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

Responses: 192


Updated February 10, 2010

Mum with Lung Metastatic to Brain

I'm from Kenya and mom,65 yrs with stage 4 lung cancer and brain metastasis. She has received radiotherapy for the brain n chemotherapy and tumors got bigger n currently on 2nd line chemotherapy .she is in some kind of depression n having memory loss n not speaking. She is having difficulty walking n balancing. What can I do or what can she take to help her be brighter n walk. Editor's note: I'm so sorry you have to face this. Sometimes -- often -- I think the disease is harder on loved ones than the person living with cancer. Your mother's symptoms could be related to the spread of cancer in her brain, but these kind of symptoms are known to occur as a side effect of radiation therapy to the brain as well. It sounds like you need to have a good heart-to-heart with your mother's doctor and discuss your concerns. Thankfully, if her symptoms are due to the radiation therapy they may improve. There could be several other reasons as well for her symptoms - some that are treatable and some that aren't. Has she had a palliative care consult (is that available in Kenya?) Palliative care is not the same as hospice, though it provides much of the same support. Unlike hospice it can be used even for people whose cancers are likely to be cured. Having a palliative care team involved was shown in one study to not only improve quality of life, but survival was improved as well. If your mom is willing, talking to her doctor about hospice may also be an excellent idea. Signing up for hospice does not mean you are giving up hope. Instead it means you are hoping for the best quality of life possible.
—Guest Mutindi

Extra gifts when ready to pass

My Mum-Mum passed away. June 2nd 2011. She was my other mom and grandma. I miss her ever day nd nite. I jus wish I coulda done something for her so she could be her with us in these new years. Her name is Mary, she loved to fish. Crab. Dig for clams nd mussels. We stay in a new town swimn while my granny fished. She was the sweetest lil lady you would love to meet. She loved to feed all. Take care all are family friends like they were also her gran kids. its true when a loved one gets ready to pass away there's extra gifts plus stuff you know they need. She talked to me where to find a loved one who passed away. Nd said all loved ones love those left behind. I didn't understand the talks in 2011 but now in 2013 I see it clearly docters suck for not doing something else and let are loved ones die from crap the world is creating. Oooh how I wish for mum-mum's return damn cancer r.I.p Mum-mum
—Guest crystyle

God is Powerful

Hello. My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer in August of 2012. Today I found out that his cancer has progressed to stage 4 lung cancer. I really hate to see him this way. He did chemo and radiation but it only made him more sick than he already was. His feet are swollen and he is very disoriented. I feel so sorry for him and it kills me to know that I am losing him. He's in the hospital right now. God I know how powerful you are. Please save my dad. Amen.
—Guest Roger Barrett

mum battled cancer till the end

Mum was told she had lung cancer in 2010 they removed half lung told her she was cancer free. 7 months later had spread to her brain and other parts died on 6 the may 2013. for all the people that have to go through this am so sorry life is so cruel. miss you so much mum. I hope one day we will be together again love your son rick.
—Guest cody

Appreciate Your Loved One Every Day

My girlfriend of 6 years was diagnosed with breast cancer 7/29/13. She is 22 years old. The initial blow is always hard, but you have to remember that lamenting, regreting and feeling sorry for yourlselves is counterproductive to the ultimate goal. You must appreciate your loved one every single day of the war against cancer. Let them know you are there for them and that you love them. And never let them get a defeatist attitude. For those of you who have been given terminal news by doctors, make your peace, but know that the last word in this and any other sickness comes from God. Medicine is not an exact science. They call it medical PRACTICE for a reason. There are miraculous survival stories of terminal cancer out there. Never give up. When you do, then the cancer has won.
—Guest Kev G

I Miss You Always

I miss my mom more than the night misses the moon as it transitions into the sun. I need her on loud days. On quiet days. On days that disturb and challenge my existence. My mom was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in August and left me in November. How I miss her. How I love her. How I need her.
—Guest Kourtney


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

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

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