Please feel free to move it, if needed. Sorry.
My Dad is almost 88 years old and is 5'3".
I am pretty sure my Dad may have colon cancer. His symptoms sure fit the bill, having checked around the Internet. He's had a major weight loss in the last two months, he now needs suspenders to hold up his pants (his pants are folded about 5" overlapping at the waist side seam, if you can imagine what that looks like) and I estimate his weight at < 100 lbs. His skin is hanging on his body and his bones quite pronounced (it is scary to hug him, feeling his ribs in the back). He is quite weak and shuffles when he walks and has begun to hunch over.
He has been having bad diarrhea lately, and quite frequently (he's cancelled dinner with us several times because of it). He has had 2-4 drinks of distilled alcohol per day for over 50 years (gin martinis). He eats a high fat diet. He has not seen a doctor for years (more than 15 years). He is a 2+ pack-a-day smoker. He has had colon problems in the past, polyps, from what I remember. It's not the type of thing my parents would ever discuss with anyone, they are private people.
When asked, he denies any pain. He's not a good actor, so I believe him being pain-free.
I have asked him if he would see a doctor about the GI problems and refuses and I respect his decision. In all honesty, even if he saw a doctor and was given that diagnosis, he would refuse any treatment. So, it is really a moot point with that.
What I want to know is what is the end like in untreated colon cancer? I can't seem to find that info on the Internet. I don't mean to sound gross, but I need to know what to expect. Will he be in pain? Will he lose weight until his body gives out by heart failure?
He lives 90 miles away from me and I am the only one of the four children to care about and for him, directly. He still lives in the house they shared for 35 years, without any caregiving (he refuses any). My Mom is in assisted living (stroke survivor), just a few minutes away from me.
Things have slipped away from him this year. I had to take over all his financial business as he forgot to pay any bills. It hasn't been easy, emotionally, but I don't mind. He took care of Mom and 4 children and we never wanted for anything. It's payback time and I'm the only one who is doing it (my siblings don't even offer and I don't bother to ask, it isn't worth it). I love him.
I know this must sound horrible, to be thinking like this. But, I have to prepare myself and know what it may be like. It's easier to ask the unseen faces of the Internet. Everyone I've know that had cancer fought the disease. Sometimes they won, sometimes the cancer did. But, I've never known anyone to not do anything from the get-go, kwim?
Like I said, I respect his wishes not to see any medical personnel. But, I need to know these answers.
Thank you for any help or answers you offer.
HUGS to you.
I am not sure of the answer.
Would your dad be willing to see someone if he were in pain? There are some really strong pain meds, I know my FIL took it and just slowly slipped away.....
At any rate, the end doesn't look so pretty but then again is it ever? The best thing I can probably do for him is to help him retain as much dignity as is possible, and treat him much the same way that I always have. My kids don't like to go there any more because it's stinky and he does resemble a skeleton. I don't think he has much left in him quite honestly, his demeanor and tone have just changed.
I do think it might be wise for your dad to have some options as far as pain control is concerned. I wouldn't want to see a loved one suffer in pain if it could be prevented.
HTH and I'm sorry you are dealing with this.
I'm sorry that you are dealing with this right now.
My family: me , dh , ds (11), dd1 (9), and dd2 (3).
Tout va s'arranger à la fin. Si elle ne fonctionne pas; ce n'est pas la fin.
When my mother was dx with lung cancer I did so much research regarding what was happening and what I could expect to happen. I really prepared me for the end although I don't think I understood it was actually happening when it did. But kjnow ing the information helped me int eh months after process the end. The book Final Gifts http://www.amazon.com/Final-Gifts-Un.../dp/0553378767 was incredibly helpful to me. I read it several times during the months between my mother's dx and her passing.
RIP Sidney 1994-2010 RIP Charlie Brown 2008-2010
|Will he go to the doctor? I ask because if in fact he does have cancer, and can get a terminal dx, medicare will pay for a lot, if not all, of hospice care. Also there are many non-profit hospices that will not turn people down if there are $ issues. If he does have colon cancer, he could be a candidate for ostomy surgery which can be very helpful in keeping patients comfortable, i.e., not worried about accidents. I would try to get him to talk to you now about what he wants. Most people primarily want to know they will not be in pain and that they won't be alone. He will likely also want an advanced directive so that if he goes into cardiac arrest, no one will do CPR or take other heroic measures. Actually all of these things are what hospice is so great for. They will educate him about his options and can make sure he only recieves the care he wants. Once he is comfortable and has a plan, he can be free to say goodbye and his 'I love yous" I am sorry you are dealing with this. It is hard. At the same time, when people are able to have a say in the circumstances of their own death (where, with adequate pain meds/other palliative care), families can experience an incredible time of healing and even joy, knowing their loved one is cared for when they are ready to go.|
Money is not an issue for my folks. They have excellent insurance beyond Medicare, so everything is always covered one way or another.
He would never consider ostomy surgery (or any other type, either). That is not how he wants his life.
See, I can't talk about my concerns regarding cancer with him. It is just not something he would discuss with anyone. He honestly doesn't care much about living anymore. He's not obviously depressed, but I know he is. He's gone downhill since my Mom moved out several years ago, after her stroke made it impossible to live in their house. Living alone has its plusses and minuses, you know?
He would not allow hospice folks to come into his home. Even at my request. It's just not Dad's way (he won't even let me hire a housekeeper).
