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Cancer, God and the Existential Crisis.


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My grandmother has been in and out of the hospital for months now because her lungs keep filling up with fluid. Each time her stay is longer and Finally this time they did some a biopsy and we were told today she has mucinous carcinoma in both lungs. There are still questions and tests that need to be done but she will obviously need chemo. She did smoke for most of her life despite our lengthy attempts to get her to quit. It doesn't do any good for us to beat her up over what is already done. This is my first time really dealing with cancer with a close loved one. She is very much like a second mother. I actually have more memories with her than my own mother. Feel bad saying that but it's true. My emotions have run the gamet today. I don't really have anyone outside my family I am really close to anymore. I have a hard time depending on others for emotional support. I either feel like a bother and needy and haven't had many people who have actually been very supportive in the past. The usual generic simple responses but not many deep connections, in part to becoming a recluse. I've had health problems in the past few years that has made me retreat and cut people out. People are not very understanding especially when it is seemingly simple things that they haven't lived (hormone disorder, bowel disease, bladder disorder, chronic fatigue etc.) They don't understand and can't relate so their compassion only goes so far but when you can't promise how you'll feel day-to-day and so commitments become few and far between people start to give up on investing in you. That hurt a lot so I stopped investing in them. I don't mean to make the focus on me when it's about my granny but I'm having a hard time coping alone. I use to call my ex when things got bad but he failed me when my grandfather was sick and died and I had a cancer scare myself. His excuse for ignoring my attempts to reach out during those times was his gf at the time didn't want him responding. She's a junkie. I was in his life for over 15 years so failing me for a girl he barely knew should have been enough. After forgiving and giving to him whenever he needed me I finally had enough and cut contact. I've made the mistake of investing in takers who don't give and drained myself.

 

I've been angry and sad about what's going on with my granny. I've prayed so much asking God to spare her and have mercy on her. She's such a good Godly woman and I thought He would see her heart and love her enough in return to spare her of this fate. I am thankful that the diagnosis comes with a good survival rate but there are still so many questions so I don't want to get my hopes up just yet. I'm heartbroken to know what lies ahead of her. Watching her go through chemo and suffer without being able to stop it. I'm sure these thoughts and feelings are common to those who have lived it. Being sad and angry at God and not understanding why. She's so strong and as soon as I saw her today I started crying. I want to be strong for her, I want to do the best I can for her. She's given me so much. You want to fix it, but you can't. You want to give all you can in hopes it will be enough but you know the one thing they truly need, their health, you can't give. Here I'm caught up in feeling helpless when it's not about me at all.

 

Any wisdom, insight, advice or kindness is welcome. I am a Christian so I am not looking for opinions or beliefs that reason atheism. Thank you.

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[ATTACH=CONFIG]11507[/ATTACH]

 

Picture of one of my most treasured memories as a kid. My grandparents, brother, cousins and myself camping up in Wisconsin at Indian Trails. I have been blessed with wonderful grandparents whom invested so much of themselves into us kids. Just thought it'd be nice to have a face with the story. Please pray for her. Her name is Mary.

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Hi, I am so sorry you are going through this. It may seem weird, but I was watching Grey's Anatomy and saw the episode where a Doctor, Kepner (a very good Christian) lost her faith in God after losing a patient. She was angry at God, she started living a life against all her beliefs. She lost her faith; she was lost. So in this episode she had a Rabbi as a patient who was dying because of a rare side effect of antibiotics. He helped her get her (Christian) faith back. I found this dialogue inspiring. I hope it helps you too.

 

Kepner was mad, patient picked up on it and asked:

Patient:So Spill. Come on. Give me the goods.

Tell me the dirt, tell me the skinny. Dr. Kepner.

You really think I can't tell when someone's in pain, too?

Kepner:That's not... You don't have to worry about that

Patient: So, what, I should worry about my wife not getting here before I pass out? Or the fact that my skin is giving up being actual, you know, skin?

Patient: I can give you morphine and..

Patient : No, no, listen, listen, the Talmud says if someone is sick or in need and you can take away 1/60th of their pain, then that's goodness. That's God.

You can't take away a 60th of something if you don't know what it is.

Kepner: That's not your job.

Patient:It is exactly my job, and I prefer to do it till the bitter end.

Come on. You're not gonna deny a dying man's wish?

Kepner: You're not -

Patient : Aren't I? Dr. Kepner, I've held enough dying men's hands in my career. I know it's mine this time.

Kepner: I am sorry, Eli.

Patient: Don't be sorry. You're doing your job. Just let me do mine.

Kepner: I'm not... I... I'm fine. I don't I don't need anything.

Patient : What? You're a terrible liar. I like that.

Kepner: All right, fine. What's that saying? "If If I'm not for myself, who will be for me?"

