End Of Life

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AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6568
End Of Life

So I have a good friend who's mother is dying of cancer. (I posted one other debate about her) She wants her to live as long as humanly possible. She has had 3 different doctors tell her she will die, it is just a matter of when.

Debate question. Once you get to that point, would you just stop treatment and have as much possible in the time remaining. Or, would you do every treatment possible to postpone death as long as possible.

One thing she said to me was that even if it made her live one extra day, it would be worth it. I want to be the best support possible, so help me understand that line of thinking.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4103

Whether we have cancer or not, we're all going to die, it's just a matter of when. Smile

I wouldn't want to live in needless pain. I don't want anyone I love to live in needless pain. Treatment should do one of two things: fix the problem, or ammeliorate the symptoms to make life better. IMHO if there is no point to treatment, there is no point to continuing it; if the treatment can't cure the mother, and isn't making her life better, and she wants it to stop, then it should stop even if it ends her life. And if the pain can't be managed in a reasonable way, I would choose, every time, to let that person go as quickly & painlessly as possible. Let them die with dignity. Let them pump themselves full of morphine and be deliriously happy for a few days until their body gives out. Sadly, I've been in the sad position of having to do just that and I can't imagine choosing anything else.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: your friend is wrong. If her mother is tired of fighting and is ready to die, then she needs to get herself some counseling to help her accept that fact. You mentioned the last time that the daughter seemed to be trying to force the mother to accept treatment the mother didn't want. I hope the mother has gotten others involved who will help her make her own decisions. If not, I strongly encourage you to help. (((((HUGS))))) I'm so sorry you're in this position. Wishing you all peace.

Joined: 03/19/05
Posts: 338

I feel its about quality of life, not quantity. If she is comfortable and treatment will sustain a good quality, then yes do it.

But if she is in a lot of pain, then another day of pain is just torture.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

On your specific example, I think it's time for her to let her mom go It's hard and it's sad but it's a wonderful thing to give her an easy way to go.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6568

Having her talk to a counselor or chaplen is a great idea. Thank you.

If it was me, once I knew there was no chance I was going to get better, I would not want to prolong things.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

This is a very difficult situation. My brother-in-law has colon cancer and has been fighting it for about 3 years now. They have exhausted all the known chemo options and it keeps coming back. They have discontinued chemo and he has an appointment with the Mayo clinic next week to see if they have any experimental treatments they can try. He still wants to fight it if he can, he is only 58 years old and he and my sister have just adopted their one year old granddaughter. But at some point if you have exhausted all the options you have to accept the inevitable. I think if it was me I would fight it as long as possible because I would want to spend every minute I can with my kids/grandkids. A lot of it depends on the side affects of the treatment, if the treatment makes you sick and takes away some of the enjoyment of the time you could be spending with your family it might not be worth it if it is not going to give you much more time anyway. And if you keep having surgery to remove tumors at some point it just isn't worth going through the pain of surgery if the tumors are going to come back. I don't think there is ever a cut and dry answer because each case would be so different.

A good friend of mine's husband passed away just a couple months ago from a brain tumor. They cut it out once and it just grew right back. At that point I don't think I would have the surgery again, and that is what they chose to do also. It was very hard for her to watch him go, but at some point you know that is the best thing, and that is the option he chose.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

I'm a big advocate for end-of-life choices. The choices of the terminally ill, that is. We're more humane to our pets than we are to each other.

If I was at that point - I wouldn't go through pointless treatment just for one more pain-filled day. Stop the treatment, give me a bit of pain medication and let me go when I'm ready, surrounded by my loved ones at home. Better yet, let me decide when I die. Let me leave the world with some dignity, when I'm ready, on my terms.

Anybody else see the euthanasia debate coming? Wink

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

It isn't the daughter choice. It is her mom's. If mom feels enough is enough, than her daughter needs to find a way to come to terms with that.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"Spacers" wrote:

Whether we have cancer or not, we're all going to die, it's just a matter of when. Smile

I wouldn't want to live in needless pain. I don't want anyone I love to live in needless pain. Treatment should do one of two things: fix the problem, or ammeliorate the symptoms to make life better. IMHO if there is no point to treatment, there is no point to continuing it; if the treatment can't cure the mother, and isn't making her life better, and she wants it to stop, then it should stop even if it ends her life. And if the pain can't be managed in a reasonable way, I would choose, every time, to let that person go as quickly & painlessly as possible. Let them die with dignity. Let them pump themselves full of morphine and be deliriously happy for a few days until their body gives out. Sadly, I've been in the sad position of having to do just that and I can't imagine choosing anything else.

