great first step, but even more important than that, is having that personal relationship with God. As the article says,
    ‘….every one of us has the opportunity to experience perfect grace through a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:

    Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.’

    The son of good friends of ours was also given a short time to live(2-3 months) but because of his relationship with Christ, he is living every day to the fullest. He is young, only 25, and yet trusting God in the midst of this difficult and seemingly hopeless situation. May I challenge you that if you haven’t yet prayed this prayer, that you would pray it today?

    In closing let me pray for you:

    Dear Heavenly Father,
    Thank you for Gareth and that he found this site and has a place to engage with others. Lord, today would you touch his body? That is our heartfelt prayer. And also Lord, if he doesn’t yet know you in that personal intimate way, I ask that today would be his day of decision. Amen.

  • Doris Beck D. Beck says:

    Sandy thank you so much for continuing to engage with others here on this post! What a testimony to God’s faithfulness when science says there is no hope but you continue to impart hope to others right here! May God continue to touch Your body!

  • Sandy says:

    Yes, Gareth! More power to you! I have been where you are at, so I have felt the dispair when medical science has told me that there is nothing they can do, but God trumps all and you have the power with Him by your side to heal. I too have been asked by God, “How strong is your faith?” God also gives us a way to heal through non-traditional and even ancient medicines and it is my hope that you seek those out. My doctor even said, “perhaps your body can heal itself” but he didn’t have the answer. Please check out or google Life Extension.org as it’s a good place to start to heal. You have already started to regain your hope back by just posting here in the Power to Change. I wish you hope, peace and healing this year my friend. :)

  • GarethH says:

    Hi Sandy,
    Thank you for your thoughts and lovely words of comfort, it has certainly made me think, I do pray to God every night and sometimes through the day I always thank him for my life up to now, and he does give me comfort, when I come out of church I always feel recharged a lot of people tell me this is not the end, even my Doctor gave me a cuddle and said you are just going in another room. I suppose it is the enormity of it all I find hard to bear, thanks for reading this and already you are like a friend to me, thank you xx

  • Sandy says:

    Oh Gareth, and I forgot the most important thing to ask you to do; when you pray to God for your healing, instead of saying, “Please heal my cancer” thank God for healing your cancer, “Thank you God for healing my cancer”. That, right there, IS faith! Everytime you have a negative thought (and as humans, we have a negative thought about every 10 seconds), take a deep breath and ask God to replace your thoughts with His thoughts. We are, after all, only human, :) May you feel the light of our Lord! Smile, Sandy

  • Sandy says:

    Hello Gareth,

    If you read below, you will know my story, very similar to yours. I can only impart what I have learned and pass it onto you in the hope it will help you the way it helped me. Your mind is the most powerful tool you will have (along with your faith) to help you heal. When Peter was walking across the water to Jesus and the storm (wave) was growing ever so large next to him, remember that when he looked at the “storm”, he would sink, but as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, he was fine and was able to walk on water. So, your storm has gotten a little bigger? If you keep your eyes on Jesus and hand everything over to the Lord and God, your situation can do a complete turnaround. Having said that, you also must take an active role in your own healing. Please read about acidic vs. alkaline foods; please read about prayer and meditation; please read about vibration. Please seek alternative medicines and therapy. Cancer cannot survive in alkaline conditions; cancer and disease does not exist when you vibrate above 500. I am talking about emotions, such as discouragement, dispair, anger, hate, sorrow and grief are all very vibrations. Love, joy, peace, happiness and enlightenment all vibrate very high. My encouragement to you is to pass on what I have learned from many angels here on earth. Trust in God, but take an active role in your healing. You are not alone, you are able to do this. May God bless you. Let your light shine even brighter!

  • Gareth H says:

    I was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer last March and told I have 9 to 12 months left. This is on my mind all the time from the moment I wake till I go to bed. People think I am brave and fighting it ell little do they know I am so scared and feel so alone, I go to church every Thursday this helps me a lot, please pray for me I had so many wishes for the future, now there is no future. Love Gareth xx

  • Kate Kate says:

    Hi Sandy, what an encouraging message you left. Thank you.

