Ask Dr. Giles

Dr. Geret GilesDr. Geret Giles is a licensed psychologist with a private practice in Pleasant Grove, Utah.  He received a Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the Pennsylvania State University.  Dr. Giles works with individuals, adolescents, children, and couples suffering from a wide range of issues including depression, anxiety, and relationship difficulties.  He is often asked to address psychological issues for large groups in the community.  He has the reputation as a knowledgeable and engaging speaker.  In January of 2007, he lost his best friend to cholangiocarcinoma.

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Ask Dr. Giles: I’m the caregiver, and I feel overwhelmed.

Melanie writes: Hey Doc, I’m the caregiver, and he’s so sick..so miserable. Nobody really seems to know anything about this disease. As the care giver? S.O., I’m overwhelmed. I think I’m starting to have panic attacks myself. I’ve been taking some homeopathic stuff for a week or so, seems to help a little, sometimes. I pretty much have chemo brain myself with trying to maintain my life, and sustain his. Any advice for a caregiver? Melanie, I applaud your tireless efforts to care for your loved one. He is fortunate to have someone so dedicated to him. When I think about caregivers, I am often reminded of the safety instructions given on commercial airlines. There’s a part where instructions are given about what to...

Ask Dr. Giles: I feel selfish for wanting to care for my sister’s kids

a Concerned Sister writes: I would welcome any advice on this situation. My sister is due for the big surgery very soon, she was told the longest she will last with everything going well would be 5 years max. Her tumor has spread from the ducts to a good portion of her liver. She is hospitalized now for nourishment to gain strength for the surgery. She has a 8 and 11 year old. She has made her top choice of our brother to take the children. No one understands her choosing him. He is a great dad for the most part but is a heavy drinking, swearing truck driver (gone a lot) who is on his 3rd marriage. I am so hurt by her...

Ask Dr. Giles: Book recommendations for preparing my famly

George writes: Can you recommend a book that will guide me through preparing to succomb to cancer, one that will list some steps I need to do for my family. For example I’m getting around to finally doing a will etc. Thanks George, My friend Marion shared this link to a resource of the National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/takingtime I think it might be just what you are looking for. My thoughts and prayers are with...

Ask Dr. Giles: How do I help my husband deal with my diagnosis?

Carol writes: I have been dx w/cholangiocarcinoma. I’m 66 and about 3 wk. I have always been healthy and began losing a lot of weight. Went to my Dr, had tests, finally biopsy and dx. At first it was believed they could resection but now find it can’t be done. My husband and I have been married 47 1/2 yr and have two sons. We’ve raised our granddaughter who is bipolar among other things and she can’t live alone. Now the problem, my husband is very fragile right now. He’s trying to be brave and almost hovers a lot of the time but he’s scared to death. I’m feeling fine other than tired, am on infusion chemo as well as oral. My question, finally,...

Ask Dr. Giles: How to come to grips with my breast cancer and my dad’s diagnosis

Claudia writes: My father was diagnosed 3 weeks ago with cholangiocarcinoma, we did not know the extent of the cancer and surgery was what was recommended. They removed gall bladder, 60% of liver and reconnected the intestine to liver. Now he has major complications, a leak somewhere and he is very weak. I am having a difficult time coming to terms with this as I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer myself this past March. I had my mastectomy in late April. We are 3 daughters and we are either fighting or crying, my mom is still in shock. Any suggestions on how to begin to get a grip? how do we come to terms that we thought it would me be fighting for my...

Ask Dr. Giles: How can I make the very most out of this chance to be with her

Vicki writes: My 89 yr old grandmother has been diagnosed w/ this. I am going to Ohio (I live in NE) to spend 2 weeks with her, knowing it will probably be my last time. How do i handle this? I do not want to spend the whole time freaking out because she is dying, but yet, I want to squeeze everything I can into these two weeks. I do not want to upset her, but obviously at some point we will talk about it. I am also worried about what to expect from her from a medical stand point. Will she be in pain? How can I help her, help me, and make the very most out of this chance to be with...

