Hi everyone. I'm looking for advice or experiences anyone has had around supporting a loved one facing the last stages of their cancer battle and their loved ones to have painful and difficult conversations.
My mum was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer 9 years ago and has been in constant treatment since then, keeping it at bay. However the Drs are starting to run out of treatment options and her health is inevitably declining with every treatment and new cancer spread. I'm 29 and an only child and so I feel a lot of the emotional responsibility for caring for them both through this. My mum and dad have always had difficulty talking about or planning for her death and neither of them have ever seen a psychologist or counsellor, but now we are faced with the likliehood that these are her last months to a year. I want to find ways to start and support the conversations they need to have about palliative care, what the end looks like, what life might look afterwards. Even writing this is making me tear up and so I too need support to process what this means, though I at least have been seeing a mental health professional during her illnesses.
Basically, what have people experienced as positives and negatives about these conversations, how the health system can be of use, what are the things that we need to think about? I'd like to find a way to start these conversations happening before decisions have to be made under even more stress and emotion.
Thank you in advance for anyone who can share their own experiences or advice on this painful topic.
as Budgie said, you need to bite the bullet and start the conversation. there will be tears for everyone which is to be expected. I am an only child also and both my parents are deceased, my dad died when I was 27, my mum when I was in my early 40's. I lost my husband to cancer in April 2020. I have no regrets over things done or not done but, thinking back over the years I know it would have been beneficial for us as a family to have talked about final days. I had a large involvement into the planning of both of my parents funerals plus that of my husbands.
One of the hardest things for me with planning my parents funerals was I didn't know what they would have wanted. not long after my husband received his diagnosis he said he wanted to do pre-paid funeral to try to take some stress of me plus there was things he wanted to have played or said. I am so thankful to him that we planned his funeral and outline of his eulogy together. With it just now being me, I have no children, plus knowing what things I want to be said, music to be played etc whenever my time comes I am in the process of meeting with funeral director to discuss my prepaid funeral and what I want to happen on the day. to me a funeral is the celebration of our loved ones life ..... who else is better to tell their story and decide how to celebrate that life than the person themselves.
during the last couple of months of my husbands life he and I talked about what life was going to be like for me after he was gone. it gave him a chance to also express his worries and concerns which he needed to be able to share with me. he used to say he was scared about who was going to be on the other side so we used to talk about our respective family members who have already passed away and would be waiting to welcome him to his new home, something we both found gave us a feeling of peace. there was many tears during these conversations, similar writing these words I find myself in tears. The things related to death and dying that lots of people struggle with is means we are saying a final goodbye to someone who we deeply love that we will never be able to see or hear again in our life .
lots of hospitals have social workers and chaplains that, if your mum is in hospital could come and have a chat with you all as a family. some towns also have Pallative Care units and there is usually a counsellor specifically trained to talk to patients and family members during these times. It is not a pleasant or nice conversation but death is something that comes to us all when it is our time. the quicker you can start the conversation the better
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