General cancer discussions

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Is dying from cancer always very painful and generally unpleasant?

Posted by
Firstly, let me say that I'm not afraid of graphic posts about the process of dying, but if you are someone that is, I'm guessing you may want to skip this post.

My question is simple really - My mum is going to die of cancer, and her biggest fear is that she will face months of agonising pain and loss of dignity at the end. Is this a realistic view? Is death from cancer always awful?

If there is anyone out there who has been through it and can face replying, I'd be really grateful. I want to be prepared for the worst.
shirley m
Posted by
hiya love firstly so sorry about your mum. i lost my dave 8 weeks ago from a brain tumour. i have to say everyone is different and some people die worse than otheres i have seen a few in my time. my dave was fully continenet till the last 4days of his life although sometimes the journey to the loo was that slow due to his mobility he never made it on time. he could talk walk and was virtuaally pain free till 4 days before he died when yes he was in alot of pain but this was quickly got under controll by the lovely district nurses and in turn the hospixce where he ended his days due to the fact i could no longer move him or give him a dink. if your mum wants the best possible chance of a paain free passing with her dignity then maybe the hospice could be of value. hope this helps love yes it was awful to watch my husband die but i think he managed to keep his dignity love hope your ok xxxxxx shirley
Posted by
hiya just wanted to add my mum died nearly a month ago. she had secondaries in liver and lung primary never found. mum was on mild pain killer and a sleeping tablet for four monhts then a couple of days before she died when the swallowing got harder went to oral morphine and liq med. then 2 days before she died when she stopped drinking went on a morphine pump with sedation and hyosine to stop the death rattle. mum was not in a lot of pain fron what i can see and the meds she took just in case. two days before she died she was not able to get to the toilet so was incontinent not a majoer prob. we kept mum right till the end and at home and she was never in pain that could not be controlled. she had an increadibly peacful death and we are all greatful for that. we got a special mattress to keep her at home. she took to her bed about three weeks before her death but only for sleeping not for pain reasons hope this helps you. mum stopped verbally communicating with us about four days before she died but very much could communicate in other ways. hope this helps angixxxxxxx
sarah dee
Posted by
Hi there

So sorry to hear your news. I lost my Dad back in May to Bowel cancer. He had absolutely no symptoms until mid-March, but then became weaker & lost his appetite & a scan showed a growth in his intestine. He suffered a perforation of the bowel due to this in April so had to have an operation & then remained in Hospital until he transferred to a Hospice on the morning of his death.

I am sure that each case is different, but in his case, we were fortunate that he had absolutely no pain (apart from the operation scar) until 4 days before he died. He felt weak & tired & lost a lot of appetite for his food, but his spirits remained amazing & when he did eventually get pain, the Docs gave him morphine by an automatic injection.

I am so thankful that I had that time with him - we'd read the paper to him, chat & just try to cherish the time left & make sure he was as comfy as possible. We used to bring him in his favourite foods (creme caramel, rice pudding etc) which were a little more tempting than the hospital food & he found it difficult to eat chewy food.

On the morning he moved to the hospice, I think the trip in the Ambulance really weakened him. But we had a lovely chat there as his bed looked out over the sea & we were talking about the boats he could see (he was in the Royal Navy during the war). I then popped home for a nap (having stayed with him the night before, I hadn't had any sleep). When I returned in the afternoon, he was asleep / unconscious & he died 2 hours later with my Mum & me holding his hands. It was just like he was asleep, but stopped breathing. It was very peaceful & we stayed with him for about an hour afterwards.

When the Docs told him that the cancer was untreatable, Dad had been worried about the pain. His Mum had died of cancer in the 1960s & suffered a lot. But the medical team explained that treatments have progressed so much since then. From what I read on this website, I think that sometimes it's difficult for them to get the correct dosage of pain relief, but we were fortunate that he suffered very little physical pain.

The emotions are something else. Try to spend as much time with your Mum as you can & share everything that you want to. I think that although my Dad has gone, his memory will be with me for ever & these days with your Mum will be precious ones for you.

Bless you, Sarah x

Posted by

hi sparkly,

we lost mum 5weeks ago.. mum wanted to be at home but never made it out of the hospital as she was too weak.. mum was on morphine patches n they were great and if she started to get pain she cud top up with oromorph (oral morphine).. it worked really well. mum got pain near the end but it was immediately dealt with n went on a morphine driver instead of the patches.. personally i felt mum was better off in hospital as we didnt have to wait for a doc to come out to administer pain relief. it was kept under control at all times.. mum also was given the medicine to stop the death rattle, she began to have it and i was distressed. the medicine kicked in within minutes, amazing.. so... mum was very peaceful n it was a massive relief. i also was very scared it wud be awful. wen mum passed i felt i cud stop n chat with her n i dont have any bad memories of her passing...

hope this helps,

love juliexx

Posted by

Sorry to hear about your mum.

I hope you are prepared!

My dad died a month ago. He had primary lung cancer and secondary cancer in the spine, neck and ribs. The pain he had in his bones was truely awful TBH. He was in hospital for the last 8 weeks after he was finally diagnosed and in this time he suffered from a terrible bout of pneumonia, which was a reaction to morphine. This left him hallucinating and in and out of consciousness for over two weeks. He was then transferred to the Mac unit and spent six weeks there, until he died on the 28th August. During this time he was agitated and confused on most days with only the odd moments of relative lucidity. He had to wear an adult nappy as he was constipated one moment and then after treatment for it he became incontinent. He became aggressive and didn't recognise most of us on his worst days. I can still hear him shouting for his dad repeatedly even now! He had to have constant monitoring as he kept trying to pull out his catheter and cannulars. In the end he simply didn't wake up one morning when the mac nurses came to wash him. One nurse said that he had "turned a bit of a corner" and he died the following day. Funny though, how he looked so peaceful just after he had passed away. Curled up sideways with his hand resting on his cheek.
Posted by

I know it's been a few months since your post, but I just now saw it. My mom passed away of ovarian cancer last March. That was her biggest fear, too--dying an agonizing death. She used to say she wasn't afraid of dying, but afraid of what would happen to her while she was dying. Though my mom was completely in a coma when she passed so she couldn't tell us if she was in pain or not, I really don't think she was. In the moments when she was awake, we would ask her if she was having any pain, she always answered "no." Even after her morphine wore off, she never started moaning or anything. The hospice nurses all said she looked very peaceful. I honstly believe that while you're dying, you have one foot on earth and one foot on the other side, so you're half here and half in the after-life. I think because of that, there are so many powerful things going on in your mind that it transcends all pain. The powerful forces are much bigger than the pain, so you don't feel it. There's so much activity going on in your mind that you don't even feel the pain. I don't know if all cancer patients are spared pain in the end or not, but I do really believe there are many other forces in play that can definitely dull it. I'm sorry to hear about your mom. I hope all is well with you and your family.
Posted by

sorry to hear about your mam at this mment i am writing to you with my 7 yr old stepson lying next to me with terminal cancer last week he were giving 2 weeks a week on and things are getting worse sickness pain but the macmillan nurses are fantastic they are there when you need them and they relave as much pain as possible without them my nightmare would be worse there nothing worse than watching someone you love waste away and dye made sure there are no regrets

be strong

Posted by

I am reading this after 9 years! 

I hope  things went well for you, but I would really love to hear from you.