Some of the recent hospitalizations have involved my mother-in-law (MIL). She had had a very sore hip for awhile and thought that she had either over used it on a hike in N.H. woods or that she might be developing arthritis in it like her mom. Unfortunately, x-rays, then MRI's, then a biopsy confirmed that neither was the case. What they did confirm is that she has multiple myeloma and that her hip and thigh bones had disintegrated so much from the disease that she would need to immediately use a walker, as any pressure on the bones from simple things like walking could cause them to collapse. She was scheduled for surgery to insert a titanium rod into her leg last Friday and is scheduled to begin several month long treatments for the cancer once the leg heals a bit.
As hubby has barely ever had to deal with illness with any of his family members, and especially not his mom, he has been shaken-up with this news. With us being a thousand miles away, it is also difficult, as we get news second hand and we can't be there in person to support our loved ones in this trying time. My husband is like most men and wants to "fix everything" and this is something he can not fix and does not even know how he should approach it.
I've already had to remind him that it is OK if his mom is not happy, if she is upset, angry, sad or all three together during this process. He started to say that he thought she should keep a positive attitude the entire time, but then realized that the would be unreasonable. Her whole life has now changed, everything she had planned for work, retirement, etc. and it can be overwhelming. She's trying to stay positive for her daughters, who are falling apart with the news of her turn in health, and she needs someone to turn to that will "allow" her to cry and be miserable if that is all the energy she has to be for that day. In fact, I called her and told her that I could be that person for her, as my family has dealt with cancer many times over, with both positive and negative outcomes, so I understand the reality of treatment and the stress that it entails.
Our summer vacation plans have changed with this news; we're trying to organize a trip back home to visit with her. We've not told J the whole story as of yet, since we don't have all the facts and can't answer his possible questions. Plus, he went away to summer camp this week and we did not want him to be thinking about his Grandma the entire time he was there. So, he knows that she had surgery for her leg, but he does not know the reason behind it. Just telling him about the surgery was rough, as he felt quite a bit of sympathy for his grandma and couldn't believe that she had to go through that. He is very close with her, and we don't know how to break the news of the cancer diagnosis to him, as he will worry incessantly about her, but we also don't want to lie to him, since he can tell that we are both a little more frazzled these past two weeks than normal.