Sunday, March 3, 2024

2 Weeks To Live Cancer

What To Expect When A Person With Cancer Is Nearing Death

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This information has been written for the caregiver, but many patients want this same information for themselves. It gives some signs that death may be close and gives the caregivers some ideas about ways they may be able to help.

The signs of death being near can be different for each person. No one can really predict what may happen at the end of life, how long the final stage of life will last, or when death will actually happen. Sometimes death comes quickly due to an unexpected event or problem. Other times the dying process moves slowly and the patient seems to linger.

If possible, its important to have a plan for what to do just following a death, so that the caregivers and other people who are with the patient know what to do during this very emotional time. If the patient is in hospice, the hospice nurse and social worker will help you. If the patient is not in hospice, talk with the doctor so that you will know exactly what to do at the time of death.

Just like the timing of the dying process cannot be predicted, it’s also hard to predict what exactly will happen in the final stage of life and especially near death. The following symptoms are examples of what may happen in some people with cancer who are dying. While not all may happen, it may help you to know about them.

Cervicalcancer Symptoms To Monitor

Graybill agrees that its important toget the word out about the HPV vaccination, particularly since most sexuallyactive people will get HPV at some point in their lives, even though most willnever know it.

Its also important for women to getregular pap screens and to tune into any unusual symptoms. Graybill said shesthankful for patients such at Grainger who are willing to share their stories.

Everyone is vulnerable to cancer, andits important for women to inform and educate other women. It raises awarenessabout the disease and is empowering. It hopefully will motivate others to getthe HPV vaccine and to have their children vaccinated.

Each year, about 13,800 new cases ofcervical cancer are diagnosed. South Carolina ranks 19th in thenation for cervical cancer incidence and 14th in thenation for cervical cancer mortality. Health disparities play a role. Graybill saidthe incidence and mortality of cervical cancer is higher among black women, whoare dying of cervical cancer at almost twice the rate of white women.

Cervical cancer tends to occur inmidlife and is most frequently diagnosed in women between the ages of 35 and44. Many older women do not realize that the risk of developing itremains present as they age. More than 20% of cases of cervical cancer arefound in women over 65.

About The Global Indian Series:

Rajan Nazran is the chief chief explorer for the Global Indian Series, the official platform for people of Indian origin , because lets face it, we are everywhere!

For almost 15 years we have travelled across the globe covering 58 countries to date whilst exploring the kaleidoscope of our remarkable global community.

Voyaging to the edges of the Amazon, facing Ebola in West Africa, being held hostage in Eastern Europe, tapping rubber in Malaysia, drinking chai with Heads of State and sharing laughter with local fishermen I have been there, looking for us!

Our purpose is simple, to build a living encyclopaedia of the community and a safe mooring ground for open discussions, whether you are an NRI, Indian Diaspora, person of Indian origin or a fan of South Asian anthropology, what we do is bring people and communities together.

We do this by plunging into the human experience of being a person of Indian origin , taking a second look at the countries we now call home and tackling the conversations we need to know more about.

Through our range of award-winning original content and fascinating discussions, our impactful stories and platforms have spearheaded national and international conversations that have brought people together.

Our work is featured in global brands including The Indian Express, OWM, Manager, ABC and many more.

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I Don’t Hear The Word No

As a single mum there was that burning desire in the back of my heart from day one that I was going to give them a good life. They tell me they had a brilliant life.

Metastatic diagnosis and treatmentIn 2008, on her 50th birthday, she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in her liver and bones.

I went home, had a huge 50th birthday party. I celebrated and then I started treatment, she says.

The treatment worked and her bone mets were stable until 2012, when it spread to her pelvic bones. They gradually got worse until they were deemed inoperable. She was looking at a future of pain and immobility, confined to bed because she couldnt bear weight.

Her oncologist and other specialists said there was nothing they could do. So her nurses found a solution.

My McGrath Breast Care Nurse rang me a few days later and said one of her colleagues at Monash Medical in Clayton had a team doing cement injections into spines and it was worth a phone call, Marlene says.

Theyd never done a hip before but said if I was willing to trial it theyd go ahead. Because of where the fractures were they couldnt get up into the iliac crest to put the cement in so they had to hammer through. The fear was that my pelvis would shatter because it was full of holes and tumors.

The day after her surgery, Marlene got out of bed and stood up.

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If You Decide Not To Have Treatment

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If you decide not to have treatment, the doctor who knows your situation best is in the best position to discuss your prognosis.

Survival statistics most often come from studies that compare treatments with each other, rather than treatment with no treatment. So, it may not be easy for your doctor to give you an accurate prognosis.

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Spotting Signs Of Cancer

Changes to your body’s normal processes or unusual, unexplained symptoms can sometimes be an early sign of cancer.

Symptoms that need to be checked by a doctor include:

  • a lump that suddenly appears on your body
  • unexplained bleeding
  • changes to your bowel habits

But in many cases your symptoms will not be related to cancer and will be caused by other, non-cancerous health conditions.