Ask Dr. Giles: I am filled with depression, anxiety and feel distraught every minute.

Sophie writes: Dear Dr. Giles, I am a 62 year old woman with cc and 75% of my liver metastisized. I have had to be so strong all my life and thought I was, but now I don’t believe I am. I live by myself, and my mind is so dark all the time. I am filled with depression, anxiety and feel distraught every minute. Lately I have been logging onto the cholangio site more, but the number of old friends I have read about for the past year are being called home. I try to express my condolences, but I don’t know what to say to anyone. I read the other posts, and they are so supportive and encouraging and offer such sympathy...

Ask Dr. Giles: I’m worried that the stress of caring for our mother is causing resentment.

Marg writes: Our 87 year old mother was diagnosed with advanced CC in early March. The specialist told us that she had 2-4 weeks to live. With this prognosis, my three sisters and I decided that we would take turns caring for Mom at her home where she lives with my father. There was also the option for Mom to go into a long-term care facility, but we didn’t see the point if she only had a few weeks. She lost her position on the waiting list when we declined. This is now the 11th week of caring for our mother and although we are glad that Mom is still with us and not in any pain, the strain is starting to get to...

Ask Dr. Giles: I’m an emotional mess that’s angry and scared.

Tonia writes: Hi, In short my Grandmother was diagnosed with bile duct Cancer “officially” on the 13th. We had a strong suspicion on the 3rd when her coloring turned yellow but hung onto hope that maybe it wasn’t. She had the bypass surgery on the 13th and the Cancer was found in her lymph nodes and at the head of the pancreas. My grandmother and I are very close. I’m very lucky to have the relationship I do with her. I always knew that in time she wouldn’t be there but for some reason I was still shocked when I was told. I’ve been around to help with a lot of things since we found out. For various reasons my aunts and uncles have...

Ask Dr. Giles: I’m angry at my mom’s doctor for not finding this earlier

Belinda writes: My mother was going to her doctor for two years she was telling her how bad her stomache hurt, she lost 18lbs could hardly eat the pain was so bad, this christmas she blacked out and couldnt breath,at the hospital they found 15 tumors in her liver and told her she had cancer, maybe 2-8months to live I am so mad at her doctor for not doing anything for her sooner, how could you miss something as all those tumors you could feel them, my mom doctor for two years told her there was nothing there but gave her pain medince and sent her home. me and my brothers and sisters are so angry, she is my best friend I’m so sorry...

Ask Dr. Giles: I feel guilty for retiring early due to this illness.

Lisa writes: I’m feeling guilty about retiring early due to health reasons. I don’t feel *that* bad, but I’m finding it difficult to keep juggling work, family and health issues. I’m only 46, a single parent, and still supporting my 3 kids. By cutting all my expenses to the bone, I think we can make it, but I feel lazy and guilty for wanting to stop working. It’s normal to worry about our choices when they seem to be different from those around us. We wonder if we’re doing the right thing because nobody else is making the same choice. The truth is, however, it may be there are few people who are in a situation similar to yours: single parent of three children...

Ask Dr. Giles: Any tips or suggestions on how to recover faster?

Eric writes: Dear Dr. Giles, first of all, i am so sorry for the loss of your best friend. I am a 14 year-old boy and my mom passed away of cc. in July 08 at 40yrs old. everything was so sudden, 2 months before she was fine and active with just a little stomach pain, and who knows it turned out to be such a disease. the doctor said maybe half a year but she is gone after 1 and half months after barely any treatments done and sent to a hospice(i know that nothing else can be done but it is just so sad watching her dying everyday while feeling helpless and also cant stand the hospital’s stupid policies that delays everything)....

Ask Dr. Giles: Should I do a motivational recording or video for my wife?

