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Re: live longer
Old 09-12-2006, 03:44 PM   #41
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Re: live longer

Originally Posted by Caroline
Just got word that my father-in-law's lung cancer has spread to his liver -- they're suspending chemo and radiation (after only 5 days of treatment) and calling in hospice.

I know each case is different, but does anybody out there have the misfortune of knowing what this might mean, generally speaking? If they end treatment, are we talking months, weeks...??

I'm very sorry for your family suffering. It's always hard.

You got it right when you said that every case is different, on top of which without technical detals speculation is not worth much.

That said, it is likely that progressive weakness will occur, poor intake (not worth trying to force nutrition - doesn't work), perhaps a level of somnolence. Maybe pneumonia will hasten things, or perhaps progressive liver failure with gradual coma. With good palliative care it can be managed with minimal pain, and even terminal sedation if that becomes necessary.

My suggestion to the family is to accept what is, enjoy the hours of meaningful exchange, and create no resistance. Many dying people really value company even if there is no talk, so just being there a few minutes at a time is helpful. Watch your MIL closely, and give her "permission" to leave, get some sleep, take a walk, and generally keep herself together - spell her once in a while.

Another thing is that many spouses in particular feel a need to be present at the moment of death. While this is understandable, it is a moving and unpredictable target - you can spend so much emotional currency on trying to time that moment that it interferes with the quality of what time you do have. Being there means generally being there, not literally being there every second, so that's another area where you can offer support and "permission" to not focus on that target.

Just some random thoughts. Hope they might prove helpful.

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ESR'd March 2010. FIRE'd January 2011.

As if you didn't know..If the above message contains medical content, it's NOT intended as advice, and may not be accurate, applicable or sufficient. Don't rely on it for any purpose. Consult your own doctor for all medical advice.
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Re: live longer
Old 09-12-2006, 07:04 PM   #42
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Re: live longer

Astro, Master, Rich... these are all VERY helpful comments.

Clearly, we're not going through anything a lot of other folks have not experienced already -- my sympathies right back at you, and special thanks for chiming in on what is a sad issue no matter how you slice it.

I just hope I can support my sweetie during this time. He was hoping to do a personal history or oral history with his father. I hope he still has the time to commemorate at least a part of his dad's life.

Best to all,


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Re: live longer
Old 09-13-2006, 10:51 AM   #43
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Re: live longer

My deepest sympathies are with you and your family.
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Re: live longer
Old 09-13-2006, 06:25 PM   #44
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Re: live longer


My father also died of lung cancer in 1982. He had smoked since he was a kid. I recall my sis and I asking both he and mom to quit smoking many times as we were growing up. They did quit several times, spent money on all kinds of programs, but never did stay off the things for long. It can be an incredibly difficult addiction to break. Try not to dwell on the causation part of your FIL's plight, it isn't helpful. You'll have the rest of your life to be filled with rage at what tobacco addiction has cost your family. It will subside, but not quickly.

Like your FIL, my Das's tumor was inopeable when they found it. He went through chemo and radiaton treatments, and lived for almost two years after diagnosis. Every case is different, and I don't know how much time his treatments bought us. It sounds like your FIL might be farther down the road than my Dad was. Pain medications: Use enough of them. I've read that the science/art of pain management has really come a long way, and I'm sure you'll find experts within the hospice environment.

As usual, I can't improve on Rich's comments. This will be a tough road for your family. It sounds trite, but during my Dad's sickness and even after his death, I kept asking myself "what Dad would really want me to be doing?" I knew he'd want me to be looking after my sister and taking care of things, not dweling on what a rough hand we'd been dealt. But, just sitting at the bed and talking, or being there with him as he rested and having quiet solitude to think about all manner of things, was true quality time in retrospect.

Best wishes.

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