Patient: Mm-hmm.

Kepner :Well, I am taking care of myself, for once. That's all.

Patient : Oh, and you realize that that phrase is not an invitation for narcissism, right?

Kepner : You're calling me a narcissist? Sure you don't want more pain meds? It'll knock you right out.

 

 

Patient: I don't blame you, you know, it's human nature.

You face enough hardship, then you can't help but think that you're being punished, that you did something to deserve it.

Kepner: I did nothing to deserve Okay.

My whole life, I followed His rules. I studied, I believed, I practiced what I preached.

I did every single thing He asked of me.

Patient :And that guarantees you what?

Kepner: Excuse me?

Patient: Well, where is the guarantee? Where is it written exactly that if you do this or that, that everything in your life's gonna be good, hmm? Nowhere, in any faith, is there a guarantee.

Kepner: I'm not asking for everything to be good all the time, but fair I think that I -

Patient: Fair? Was it fair when Isaac went blind and then his child betrayed him? And where was the fairness when Sara had to wait 99 years before she had a child, and God said, "Sacrifice him"? And Moses couldn't even get past the bouncer to the Promised Land.

And like I said, I'm not up on the sequel, but from what I hear, Jesus got a raw deal. Nobody in the Bible lived a life free of suffering or injustice. And if they lived lives like that, why should ours be diff different? Now, if people only believed in God when things were good, I guarantee you, after the Holocaust, not a single Jew would be a believer. Faith wouldn't be real faith if you only believe when things are good.

Kepner: Well, so, what? The world is just cruel and random, and there's nothing anyone can do about it?

Patient: Look, I don't have a lot of time here.

Do you mind if I just skip to the part where I pretend I don't know what to tell you? I'm just gonna tell you, okay? -

Kepner: Okay.

Patient: Terrible things happen. Terrible, wonderful, devastating things happen.

Who are you to know why? Who are you to know why some people live and some people die?

Kepner: Children die. Children who didn't do anything wrong, children who were broken before they had a chance to be whole, who were climbing in their own front windows.

Patient: Right. And you don't get to know why any more than than I get to know why I'm dying from taking a pill that saves lives, that saves nearly everyone's life but it's killing me.

So you can either believe in God and goodness, or you can believe it's pointless, it's cruel, and it's random whatever makes you happier.

Are you? Happy?

Kepner: It's not narcissism.

Patient :Then what is it? Pain.

Unimaginable pain.

Yeah, I know the feeling.

God's not indifferent to our pain.

Listen, tikkun olam.

Tikkun olam means that the world is full of brokenness and it's our job to put it back together again.

It assumes that the world is broken and in need and in pain.

And it's our job to fix it.

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Exactly what I'm struggling with. I know it's the ego speaking and even that I feel guilt over but then I reasoned that I am human and God made me, and all of us, as we are, ego included. The dialog was right, and I especially appreciated the reminder of suffering mentioned in the Bible, including Jesus. I thought about that yesterday too. I also believe that the hardships we encounter serve a purpose and help mold us into who He wants us to be. Having processed it I feel better and I fully intend to do what I can to be a source of comfort to my granny. Even while I was angry with God I prayed and asked for him to forgive me for being so and yet I couldn't help but still feel that way. You're right, trying to entirely understand is beyond our comprehension and that is where faith comes in. Thank you for such a thoughtful response. It helped a lot.

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I'm sorry to her you lost your dad. Having lost my grandpa, who was my father figure, I often think about what he's doing up in Heaven and what it will be like for our whole family to be reunited someday. There definitely is comfort in that. And I don't know about you but I take comfort in the little signs he leaves or sometimes I can just sense his presence or I'll smell him. Or watching old home videos and hearing his voice. Those little things.

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your grandmother abused her body with smoking despite everything else --- that is something that is not being "done to you" or "happening to you" but the natural consequence of her behavior. I think you should pray for strength whether than for her to be spared --- her health and life is HER journey not yours. With medical advances, maybe she can live a bit longer but you can only do so much to your body and can only abuse it so much before your body says that it cannot go on.

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Don't agree that we shouldn't expect others to be there during such hardships. I don't expect much from people, a simple prayer, a reminder things will be ok or hug when feeling like falling apart. I'm not exactly sure how you think I'm expecting much. Expecting my ex, who I had been there for Countless times and forgiven for some seriously damaging things, to just pick up the phone when my grandpa died or when I was facing a cancer scare is NOT asking too much. I won't diminish myself to the point of where my feelings don't matter. I have done that most of my life and it has left me empty and alone when I need someone. I won't do that anymore. Also there is nothing wrong with needing someone. We all need to feel cared for and loved. I recently read a study about the life expectancy on the elderly and the most influential factor was their connections to other so I'm sorry I don't agree that we shouldn't expect others to be kind, compassionate and there when we need them.

