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dad won’t be healthy enough for chemotherapy

my dad was supposed to start chemo but the week before the tumour grew so large, it started to block his intestines. he then underwent surgery to get a colon external bag, but still, the tumour blocked his digestion system and the surgery was deemed unsuccessful. without being able to eat and digest, he would not be healthy enough for chemo. the doctor came the next day and gave us about a two week life expectancy.

my dad, besides starving from being on a liquid diet and his being in pain from the cancer, is still so strong. since this news a week ago his surgery incisions have healed normally in the few weeks time & he still goes for slow walks & chats with us all day per usual. it’s hard to believe he will not heal from this in any shape or form. my mom says to keep hope out for a miracle (his bag will start to work) but I want to be realistic. it’s so hard though, it really feels like he should be able to combat this, even if it’s only for a couple months. he’s only 50. i’m so scared and lost on how to feel. Hoping he will somehow start to heal enough for chemo feels like i’m lying to myself, expecting him to pass in two weeks feels like i’m disregarding his strong spirit he is battling to keep alive. It feels cruel to stop hoping for healing & move on to acceptance of death when he is still being strong & fighting so hard. my emotions feel scrambled and I have a hard time sleeping. i don’t know what to do, or how to feel. i’m just so overwhelmingly sad all the time. i don’t know anyone who has gone through similar, so i thought i’d post here.

12 Replies
Brighty
7731 Posts

Welcome @strawberrypie . Its heartbreaking what you are going through with your dad. I'm so sorry. Has anyone suggested to him a feeding tube? I'm mentioning it because my fiance was so weak and could not endure chemo either but once a feeding tube was inserted, he was able to gain some strength and weight back. I was also wondering if your dad has been given anything for the pain. Palliative care is best for pain management..its not what people think it is. It does not always entail end of life or giving up. Its amazing what the body can overcome and how people can recover from some amazing things. Im sure other members will log on here to tell their stories about what they've overcome and still live to tell about. I just want to let you know theres always hope. Do you have friends and close family to lean on? You might also find it beneficial to pop in and see the oncology social worker at the cancer center . He or she will deal with the emotional aspects as well as any practical help you might need. A fantastic resource. Another great resource is the cancer info line. 1 888 939 3333. The will answer any questions you have . They are kind and informative. Im praying your dad will get stronger and be able to continue with treatment. Please let us know how you and your family are coping. You are not alone.

Hi @Brighty. Thank you for your reply. I forgot to add my dad is in palliative care. He has been there since his diagnosis 4 weeks ago. They manage is pain very well are are very accommodating and kind. I've asked the doctor about a feeding tube or a high nutrition filled liquid diet - but he said even if my dad were able to eat, the cancer is so advanced it would take all the nutrients before he could. He said eating/drinking is only for his enjoyment now - as the cancer did take over his entire digestion system :( a tube now removes anything he does ingest, moments after he eats it.

I didn't know social workers were available for family, and will look into the resources you kindly listed here. I may also call the number or give it to other family members - as we are all struggling. My whole support system is shaken by this, I'm finding it hard to find comfort anywhere in friends & family as we all break down in panic or tears. We are all just so sad & scared, but we still try to lean on each other when we can.

I cant thank you enough for your reply, its nice to know I am not alone. I really appreciate it.

Brighty
7731 Posts

@strawberrypie thank you for the additional information and I'm glad your dad is having his pain managed by palliative care. Reach out to as many people as you can, and dont be shy to ask for what you need for you, your dad and other family members. Whether it be meal or grocery delivery or a cleaning service, or just a friend to take you out to cheer you up. Are you able to spend any quality time with him? I'm glad you will be contacting the social worker as well as calling the cancer info line. Both resources will help you deal with the emotional turmoil cancer brings to a family.. .as well as answering questions, and gathering as much info as possible. Please take care of yourself too and don't hesitate to continue to reach out as needed. You will find the site helpful, supportive and som the kindest people ever!

Brighty
7731 Posts

@strawberrypie thank you for the additional information and I'm glad your dad is having his pain managed by palliative care. Reach out to as many people as you can, and dont be shy to ask for what you need for you, your dad and other family members. Whether it be meal or grocery delivery or a cleaning service, or just a friend to take you out to cheer you up. Are you able to spend any quality time with him? I'm glad you will be contacting the social worker as well as calling the cancer info line. Both resources will help you deal with the emotional turmoil cancer brings to a family.. .as well as answering questions, and gathering as much info as possible. Please take care of yourself too and don't hesitate to continue to reach out as needed. You will find the site helpful, supportive and som the kindest people ever!

Whitelilies
1667 Posts

@strawberrypie Hello and welcome to our caring community…..I am so sorry, to hear, that your dad is in palliative care…it is very difficult, on the entire family…You have found a place, here, for you…..to share your thoughts and emotions….please know…..you can trust us, with all that you feel……

As mentioned by @Brighty do reach out to the Oncology Social Worker…phone appt/in person….whatever works for you…..they are a wealth of resources as well….they truly do understand.

You mentioned, your dad is in the palliative care unit…..simply “be there” for him, as much/often as you can…..just sit beside him….put up pictures/photos on the wall….make his room/area pleasant, and family filled…bring him his fave slippers or robe, or hand lotion….bring him lip balm…..massage his hands…..bottoms of feet……back of neck…..touch is very soothing and loving.

