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My dad had an emergency laparotomy 3 weeks ago for a perforated stomach caused by a cancerous ulcer. Biopsies were taken and a scan and he has been told the cancer has spread locally to his peritoneum so it is inoperable. He was discharged from hospital 2 weeks ago and my concern is no one is monitoring him. He can’t eat and has no appetite so is trying to take ensure drinks, but continues to lose weight. He is still having dark black stools so I am worried about anaemia. He has been told he will get an appointment for a stent but has not heard anything yet. His oncology appointment is not until the 13th November which is quite a long time in my opinion. No one has has actually said what stage cancer this is although my thoughts are advanced given everything he is experiencing. Is this the normal process? Should I be worried that nothing is happening at the minute? My dad is worried he will not get his appetite back as he is struggling now with the drinks.
Thanks for getting in touch with us and welcome to our Online Community.
It sounds as if you’re all going through a difficult time just now. Hearing the news that your dad has cancer can be devastating. Not knowing what happens next and what to expect can make the situation harder. It’s hardly any wonder that you’re at your wits end.
You’ve mentioned that your dad was discharged from hospital two weeks ago and that you’re worried that no one is monitoring him. Because you’ve said that he is struggling now with his drinks and he still passing black stools, it’s important that he lets his doctors know this today so that he can be reviewed again.
Has your dad been seen by his GP since he came home from hospital? If not, it’s important that you speak to your dad and ask him if he can get an appointment today to see his doctor. Or if he’s so unwell that he asks the doctor to visit him at home.
His GP will be able to chase up his stent appointment and review his symptoms. They will also be able to talk to him about getting support from social and health care professionals at home.
He may have been given a contact number of a nurse specialist or key worker, he can give them a call and let them know that he is struggling to drink. They will be able to find out about his appointment for his stent.
If he doesn’t have a contact number for a nurse, he can contact the hospital and ask to be put through to the consultant’s secretary. They will be able to find out about his date for his stent.
If he is having difficulty getting information, if he stays in England with his permission you can contact the hospital PALS department. Here is information about where you can get help if he lives outside England.
It’s natural to want to know the stage of your dad’s cancer to help you to prepare. When doctors talk about stomach cancer not being operable and that it has spread to the peritoneum, this would indicate that your dad cancer is advanced.
Treatments for advanced stomach cancers can include stents and chemotherapy These are used to help reduce symptoms, to make your dad feel better. They can also, for some, increase how long someone may live.
Your dad’s oncologist may be waiting till the 13th November as they may have expected that his stent would be in place by that time.
Waiting time targets are in place to advise how long the wait to start treatment should be. If, you think that your dad is going to breach these targets then you can contact the PALS/ complaints department at his hospital to raise your concerns.
There are many ways that we can help you. Talking to others who know what it’s like can be helpful to do, and I can see that you’ve already posted on our stomach cancer group. I’m sorry that no one has got back to you yet. We also have a family and friends group that you can join too.
It can be helpful to talk things through with one of our nurses. You can call our Support Line on 0808-808-0000. Our lines are open 7 days a week from 8am till 8pm.
Or you could encourage your dad to give us a call. The call is confidential, and he might find it helpful to talk to one of us about what to expect.
Best wishes and take care.
Ellen-Macmillan Online Digital Nurse Specialist.
Thank you Ellen
i will ask him to contact the GP today. I think it’s more to do with facing the drinks now as he has been having them every day rather than difficulty swallowing.
Unfortunately the specialist nurse has been on leave do that has made things a bit more difficult but she is back this week so I can chase that up.
Thank you again
Thanks for getting back in touch with us.
I’m glad that you’re going to ask your dad to contact his GP, as it does sound as if he would benefit from seeing a doctor and getting reviewed.
The Specialist nurse will be able to chase up your dad’s stent appointment for him. Hopefully he will get a date soon. But if he does start to have problems with swallowing it’s important that he lets his team know.
It’s not uncommon for people to struggle with the high protein drinks. There are different types and flavours he can try. And here are some recipes that might make them a bit more interesting.
Does your dad have a dietician that he can talk to? If not, he can ask his nurse for a referral to be seen by one.
We also have , Alice-Macmillan our volunteer dietician, who you can post a question about your dad’s diet to.
Thanks so much Ellen. Still having trouble getting hold of anyone and my dad was offered a GP appointment on the 7th Nov but we are persevering to get something sooner. Yes he has dietician app on the 8th November. Hopefully get somewhere soon. I’ve emailed the specialist nurse and left message so will see what happens.
We’re sorry to read that you’re still having difficulty getting a hold of anyone to find out what is happening to your dad.
Hopefully the specialist nurse will get back to you today. If not, we would suggest that you could contact his consultant’s secretary. They should be able to contact his specialist nurse.
You can also contact the PALS department at the hospital who can find out why no-one is getting back to you.
We would advise that you encourage your dad to phone his GP’s surgery again to ask to speak to his GP. They should be able to offer him a telephone consultation. Waiting until the 7th of November does seem a long time, especially as he has symptoms.
If your dad still has difficulties speaking to his doctor he can ask to speak to the practice manager to raise a concern.
It’s good that he has an appointment to see a dietician soon, but if he is still struggling with his high protein drinks it’s important that he lets the team know.
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