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My mum has terminal cancer not long left

(44 Posts)
clairebear31 Sun 20-May-18 20:09:46

My mum has stage 4 breast cancer with mets to the spine/liver and lungs. She’s really going downhill now. Does anyone know what the symptoms in the last week/days would be like if they have been through similar? I’m finding advice so conflicting and it’s almost like I need to know when living like this is just awful. Thank you

TheBogWitchIsBack Sun 20-May-18 20:26:59

Hello op firstly I'm so so sorry that you're going through this.
Recently lost my mother to lung cancer, the final days were very very peaceful. There were times she was really lucid and other times she was so tired.
Mum was in hospital and then transferred to a really lovely hospice where the staff were amazing.
She was having quite a lot of pain relief and meds to help reduce any anxiety.
Have you got any plans or spoken to her medical team about her care in the next few weeks? I found the palliative care nurses were brilliant, speak to them, they are a really good source of information.
I felt the same as you, I needed to know everything in order to prepare myself.

NeedForBlossom Sun 20-May-18 20:34:43

Op & BogWitch flowersflowers

Gramgram Sun 20-May-18 20:37:31

So sorry about your DM. flowers

My DM died from breast cancer in 1987, it had spread as your mother's has. She went into a hospice for the last week as managing her pain became difficult, they were able to keep her painfree.

She was able to eat but not much, so tended to have favourite snacks. She slept a lot and her breathing became laboured. However she enjoyed a hand massage using aromatherapy oils.

My mother slipped away peacefully and my father was with her.

MothertotheLordsofmisrule Sun 20-May-18 20:37:47

My uncle died of a brain tumour, it was peaceful.
He did have weird moments, days where he was ‘normal service’ after diagnosis and treatment.

But at the end he mostly slept.

I think spending time with him helped.

So sorry you and family are going through this.flowers

clairebear31 Sun 20-May-18 20:50:14

Thank you all. She is going to a hospice this week and is barely eating. Been very sick and has fluid in her lungs/stomach. Her feet are very swollen too and legs a mottled colour at times. The nurse said maybe up to 2 months but they don’t know for sure how long as everyone’s so different, to me it seems she doesn’t have that long?

WowLookAtYou Sun 20-May-18 20:50:50

So sorry to hear this.
My mother does exactly a year ago last week. She had secondary brain cancer. For her, as with others I've heard about, she went from comparatively normal, into a very swift decline. So, she ate breakfast and started the cryptic crossword on Tuesday morning, looked up at my dad and said she felt unwell, and was pretty much in a coma by evening. She died on the Thursday.
Although that 48 hour period was very unpleasant until they got the morphine dose right, we were very thankful that the end was mercifully brief.

AnnieAnoniMouser Sun 20-May-18 20:57:49

Oh love, I’m so sorry to hear about your Mum 💐

All the hospices I’ve known have been absolutely amazing, so I’m sure she’s in the best place possible.

I think you are right to suspect that ‘months’ is overly optimistic, but you never know. All you can do is make the most of every minute you have. Tell her everything you need to, ask everything you need to about her life, your childhood etc and just sit quietly with her as much as you’re able.

The Hospices have all been good with pain relief and letting us know when things are progressing. They’re very good st telling you what to expect at each stage if you ask.

It’s a really, really tough time. Sending you lots of love & strength x

WhatWouldLeslieKnopeDo Sun 20-May-18 21:07:10

I found this article about how people die from cancer quite helpful. It is by an oncologist so it is factual but sensitively written.

I'm really sorry about your mum. I hope that she will be comfortable at the hospice flowers

frenchfancy Sun 20-May-18 21:14:03

Sorry you are going through this, but pleased you have got a place at a hospice. I cannot praise them enough.

My DDad in the terminal phase slipped in and out of reality. One moment he was in the clouds with flying horses the next he was having a normal conversation. I guess the drugs have something to do with it.

bimbobaggins Sun 20-May-18 21:16:19

I found the life limiting board invaluable when my ex was at the end.
I’m so sorry to hear about your mum

TheBitterBoy Sun 20-May-18 21:24:23

I have posted this before, but I found this short programme on radio 4 incredibly helpful when my mum was in her last weeks www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06nnqlj

Best wishes to you, it's a tough time.

BiglyBadgers Sun 20-May-18 21:33:27

My mother died of similar cancer to your mother's with an added secondary brain tumour. I remember the period she went into hospice vividly, feeling like I was entering some sort of limbo state. The hospice was genuinely wonderful and the staff took amazing care of her and my dad and me. They were great at showing us how we could help care for her and spend time with her.

She was in for just over a month. Like you describe she had a lot of fluid retention and seeing her change in the way she looked was one of the most difficult things, particularly when all the films depicting people with cancer show women elegantly wasting away, so seeing her so swollen was upsetting and unexpected. I found it helped to have pictures of her from before, so I could keep how I remembered her in my mind. I won't lie, that time was the hardest time in my life, but I am glad I was able to be with her and spend time talking and sitting beside her.

Do remember to take care of yourself though. As Bimbobaggins said, I found the support on the life limiting boards in here invaluable. An amazing a supportive place where you can cry and rant and say all the things you can't say in front of family, with people who know where you are coming from.

