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Readers Respond: What Helped You Honor Your Loved One in the Final Stages of Cancer?

Responses: 186


Updated February 10, 2010


My grandfather the (guy) I call daddy has stage !V lung cancer and is in his final days. He's such a strong man always was. My son will miss him mostly. I can't imagine life without him, my grandfather he's my everything, I hate to see him this way. I miss him already.
—Guest shar

Enjoy Every Day

My mother a vibrant beautiful lady who smoked until she found out she had cancer died on July 15, 2013, just four months after she found out she had stage 4 lung cancer. The only symptom she had was a headache which made me take her to the ER only to discover she had cancer. My mom stayed in great spirits and thought she would beat it. She went into the hospital because of blood clots in her legs and lungs and she actually felt great the day before she had three strokes. She had the strokes on Friday and died that Monday. I loved my mother but I thank God she did not suffer a long time, maybe four days. Everything happened so quickly. Love your loved ones and be there for them like we was with my mother. She loved us and we loved and still love her. Its hard without her but we are making it. It seems like a dream, I wish it was but it's not. I am sorry for anyone going through this, but hold to your faith and love them. No one knows how long anyone has, and enjoy everyday.
—Guest Danita

So Scared

My husband has advanced stage liver cancer. I'm so scared that my husband will die of this horrible cancer. He is all that I have and I am also all the he has.
—Guest lISBETH

Let Go and Let God Take on Your Burden

My brother is terminally ill with liver cancer that has engulfed his liver and spread. He is wasting but still able to sit up-stand up but he is using oxygen. He has a hard time eating, he says things have a bitter taste. I try to tell him he needs to stay hydrated so he won't be dizzy all the time. Ensure supplements he seems to tolerate and juice, but solid food, he has a hard time. He's scared and just turned 58.It's going to happen soon and I need to know the right things to say to make him feel comfortable. Perhaps he will be ready to go over our childhood pictures of or deceased mom and brothers life and relax a little. and less stress.I just want him to know that he is loved and not worry, Jehovah god will send his comforter to you. That it will be okay to let go and let God take on your burdens. I just want his transition to be calming for him. I go see him again and I will try and says things that may give him some form of peace.

Feeling weird

My husband has stage 4 lung cancer today he said he feels weird, he cant put his finger on it and than took a nap, .Any answers? Editor's note: Sometimes, but not always, people sense that they are nearing the end. They may feel "weird" they may have increased energy, or may talk about speaking with loved ones who have gone before. I would, however, contact your doctor or hospice nurse. Sometimes changes like this can be something as simple as a reaction to a medication or a medical problem that can be easily remedied.
—Guest cindy

Managing Pain and Telling Children

My mother was diagnosed in October 2012 with NSCLC . I have been helping to care for her since then. A very aggressive combination of chemotherapy and radiation and the cancer spread. Radiation led to an ulcer and build up of scar tissue in her throat. Leaving her unable to eat on her own. A peg port was placed and still her weight has not reached 80lbs.She is currently taking Tarceva and Dr says blood counts are good. I feel like the amount of pain medication she's on its unnerving . Its like she stays in an intoxicated state. But not getting any better. I feel any day could be her last and i was wondering if anyone could give me any advice on what to do. How to tell my young children when the time comes. Editor's note: Unfortunately we can't offer advice here, but I would strongly recommend you contact your hospice nurse (or your mother's doctor if she is not on hospice) about her pain. Physicians and nurses who specialize in palliative care and hospice can often work with you to find the balance between controlling severe pain and maintaining some level of alertness. Many options are available. It helps to keep in mind that your doctor isn't their 24/7 and you need to let them know both her level of pain and her level of alertness -- don't be afraid to make many phone calls. As far as talking to young children, here is a great article offered by CancerCare: http://www.cancercare.org/publications/49-helping_children_understand_cancer_talking_to_your_kids_about_your_diagnosis CancerCare also offers free counseling for loved ones of people with cancer, and would be able to work with you regarding your specific childrens ages and personalities to help discuss dying and help ease the pain for your children. It's been found again and again that being open and honest with children is the best approach. In fact, children often accept a diagnosis of cancer or hearing that someone is dying better than adults do. Children hear more than we think they do, and often construct scenarios in their minds that are worse than what is actually happening. Personally, when facing the death of my grandparents with young children (aged 2 to 10) the best book I found was "Someday Heaven" by Larry Libby. It wasn't just helpful for my children - it helped me very much as well. It has excerpts such as "why does grandma want to go to heaven rather than stay here with us." I wish all of you the best in this painful process.
—Guest loving daughter

What we CAN do for Them

My mother died Aug 2 after being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer 44 days prior. Hospice directed us in the use of morphine and valium in order to keep her comfortable and without pain. We continued the medication and even tho we wanted her alert to talk to I found it more comforting to medicate her and let her body relax and die without pain or gasping for breath. My biggest fear is that she would be struggling for breath as she lay dying. We were able to keep her in a peaceful slumber until she comfortably took her last breath. We keep them alert for us but is does nothing for them. The fear builds and makes those final days miserable. Say what you have to say immediately because she failed so quickly and was in a coma 2 full days before death. Use the medications available .. it is what we CAN do for them in the last days.
—Guest Ginger