  • Sandy says:

    Hi Claire, Thank you for your prayers. I am happy. I live only in the present and I am still working along side my husband with kids-at-risk and our horses, using horses as healers and doing equine therapy. I do not think God is ready to call me home yet, but I will go when the time comes. We talk daily, LOL. I am finding alternative therapies for life extension, massage, herbal, etc., plus I still have hope in thriving a little longer through God’s grace. Bless you and thank you again for your prayers. :)

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi Sandy, I just wanted to check in and see how you’re doing. I prayed for you this morning and asked that in this season of Advent God’s peace would come and settle in and among your situation.

  • Sandy says:

    So, so, so many good ideas and recommendations! I appreciate it all and I am beginning to see my way clear thanks to your advice. God Bless you all!

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi Sandy,

    Our team meets every Tuesday morning for prayer and this morning we spent some time praying for you and your husband and asking God to show you the way forward in these hard days. I also got a couple more responses from the email that went out asking for resources, so here’s a little more to add to the list:

    A great and classic book is “In Gods Waiting Room” by Lehman Strauss. Best part is it’s available for free online!
    *
    While she wants to help her husband come to terms with the news, she will also need to spend some time adjusting to it herself. It must be a terrible shock for both of them.
    It might be helpful to talk with a pastor or a chaplain or a counselor, both together and individually. People grieve differently but this couple doesn’t seem to have a lot of time to process.
    The other thing I would say, is that very few people are given a timeline. And while its a shock, it’s also a gift. A gift to her and a gift to her husband and family. So maybe part of their process together would be to start a journal in which they capture the highlights of their life together, or the things they are most grateful for.

    *
    This comment is from someone who has experienced a devastating cancer diagnosis herself: I just want to echo what Sylvia said about saying what’s in her heart. Speaking from personal experience, I found writing letters to be very helpful. Thinking through and praying about how I felt about dying myself and what I want to express to others were really helpful exercises for myself. I usually take a few days to write it, my physical reality, my concerns, my desires, my hope…etc. It helped avoid being interrupted while sharing. It’s good for the other person to read through everything and consider everything you’ve expressed before they react. Sometimes people have so many questions or become so emotional when you talk to them that you cannot go on to explain things to them and they just get emotional without a better understanding. It’s easier to talk after they’ve read the letter. I also agree about letting her husband know that she has forgiven him for whatever that has been between them and to also ask him to forgive her. I went through that with my father first asking him to forgive me when I was initially diagnosed 14 years ago. It became a turning point for our relationship. When he was dying 6 years ago, I also talked to him again about forgiveness, from God and from people. I felt it was very healing for him too. I pray that God will give her peace as she and her family struggle to face this most significant event in her life!
    *
    I can’t imagine what you must be feeling these days. Know that there are a lot of people praying for you as you go through this. I pray that the words of Psalm 5:11 would ring true for you, especially today:

    “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them ever sing for joy,
    and spread your protection over them
    that those who love your name may exhalt you.”

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi Sandy, I am so glad to hear that you know God and that he is walking with you down this unwanted road. Knowing God doesn’t make this easy, but I trust that the hope of Heaven will make it a little more bearable.

    I reached out to some friends of mine who are pastors and run marriage conferences and are much wiser than I am and asked if they had any books they could recommend. They also consulted with a few friends of theirs and they really came through. It’s a long list. Any of these books could be helpful:

    Experiencing Grief by H. Norman Wright
    For These Tough Times by Max Lucado
    For Those Who Hurt by Chuck Swindoll
    Getting Through the Tough Stuff by Chuck Swindoll?A Gift of Mourning Glories: Restoring Your Life after Loss Georgia Shaffer, AWSA?Good Grief, Granger E. Westberg (forward by Timothy Johnson)
    A Grace Disguised by Gerald Sittser
    A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
    On Grief and Grieving by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler?Shattered Dreams, Larry Crabb?
    Where Is God When It Hurts by Philip Yancey
    ?Words of Comfort for Times of Loss by co-written with Liz Allison and Cecil Murphey
    A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken

    If your husband is not a book person and might find a movie more accessible, they recommended:

    Reign Over Me
    Shadowlands
    Ordinary People

    All three movies deal with the death of a spouse in a way that could help you both as you process what is happening.

    They also offered the following recommendation. I smiled when I got to the last sentence of this because I agree, your love for your husband is so evident in what you’ve written and your concern for him in the midst of your own pain:

    “I’d also encourage her to make sure she says all in her heart to say, whether in words or in a letter to him. To let him know that while she loves him, she is ready to leave and she wants him to be at peace with her death as well. To let him know that she has forgiven anything that has been between them. To let him know any hopes she still has for his life (And their family?) when she is gone

    She might need to express some of the things she longs to say to him in a letter to read after her death. She might also want to look at favorite pictures of favorite times together with him and to laugh about old stories together.

