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My brother has pancreatic cancer and my will be receiving treatments. What is the best I can do for them?

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Dear Franci,

Sorry to hear about your brother's diagnosis. I know its devastating. I would just try and spend as much time with him. I would just ask and see what is needed, everyone is so different. Good of you to be there for your brother and his wife.
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Fancicoffee57, welcome back to the forum, it's been a couple of years, glad to see your screen name again. I remember back then you had a full plate taking care of your husband [mid 80's] who had a very serious illness. My gut feeling is that he has passed, correct?

When I read that your brother has pancreatic cancer, I was thinking not again, because didn't your husband have cancer? Therefor you could be a store house of knowledge for him and his wife on what you learned from the past. Help them out logistically. If you can help them physically then do what you can, but don't overwhelm yourself.

Modern medical science has come a long way in the past year or so, especially with immune therapy.
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Fanci, how refreshing it is, to see someone willing and wanting to reach out to help!

I know that when our Mom was on Hospice, there were a lot of moving parts, so mainly, we were there to help out with our Mom, visiting, and there to support my sister (Mom was in her home) with anything and everything she needed of us.

Being that this is your Brother and SIL, you will need to carefully suss out some of the many things that might be helpful, but I'm inclined to think that some breaks and Respite type help would be most helpful, so that she can get out to have a break, see her friends, and relax for a few hours each week.

Depending on how close you are, offering meals, house cleaning, shopping, laundry, and those little things you can do will go so far in helping give her the help she will need.

As his Cancer progresses, so will her needs, and she may have Hospice in. Hospice is only there a few times per week, and only an hour or so at that. Encourage her to take advantage of every service they offer, and having a white board helps too, if others are stepping up to help!

I know that with us, we are a big, close knit family, so there was no shortage of helping hands, but it took all of us, utilizing everyone's different strengths to have my sisters home run like a well oiled machine.

In the last month, when our Mom was not sleeping well at night, we each took turns sleeping over, so that my sister and her husband could get enough rest.

Other things like entertainment for your brother, his favorite snacks, movies and music CD's. Flowers, Pretty cards, and gift cards for massage, facials and pedicures for SIL, deserts for the many visitors, and keeping the house tidy.

It isn't always nessesary to be a huge presence in the household, as sometimes just sitting quietly in the family room, reading or on your tablet is comfort enough, knowing that she can call on you for whatever may come up. We found that keeping the clothes washing up, the dishwasher running, fielding phone calls, and the tea and cofee pot at the ready for guests, was enough, as our Mom was often asleep, hosting visitors at her bedside, or resting.

I personally did a lot of home shopping with my Mom, as she was insistent that she leave a personal gift to each of her 6 kids, their spouses, and all her 16 Grandchildren and 3 Great Grandkids. God Love her, she had us all running! Your brother may want help in finding an everlasting gift first his wife, so you might suggest and help with that.

Mainly, I think organization is the key in keeping the household running smoothly, but you SIL will need to be the one who is willing to accept outside help, so go at her pace and direction.

I'm so sorry your family is having to deal with this, prayers for your brother!
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Depending on the amount of time and proximity, you could start with a few things.

In my experience, there's a need for someone to take the individual to an infusion center or wherever radiation or chemo is being administered, assuming that it is.

There's a need for someone to help with meals when the primary caregiver is exhausted. If they have special favorites (like Haagen Dazs ice cream, get some of that periodically.

Housework chores would help her as well, but when my sister was in a terminal stage, any noise bothered her so I could only vacuum when someone took her to chemo.

Helping with laundry would be a nice chore too.

Delicately try to determine from your SIL what stage of cancer he's in, and what the longevity prognosis is.

Contact your local Gilda's Club to see what programs they might offer, if they have any recommendations for in-home support, if they have pancreatic cancer specific meetings (ours did). Go to a few meetings and learn more about it and what your brother and SIL might need, and when.

Tactfully find out if your brother has his decision making (DPOA and Living Will) in place.

Provide respite for SIL just by going over to stay with your brother so she can rest up.

Read online articles of CURE magazine to learn more about this form of cancer and its progression.

Send cards with artwork that might cheer them - nature, wildlife, flowers, animals. Cards with messages of understanding that they're going through a rough time can be consoling, as eventually they may begin to feel they're alone on this rocky journey.

Find out what kind of music they like and play it when you go there. If they have a stacking CD that can play multiple CDs one right after the other, stack it with their favorite music.

Just be there to listen and be a shoulder on which to cry. And recognize when they both are depressed and just need to be alone, or to just have someone with them but not engage in conversation.

On that aspect, ask your SIL to let you know when they're not up to having visitors. Friends and family probably will want to see them, but just having visitors can be exhausting. My sister had a visitor from a former "Little Sister" whom she had mentored. The woman innocently brought her young children and stayed over an hour. The perceived need to engage in conversation left her exhausted for hours afterward. So be alert to when they need their privacy and down time.

You're very thoughtful to ask this question; they will be going through a lot, and I'm sure your support will help them immensely.
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Aren't you caring for your own husband? That doesn't leave you a lot of time to help others, but it probably means you an expert on accessing and coordinating outside care givers. Do they need any advice about that?
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