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Life Support Issues/I have about a year and want to know how it will end so I can cope


I am undergoing chemo for neuroendocrine tumours , high grade so know there is no hope, I have them in my lungs and they have multiplied and grown threw each scan, I hope the chemo will give them a bit of a blast and give me a little time, just want to know what kind of ending  can I expect , my initial one was found in anus and rectum and has not played up since surgery but I do know they did not get it all, since I started chemo my chest has been feeling very heavy if you can understand that,, so hard to explain, my biggest fear is my young daughter watching me die, I so don't want a long dragged out bed bound death,, yep I am selfish,, just would love to know what's ahead of me and deal with it, my doc says she will eliminate the cancer but I know it comes back very shortly after , a friend of mine who is dr told me this also,, I can accept the dying part,, hate the waiting and not knowing,, any advice I would be grateful for,, thank you

I am so sorry about this.
What is ahead of you is a period of relative health following by increasing debility. Every cancer is a bit different but they all share the common signs of decline with weight loss and increasing weakness which will limit you to being in the house and or bedroom. This period of debility can last for weeks (but not usually for months).  If there is any pain, 97% of it is controllable with the medications we have on hand. The pain medication actually improves your appetite and provides a longer period of functioning. The key is that you need to take the medications as ordered. The research shows you will "live" longer. Good pain control allows  you to accomplish what you want in the time remaining. Conversely poorly controlled pain leads to more poorly controlled pain and poor quality of life.

So here are some ideas and thoughts coming from a hospice nurse and then we will talk about "the dying part."

Its clear to me that you are doing your emotional work. Keep feeling those feelings so you can release them and have moments of peace. Cry, get angry. Whatever you need to do to feel better. Make some memories with your daughter that she can hold onto after you are gone. As you move forward you can even begin to prepare her.

When patients with cancer begin to die, they are usually bed bound and taking only sips of water. They need help with bathing and personal care. This period can range from a few days to a couple of weeks. It is not long. In the US most patients have hospice visiting at home or they are in a hospice unit. Hospices know best how to control symptoms such as pain, anxiety, shortness of breath. The hospice team supports your family and prepares them for your leaving.         They help your family to participate in your care so that your family is left with a sense that they did their best for you.

Jackie, I hope this has been helpful to you. Write back if I missed the mark in answering your question.  

Life Support Issues

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Betsy Murphy


My expertise is in end of life care for adults. Identifying when someone is approaching the end of their life. Benefits and burdens of end of life treatments. Managing pain and other symptoms. Providing care for dying patients at home. Advocating for someone who is dying in a hospital or nursing home.


More than 28 years of experience in hospice care. Currently consulting with hospices to promote access for patients to receive hospice care earlier in the course of their illness. Betsy provides training for hospice marketing staff to effectively work with nursing facilities to help identify eligible patients. She writes Additional Development Request (ADR) letters to Medicare to help hospices get paid for their services and to avoid future claim denials.

Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association

Articles: Clinical Reviews, Advance for Nurses, Nursing Spectrum, Washington Business Woman,; Understanding Medical-Surgical Nursing (FA Davis and Company), Guide to Caregiving in the Final Months of Life (TM Brown publishers).

Bachelors of Science in Nursing, additionally trained as a Family Nurse Practitioner and certified as a hospice and palliative care nurse.

Awards and Honors
Outstanding Woman in Loudoun County (VA) by Loudoun County Commission on Women 1997 and 2002.

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