It’s a moral issue

Unfortunately, the chemotherapy has brought about so many other health problems, but in all fairness to my father’s Consultant, he never promised that if he chose chemotherapy he would have the same quality of life as he’d had up to that point.

Now my father almost vegetates. He can hardly walk, is wheeled around when he’s out of the house and struggles to walk in the house with a Zimmer frame. The Lymphoma is better than it was before the chemotherapy, but other things are now affecting his health.

I know that in someone younger, these side effects probably wouldn’t have happened to the extent it has with my father and although my father puts Osteoporosis down to his age, when I explained the reasoning behind his age, chemotherapy and Osteoporosis, he did agree that it made sense.

For me there will always be a moral issue involved. It’s a shame the UK medical profession doesn’t use the moral code as much as they do the treatments they have to offer for their patients. When I was a little girl, no Consultant would have even considered giving treatment to an 83 year-old.

A friend who is a Geriatric Specialist echoed my sentiments, but agreed it’s not how the medical profession choose to work today. They work on saving lives, period. My father was 6ft tall. I am one hundred per cent sure my father wouldn’t be dealing with Osteoporosis and brittle bone now without the chemo, but would probably still have some of the other issues to deal with.

Osteoporosis is a gradual condition, which happens over a period of years, not something that happens within months of chemotherapy treatment. As one Consultant told us when he first presented the symptoms, it wouldn’t be the Lymphoma that killed him.

It’s a slow growing cancer in elderly patients, therefore it would be something else that took him. My father would die with Lymphoma, not from it. For anyone else in this position, I would seriously ask about the pitfalls before making such a life changing decision.

But for me it would always be the moral issue. It’s important to think about that. It seems to be whatever takes, regardless of the outcome.

20 Jan, 2013

4 thoughts on “It’s a moral issue

  1. I know how you feel. My mother’s chemo is working on the cancer but she is having some other side effects like extreme fatigue, that bothers her a lot. My mom is in her late 60’s, but is a fighter and won’t let things get to her. She just keeps on going.

    I think the medical profession should look at the quality of life a person will have, consider their age and condition and present all the information to the patient when they are deciding on chemo, because it does have an extreme effect on their quality of life.

    1. Thanks Lisa! Your comment makes me feel so much better. You’re right, age has a lot to do with chemotherapy treatment and whether it should be administered or not. Your mom who is in her late 60’s seems to be struggling with fatigue. My father’s ability at 83 to conceivably recover in the same way your mom can, is minimised by a very high percentage at that age. Chemotherapy has everything to do with all of his symptoms now.

      I believe there should either be a cut off point, or the patient’s Consultant needs to take other factors into consideration when making their case. I believe the quality of a person’s life and age is important, particularly in terms of one’s ability to recover and/or its side effects.

      This didn’t happen in my father’s case. In my opinion he will find it difficult to recover from this.

  2. We as a family were lucky with my mother. The doctors said that the chemotherapy would improve her quality of life, which it did for quite a while. It actually made her hungry which was good at the time.

    She had a good summer that year, for which we were all grateful. We were lucky to have doctors that told it like it was with no sugar coating. My father wanted that.

    1. Thanks Randy. Yes you were very lucky with your mother. What I like about your response is that you were given clear guide lines so that your family could make an informed choice.

      Unfortunately I already knew what the outcome would be with chemotherapy and that’s what I was trying to avoid, but here we are. To know it would happen and not be able to do something about it, can be very hard.

      I would rather him have chosen a different path so that he didn’t have to struggle as much, even if it meant losing him sooner. To watch someone struggle isn’t pleasant.

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