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care and support with end of life

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My father in law was told 3 months ago that unfortunately there is nothing more that can be done. He opted to have chemo to prolong his life, he had the third one a couple of weeks ago and his now waiting on a scan to see how things have progressed. He is losing feeling in his legs from time to time - what could be causing this? Also he is obviously very weak. He has come to terms with this horrible situation but his emotion seems to be anger and depression which is more than understandable. However, there is only myself and my partner that he has and we both have full time jobs, which means he is alone a lot of the time. Personally I don't think this is good for him, especially as he is now starting to deteriorate. I also don't feel he is being completely honest with us. He is better with my partner obviously but he isn't saying the whole truth and I feel he is needing more help than he lets on. What can I do about this? Thank you for your time and feedback :) 

Ellen M-Macmillan
Posted by

Hi arrow93,

Thanks for getting in touch with us.

We are sorry to read that your father in law has a cancer that can’t be cured.

Although we can’t diagnose what can be causing this but when someone has an advanced cancer and if it has spread to the spine they can develop a condition called Malignant Spinal Cord Compression (MSCC)

It’s important that you call his GP or hospital team about the fact that he is losing the feelings in his legs from time to time today.

Malignant spinal cord compression (MSCC) happens when cancer grows in or near the spine and presses on the spinal cord and nerves. It is a rare condition, but it is potentially serious. One of the symptoms can be a loss of feeling in the legs. I’m not saying this to worry you, but it is something that needs to be assessed.

Being told that a cancer can’t be cured can be overwhelming and can understandably cause someone to feel depressed and angry. And your right that being alone a lot of the time can make things feel worse. It’s also natural for people to not be completely honest with the ones that they love and are closest to them. Sometimes they do this to protect them as they can worry about upsetting them.

You’ve mentioned in your post that he is starting to deteriorate and no doubt that is causing you and your partner cause for concern. When someone is at home their GP has the overall responsibility for their care. There is lots of support available that can help. It would be worthwhile talking to your father in law about the support he can have.

If you think it would be helpful to do remember you can call our Support Line and talk to one of our nurses about what is happening with your father in law.

Best wishes and take care.

Please don’t hesitate to get back in touch and let us know how he get on.  

Ellen-Macmillan Online Digital Nurse Specialist.