What can I do for my family with my father, grandfather dying from cancer?

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a 15-year-old who is a first-year high school student. I’m really worried about my family.

My father was diagnosed with cancer when I was a kid, and his cancer keeps coming back. We were told this year he has about one year to live.

On top of that, my mother’s father is also suffering from cancer. Recently, we were told his cancer is in Stage 4, the most serious level.

Faced with the seriousness of their conditions, my mother cries a lot. All I can do to comfort her is stroke her back.

I keep wondering what I can do for my parents and grandfather. I can’t talk about any of this with my friends and others around me. I think the reason I’ve been more anxious lately may be because I can’t talk to anyone about this.

What can I do for my family? I would appreciate any advice.

— A, Tokyo

Dear Ms. A:

My hat goes off to you for your kindness and strength in caring for your family. I imagine it must be reassuring for your mother.

The burden your mother is carrying is immeasurable, and it is not something you can carry on her behalf. I suppose you are probably already helping her by doing the housework, among other things. Please keep those feelings of wanting to help and continue to support your mother.

In the current climate in which many hospitals restrict visits to inpatients because of the coronavirus pandemic, once patients are hospitalized, it becomes difficult to have sufficient contact with them. If hospitals adopt a full care system, there will be little that family members have to take care of.

To prepare for what’s ahead, please attentively listen to your grandfather and father. Now is also the time to say whatever it is you want to say to them. I know when you actually try to do that, you may not know what to ask or what to say. When that happens, just be there for them. It’s OK to cry or get angry. You should be honest with your feelings.

They likely will give every bit of themselves to teach you what is important. Take in their lessons with care and respect. That is all you can do now.

— Hazuki Saisho, writer