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Supporting someone with very, very advanced prostate cancer

(7 Posts)
Elibean Mon 19-May-14 10:49:25

My much loved 85 year old uncle is in the final stages of prostate cancer, and desperate to stay at home with his cats sad

He's a 4 hour journey from me, but on top of that is hugely private and very eccentric and won't accept help, or that he is as out of control now as he really is (I suspect he's becoming paralysed by tumours on his spine, as he's been found on the floor a few times by the daily 'carer'). Which makes everything far more complicated, of course. He's also a doctor, which means he's very aware and hopeless at being a patient!

I've spoken to hospice, who have asked the district nurses to go and see him today as his level of care needs to increase, whether he admits it or not. He has the funds to pay for private nursing, if only he agrees.

Hopefully his care will improve over the next few days. I'm trying to walk the line between respect for his privacy/autonomy and responsibility for his care and basic human needs - and am probably messing it up all the time, but not for want of trying.

I'm not sure why I'm posting, though it always helps me to feel less alone with big things when I do....I suppose if anyone can tell me honestly what my uncle is likely to go through between now and death, and how to prepare myself and the support systems around him, that would be hugely helpful??

Or perhaps I just have to muddle through and simply need paws to hold confused

Lovethesea Mon 19-May-14 11:54:24

Im so sorry.

Macmillan have a free call line that is open to anyone affected by cancer, not just the patient. They would be able to talk you through the next stages and things that might help.

Its 0808 808 00 00

Also it might help your uncle to have a plan for his cats when he dies. Who will come and get them, whether they can be rehomed by a local charity. Not sure if cats protection might have ideas of this as I am sure it is common.

mismylinford Mon 19-May-14 12:25:47

im so sorry to hear about your uncle. i lost my granddad to prostate cancer 6 years ago, he wanted to stay at home for as long as he could be in the end he just couldn't cope and his breathing declined as the cancer had got to the majority of his body. being the youngest grandchild i don't think people expected me at 18 to be able to support him. but i would call him just to talk about things to keep his mind off things which he said helped. the more ill he got the less he looked like the person i knew and just an old man that was ill but all this time his mind was still there. in the final weeks i would visit every other day with my.mum.... half supporting her and i felt like i needed to be with him, i would sit and hold his hand and talk to him even when he was asleep. i think if your strong enough to do so being with someone and holding their hand just helps. its a very difficult thing to watch someone you love so much be taken slowly away i think how i delt with it is that i felt i needed to be there for him so he knew i cared and to support the family. talking to family members about it helps too being honest about feelings and coming to terms with saying good bye.
i am truly sorry and i hope you find a way to cope there is loads of support out there from Macmillan

i believe there is a charity that can help with removing pets when their owners pass away.
i hope that his

Elibean Tue 20-May-14 10:46:07

Thank you both.

The cats are well catered for, luckily that's a huge priority for him and until recently he's been very practical about things - a cat charity has collected some, and his 'closest' few are staying as long as he does and then going to a safe home. I'm sure they'll get a hefty donation, too!

I'll check out Macmillan, thank you. He's in a rural bit of Somerset, and the care seems a tad patchy to me. But there was a crisis yesterday and he is in respite for a couple of days whilst we try and step up the at home care....sadly, his GP is away and the temporary one who came in yesterday was a nightmare. He tried to section him because he refused to go to hospital for treatment, which is well within his legal rights and just his choice sad

Still, the GP probably came off the worst grin

Holding someone's hand and just being there is SO important, I agree. At the moment, though, my uncle would rather cut his hand off than have it held.....

Lovethesea Tue 20-May-14 20:14:12

Sounds really tough but if he is determined to go this alone then he clearly is a very strong character. I imagine the section attempt would have been quite something to witness!

All you can do is tell him you are there if he wants anything, send things, call, ask about his beloved cats etc. Order him treats from tesco to be delivered, whatever he likes! That will show he is thought of, loved and that you wish him all the best as his life ends.

Macmillan can tell you of any local services and advise on where local groups are. Can't imagine he'd want to go drink tea at a support group somehow! Or a Skype buddy! Though he'd be entertaining company. But they can tell you about hospices, at home care, etc.

Sounds like you are doing tons and he will know you are there for him. Good luck as you negotiate the balance between enough care for keep him pain free and enough freedom for him to be left alone in peace with his cats.

Elibean Wed 21-May-14 10:09:15

'Thank you, LTS, thats a very kind and supportive post and probably just what I needed.

Things are looking up, he's more contained - his home is being kitted out for care at home, he is more relaxed and not in pain (his hand was forced by a fall, so he's in respite home for two days while we sort his house and care out) and hopefully I'll get to talk to him soon.

I've been sending silly little gifts and treats for him, and his cats, for the past few years....more so as he's got your post reassured me that I've been on the right tracks smile

Lovethesea Wed 21-May-14 21:08:13

Then he already knows that you love him and care for him and want the best for him. I am sure the cats and he have enjoyed the treats a lot. My cats love Dreamies if you are wanting ideas! Cat treats that are like crack and in lots of flavours.

You sound incredibly loving and kind and thoughtful. He will be well aware he is not alone and you are rooting for him. Some people just are more solitary and having even needed carers in is a hard thing to accept after independence.

May he and his cats enjoy every day left they have, and you and he enjoy your uncle niece relationship too. You are being very respectful and ultimately accepting him just as he is. Hope I have a relative like you when I am old!

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