Cancer runs deep

Wow, what to say or where to start? My great- grandmother( the only grandmother) has had bone cancer for over a year now. She is 95. Up until this past Tuesday, she was roaming the halls and going to ceramics at the nursing home. She suddenly went downhill. Constant pain. Not talking to anyone. Hospice took over. My stepmother passed away on April 3 of 2013. She was more of a mom to me than she knew. Though she said she did. She was diagnosed for the third time around after dealing with two other rounds of cancer. They said her breast cancer came back in her liver and spread to the rest of her body. Originally just stage 4 lung and liver. We had to hospitalize her because she was so weak. She died a day before of her two weeks from finding out what was wrong. It was hard watching her but I cherished every minute. I asked God to take her and heal her in his arms. She laid there the next day lifeless just labored breathing. She went when I walked out of the hospital.
—Guest Christin Taylor

My mom!

My mom 65 was diagnosed with a stage iv lung cancer a month ago. Earlier it was pneumonia which was making her weak and we cured it, but she didnot seem to be fine. so upon the doctor's advice we went for her chest CT scan which clearly showed cancer at left lung being reached to liver and lymphnodes. later it was confirmed by FNAC which was helpful for doctors to decide her approximate remaining life to be not more than 6 months. last week she was admitted at hospital for palliative care now she is at home and we have decided to take her to local hospice very soon. no matters how long she will live we will try to make her remaining life much fruitful.
—Guest Anit

My little Mama

My Mam died 2 weeks ago from cancer, my baby is due in 3 weeks and she was my birth partner. My heart is broken.
—Guest Katy

Keep Strong

In June 12 my brother was told he had stage 4 lung, brain, liver cancer only giving 4 to 6 months to live. To see a person you love struggling is the hardest thing to witness he also can't speak, last year they took out his voice box out because he had cancer. He is only 52, I wish to tell everyone that is going through this or went through this keep strong.
—Guest Lupe

Lost her too soon

My step-mom came to visit me a few weeks ago. She had been diagnosed with lung cancer 2 months ago. But. because she lives out of state, she would not cancel her trip. She told no one her secret. We had so much fun while she was here. She spent her last few days with her grandkids. I know that made her happy. But, I cannot imagine the pain she went through alone. Knowing that she was going to take her last breath less than a week after seeing us. I miss her and love her so much.
—Guest Loving step-daughter

My Uncle and friend

I just found out my Uncle doesnt have long to live. He was diagnosed on July 21 2013. We were told without treatment he would live 1-3 weeks and with treatment 3-9 months. I wish I had more time to spend with him....he is one of my heros.
—Guest GA

I'm dying - Hard to Dependent

I have stage 4 colon cancer that has spread to my lungs. I was diagnosed 4 years ago. I have two beautiful children, ages 9 and 11. The thought of leaving them is heartbreaking. Their father and I are divorced. The woman he married is a not good to my children - ignores them. I told my ex I had cancer. His response, "Good! I hope you die from it. It's not killing you fast enough!" This from a man that left me for another woman. My family has been awesome, but I feel like such a burden to them. First the divorce (unheard of in my family), and a year later my diagnosis. I try to be independent, but as the cancer spreads, I am becoming more and more useless. I don't want my children to remember me as being sick. Sometimes I wish I would die in my sleep. Quick and painless. It is getting harder for me to want to keep on living knowing the end will be painful and devastating for my family. Please pray for me. Editor's note: Yes, my family and I will be praying for you and your children. I wish I had something I could say, but I know that any words would be trite. As a mother I can't imagine how you feel, yet thankfully these youngsters seem to be more resilient than we are. I do remember being a 12 year old watching a loved one die in a somewhat similar situation. I am grateful that I was able to be present through even the worst times, and think that helped my grieving considerably. I wish I still had that heart of a child that always knew that in dying we never stop loving.
—Guest Mary

Lung Cancer

My father was diagnosed 3 weeks ago with Lung cancer, we were told there was no cure, he thought it was a lung infection, he got 1 dosage of radiotherapy to help ease the pain in his back as cancer had also spread to his spine, On thursday he asked to go to the toilet and he said he really needed to go urgently, i carried him and sat him down and he asked for the door to be closed for privacy, 20 seconds later i checked on him and he was gone...I tried to resuss for 10 minutes before paramadecs arrived but it was no good, 3 weeks from diagnosis to when i lost him. Doctor was surprised how quick it happened but said there was nothing i could have done and he was not in pain at the end. I love you and miss you everyday, i grew thinking you were invincible but i will treasure those final days forever. RIP Dad x
—Guest Heartfelt

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