He already has an advanced directive and I am his POA for health care decisions. I know, if the time comes and things are really horrid, I can request hospice for him. But, it will be hard, knowing it isn't what he wants. It would be like refusing his final wishes, kwim?
|The last several months, she had no desire to eat (said that she couldn't/didn't taste anything). When she stopped eating and drinking, it took less than a week for her to pass.|
At least he knows I love him (I never end a phone call or visit without saying it). I have also written him letters, telling him how much I have appreciated all that he and Mom have done for us. No sentiments have gone unspoken.
When the time does come, I know I will rest easy and not look back with regrets at what I should have said or done. I've done all I can thus far and will continue to do so.
I just wanted to know how it might end.
I sure appreciate all your kind words and information. Thank you and please feel free to add anything else you think of.
Ruth, single mommy to 3 quasi-adults
He has lived a long life for someone who has broken all of the rules by smoking, drinking, and eating a high fat diet. He must have enjoyed it all. He has lived a long life, longer than my favorite Aunt who was a health nut and did not enjoy it.
If you can, I hope you have asked him about life in the Depression and the War. I had many talks with my Father about life in that part of the century in Ohio. He taught me to do the Charleston and what the radio broadcasts meant to him. It was very interesting. Try to get some family stories from him if you can.
Let your children know him.
Life is short. Think of yourself at that age in the next sixty years. What do you want your children and children's children to know about you and life at the "turn of the century" or life before computers, if even you can remember?
~paraphrased from "Forrest Gump"~
My Dad died of Alzheimer's this past October. He had Hospice and they were wonderful. My Dad died at home too. Because he was in Hospice my family didn't have to go through an autopsy. The lady with Hospice called the Coroner to notify them. Then she called the funeral home. They came and got my Dad's body.
Anne, Mama to Conner 2/27/04 Gabrielle 2/6/06 W/LMC-TCS, Neurogenic Bladder, AFO & KAFO wearer, Neurogenic Bowel & Delaney 5/12/08 & Beethoven & Gizmo
I am so sorry for those of you that have lost someone you loved so much. I knw it won't be easy. I have always made the "effort" to know my parents and to say "I love you" to them and show it, as well. Dad is not a touchy-feely kind of guy, but has, I know, appreciated hearing and knowing my feelings.
|He has lived a long life for someone who has broken all of the rules by smoking, drinking, and eating a high fat diet. He must have enjoyed it all. He has lived a long life, longer than my favorite Aunt who was a health nut and did not enjoy it.|
|If you can, I hope you have asked him about life in the Depression and the War. I had many talks with my Father about life in that part of the century in Ohio. He taught me to do the Charleston and what the radio broadcasts meant to him. It was very interesting. Try to get some family stories from him if you can.|
|Let your children know him.|
Honestly, none of the grandchildren would recognize him (or, Mom) in a semi-crowded room. Three of them send the generic-type card at Christmas, and that's that (just a signature, no written message).
Last year, one even sent Mom the wrong card, with a long and very heartfelt message about a planned visit. Unfortunately, it was to the other set of grandparents. Sweet, huh? They couldn't bother to make sure the right card went in the correct envelope. Mom had a stroke a couple of years back and is easily confused as a result. She was so excited about their visit. It wasn't until I took the card from her apartment that she forgot about it (she was spending each day at the window, looking for the grandchildren that wouldn't know her if they walked by her). Once the card (the reminder) was out of her sight, she went back to her normal routine.
Sorry, I digress.......
So, our ds is the only one that actually knows my Dad. He has asked Dad lots of questions about his military career (35 years of it!) and his involvement in WWII (Dad was at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked), Korea and Vietnam. When Dad is gone, ds will inherit his medals, service ribbons and, perhaps, the WWII diary (though, in all probability, I'll burn that, it just too personal).
Mom has written in multiple memory books for us, as well. Lots of information that is wonderfully enlightening about her life. She sees ds several times each week and has vacationed with us many times. His memories of her will be the strongest of all the grandparents.
Dh's Mom died when ds was just 4 years old. He remembers her, but not too well. Dh's Dad, who lives in our small town, is not a very exciting person. Though ds loves his Jidoo (Arabic for grandfather), they don't interact much as fil is, well, boring. His entire life was dedicated to work (he owned his own factory & business) with NO outside interests. There's just so much you can ask about the business for a child to be interested in!! But, he loves ds and ds does love him, so that is enough, I suppose!
|Life is short. Think of yourself at that age in the next sixty years. What do you want your children and children's children to know about you and life at the "turn of the century" or life before computers, if even you can remember?|
|Because he was in Hospice my family didn't have to go through an autopsy. The lady with Hospice called the Coroner to notify them. Then she called the funeral home. They came and got my Dad's body.|
We already have a family plot in the beautiful cemetary in our small mountain town (where we live). We bought this when my mil died. Both Mom and Dad have made their wishes known (it's written in their legal papers) as regards funerals (none for either), burial/cremation (they left it to my decision) and a marker (both want one).
Sigh, it's not ever easy, is it.
Again, I thank you, so very much, for your thoughts and for sharing what I know must be sad memories of difficult times. Hugs to all of you.
My family: me , dh , ds (11), dd1 (9), and dd2 (3).
Tout va s'arranger à la fin. Si elle ne fonctionne pas; ce n'est pas la fin.
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