    I admire this lady’s generosity and love to be concerned for her husband at a time when she is likely in great pain and maybe very fearful herself. That speaks volumes about the kind of love they have shared.”

    I will continue to pray for you. Feel free to write back if you like. (No pressure though. Time is precious.)

  • Sandy says:

    Thank you Ms. Claire for your kind words of encouragement. Yes, I have always had a relationship with God, for I would be nothing if not for Him. We talk daily. I like the letter idea you suggested too and I will work on that. Thank you so much for your prayers! I have put in a call to my pastor and I will see him this weekend, but in the meantime, your prayers meant a lot. This most recent diagnosis was just received yesterday, so emotions are pretty raw, but already I am feeling a shift to more peaceful thoughts. It was probably not by accident that I stumbled onto your website. Blessings to you, Sandy

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi Sandy, My heart ached as I read your comment. I am so sorry to hear that you are facing such a serious illness. I can’t imagine how hard that must be. I’ve been asking around the office to see if anyone knows of a book to recommend or a resource and I haven’t found it yet, but I’m going to keep looking. There are the practical things to consider. Have you planned out your service? Does your husband know your wishes about the funeral arrangements? I know that’s not a nice thing to talk about, but it’s one less thing for him to have to think about after. I’m guessing you’ve already thought of that.

    You have some time which both helps and makes things harder. You have an opportunity to say all of the things you want to say. So say them. Tell him how much you love him. And write him letters so that when he can’t hear your voice anymore he still has your words to read and read again. If it’s possible, try to help him find some kind of community whether that’s a support group at the hospital or your church or family. He’s going to need support. You said that he won’t see a counsellor, have you been able to see one yourself? I’d imagine that there are some very powerful emotions coursing through your body and you’re going to need help too.

    You’ve found this article on a Christian site, so I’m hoping that means that you have a relationship with God but I don’t want to assume. If you don’t know how much God loves you, if you’re not sure whether Heaven is what is waiting for you on the other side of your life, know that you CAN know, for sure, today. You can read about how to know God personally here.

    This is the very very hard part of love. I wish I could tell you how to make it easier, but I can’t do that. All of the ways you’ve loved your husband in the past, love him now, as much as you can, as often as you can, as deeply as you can. He knows that you love him and he will know that when you are not there to speak the words. Are you able to talk to a pastor? Do they have resources at the hospital or in the place where you’ll seek palliative care? If you’d like our team to pray for you and your husband you can submit a prayer request here. If you’d like to talk to someone privately you can use this form to contact a mentor and you’ll hear back usually within a couple of days.

    I will keep looking for resources. I wish there was more I could do for you right now. In the meantime, can I pray for you?

    God in Heaven, My heart is heavy as I stand with Sandy and look, just for a moment, at this great sadness that looms in front of her. I do not know why she is on this road. I don’t understand why and when cancer strikes or why we can’t fix it. It hurts and I can’t make it hurt less. But you can and I pray that you would bring comfort to Sandy and her husband. You say in your word that you bring peace that passes understanding – peace that doesn’t make any sense, and I pray for that peace today for this family. You are well acquainted with suffering, be with them now in the hour of their greatness need. Draw close to them. Bring them people who can help, doctors who can ease the pain. If it be your will I pray for a miracle so that Sandy can go home to the man she loves. Give her the grace to walk this road. Strengthen her husband. Be with them now and in all the days to come I pray, Amen

  • Sandy says:

    How do you help your husband when you know you only have a finite time to live? I had stage 3C colon cancer which has now moved to my lungs and lymphnodes. I will be in palliative care eventually (Dec. 2013), but he has so much heart and it is totally breaking. I don’t know where to start. We live in a small town, limited resources, plus he’s not the type to go to therapy (farmer/construction). Our daughters are all grown and they will have their hands full after I pass. I don’t know how to help ease his pain. We are only 51 and 52 years old, bu thave been married for 33 years………..

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi Liz, I can’t imagine what you must be going through. if you would like to talk to someone privately you can use this form to request a mentor and you’ll get an email back, usually within a couple of days. (What is mentoring?) Do you come from a faith background at all? I know that in my own life my faith has been a rock to lean on in times of great pain. Who do you have supporting you through this?