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You're right. She did do this to herself and I know she knew in her heart that if she continued to smoke she would pay the consequences. I was caught up in focusing on her heart and it's weight in God's eyes and not her human responsibility for the body God gave her. It is her journey. I was reeling in emotions and logic wasn't in play. Thanks for a snap back to reality.

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Don't agree that we shouldn't expect others to be there during such hardships. I don't expect much from people, a simple prayer, a reminder things will be ok or hug when feeling like falling apart. I'm not exactly sure how you think I'm expecting much. Expecting my ex, who I had been there for Countless times and forgiven for some seriously damaging things, to just pick up the phone when my grandpa died or when I was facing a cancer scare is NOT asking too much. I won't diminish myself to the point of where my feelings don't matter. I have done that most of my life and it has left me empty and alone when I need someone. I won't do that anymore. Also there is nothing wrong with needing someone. We all need to feel cared for and loved. I recently read a study about the life expectancy on the elderly and the most influential factor was their connections to other so I'm sorry I don't agree that we shouldn't expect others to be kind, compassionate and there when we need them.

 

remember -- your grandma is the one who is suffering. People "should" be there for her and whoever is caregiving her -- but its too much to *expect* everyone to "be there" for the adult grandchildren by necessity. And in fact, we should not "expect" anyone at all to be there when we need them - but be appreciative when they are.

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WE are caring for her! She's moving in with us. And no, I don't agree. When you have been there for someone through every thing, and let me tell you it's a lot, I do expect them to be there when I need them. They should expect me to be there for them when they need me, because I will be. That is what it means to be a friend. You signup to be relied upon when things get tough. So you agree with expectations to pay taxes, commit to work demands, follow through with all other commitments but there shouldn't be any expectations or commitments within a friendship? Maybe you're not close to your grandparents but I am very close to mine. Maybe you didn't read my post carefully because I did state just how close I am with her. I change her, I've bathed her, I've taken her to her appointments, and all other things that are required of a caretaker. Your judgment makes me sad. Clearly I've been struggling with the news and your focus in on a perceived entitlement, none of compassion. I don't expect much from people at all, again I stated that, but I did expect my ex to be there and he wasn't. I am appreciative of those how have been praying and I direct it towards my grandmother, not myself. I am still human and imperfect and allowed to feel sad and helpless that I can't stop what's ahead of her, even if she did do it to herself, I love her beyond measure and never want to see her suffer even if it is the result of her own decisions. Please don't comment on my post anymore. Your opinion is judgmental and unkind.

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WE are caring for her! She's moving in with us. And no, I don't agree. When you have been there for someone through every thing, and let me tell you it's a lot, I do expect them to be there when I need them. They should expect me to be there for them when they need me, because I will be. That is what it means to be a friend. You signup to be relied upon when things get tough. So you agree with expectations to pay taxes, commit to work demands, follow through with all other commitments but there shouldn't be any expectations or commitments within a friendship? Maybe you're not close to your grandparents but I am very close to mine. Maybe you didn't read my post carefully because I did state just how close I am with her. I change her, I've bathed her, I've taken her to her appointments, and all other things that are required of a caretaker. Your judgment makes me sad. Clearly I've been struggling with the news and your focus in on a perceived entitlement, none of compassion. I don't expect much from people at all, again I stated that, but I did expect my ex to be there and he wasn't. I am appreciative of those how have been praying and I direct it towards my grandmother, not myself. I am still human and imperfect and allowed to feel sad and helpless that I can't stop what's ahead of her, even if she did do it to herself, I love her beyond measure and never want to see her suffer even if it is the result of her own decisions. Please don't comment on my post anymore. Your opinion is judgmental and unkind.

 

I am not talking about her and her care -- i am talking about you and your care.

 

I am * extremely* close to my grandparents -- most of them have passed now out of my great grands and grandparents. I do have too left. What i am saying is that you should not "expect" anything because that only leads to being disappointed in others who don't do exactly what you expect them to you and instead have *gratitude* for what others do for YOU or be pleasantly surprised. There are so many people who are disappointed because while they do receive help from some relatives or friends there may be another one in particular that they are deeply disappointed in because they do not help. that is what i am getting at.

If you help your grandmother out - that's wonderful. But you should not snipe at, be disappointed in, or resentful of others who do *not* help or are not in the position to, or do not reach out to *you* to help you with *your* feelings. If they do - then that's wonderful.

 

It *is* asking to much to expect an ex to *be there* for you. Anything that you did for the ex while you were together does not obligate them to return the favor, so to speak. Does that make any sense? We can drive ourselves crazy fixating on people or things we wish they would do and miss out on what others are doing.

