Family and friends

If a member of your family or a friend, or someone else you know is living with cancer, this group is the place to share your feelings and get support.

How can you tell how long is left?

Posted by

My brother was told that his cancer was terminal several months ago. He wanted to die at home but although dad and I tried it became too much. He was admitted into hospital whilst they found him a hospice place. His cancer is very rare and aggressive and although this feels like it’s been going on for ages, in reality it’s only been a couple of months. With his condition he’s lost most of his sight and he’s now lost the ability to talk. The cancer had travelled to his brain and he has also been struggling to swallow. The nurse told me today that he appears to have lost the ability to swallow. 

They are going to discuss things with him and suggest that he is fed through a tube. If he doesn’t agree to this then all they can do is keep his fluids up. His skin is quite waxy and he is going downhill every day. 

How do you know when the time is coming? If he refuses the tube for feeding then how long can he survive on fluids? This waiting game is so sad. 

Posted by

Hi , so sorry to read this and wish I could give you an answer but even the hospice staff would be guessing. 

It might help some to look at our pages on At the end of life as it may contain useful advice.



Posted by

 Thanks Steve. I know it’s a guessing game which is where the problem is. Seeing him lying there unable to communicate is really difficult. I just fear that if he has a tube in that he’ll keep pulling it out as he’s getting confused. I wondered how long people live on just fluids through a drip - is this an alternative or just something to sustain him briefly.