Jeff writes: Do you think it would be appropriate for me to do like a motivational audio or video for my wife,that she could listen or watch after my demise. My thought is when she feels really down and out and needs reassurance and some motivation woud it be a good thing or would it be something that would prolong her grief. My daughter is already putting together a memorial audio/slide show from my baby years until now. This separate recording between her and I , would it really be of any help or make things more emotional for her to get through the tuff times of grieving. The recording would be loving and up beat and motivational that she’ll make the right decisions....

Ask Dr. Giles: My husband’s adult children don’t get it.

Joan writes: My husband & I have been married 7 years and he has 5 grown kids (27-36 yrs old) from a previous marriage. Recently, after being diagnosed (8/07) with cholangiocarcinoma we retired & moved to from NJ where all his kids live to our “dream” island of Hilton Head, SC. My husband is now quite ill with the disease. His kids call him often to “chat” but do not take any interest or concern in his condition. They think meditation, positive thinking, accupuncture etc. will help him. And, most distressfully they have not come down to see him since we moved here 6/08. They all love him very much but are yuppies and very much into their own lives. I am so angry...

Ask Dr. Giles: How do I go on?

Charlene writes: My husband died 1 week and 1 day ago. We fought this cancer for 3 long years. How do I go on? My soul is dead. All I feel is agony every waking moment. I don’t know how to verbalize what is happening to me. My family just tells me to be strong, it takes time. My sister said you seem to be doing better today. I told her I was the same, just hiding it better. I’ve found out no one wants to hear that I want my husband back, that i’m lost and confused without him, that my heart is broken and that I wish I was dead so I will be with him again. I know I have to...

Ask Dr. Giles: Should I ask hospice about counseling for my 17 year-old son?

Carol writes: Our family is meeting with Hospice and trying to get things in order for Charlie as there are no more medical interventions to try. He is jaundiced, not eating and weak. My question is about our son Ben, age 17. He is having a great deal of trouble sleeping. Do you think asking Hospice about counseling for him is the right way to go? Ben said he thought he could do it so he’s open to that. Our daughter Sarah, age 20 hasn’t mentioned it. My heart just breaks for them. I lost my Mom when I was 17 and it is very hard. Even though they’re not children, they don’t really have all the skills of coping or working things out....

Ask Dr. Giles: My husband passed very quickly, we didn’t have a chance to say that last goodbye.

Darla writes: My husband passed away from Cholangiocarcinoma after only 7 short weeks. He was not even definitively diagnosed until 1 week before he died. At that time he was given 6 months without any treatment. A week later we were told he only had a short time left, possibly up to a month. He passed away the next morning 9/2/08 at 8:55AM at the age of 62. This all happened so quickly. Up until then he was healthy with just a few aches & pains. Needless to say I was totally in shock at first. I had been planning to take him home & into hospice care. It was a stress filled 2 months & then there was nothing. I am now feeling...

Ask Dr. Giles: 6 month scan showed a very small dot, I’m worried.

Jean writes: I am a healthy 44 year old female with two great sons ages 13 and 22. I had liver resection surgery with Dr Stuart Knechtle at UW Madison, WI in April 2008 due to a large tumor on my liver. Path reports stated it was contained to the liver, no lymph node involvement, no vascular invasion and the doc said he “got it all” with a 1 cm border…which I am told is very large and harldy heard of. I am in the process of going for me 3 month check ups. I went to my second one (6 month) yesterday and am now scared to death. My bloodwork and liver function tests were normal but they noticed a very small dot...

Ask Dr. Giles: I’m doing well, but the longer I live the more terrified I get.

Sarah writes: Dr Giles, I will be 3 yrs post radiation treatment in November. I was told that I had a 40% chance of living 5yrs. My husband and family are thrilled that I have been doing so well but the longer it is the more terrified I get. I feel like time is running out, I don’t know why I feel this way but its getting to the point where I now dream about it and wake up scared to death in the am. My husband thinks I’m crazy why is this happening now? I’m so happy that you are doing so well! It sounds as if the odds your doctor gave you at the end of your treatment regimen really made an...