Read more about the signs and symptoms of cancer.

Signs Of Approaching Death

Death from cancer usually occurs after a person has become weaker and more tired over several weeks or months. It is not always possible to predict how long someone will live. But some common signs and symptoms show that a person is entering the final weeks and days of life. Knowing what to expect helps relieve anxiety and allows better planning.

The following are signs and symptoms that suggest a person with cancer may be entering the final weeks of life:

  • Worsening weakness and exhaustion.

  • A need to sleep much of the time, often spending most of the day in bed or resting.

  • Weight loss and muscle thinning or loss.

  • Minimal or no appetite and difficulty eating or swallowing fluids.

  • Little interest in doing things that were previously important.

  • Loss of interest in the outside world, news, politics, entertainment, and local events.

  • Wanting to have only a few people nearby and limiting time spent with visitors.

As the last days of life approach, you may see the following signs and symptoms:

Of course, every person is different. The signs and symptoms that people experience vary. And the order in which signs and symptoms occur may differ.

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Bladder And Bowel Problems

Near the end of life, some people lose control of their bladder or bowels as their muscles relax. There are ways to make sure comfort and dignity are maintained as much as possible. Ask the doctor or nurse what they would suggest to help with this.

If someone is able to move around, they may be able to use a commode . If theyre less mobile, they might use pads and wipes. Some people use a catheter . It can help to talk to the doctor, nurse, and your loved one about what is needed and who should provide this care.

Constipation can be caused by medicines, moving less, and eating and drinking less . Some medicines can also cause trouble passing urine. Speak to the doctor or nurse about what can help.

Understanding The Difference Between Cure And Remission

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Cure means that there are no traces of your cancer after treatment and the cancer will never come back.

Remission means that the signs and symptoms of your cancer are reduced. Remission can be partial or complete. In a complete remission, all signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared.

If you remain in complete remission for 5 years or more, some doctors may say that you are cured. Still, some cancer cells can remain in your body for many years after treatment. These cells may cause the cancer to come back one day. For cancers that return, most do so within the first 5 years after treatment. But, there is a chance that cancer will come back later. For this reason, doctors cannot say for sure that you are cured. The most they can say is that there are no signs of cancer at this time.

Because of the chance that cancer can come back, your doctor will monitor you for many years and do tests to look for signs of cancers return. They will also look for signs of late side effects from the cancer treatments you received.

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Heidi Loughlin Defies Medics To Survive 7 Years With Terminal Cancer

A mother who was given just 12 months to live in 2015 has defied doctors and said she was “stubbornly” clinging on to life.

Heidi Loughlin, from Portishead, found out she had breast cancer when she was pregnant with Ally Louise Smith.

She delayed treatment to have Ally 12 weeks prematurely but Ally sadly died shortly after birth.

“It’s amazing to outlive my prognosis and everyone is scratching their heads why I’m still here,” Ms Loughlin said.

She has credited her survival to good mental health and exercise.

“I don’t think about cancer half the time, I think about the great things I’m going to do next year.

Ms Loughlin attends chemotherapy every three weeks and said she hoped to leave a legacy for her other children.

“When I got my cancer diagnosis, my sons were one and two and all I could think was that they wouldn’t remember me.

“If I were to die next week, my children would know their mum was brave, stubborn and funny.

“I get the privilege of leaving behind excellent memories for my kids,” she said.

Ms Loughlin also paid tribute to Deborah James.

The podcaster recently announced she was in the end-stages of her cancer journey.

“Rather than give up and say ‘I’m a cancer patient’ Deborah has raised so much awareness.

“She has shown people that you can live with stage 4 cancer.

“It’s hard to see her like that, but it’s amazing what Deborah has achieved in her time,” said Ms Loughlin.

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Possible Changes In Consciousness

  • More sleeping during the day
  • Hard to wake or rouse from sleep
  • Confusion about time, place, or people
  • Restless, might pick or pull at bed linen
  • May talk about things unrelated to the events or people present
  • May have more anxiety, restlessness, fear, and loneliness at night
  • After a period of sleepiness and confusion, may have a short time when they are mentally clear before going back into semi-consciousness

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Understanding Statistics About Survival

Doctors estimate prognosis by using statistics that researchers have collected over many years about people with the same type of cancer. Several types of statistics may be used to estimate prognosis. The most commonly used statistics include:

  • Cancer-specific survivalThis is the percentage of patients with a specific type and stage of cancer who have not died from their cancer during a certain period of time after diagnosis. The period of time may be 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, etc., with 5 years being the time period most often used. Cancer-specific survival is also called disease-specific survival. In most cases, cancer-specific survival is based on causes of death listed in medical records.
  • Relative survivalThis statistic is another method used to estimate cancer-specific survival that does not use information about the cause of death. It is the percentage of cancer patients who have survived for a certain period of time after diagnosis compared to people who do not have cancer.
  • Disease-free survivalThis statistic is the percentage of patients who have no signs of cancer during a certain period of time after treatment. Other names for this statistic are recurrence-free or progression-free survival.

