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What to do and expect with throat cancer in my Mum.

(9 Posts)
Roseformeplease Mon 04-Jan-16 13:25:06

Hi. I have posted about her before but things are now getting difficult. She has throat cancer after years of smoking and drinking (alcoholic). She is 75 and is also disabled (arthritis and osteoporosis so on crutches). Her diagnosis was in June and they tried a few things, fairly half-heartedly, but have now stopped. She is eating very, very little, being sick a lot but refusing medication beyond Calpol (yes, really, she is swigging it from the bottle).

There are 4 of us. 1 entirely absent. 1 overseas but doing as much as she can. 1 brilliant but about to give birth to twins. And me. I live 12 hours away (UK but other end) including a plane ride although, with juggling, can get there in 9 if get driven to the airport (4 hours away). Also, I teach, have two children (teens, exams) and a DH who is utterly brilliant but is about to be out of action - driving or standing - for at least two weeks after a knee operation.

I have been seeing my Mum monthly. It is all I can manage both time wise, and financially (£500 roughly to visit as can't stay with her and need plane and car hire).

She now eats almost nothing. She has been given anti-sickness medicine and oral morphine, but won't take them. She seems to be starving herself to death and also drinks only hot water with sugar in it (yes, really) and wine. She has oral thrush and is in pain.

Any advice? I can take 5 days paid leave but want to keep that until it is really needed. Any idea how long? She won't move near any of us, or in with any of us, or even leave the house now.

Sadly, she has been a bitch for years (alcohol) but is being much, much nicer since the diagnosis so I feel more like a normal, caring daughter whereas a year ago I was virtually NC. This is making is so, so hard to do the right thing.

I suppose I just want a bit of support.

bilbodog Mon 04-Jan-16 13:52:31

So sorry to hear about what you are having to deal with - only thing I can suggest is could you get her in a nursing home or similar so at least you know she is being looked after which might take some of the stress out if the situation? Also are you in touch with a local hospice and Macmillan nurses to see if they can support your mother?

TheFuzz Tue 05-Jan-16 04:08:58

She might be better off in care before things get too bad. Otherwise it could be a nightmare with end of life at home. That's very hard even with everyone local (been through it)

throckenholt Wed 06-Jan-16 18:48:59

When the cancer gets advanced it supresses the appetite, especially if it also causes nausea - so she may be eating little as a result of the cancer.

I was amazed how long my mum (ovarian cancer) survived eating almost nothing.

I think maybe the best thing you can do is liaise with her GP and the local authority to make sure she has been assessed recently and is getting whatever care she needs. This should be automatic, but if my mum was anything to go by, it is anything but, and a good advocate checking that things are progressing makes a big difference.

As for a nursing home - if she has a terminal diagnosis then she should be entitled to free nursing care (again it doesn't happen automatically the way it should).

Maybe also contact age UK, and Macmillan (or other charities) who can maybe offer some support as well.

And then there is moral support - try and make time to talk every day on the phone.

FeedMyFaceWithJaffaCakes Mon 11-Jan-16 01:39:28

Hello OP darling.
You haven't said which part of the country you're in. But try and get your mums GP out to see her. Gp can assess her, give her some nystatin for her oral thrush, and if her preferred place of care is home, arrange for some support to be put in (district nurses, Carers that sort of thing) if it is to pass away in a hospice, they can make urgent referrals for that too. And set up medications to be delivered via pump over 24hrs which can control sickness/nausea/anxiety whatever your mum needs (the pump can be managed at home by the district nurses or in the hospice/nursing home)

Hope this helps thanks

Roseformeplease Mon 14-Mar-16 12:40:42

Back again. Things have moved on considerably. Mum was not being seen at the hospital at all and was continuing to starve / dehydrate herself to death. Not taking meds and in pain all over. Drs had insisted that throat cancer can't spread - or if it does it is into the head and neck. However, we pushed hard for a consult with oncology (previously it had been head and neck team) and she was admitted immediately. She has had scans and x-rays and it is everywhere - lungs, kidney, back and throat. The back one is stopping her from walking so they are doing some palliative radiotherapy but there is not much else they can do.

Oddly, she is accepting pain relief and steriods in hospital so, although she is there, we are much happier because she is being looked after. The only major problem is that entirely absent (and previously NC) sister has taken it upon herself to pay for expensive childcare and take over. This would seem to be brilliant but she is gate-keeping my Mum so we only get information from sister, not from Mum. It is all part of a pattern (done before with Dad) to manoevre herself into being there and the most important. Sadly, I had planned to go down this weekend (tickets etc) but sister announced she would be there so I had to contact (I am scared of her and she is vicious and vile). She is so evil she has not even commented on other sister having twin girls (a miracle after 7 miscarriages).

Oh, and I took 3 of my leave days to go down a week ago to help with all the hospital admittance stuff but only have 2 left now.

Expatmomma Thu 31-Mar-16 23:10:15

Am sorry to hear you have so much to cope with.

I hope your mum is comfortable and you can spend some quiet quality time with her.

40nanny Fri 01-Apr-16 11:48:25

I am thinking of you,it must be so hard. I will have to go through the same with my dad with terminal cancer. I'm glad she is getting pain relief.Much love to you xx

NanaNina Sun 17-Apr-16 18:05:00

Is there any possibility that you can stand up to your sister. Is she acting out of guilt or some other complex emotion - it matters not really. What matters is that you get to see your mom while she is still alive. Isn't it weird how girls brought up in the same family can be so different. So I reckon you should go see your mom regardless of this sister taking over.

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