My father passed, of colon cancer, in March 2021. (He was much older than your father…..he was 89). I really understand palliative care….and more…..he too, was in palliative care…..To give “everyone” comfort…perhaps set up a workable “schedule”, to be bedside with your dad….so he is not alone….and you wont feel all the visits , are solely, on you….

ALWAYS HAVE HOPE. period.

No one has all the (medical ) answers. It may be a while, still. SO ….now you are able to visit…..to talk…to kiss his forehead….perhaps he has a favourite drink? My dad craved Club Soda; off I went to buy a bunch! Pour him fresh water when you visit….cut his nails…..pamper him…..talk with him…..ask him, what would he like, during your visits?

It is a challenging time…..family/friends may/will struggle too….Lean On Us.

How is your mom managing?

Perhaps, you, can also try to get a brisk walk, in, each day…..even 20 minutes will clear your mind….refresh you…..

Sending Hugs your way,

Whitelilies

#palliativecare

@strawberrypie - I wish I could give you a hug but a virtual one will have to suffice. There is nothing I can say that is going to change your situation or likely even make you feel better. I am just stopping by to say I get it. My dad passed from colon cancer at 56. It was 6 months from diagnosis of stage 4 metastatic colon cancer to his passing. There is nothing to prepare you for news like that. I was in denial for most of it and it was only his last few days where I had some wonderful heart to heart talks with him. I cherish every one of them. All I can say is there is nothing at all wrong with hope. I saw a quote once that said sometimes you carry hope and sometimes it carries you.

Kudos to you for reaching out. I hope you continue to do so as you need and we will support you as best we can.

I will keep you and your family in my thoughts.

hugs

Lianne

23laura
22 Posts

I'm so very sorry to hear about your father. I am happy he is being strong and still able to chat with you, treasure those chats. My friend suggested voice memo those chats so you will always hear his voice that is what I have done with my father.

I truly understand your pain, your strongest family member is fading before your eyes and it hurts so badly. My father is 80 and yes he has lived a ling life BUT you are NEVER ready despite their age.

I too feel extremely sad all the time. I see life going on around me Christmas lights, people laughing etc and I feel this complete sadness I cannot explain it but I want to let you know you are not alone. All I can day is we need to be stri g for our fathers and they know we are there caring and living them. Be sure to tell him everything you feel before he cannot hear/acknowledge what your saying.

Stay strong and coming to this forum is a fantastic outlet for encouragement, kindness and wonderful advice.

Take Care

Laura

Boby1511
720 Posts

@strawberrypie

my goes out to your dad and family.

law1
613 Posts

Hello @strawberrypie and thank you for posting although it is very sad to read the condition of your father. Oddly, one must be ‘healthy’ to be a candidate for chemo…..sounds very strange but I understand that chemo is rough, and it is difficult for the body to withstand the challenge.

I am helpless to change that which your family must endure and I sure do hope his bag begins to work successfully

Thank you for posting – we are supportive of your situation.

Eddie
71 Posts

Hello @strawberrypie sorry to hear about your dad and what he has to go through. And the whole family must be feeling helpless. I don't like when Doctors give time limits. I think it's because they have reached their limit and knowledge as to how to proceed. Have you ever considered a second opinion. That's what I would do. Reason why I say this is because I've been there, my first Dr. told me he couldn't do anything for me. He told me I should avoid the radiation and chemo to gain a couple of months. He then sent me to the Palliative Care Clinic.

The next day I called another hospital and got an appointment for the next week. It was with the Surgical Oncology, the Dr. took a biopsy and referred me to the Medical Oncology Dept. and I was started on Chemo and after 4 infusions I had a break then Immunotherapy. I've had my ups and downs but after 2 more times admitted to the Palliative Care Wing and not expecting to live more than a month. I'm still here and back on Immunotherapy treatment. The point is, you should never give up. Things can take a turn quickly and sometimes in your favor. The key is to start with a good Dr.

I wish you and your family the best of luck, nobody deserves to go through that at such a young age, tell your dad to stay strong and remain positive.

beehime
17 Posts

@strawberrypie

I’m sorry that you have to go through this. It‘s an absolutely terrible situation, to see a loved one going through something like that and learn that they will suddenly leave. I’m sorry, I don’t have much positive things to add to be honest, as I’m going through something similar myself (my mom can’t eat at all because her lung cancer causes mucus buildup and she can’t swallow properly) and I’m in the same state of completely overwhelmed emotions, but as others have pointed out, reaching out when you feel the need to should help. You are not alone. ❤️

D1955
69 Posts

@strawberrypie

I am so sorry to read about your father.

I agree with the others to not give up hope.

What I learned after my father passed of cancer of Unknown origin is that we start our grieving process before our terminal family member passes away. The whole gambit of emotions. Acknowledging that is a good step to keep going and handle the rollercoaster of what lies ahead.

Our family had someone with my dad as much as possible .

I am in Kitchener Ontario, we have a Hospice here that offers services to family and caregivers that have someone at the end of life process. There may be a resource like this near you?

Hugs

Dee

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