As my dads carer and daughter I need to ask about End of life and what to expect?

My dad had been given a terminal lung cancer diagnosis about five weeks ago and we were told he could have a matter of weeks to a couple of month to live. I am doing my best making sure the last few weeks//months of his life are stress free, he is managing his medication and eating regular small meals and snacks but the situation we are in is difficult as my mum has dementia and dad has been and still is her carer for some years and I know there will come a time when dad is to ill to deal with her medication etc. My dad has decided he wants to remain at home until he dies and I am so concerned how it will impact my mum. We have a MacMillan nurse coming in every few week and I wanted to discuss it with her the only problem they will be there and the question as  I need answering advice it is what to expect when my dad is in the last days and hours of my dad life?

If I’m been honest I would have preferred him to go into the MacMillan hospice as to a certain extent it maybe easier for mum deal with however dad hasn’t changed he mind and but hope he will. As even now when dad can’t swallow or become very short of breathe, my mum panics, can be agitated which causes my dad to get stressed. So this is why I asked the question as mum could panic and caused me dad to be stressed. Which would be the worst thing for my dad and mum.

So if I now what to expect at end at life and can speak to my dad, we may able to make arrangements for mum and it maybe then my dad could consider the hospice. All I want is to do what is best for my amazing dad and my wonderful mum.

Maggie x

  • Hi Maggie,

    Thanks for getting in touch with Macmillan Cancer Support and welcome to the online community.

    I’m sorry to read what sounds like an overwhelming situation at home for you all.

    Unfortunately I can’t answer that question, even the most experienced doctors find it difficult to predict what will actually happen at the end of someone’s life. This can create uncertainty and worry for many people affected by cancer.

    You mentioned that your Dad has been referred onto the community palliative care team, who’s aim is to help your Dad have a good quality of life for as long as possible.

    You can also ask the GP to arrange for your Dad to receive any medical and nursing help at home if he wishes. Which may alleviate some of the stress and worry for you all. However, it can take a few weeks to get all the necessary support in place.

    Looking out for any changes in your Dad and letting his GP / Macmillan Nurse know when anything is causing you concern is important. Remember you can always ask the Macmillan Nurses to visit more frequently if you felt that was necessary.

    Some people take comfort in getting any practicalities in order so that they don’t need to worry about it. There are additional benefits available when it’s thought that someone may have a short prognosis.

    With regards to your Mum, you can get in touch with the adult social services department of your local council and ask for a care assessment (also known as a needs assessment). Explain your situation. There’s no charge for a care assessment and you’re entitled to one regardless of your income and savings, and regardless of what your needs are.

    I appreciate that this must be a very stressful time for you and your family. Caring for someone with cancer can be difficult to cope with. But there is help available.

    If you or anyone in the family require face to face support in the meantime you can pop into one of our information and support centres. 

    You can also give our Support Line a call on 0808-808-0000 and talk to us. Our lines are open every day from 8am till 8pm.

    Hope this has been helpful.

    Best wishes


    Macmillan Information Nurse Specialist

  • Thank you Annmarie, I will try to have a conversation with my dads MacMillan nurse, I have arranged for adult care to do a stay at home assessment for my mum which will happen soon. I understand every person has a variety of issue as a result of their cancer and with my mum being in the situation she is in I need to think of her too. As regards to my dad he is as well as can be expected and if anything changes I know I can call his nurse. I just will continue doing what I am doing and if I need help or a person to call should I become overwhelmed I will give the help line a call. Thank you again I really appreciate your reply and thank you for the incredible work you do, as if it wasn’t for you all, life would be so difficult for patients, Carter’s and families alike.

    Warmest regards and thanks


    Maggie C