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Losing my best friend
LBeatty
1 Posts

Hi everyone - it's my first time contributing here. My best friend (aged 33) was diagnosed with severe/progressive bile duct cancer last year. Just before christmas she developed ‘ecites’, a swelling of the belly with fluid, and has now officially entered the final stage of her cancer. Her oncologist officially told her yesterday that she is no longer responding to any treatment, and they are stopping everything. But he seem to be beating around the bush and not letting her know approximately how much time she has left. This is so frustrating for us all, this is her life - shouldn't she get to plan out the time she has in the way she wants to? And what about her friends and family across the country who would have to book time to come and see her?

On another note, does anyone here have any experience approaching someone close to them in a sensitive way about hiring a death doula to aid in the dying process? Very very curious about this.

Thanks so much for listening. xoxo💛

6 Replies
ACH2015
2554 Posts

@LBeatty

What a very good friend you are for assisting your friend at this difficult time. I'd like to share a resource from the Canadian Cancer Society that deals with all facets of Advanced Cancer including talking about death: https://cdn.cancer.ca/-/media/files/cancer-information/resources/publications/advanced-cancer/32043-advanced-cancer-en.pdf?rev=bdce0550855848aaa8179f141d6d4366&hash=B9CDEA5F7AB7C14A5E7641D6F383BC2B&_gl=1*18pmqv8*_ga*MjEwODA2OTY5Ni4xNjczMDAxOTYy*_ga_23YMKBE2C3*MTY3MzAyNDcxMi4zLjEuMTY3MzAyNDc4Mi41NS4wLjA.

Perhaps this resource is something that you could share and look over with your friend as a means of breaking the ice as to your friends thoughts and wishes at this time.

I'd also like to tag @Kims1961 into your post. Kim has related knowledge and experience of Death Doula's may have something to share with you as to how to broach the subject with your friend and discuss the many facets involved.

I hope this helps

ACH2015

Whitelilies
2769 Posts

@LBeatty Hello….thank you for trusting us, and sharing more about your dear, best friend…..So sorry to hear, she is in the end stage of bile duct cancer….

Did the Dr give “any idea/rough amount of time left”? (Perhaps they are not sure….)

I have no experience with a Death Doula….If I may share my thoughts, though, for “how” to bring up, this sensitive topic….

When it is quiet time…..and you are bedside, or on the couch, sitting beside her…"Plant the seed/the topic"…..Ask: “Is there anything you wish, as we move forward? Anything special? Anything I can do for you?” Even if no answer “on the spot”…..it is a “thinker”….may take a bit of time, to sink in….

We are here, to support you, and your best friend.

Warmly

Whitelilies

Whitelilies
2769 Posts

@LBeatty Perhaps this link is helpful:

Jackwb
446 Posts

@LBeatty Hi,

I recently went through the same thing with several friends, my oldest friend of 50 years was diagnosed with “castration resistant” prostate cancer about two and a half years ago, underwent radiation, hormone treatment, more radiation, then 6 months of chemo when it spread to his bones and lymph nodes. Nothing worked, last October was hospitalized for 10 days and told that he had a month left. He died December 1'st. He had no family except for his wife who is in a home with advanced Alzheimer's so he was assisted at a hospice.

The other friend had a rare form of Parkinson's and was assisted by PSW's and visiting nurses and chose MAID a few weeks ago.

If you need help finding end-of-life support best to call 211, it's a national service and can help find the support you need.

Cynthia Mac
4245 Posts

@LBeatty, doctors don’t tend to like giving definite timelines, because every patient reacts differently to their situation. Some people given 3 months have only made it to 2 ½, and others given six months are still going 18 months later.

@Whitelilies comment about what you can do going forward is good, and it reminded me about how I approached the subject with my dad when his cancer advanced (I was already his caregiver and knew what his wishes were for his end-stage of life). I asked him what I could do to honour him after he’d gone. He wasn’t a “tree planting” kind of guy. He said it would be nice if one of his kids would buy his house. When my attempt to do that failed, I found another way to acknowledge him at Christmas time by making a gift in his memory to charity.

You’re a wonderful friend to be stepping up and looking for ways to support your young friend.

PS to @ACH2015 - I have a good friend who has a terminal diagnosis, so thanks for sharing that resource - I’ll be looking it up in 5…4…3…

law1
775 Posts

@LBeatty it is with sadness I read your post regarding the approaching reality of your best friend's cancer. I cannot truthfully say I have been in your position, other than with my best friend who died of AIDS way back in 1985. It is an indescribably helpless situation to adequately know how to comfort a friend or yourself in this circumstance.

Often, it is the person with the diagnosis who comforts us, the caregivers, as they are accepting their situation in a wisdom we have yet to understand. Your suggestion of hiring a death doula seems like a sensible discussion to have with your friend. I was not aware of this profession.

Perhaps a grief doula would also be helpful. I send you and your friend peace and hugs.

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