Agree with every word of this.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3189

"Spacers" wrote:

Whether we have cancer or not, we're all going to die, it's just a matter of when. Smile

I wouldn't want to live in needless pain. I don't want anyone I love to live in needless pain. Treatment should do one of two things: fix the problem, or ammeliorate the symptoms to make life better. IMHO if there is no point to treatment, there is no point to continuing it; if the treatment can't cure the mother, and isn't making her life better, and she wants it to stop, then it should stop even if it ends her life. And if the pain can't be managed in a reasonable way, I would choose, every time, to let that person go as quickly & painlessly as possible. Let them die with dignity. Let them pump themselves full of morphine and be deliriously happy for a few days until their body gives out. Sadly, I've been in the sad position of having to do just that and I can't imagine choosing anything else.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: your friend is wrong. If her mother is tired of fighting and is ready to die, then she needs to get herself some counseling to help her accept that fact. You mentioned the last time that the daughter seemed to be trying to force the mother to accept treatment the mother didn't want. I hope the mother has gotten others involved who will help her make her own decisions. If not, I strongly encourage you to help. (((((HUGS))))) I'm so sorry you're in this position. Wishing you all peace.

I agree completely.

Unfortunately I am facing all of this right now. My mother has incurable cancer. It's very hard to write this without crying no matter how many times I do it.

Right now my mom is 100% focused on treatment and getting better. She doesn't care what the doctors tell her; she says she is going to survive this. But the doctors have told us (as her kids she has given us permission to speak to her doctor without her) that it is aggressive and spreading.

Our job, as we see it AND as the doctor tells us, is to support my mom however she needs it most. Right now she wants to focus on treatment and the positive so we are supporting that and all the efforts she makes. Unless a miracle happens, at some point she will shift and need a very different type of support, and we will all change with her. It's about the patient, really. If I thought my mom had a chance at a better quality of life and she wasn't taking it, I'd pressure her, but when the time comes that she has tried everything and it's over, I'll support whatever she wants to do.

In the meantime you make the most of what you have. My mom lives far away from all of us, so the four of us kids (in our 40s!) all take turns calling her so she gets a call every day, and we are taking turns visiting as well. I have been to see her twice and I'm planning another visit in November. I brought the kids over the summer so they could spend time with her while she was still relatively healthy (but of course dealing with chemo). It's a full day's travel each way but we all do what we can.

I don't understand wanting someone you love to suffer. I understand denying the suffering because you want them to live, though. It's primal. I want my mom around too. But I have to put her first. Sometimes it's gut-wrenching when she talks about how her upcoming surgery will cure her, because I know that's not the case, but I tell her with all the honesty in my soul that I hope she is right and I love her.

The chemo is brutal, though. The last round was awful. She's getting a break from it for a while and I am grateful.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

Laurie, I'm so sorry your family is fighting that battle. It sounds like your mom is very fortunate to have a family willing and able to support her through this journey. Prayers of strength for you all.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6568

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I agree completely.

Unfortunately I am facing all of this right now. My mother has incurable cancer. It's very hard to write this without crying no matter how many times I do it.

Right now my mom is 100% focused on treatment and getting better. She doesn't care what the doctors tell her; she says she is going to survive this. But the doctors have told us (as her kids she has given us permission to speak to her doctor without her) that it is aggressive and spreading.

Our job, as we see it AND as the doctor tells us, is to support my mom however she needs it most. Right now she wants to focus on treatment and the positive so we are supporting that and all the efforts she makes. Unless a miracle happens, at some point she will shift and need a very different type of support, and we will all change with her. It's about the patient, really. If I thought my mom had a chance at a better quality of life and she wasn't taking it, I'd pressure her, but when the time comes that she has tried everything and it's over, I'll support whatever she wants to do.

In the meantime you make the most of what you have. My mom lives far away from all of us, so the four of us kids (in our 40s!) all take turns calling her so she gets a call every day, and we are taking turns visiting as well. I have been to see her twice and I'm planning another visit in November. I brought the kids over the summer so they could spend time with her while she was still relatively healthy (but of course dealing with chemo). It's a full day's travel each way but we all do what we can.

I don't understand wanting someone you love to suffer. I understand denying the suffering because you want them to live, though. It's primal. I want my mom around too. But I have to put her first. Sometimes it's gut-wrenching when she talks about how her upcoming surgery will cure her, because I know that's not the case, but I tell her with all the honesty in my soul that I hope she is right and I love her.