  • Liz says:

    Original URL:
    My husband was just diagnosed with stage 3, 2b lung cancer. They did a surgical biopsy to stage him before doing what the thought would be a partial lung removal. During the procedure they found a tumor on the opposite lung. This was a shock to us & the Doctor as she had expected by the scan to be dealing with stage 1 or 11. It’s only been 4 days we are reeling. Dear hubby is my life, we are inseparable & we have no children. We will get the pathology & treatment plan in a week or so. When we go back to the center, a 5 hour round trip hours’ drive, they will do a brain scan. Lord how I pray there is nothing there! I need to be strong for my Hubby. I am dealing with chronic health problems of my own and am limited in many ways. I am so scared! We are strong believers. My husband prayer has always been “Lord please call my wife home first so I can always be here to take care of her” I know it hurts him to know it doesn’t look like that prayer will be answered. Emotions are all over the place right now. Thanks for this forum. We will seek a support group. I see only one in our town and there is no meeting for a month.
    I had already lost one husband to lung cancer after 21 years together. It was only 11 weeks from diagnosis to his death. Dear hubby & I have been together 21 years now. I am praying for a miracle and asking for more time! Thank you for your prayers!

  • Sharon Sharon says:

    to jo jo and mary lou– prayer–father God i pray for these two people i pray for the healing of their spouses you are the great healer i pray for wisdom for the doctors and your healing hand to touch them and be with these people give them strenght to go on and bring other christians to encourage them at this time i am praying for you all God send your love to them and putting your loving arms around them at this time may God be with you at this time

  • Jo Jo says:

    Dear Power to Change: My soul mate> my best friend on earth>my beloved is battling lung cancer that came from kidney cancer. She was fine on Nexovar chemotherapy from Nov 2013-To March 1 until severe anemia, extremely low blood sodium, now recently congestive-heart-Failure has kept her down. Yet we together fight this temporary set back. I cry in secret, yelling/screaming in the car, to let out my fear and sadness. She fights on, her hope and my hope, our will to be in this earth together with our family is carrying her through. I pray, we pray, she and I mediate and self empower ourselves to go each day, each 1/2 day and night. Please send your prayers to her to help her get strong enough to return to chemo to shrink the cancer cells, enough to give her more time and to sustain on pallative care so that we can gather for the envitable end. which we call must face. Help us pray for us. God Bless us all.

  • Mary Lou says:

    My husband has been diagnosed with a Grade IV brain tumor, no cure. The outlook is grim, perhaps 4-6 months, perhaps 1 year. The one thing I appreciate from this story is that my family and myself are helping my husband to live, not to die. It is a very powerful statement that I have repeated to my family, it helps us through the day to day. Thank you, this is perhaps the most difficult thing I have had to manage, but I vow to stay strong and remain cheerful and positive, it is what my husband wants…….I will miss him with all my heart, but for now he is still here with us, we will celebrate each day as a gift and help him to live.

  • Barbara Alpert Barbara Alpert says:

    Dear Laura, Thank you for sharing! It sounds like you have a real nice relationship with your mom. For you to say how proud you are of her is soooo nice to hear! I bet your mom is very proud of you too! May God’s blessings be with and follow you all the days of your life.

  • laura says:

    A friend of my mom, told me a story. All the moms were having coffee (and a smoke while us kids beat each other up, LOL) and they had a discussion about if their spouse should remarry or not, if they were to pass away. My mom (and I am so proud of her and soooo glad her friend shared this story with me) said “I hope Ed would remarry absolutely! What a compliment to ME, that I made him so happy that he wanted to create a life, while not the same, a joyful life like we had. I
    would be honored”.

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hello Say, I am so sorry to hear that your husband’s cancer is worse than they thought. What an awful shock it must have been to hear that. I cannot begin to imagine what you must be feeling today. You said that you need to stay strong to support your husband, and that’s true, but you’re going to need support as well. You and your husband are going to walk through the same cancer, but you’re going to walk two very different roads with different fears and pains and losses.

    Do you come from a faith background Say? If so I’d highly recommend making an appointment with your pastor or priest as soon as possible for spiritual support. If faith has not been part of your life, many people draw great comfort from a relationship with God. If you’re curious there are a couple of articles you could start with here and here.

