what do you say to sibling who is terminal?
This may not be the right forum, please move it if necessary.
Found out last night that my older (60 yrs. old and 1/2 way across the country) sister's cancer has returned and is apparently spread to many places, including her spine. She has been sick for a cfew months, but refused to tell anyone. She had had a recurrence of cancer 3 years ago, but had chemo for it and never told anyone what the dr.s told her after treatment. With all the Privacey acts, we as a family couldn't get any info. We had all suspected what the issue was, but could never get any straight info from her.
Anyway, I guess it's been closer to two months she's been in a nursing home because she wasn't taking care of herself. She refuse to get a ct scan, told different people differeent versions of what was wrong with her, alienated friends/family who tried to visit her. It took a chance meeting of friends and an off-the-cuff remark about both of them visiting a friend in the home, and "the friend" turned out to be my sister. After talking with each other, they both contacted some other friends and started putting 2 and 2 and 2 together. Once we (family) got things figured out, we did everything we knew to convince her she needed to find out exactly what the problems were she was experiencing. It finally took a cold-hearted discusseion with her and some of the staff at the nursing home that finally convinced her to get the CT scan. Blood work wasn't showing cancer signs.
Found out results of the test last night. Cancer has returned pretty aggresively to many parts of her body including her spine. Dr. didn't give a timetable, just said that she wasn't a candidate for surgery (obese), and that there was at best a 1 in 3 chance that chemo would be successful.
Anyway, I called her today and realized that I had absolutely no idea what to say. She was real bubbly for a couple of minutes, then settled down into...I'm not sure what. Maybe pain meds, I don't know. She mentioned it wasn't good, then started slurring her words a bit, then became easy to understand again. I assume she's on pain meds, but couldn't get a straight answer. I don't feel like I handled the call well--what do you say to someone in this situation? We were never really close (too many years between us), but surely there is a better way to handle these conversations.
Anybody with experience have any words of wisdom? I want to keep in touch with her, but I don't want to just call to remind her that she's in bad shape, you know?