The chemo is brutal, though. The last round was awful. She's getting a break from it for a while and I am grateful.

:bigarmhug::bigarmhug::bigarmhug:

I am so sorry for all you are going through. Thank you for you honest answer. It does help a lot.

MissyJ's picture
Joined: 01/31/02
Posts: 3229

((((((HUGS)))))) Laurie -- I am so incredibly sorry that your mom (and all of you!) are going through this battle. Cancer sucks. Sad
You all will remain in my thoughts and prayers. If there is any other way that we can offer you support now or in the future, please let me (or someone here) know.

Bonita, your friend is fortunate to have your support. As others suggested, I would encourage her to talk with a grief counselor or someone that helps families through coming to terms with a terminal illness. The hospital may be able to offer some suggestions and local resources. If you believe that she would open up to some online I can send you some links to share.

~Missy

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

Laurie -
:bigarmhug: :bigarmhug: :bigarmhug:

Your family will be in my thoughts. I'm so sorry that your mom and all of you are going through this.

:bigarmhug: :bigarmhug: :bigarmhug:

Sapphire Sunsets's picture
Joined: 05/19/02
Posts: 672

It's the person's choice.

If they know they aren't going to have that great of quality of life, the family needs to consider that.

My dad has had inoperable prostrate cancer now for 13 yrs. He never wanted to do chemo or radiation just for that fear that his quality of life would decrease, he's always been a very active man. Now, he went for a scan the other day and he has masses everywhere and not doing chemo is no longer a choice. Trust me, I've wanted him to do chemo from the beginning but i completely understand his reasoning for not doing it sooner.....it just means his time here is going to be shorter then we want it to be. Parents are supposed to pass before there children anyways, not the other way around.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3189

Hey guys...didn't mean to derail the debate at all, and I just want to thank you for the support and the virtual hugs. It's a very hard road, as you can imagine. Every bit of compassion and support helps. Thank you.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3189

"Sapphire Sunsets" wrote:

It's the person's choice.

If they know they aren't going to have that great of quality of life, the family needs to consider that.

My dad has had inoperable prostrate cancer now for 13 yrs. He never wanted to do chemo or radiation just for that fear that his quality of life would decrease, he's always been a very active man. Now, he went for a scan the other day and he has masses everywhere and not doing chemo is no longer a choice. Trust me, I've wanted him to do chemo from the beginning but i completely understand his reasoning for not doing it sooner.....it just means his time here is going to be shorter then we want it to be. Parents are supposed to pass before there children anyways, not the other way around.

I just wanted to say how sorry I am that you are going through this.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6568

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

Hey guys...didn't mean to derail the debate at all, and I just want to thank you for the support and the virtual hugs. It's a very hard road, as you can imagine. Every bit of compassion and support helps. Thank you.

Derail the debate all you want. You had wonderful insight. I wish I had more comfort to offer you in what must be a very difficult time. :bigarmhug:

smsturner's picture
Joined: 05/11/09
Posts: 1303

I think that the individual whose life is ending should be the decision maker. To want someone to stay in this world in miserable pain, when they want to go is selfish. I would be selfish too with my mom i think...lol but it should be up to her. And it should be totally legal to choose your own way to go. Even to euthanize yourself.

Sapphire Sunsets's picture
Joined: 05/19/02
Posts: 672

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I just wanted to say how sorry I am that you are going through this.

ty Laurie Smile

it's hard. I'm a CNA and work in a nursing home so i see ALOT of death. It's heartbreaking when you see it coming.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"Sapphire Sunsets" wrote:

It's the person's choice.

If they know they aren't going to have that great of quality of life, the family needs to consider that.

My dad has had inoperable prostrate cancer now for 13 yrs. He never wanted to do chemo or radiation just for that fear that his quality of life would decrease, he's always been a very active man. Now, he went for a scan the other day and he has masses everywhere and not doing chemo is no longer a choice. Trust me, I've wanted him to do chemo from the beginning but i completely understand his reasoning for not doing it sooner.....it just means his time here is going to be shorter then we want it to be. Parents are supposed to pass before there children anyways, not the other way around.

I'm sorry that I just saw this. Many many hugs to you and your family as well.

:bigarmhug: :bigarmhug: :bigarmhug:

Sapphire Sunsets's picture
Joined: 05/19/02
Posts: 672

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I'm sorry that I just saw this. Many many hugs to you and your family as well.

:bigarmhug: :bigarmhug: :bigarmhug:

ty Alissa Smile It means alot.