Today’s new thoughts

It would be very easy for me to hibernate with everything I deal with. Dealing with a family member having cancer is the most difficult time. As I watch my father clutch and struggle to hold on to life, I want what is really best for him. I am not convinced having treatment is right for him and even less convinced that his treatment will work. It’s keeping him breathing, that’s all it’s doing.

I remember meeting up with someone who had cancer and was actively having treatment, probably long before my father became ill and this woman was fairly upbeat about her chances of beating the disease. She had already had cancer for some two years but was always clear on her decisions to go ahead with her treatment. She was in no doubt having treatment was the right path for her.

When I asked about her family’s thoughts on her treatment, she told me that her family did have their opinions, but that she wanted the treatment. She wasn’t unhappy with her decision, in fact the opposite, but did admit to there being an element of struggle involved. The treatment was far from easy with all of its side effects. About a year and a half later I heard she lost her battle.

Unfortunately I feel as though it seems we’re in a culture, whereby if a specialist can prolong or save a life, that’s what they will do, unless the family say otherwise. Of course it’s never their final decision, but the family wanting to hold on to their loved ones, coupled with the information they have, usually bring about these decisions to go for treatment.

I would rather have 4 or 5 weeks quality time with my father with no treatment, than watch him struggle to eat, breath, sleep and function normally, just to have him here with me. I think our inability to let go of a life is responsible.

It’s probably also the reason why some cancer patients may feel obliged to have treatment. They sometimes don’t want to let their loved ones down, knowing this is what their loved ones would want.


6 Mar, 2012

6 thoughts on “Today’s new thoughts

  1. I agree with everything you have said here.

    With my mother near the end she had no quality of life left. I was praying for the end because I knew she had given up. She was tired of fighting and doctors and treatment. She died a few days after that.

    It was a blessing because she was finally free of pain and suffering.

  2. I can’t really say too much on this subject, sine I haven’t dealt with a parent having cancer.

    My mother passed away from dementia and I know how badly she struggled to live even though she wasn’t really there anymore.

    I’m guessing that people would struggle to have as much time left as possible, no matter the circumstances. It would be the hardest thing to do just to let go when all you would want is to hang on.

    1. It’s difficult to know because we’re all different and deal with things differently; but I think watching any parent struggle even if they’re not dealing with cancer, is hard for them and for their family.

      My mother started off being very strong and by the time the cancer had spread she wasn’t emotionally feeling strong. I believe she got to that stage where she was happy to give up.

  3. It is very difficult when we have to watch anybody suffer, especially those we are close to.

    I’ve seen a lot of suffering in my 25 years of nursing and it doesn’t get any easier. I watched my father die in 5 months and I’m watching my mom struggle with stage 4 breast cancer, which she has had for many years now.

    My mom is very strong willed and I admire her for that, but when she is ready to go I will let her. She has put up a good fight.

    1. You’re right Lisa, it is difficult to watch someone close suffer with an illness, particularly with an illness that is terminal. We all have different strengths.

      I am sure being a nurse will help you emotionally distance yourself from your patients when you need to, although it is always different when family are involved. We tend to work from the heart then, not the head.

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