8DaysAWeek Sun 20-May-18 21:40:23

My mum passed away from stage 4 brain cancer 5 years ago. She was diagnosed in May. She slowly declined until January, and from then until she passed at the start of February was quite a steep decline. In the week prior to her passing she was in bed (we arranged a hospital bed at home) and slept 22 out of 24 hours. She didn't eat much at all. They had her on high doses of pain killers so I don't think she was in pain. She didn't speak much, and was just very very tired, coming in and out of awareness. She struggled mentally with it all until that last week when it seemed she was more at peace. She too has very bad water retention, but when I think about her I think of her the way she was before she started treatment.

I'm so so sorry you are going through this. There are no words thanks

Kernowgal Sun 20-May-18 21:45:59

I'm so sorry OP. I'm in the same position: my mum has terminal leukaemia and has taken a big turn for the worse over the weekend. She's very breathless and tiring quickly. Am expecting a call to go back up there over the next few days. We have the option of a hospice but it's a fair distance from us and mum isn't in much pain so she might prefer to stay at home.

It's really shit. You have all my sympathies. Sorry to everyone else on the thread for their losses. flowersflowersflowers

clairebear31 Sun 20-May-18 22:39:18

I’m sorry to hear of everyone’s losses and everyone going through this too. It is so so hard the rollercoaster of emotions everyday the anxiety when the phone rings and it’s my dad. My mum has been a wonderful Mum and nan and I’m very lucky to have had a close relationship with her, I will miss her so much when she’s gone and everywhere I look there’s memories. For her sake I hope the end doesn’t take too long as she’s in so much pain and sickness is a problem too. It’s all so very sad flowers for u all

Lovemysofa Sun 20-May-18 22:42:10

I'm so so sorry for you and your family. I don't have experience of cancer but my mum was terminally ill and looking back, I am so glad that the end was fast and peaceful and I got to spend some time with her. Take care, xx

8DaysAWeek Sun 20-May-18 22:48:19

I know that strange conflicting feeling of wanting the end to come. Of course I didn't want her to die, but I didn't want her to live the way she was sad

HeedMove Sun 20-May-18 22:57:06

Im so so sorry. My stepmum got pneumomia and lost conciousness for the last week and was ventilated. In a way it was good because she never really suffered at the end as she wasnt concious. They said to us it was quite common whether that is true or not I dont know shes the only person close to me thats passed.

Sorry you are going through this losing peoples the bloody worst part of life.

OllyBJolly Sun 20-May-18 23:03:21

Lost my sister to brain tumours a few months ago.

I found the uncertainty very difficult to deal with. She was definitely deteriorating but no one was able to tell us what to expect. One of the side effects of radiotherapy was dementia (she was only 40) and quite often she was unable to tell us how she was. She also had very little mobility. In fact, quality of life was poor and it was particularly distressing she didn' t recognise her children. But some days she would be lucid and could get out in a wheelchair and we'd think there was an improvement.. In many ways it was a horrible time ,but in other ways I feel it was a tremendous privilege to spend that time with her.

Sorry for derailing. I came on to say that when the end was near, the hospice staff just seemed to know and were so kind and respectful. They allowed me to sleep in a chair in her room and plied me with toast and tea.

Take care of yourself. You need the strength for the weeks to come.

Babyroobs Sun 20-May-18 23:31:10

Many people just get more sleepy and start to eat and drink very little and fade away. If symptoms such as pain or breathlessness are a problem then these can be controlled. If your mum is unable to swallow then sometimes a little pump ( syringe driver) can deliver drugs to help with pain, agitation or breathlessness or secretions which gather on the lungs or in the throat. I hope you have support from district nurses, macmillan nurse or hospice who will be excellent at symptom control and end of life care.

sausagedogsmakechipolatas Mon 21-May-18 06:55:24

I’m sorry, Clairebear. I am sure the hospice will make your Mum as comfortable as possible. It’s so difficult to witness, I hope you have support around you flowers

When FIL died (pancreatic cancer that had spread to his liver and lungs before even being diagnosed) he had less time awake the closer he got to passing, although he was quite lucid when awake for those few minutes at a time. He was prescribed meds to keep him comfortable and, I think, largely unaware of the physical struggles his body was going through and when he died, he was sleeping and his breaths got slower and shallower until he just stopped. It was peaceful and he was surrounded by family so I like to think it was a “good” death.

clairebear31 Mon 21-May-18 07:49:46

Thanks everyone. Another day today and another lots of uncertainty and worry. Hopefully she will be feeling less sick when I see her later on

BonApp Mon 21-May-18 08:13:18

Op my dad is in his final days (weeks seems unlikely at this stage) and I can honestly say that this bit is not as hard as previous bits.

Dad's drugs have gradually increased making him very dopey, which he hated, but was unavoidable. Now it seems to be a mix of the drugs and just being ill that makes him tired so at this point he’s sleeping all day and struggles to talk. Though he can deffo hear us. He’s lost a huge amount of muscle and had no strength so the stairs became too difficult for him and we then got a bed in the lounge. His appetite was up and down, so for a while all he had was soup, complan or sorbet.

The decline and deterioration mixed with uncertainty is just grueling. I have been desperate to want to know “how long” and what it’ll all be like so totally understand.

I would echo what others say about hospice care. They are fantastic.

Really sorry you and your family, and your Mum, are going through this. Feel free to pm me.

50shadesofgreyismylaundry Mon 21-May-18 08:53:43

What a sad thread. My thoughts are with you OP. I lost my BIL to lung cancer this year. He got a place in a hospice and slowly wasted away, unable to eat or drink much and very weak. Laboured breathing.

DM has terminal cancer now. She's having palliative care and mostly living out her life enjoying her garden. Me and my siblings are taking turns to care for her.

It is very tough. flowers to you.

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