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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

We don't like to talk about the final stages of cancer, but sometimes hearing stories from others can give us ideas on ways to cope, and not only cope, but honor our loved one during their last days. What helped you cope as a family member or what helped you honor your loved one during the final stages of cancer? Share Your Story

Anger, nasty towards loved ones

My brother has lung cancer spread to his liver nothing has worked for him either he has been given less than 6 months to live. He has turned so angry and nasty and in complete denial I can hardly be around him. I have become his focal point for his anger when in the beginning I was his rock , the person he called for help. How do I handle this? Editor's note: Unfortunately what you are describing is not uncommon. Some people become very angry and verbally abusive when they are essentially given a death sentence. And that anger tends to be dumped on those who are helping and doing the most - because they are there and they care enough not to run away. If you have the opportunity to talk to your brother's doctor that would be helpful. Could he need better pain control? Coping with pain constantly could not only cause this behavior, but would lower the quality of life your brother has left. Studies tell us that people with late stage cancer are under-treated for pain for many reasons. Is your brother enrolled in hospice? In addition to having doctors and nurses address pain and other things that can result in anger, the hospice staff is an excellent source of mental health and spiritual support both for the person dying and their family. For yourself - be loving, but don't let your brother abuse you verbally and emotionally. People with cancer have a right to be angry and express that anger, but they don't have a right to hurt those who love them. Have you considered writing your brother a letter? It's often easier to express these emotions in writing. In order to avoid more anger it is helpful to write this not as an attack and blame letter, but in a way that expresses what his actions are doing to you. For example, instead of saying "you have been horrible in how you are acting out in anger" you could say "I know you are angry -- cancer sucks - and you have every right to let it out. But I feel sad and hurt inside when you are nasty to me, and it makes me want to avoid being around you. Do you have any ideas what we can do so I can help you at this time without feeling hurt?" Sadly some times family members need to walk away until the angry cancer patient chooses to be reasonable -- or not. We have ingrained in us to care for family. But we first need to care for our own emotional health.
—Guest kathy


My dad quit smoking in '89 and later had a lobe removed from one lung in '01 due to cancer. Years later he is diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in Dec.'13. He doesn't deserve this. My parents don't deserve this. It kills me to see him go through this, and to watch my mom try to be strong knowing she'll be losing her soul mate soon. They are the nicest people and my father has been the best provider and family man, a true giver. He's put up a brave fight going thru chemo only to have his and our hopes crushed again after finding out the cancer stopped reacting to the chemo and came back aggressively and had spread. While doing radiation treatments for his shoulder his shortness of breath got worse to the point that he's now in the ICU unable to participate in a clinical trial which was the last thing giving him hope. It's June now and I know our time with him is getting shorter and I just hope he can go peacefully.
—Guest rodg

Wow, uh-mm, pain. mom

The person who loved me, my sister & brothers,more than she loved herself, the woman who loved her grandchildren and great grandchildren more than herself, the woman who gave her all for her children, family and friends, got the evil demon cancer of the lung! Mom had smoked but quit 15 years before the DX. I noticed her voice change 6 months before DX, but it went away after a few months; then she was tired all the time; I thought it was depression,kept telling her go to the doctor for antidepressants. Mom had shoulder pain, she chalked up to throwing the ball to my dog all day. I remember her having a horrible headache a few times,something she never did was complain about pain. I remember mom wasn't the same 1 year before she died. Low sodium had followed her for years. Mom went every three months for blood tests. not once did the doctor mention low sodium. We took her to MD Anderson,they did nothing mom passed 5 months after DX. DR's need 2 not 2 read the test results of patients

Best man in the world

My stepdad was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in March 2013, had all the tests done found it had spread to spine. Surgery was done to remove tumor off spine, chemo and radiation done. We were told he wouldn't be leaving us within 12 mths. Became in a lot of pain sept 2013, went into hospital , never came home. He was moved to pallative care where he passed peacefully after 4 weeks, 3 days of which he was fully sedated due to pain. From diagnosis til the end we had him for 8months which we are so thankful for but we miss him each and every day and it breaks my heart knowing we will never see him again :(
—Guest Chrissy

My dads story

My dad was diagnosed with small cell carcinoma lung cancer 22/5/13 after going into hospital for back surgery. Chemo & radiation followed. The cancer had spread to his spine hence the back op, and a spot on his brain. The surgery & subsequent post op drugs affected his memory & his whole persona. We lost him then really. Anyway, he recovered from surgery on his back & 6 rounds of chemo @ radiation on his brain. He slowly returned to himself, but he suffered depression & was totally withdrawn. He took up smoking again, he figured he was a dead man anyway, this as well as his alcohol dependency were very hard to watch. As the months passed he stopped drinking thank god. His sister who had cancer too died on 10/11/13, we were to travel to her funeral on 17/11/13 but on 15/11/13 dad fell outside while going out for a smoke & broke his hip. Ambo took him to hospital & on the day of his sisters funeral he had a partial hip replacement. We lost him on 29/11/13 at 4.35am. I miss him!
—Guest Rachael

Terrified - Needed to vent

3 months ago my husband broke his arm (he had been complaining of pain for months). we were told he had bone cancer, he denied it and refused any tests. talked him into a ct scan. stage 4 lung cancer metastisized to the bone, adrenal, and other lung. he is now on morphine which is affecting his mobility. i am terrified he will fall and break another bone. he is also exhibiting some of the symptoms of end stages (agitation, shallow breathing,etc). i know noone can really help but needed to vent. thank you
—Guest scared