    I’m guessing that today your emotions are all over the place. When you can breathe you’re going to need to start making some plans. Getting some support for yourself needs to be at the top of that list. We have mentors that you can speak to free of charge. You can use this form to request a mentor. In addition the hospital should have a list of resources for you along with cancer support groups you can look into. If you have children you might want to look at lining up some extra babysitting so you have time to just spend with your husband and time to get things done.

    I don’t know if you’re someone who believes in the power of prayer or not, but I am someone who does so I’m going to pray for you now:

    Dear God in Heaven, I’m here to pray for Say, for her husband and for their family. You know what happened today, what the scans showed and the doctors said. You know the grief that is tearing at their hearts today and the pain that makes it hard to breathe. It says in the Bible that you see all our tears, you keep track of them, so I know that you saw it when Say cried. I pray that you would be very close to her and to her family in these months ahead. I do not know what it coming, but you know and I pray that even now you would make a way for them. Carve out a path where it seems like there is no way forward. I know that you are a God of miracles and I know that you do not always chose to heal, but I’m asking for that for Say’s husband. If it’s your will I pray that you would wipe away the cancer that is attacking him. I pray that you would comfort this family, that you would show them the next step to take and walk with them through this awful valley. The future is a scary place right now but I know that you are already in the future. Be close to them know I pray, Amen.

  • Say says:

    It’s my first time to go with my husband to see his oncologist today. It wasn’t a good news at all. The oncologist informed us of the result of the CT scan and unfortunately, my husband’s esophageal cancer had spread through his lungs and lymph nodes. He is currently at stage IV. From couple of years down to several months, that’s the prognosis from this afternoon’s appt. This is so hard to believe but I am telling myself that I will remain focused and strong so I can support the needs of my husband.

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Janice, I am so sorry to hear about what your family is going through. I pray that God will be merciful. You asked whether it’s right or wrong to want to stay home with your husband rather than go back to work. I think that it’s not so much a question of right or wrong as it is a more practical question of “what can you afford?” Most people need to work to be able to pay the mortgage and put food on the table. There has probably been a loss of income with your husband sick. There may be medical bills and as hard as it is to think about, there will be funeral costs. Can you afford to not work during this time? Can you afford to not have this job waiting for you when you are ready to go back to work?

    I understand the desire to be there for every moment that your husband has left. I think that is perfectly natural. At the same time I think you may find that going back to work, possibly even just part time is helpful for more than just the money. As I’m sure you know, it’s going to get harder from here. It is going to be brutal to watch. You might find that going to work for a few hours a day was a bit of a mental break from facing the reality of what is happening to your family. It might help to have a few hours where you have to focus on something else. I think it would be really hard to be home full time at this point in his illness. It might feel like waiting for the worst when you’re not actually there yet.

    Whatever you decide, you do need to talk to your supervisor as soon as possible. They have done what they can for you by granting you the three month leave. If you are unable to come back to work I am sure they will understand but they will also need to rehire your position. Give them as much notice as you can. Talk to them – it might be possible to go back at less than fulltime which would give you more time with your husband. I am sure you don’t want to think about what happens after, but think about it a little now, while it’s off in the distance a ways. You are going to need to be able to support yourself. You are going to need to be in a community so you are not alone. You’re going to need something to fill your days with. Your job might be exactly what you need to hang on to, not something to let go.

  • Janice says:

    My husband has stage 4 terminal primary bone cancer. My work were good enough to grant me 3 months leave so that I could spend time with him doing things we always wanted to (within our financial ability) whilst he is at a fairly good state of health. I am due to return to work but do not feel that I want to, I want to stay with him not spend 8 hours a day at another place knowing our time is short together. Is is right or is it wrong? Is it better to continue to work knowing that deterioration is inevitable in my husbands health?

  • Shelley Shelley Anderson says:

    I would like to pray for you my friend.
    I love to lift my sisters and brother to our Lord.
    I pray that the Lord will help you in your concern.
    I pray that you will let God help your husband and that You will let God take your concern about leaving this earth to Him. I pray that You will keep living your life the fullest that he has given to you.
    My mother had breast cancer and she relied on her Father in heaven and she stayed longer than the doctors had said.
    In Jesus MightyName amen.

  • detra says:

    I will most probably die in the next 5 years. I selfishly do not want my husnband age 46 to remarry soon after my death. How can I express this? We hav eno chilfdren. I just want him to honor this…………….please help me………………

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