Ask Dr. Giles: I live alone, every decision is mine alone, it’s frightening.

Roberta writes: I’m 77 YOF, diabetic, with liver CA due to islet cell pancreatic CA 5 yrs ago. I have CA pills to begin this week, am afraid, putting off taking them. I am alone, keep my home alone, 1 son who is out of town a lot, and without emotional support. Where can I turn, can’t afford to hire people to visit me, etc. Every decision is mine alone, it’s frightening. Dear Roberta, Feeling alone in the face of a significant challenge can undermine our confidence and sap our motivation. My heart goes out to you and to all those who feel alone when facing such a difficult challenge like cancer. I am so glad you found this website and have posted a...

Ask Dr. Giles: How frank should we be with our teenage sons?

Donata writes: Dear Dr. Giles, First of all, I am sorry for the loss of your best friend to cc.My husband was dx. 9/07 & our life outlook has changed to say the least. I mean he has a wonderful attitude, positive ect. however I have a question regarding our 2 boys. Ages are 12 & 15, they know their Dad has cc, inoperable, being treated with chemotherapy weekly , however We have not yet told them the severity, nor do we know if we should. We we told 1-3yrs , however my husband does not want to have them worry, or have it effect their school life. I have mixed feelings about telling them & need advice. Family members have voiced concern that...

Ask Dr. Giles: Am I just existing? Will it ever get better?

Betty writes: Am I just existing? Will it ever get better? On April 10th, it will be 1 yr. and 8 months since losing Sam. I feel like I am doing everything possible but recently two of my closest friends suggested that I get some professional help. The reason that this got my attention is that one of them lost a daughter and a spouse so she has been there and does understand. Will seeking professional help at this time do any good? I feel like I am doing all the right things that are not signs of depression but every moment that I am not asleep, Sam is constantly on my mind. I’m working every day, I go to social events, I shop,...

Ask Dr. Giles: I am having problems trying to help my husband feel steady

Michele writes: My husband is just coming to terms with the fact that he will not go on much longer. Maybe days/weeks. He is obviously very depressed ( this was a shock as he really expected to go through many years of treatments like Jeff G.) Am having problems trying to help him feel steady, as he hates getting “weepy eyed” and feels it is a loss of time and energy and makes everyone terribly sad. I have tried to encourage him to let it go..he has reason to feel sad. He has also upped the antidepressants, but it is weird, they seem to have little or no effect now. He is totally against talking to a therapist or someone else as it is...

Ask Dr. Giles: I don’t know how to balance it all. Any suggestions?

Cindy writes: I am a mental health counselor in SC. My mother-in-law has cholangiocarcinoma, inoperable. She is 76. My husband is an only child and is trying to balance work and caring for his mother 3 1/2 hours away. His father is partially blind and deaf, diabetic and very difficult as he seems to be getting dementia. I am self-employed and have to keep up my income right now. I am having trouble emotionally supporting my husband and two daughters, being attentive to my in-laws and parents and being an effective therapist to my clients. (My mother cares for my stroke disabled father in their home 4 1/2 hours away). I constantly daydream about finding some other line of work to ease off the...

Ask Dr. Giles: What is the best way to explain to my grandchildren…

Jeff G writes: What is the best way to explain to my grandchildren age 6 and 4 about my disease of CC and that PaPa will be leaving them. I guess timing/when and how. What would be less traumatic? Is simply saying I’m sick and going to heaven to be one of god’s angels? My Daughter happened to mentioned to me the other day she said she had to figure out away to explain this to the kids. Due to a divorce, my daughter and grandchildren are living with us, so the bond of love is pretty strong. Any insight/advice would be greatly appreciated. I worry so much about my family and how things will work out once I leave this world. It actually...