Challenges To The Professional Caregiver

Bittersweet moment as cancer

Oncologists and nurses caring for terminally ill cancer patients are at risk of suffering personally, owing to the clinical intensity and chronic loss inherent in their work. Lack of training in advance care planning and communication can leave oncologists vulnerable to burnout, depression, and professional dissatisfaction. One group of investigators studied oncologists grief related to patient death and found strong impact in both the personal and professional realms. Negative effects included a sense of distraction and withdrawal from patients.

One study made an important conceptual distinction, explaining that while grief is healthy for oncologists, stress and burnout can be counterproductive. Other terms used to describe professional suffering are moral distress, emotional exhaustion, and depersonalization. Moral distress was measured in a descriptive pilot study involving 29 physicians and 196 nurses caring for dying patients in intensive care units. Both groups of professionals experienced moral distress related to pressure to continue aggressive treatment they considered futile. Nurses experienced more moral distress than did physicians, and perceived less collaboration than did their physician colleagues.

References
  • Meier DE, Back AL, Morrison RS: The inner life of physicians and care of the seriously ill. JAMA 286 : 3007-14, 2001.
  • Shayne M, Quill TE: Oncologists responding to grief. Arch Intern Med 172 : 966-7, 2012.
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    Possible Changes In Body Function

    • Profound weakness usually the patient cant get out of bed and has trouble moving around in bed
    • Needs help with nearly everything
    • Less and less interest in food, often with very little food and fluid intake for days
    • Trouble swallowing pills and medicines
    • More drowsiness the patient may doze or sleep much of the time if pain is relieved, and may be hard to rouse or wake
    • Lips may appear to droop
    • Short attention span, may not be able to focus on whats happening
    • Confusion about time, place, or people
    • Limited ability to cooperate with caregivers
    • Sudden movement of any muscle, jerking of hands, arms, legs, or face

    Other Ways Of Controlling Pain

    There are other things that may help control pain these can be used alongside painkillers:

    • Find a comfortable position to sit or lie in.
    • Use any special equipment you have been given.
    • Use relaxation techniques.
    • Try to distract yourself from the pain.
    • There are other, more specialised ways of controlling pain. These include transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and acupuncture. Your doctor or nurse can tell you if these might be suitable for you.

    We have more information about these ways of controlling pain.

    • of the medicines you are taking
    • you are put off eating by the sight and smell of food.

    As you near the end of your life, your body slows down. It does not need food, as it cannot digest it or absorb nutrients from it. Do not force yourself to eat. This could make you feel unwell.

    Medicines, such as steroids, can sometimes boost your appetite. Your doctor can prescribe these if they are suitable for you.

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    Understanding What Might Happen

    During the last few weeks of life, you may experience emotional and physical changes or symptoms. This is normal, but it can be upsetting for you and the people around you. Being prepared for what may happen can make the situation a little easier to cope with.

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    You may feel lots of different emotions, including:

    It is natural to have these feelings in the last few weeks of your life. You may also feel concerned that you are less able to do things. You may worry about losing your role in your family or with friends.

    It may help to talk about how you are feeling with:

    • your family and friends
    • someone in your healthcare team, such as a palliative care nurse or doctor
    • someone you do not know, such as a trained counsellor
    • a support organisation
    • a religious or spiritual adviser you can do this even if you have not attended religious services or had contact with spiritual leaders before.

    You may not want to talk about what is happening. Everyone is different, and it is important to do what is right for you. If other people want to talk about your situation and you do not, just tell them gently that you would prefer not to. They may find it helpful to talk to our cancer support specialists about how they are feeling.

    You may become withdrawn and quiet. This may be caused by depression. If you think you might be depressed, tell your doctor or nurse. They can give you help and support.

    What Are The Stages Of Death From Cancer

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    While the stages of death from cancer are different for every patient, and not everyone will experience the symptoms below, here is a general list of the stages and symptoms of death from cancer. Additionally, if you have questions you can contact us 24/7 using the blue bar above.

    During the Final Weeks:

    • A Lost of Interest in Most Things/Inability to Concentrate: The patient may start to lose interest in things such as the news, entertainment, sports, etc., and may also be unable to concentrate or hold a conversation. Activities that used to interest the patient may now be of no interest. While this can be distressing to the family caregiver, it is not out of the ordinary in the final weeks of cancer.
    • Exhaustion, Weakness, and Desire to Sleep: The cancer patient may become much weaker and more easily exhausted during these last weeks. They may want to sleep often because of this, as well as spend most of their day in bed.
    • Loss of Appetite: They may lose much of their appetite or have difficulty eating and drinking.

    During the Final Days:

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