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No, I my ex and I had a 15+ friendship after breaking up. I was there for him every time he needed me. He did disappoint me. I actually was stupid enough to forgive him and was once again there for him this last time when another girl broke his heart and took advantage of him only for him to disappear again. I did expect him to be there for me and he wasn't. I'm human, I need emotional support too. It doesn't make me entitled and it isn't too much to want that. I'm just saying that after making the mistake of continuously being there for someone who failed me repeatedly I've gotten to the point where I am very reserved in who I confide in or go to and it's left me empty. I'm trying to be strong for my granny. I can only be my own emotional support for so long before it starts to become too much. I understand what you're saying in terms of expectations but I'm disappointed that you zeroed in on that. It felt judgmental and disregarded the bigger picture here which is that while it is HER diagnosed I am very much in her life and I can only speak from my perspective and what I need in order to be a service to her. My position as a granddaughter shouldn't have even been attacked. It doesn't matter HOW you're related to someone or if you are at all, finding out someone you love and care for deeply has cancer is awful. It's foul to attack their need for compassion and support. I don't see how your comment about by position as her granddaughter was appropriate.

 

 

I was hoping to hear from those who have cared for someone in this position. What to do for them, how to not break down when you see them so sick. I'm not angry with God like I was yesterday but I'm still scared for my granny. I've never been through this to this extent. Skin cancer, my mother had her uterus taken out for precancerous cells but nothing that required chemo. Maybe this sounds dumb but she's so weak already. I'm worried the Chemo will be too much on her. I'm worried her body won't be able to handle the surgeries. She is Very strong, emotionally and physically, so when I see her in pain I know it's bad. She's good at masking it and she's not masking it right now. I've brought her photo albums, readers digest, crosswords and plants to her hospital room. I hold her hand and tell her how much I love her. Change her, bath her etc. Just scared about what's ahead.

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Your granny probably already knows and has her trust in God. That is where you can lay your trust and know that you will not be forsaken. Not in any others can you do that. She probably already knows that He will be the one holding on to her through this and will not let go of her. We only see the human side of everything and sometimes it is very painful. But God has a plan for your granny and it may have something to do with your relationship and dependence on others. Maybe your granny will be the one that shows you how to live a more joyful life through all of this. Maybe you should spend time talking with her as much as you possibly can. Unfortunately none of us live through this thing called life and some of us have lots of suffering in it. The secret to living a life full of joy is to love to the end of it even those who hurt you although you may have to love them from afar. I pray you and your granny spends some real quality time together and I thank God for giving you that blessing.

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Your granny probably already knows and has her trust in God. That is where you can lay your trust and know that you will not be forsaken. Not in any others can you do that. She probably already knows that He will be the one holding on to her through this and will not let go of her.

 

It's funny you say that because she always says, "God's got me." She says she's at peace with it.

 

I am actually really looking forward to her living with us so that I can spend time and take care of her. She's always been very much in my life but more so as a source of strength and comfort for me and my family. Not to say I haven't for her at times but primarily it has been her to be the caretaker so I'm looking forward to returning that care and love to her. I am big on sentimental and special homemade gifts. I just made her a pillow with collage of pictures of her deceased husband and their dog that just passed and embellished the other side with buttons from some of his shirts and from Her mother's button collection. I made homemade video/slideshows with synced music and I made a scrapbook with all pictures of my late grandfather for Christmas. She's made me a scrapbook once and it will always be the Best gift I've ever received next to the last birthday I had with my Grandfather, he died the next morning and I prayed for months that he's make it til then. I always prayed for the next holiday/birthday with him. I am very thankful for the time I had.

 

Thank you for the kind words. You're right, I need to find the peace she has and trust in His plan. No matter what it will be ok because I have her and she has me and that is forever.

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It's funny you say that because she always says, "God's got me." She says she's at peace with it.

 

I am actually really looking forward to her living with us so that I can spend time and take care of her. She's always been very much in my life but more so as a source of strength and comfort for me and my family. Not to say I haven't for her at times but primarily it has been her to be the caretaker so I'm looking forward to returning that care and love to her. I am big on sentimental and special homemade gifts. I just made her a pillow with collage of pictures of her deceased husband and their dog that just passed and embellished the other side with buttons from some of his shirts and from Her mother's button collection. I made homemade video/slideshows with synced music and I made a scrapbook with all pictures of my late grandfather for Christmas. She's made me a scrapbook once and it will always be the Best gift I've ever received next to the last birthday I had with my Grandfather, he died the next morning and I prayed for months that he's make it til then. I always prayed for the next holiday/birthday with him. I am very thankful for the time I had.

 

Thank you for the kind words. You're right, I need to find the peace she has and trust in His plan. No matter what it will be ok because I have her and she has me and that is forever.

 

You have an extraordinary gift here to learn from your granny's confidence she has in her life. God bless you both.

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