Family member has cancer
September 2, 2016 3:54 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for ideas to support and comfort him. It's stage IV prostate cancer, which will give him several more years, at least with treatment.

He has already had his first hormone treatment, and will soon have a bone biopsy and chemo. The chemo starts this month, and I want to send him a care package. Also, any other ideas to help would be great.

So far, I was planning on sending an expanding file folder, notebook, heavy duty unscented lotion, maybe a pillow, and some items to help with the chemo side effects. Mr Sunny has looked up the chemo treatments, and tells me that most patients deal well with it, specifically Docetaxel. So, will he need Maalox and Imodium? What about non-alcoholic mouthwash?

I have sent him an email with suggestions a breast cancer survivor friend recommended, like applying for disability, but also would like suggestions for groups that could help him with things like rides and paperwork. I think he is not using a cancer center, but is putting things together piecemeal. He is in the Denver area, aged 53.

Thanks ahead of time, you guys, This sucks.
posted by annsunny to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Based on my own experience with cancer (but not stage IV cancer), I found it very helpful psychologically to do something that let me think I'm participating in the fight, not just sitting around waiting for the docs to do something. In my case it was diet. At that time, there was a belief, at least among patients, that diet could help.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:10 PM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Maybe a gift certificate to iTunes or Amazon, or a subscription to Netflix? There is a LOT of down time during chemo and you don't always want to be listening to your fellow patients have multi-hour calls on their cell phones. (Especially when it's a conversation about which guns and ammo are the best!) O_o I find my iPad and Spotify subscription invaluable for keeping my sanity.

I'd say skip anything you can buy at the drug store, because he won't know what side effects he has until he starts treatment, and then he can just buy that stuff himself as needed.

If he doesn't have family to cook for him, a gift certificate to something like Freshly might be nice. (Note: NOT Blue Apron or one of the ones where you have to do the cooking yourself. There will be days when he just doesn't have the energy.)

And yes, if he's unable to work, absolutely get started on SSDI paperwork ASAP. I did my own paperwork with some advice from SSDI sites on the Internet and got benefits about four months after I was diagnosed, which is record breaking time. Tell him to make sure to describe his WORST days when filling out the paperwork. Don't soft pedal it with "well, some days I can get two or three hours of work done" if the reality is that there are days he can barely do laundry.

Feel free to message me if you think of any other questions!
posted by MsMolly at 5:15 PM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A family member who went thru prostate cancer treatment a few years ago said that now he knows what we menopausal women feel like with the crazy hot flashes. Maybe he would like one of those always-cool pillows.
posted by maggieb at 12:45 AM on September 3, 2016

Best answer: I wrote chatty letters to my dad with no expectation of a reply, although he did often reply when he felt better, and he looked forward to those over phone calls and visits as less energy draining. An audible subscription is great for listening to books when nausea etc means reading is hard.

The biggest thing was a hobby he had that we made a big project to work on together and over a year of back and forth as his health varied, it became a finished piece that he was pleased with and could give to people before he died. I did about 70% of the work in the end, but he was very involved and it gave him a focus. If there's a hobby our interest he had that he might want assistance developing, explore that perhaps.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 8:26 AM on September 3, 2016

Response by poster: Thank you all for your answers! I really appreciate them. I'll tell you what we decided, in case it helps someone in the future.

Here is what Mr Sunny and I have done/will do:
-First of all, he has applied for disability. BIG DEAL, because it gives him more financial freedom and independence. A terminal diagnoses means automatic approval, as long as work requirements are met.

-We have decided to send a series of care packages. The first included warm comfy sweats, an expanding file folder, and some notebooks. Next, a Roku and Netflix. He should be able to get those set up before the Chemo starts. Next, some items that might be good during the chemo treatments, like candies and mints to offset the bad taste it sometimes leaves, a funny book, and a nice soft hat. The rest we will decide as things progress.

-i Have a friend who makes those neck wraps that stay cool, so I will ask her to make one for him. The audible subscription is a good idea, too. Also, a lot of audiobooks are available as library downloads.

-The American Cancer Society has an amazing list of resources and support.
posted by annsunny at 10:50 AM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

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