The hardest thing about cancer is to see your love one deteriorated in front of your eyes.
—Guest -d

I lost my mom to Stage 4 Lung Cancer

I just lost my mom! she was having a port put in on March 11th to start her chemo on March 13th. At about 1 am on March 12th she threw a blood clot from the port and died instantly. In some ways it was the best because she did not have to suffer thru Chemo. I miss her so much. We actually went on a vacation to St. Augustine Florida the weekend before and she felt like a million dollars. She got to swim with the dolphins which was always a dream of hers. God gave a glorious weekend before he took her home. I will cherish that weekend for the rest of my life. Great memories that Cancer cannot take away!
—Guest Julie Bates

My Beautiful Mother - I Love Her So Much

My mom was diagnosed stage IV Lung Cancer 3 weeks ago on Mar 7th... She'd been in pain for months but was reluctant to go to a dr because she also has MS (last 30 years) & thought she was just having a flare up with the MS... Something kept telling me it was something else when we went to visit for Christmas... but she argued with me about seeing a doctor. I kept having panic attacks, always thinking about my mom, knowing something was wrong. Then, I get a call from my dad (I'm 500 mi away) on Mar 7th... he tells me she's in the hospital. It's advanced lung cancer. My boyfriend & I drove out the following day... They live in a remote area & I worry so much. It's now April 2nd and she has her first appt with an oncologist tomorrrow. Almost a month later. I know there is a mass below her ribcage or on her abdomen... it's hard for me to get specifics & I can't be there until the end of the month because of work & money. I'm strong for everyone but I am so sad. I love her so much.
—Guest Augusta


I have 3 sisters and a very close friend that has canser and my mom died of it! I dont know how i feel sometimes, i cry most of the time,but i pray all the time. These people is very importent in my life. I'm getting sick now bcus thinking about wats gonna happen to my friend very shortly makes me sick!! I love u all and will miss u all:(.. love an i miss u so much mom....
—Guest verly

Talk to them -- CHERISH!!!

Where do I start? I just lost my mom on 2/19/2014. After some discomfort the ER doctors found "a mass" on June 8, 2013. Through all of the testing, we found out that my mom had Stage 4 lung cancer. The cancer had metastasized to the bone, adrenal glands, and brain. Mom went though "whole brain radiation", which gave her some more clarity. She tried chemo, but only lasted two treatment before the doctors stopped treatment due to too much weakness. I went to every appt with her and my dad, and tried to "stay strong" for them. I am sorry to be so brutally honest, but you can never prepare yourself for "the end". I love my mom so much!! She got so weak about 2 months before we lost her, but then came back to almost normal. Then within a few days she took a drastic turn and we lost her within days. I have read that that is what tends to happen, they come to say good bye. Take advice, really talk to them then, that may be the last chance you have to talk to them. CHERISH!!!!
—Guest kelster36

In disbelief

My dad lost his fight with stage 4lung cancer today 3/1/14 this past Friday he went to a dr.appt for ultrasound and my mom insisted on dad seeing his primary dr because dad was having difficulty breathing and he was sent to ER they ran test and everyone from doctors to family was shocked when the results came back stage 4lung cancer small cell dad lasted 8days he wanted mom by his side they were married 50years and she was right there I am in shock that he's gone what a great man I thank God for the opportunity to have known him.
—Guest Deb

It happened so fast

i read so many of your stories and my heart truly breaks for you all as it does for myself,, My dad has always been a healthy man,, never sick a day in his life,, He worked hard and put food on our table, he helped me as a single mother raise my boys his grandchildren into fine young men. This last Dec 2013 he got sick, we begged him to go to the doctor thinking he had pnemonia,, well he finally went on Dec.28 and we found out it wasn't pnemonia it was small cell lung carcinoma,, I made sure everyday he had everything he needed till he went to bed,, I put him in the hospital on Jan 14,2014 and they put a chest tube in his lung to drain fluid off of his left lung,, he was able to breath well and ready to live again... We come home and went to the cancer doctor on Jan 27,2014 and he told me he was so progessed in his cancer that no treatment would help ,, He said i had at least 3 months,, so then i brought dad home again ,, hospice come in and 5 days later i no longer had my dad..
—Guest oklahoma girl

Hardest thing I've done

My step father the only man ive known to be a father.is dying from prostate cancer our entire family is devastated i have so many things to tell him still. This has been very hard. Watching the strongest man i know deteriorate. My son and nieces are going to lose there grandfather a man who puts them on a pedistool a man who has taught us about i integritity and honesty a man who worked for everything his entire life. This is by far the hardest thing ive had to witness in my 34 yeArs in life. I want to be strong for my mother is losing her best friend and soulmate. I pray for all the victims of this horrible disease god bless you all
—Guest Brittney cyra

Dad has Lung Cancer, Stage IV

As I type this, I am drinking, tears of sadness. Just spoke to my dad's doctor today and he reaffirmed that he is in stage IV of lung cancer. He was diagnosed last January 2013. It has been a very hard journey for my poor mom who is retired and going with him to all his dr's appointments. He redeveloped a lump in his neck, however smaller but only this week we saw a major change in him, for the worst. He is hallucinating, frustrated and it is heart breaking to see my dad go through this horrible disease. I am praying for the best but starting to prepare myself for the worst. Lord, please be with us! We need you now MORE than ever!
—Guest Marly

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

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