Patient survey New patient education video Facebook Twitter www.onxlti.com
Results 1 to 24 of 24

Thread: What to say to a Terminal Cancer Patient?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    East Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    12,616

    Question What to say to a Terminal Cancer Patient?

    This is a foreign topic for me, I'm stumped.
    A neighbour down the road is at home with terminal lung cancer which has spread throughout his body.
    (we bought our farm from him)
    My husband and I would like to send a card and we just don't know what to say. Best wishes would sound silly at this time. (?)
    He does have his loving and supportive family around him.
    Thanks.
    BAV-Aortic Stenosis...AVR Oct 11, 2005 / St.Jude Regent mechanical 21mm
    INR Home testing since 2007 with Coaguchek XS...Self-Dosing

    "Caution: I may have been in contact with Nuts"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    upstate New York
    Posts
    9,897

    Default

    why not make a little sunshine basket with things you think he would enjoy. I'd stay away from foods because he may or may not have the appetite for some foods. And just say it is a special gift for him to enjoy.

  3. #3

    Default

    I think just a "thinking of you" card would be fine and if you want you could add if we can do anything let us know ect
    Lyn
    Mom to Justin 25 TGA,VSDs, pulmonary atresia/stenosis ect, post/Rastelli, 5 OHS, pacer in and out ... and surgery w/muscle flap for post op infection (sternal osteomyelitis with mediastinitis) www.caringbridge.org/nj/justinw

  4. #4
    Karlynn Guest

    Default

    Keep it simple. "You are in our thoughts and prayers."

    It's a tough thing to deal with. I know you'll find the words.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    DFW Area
    Posts
    54

    Default

    Yes, I agree with keep it simple. Actions probably speak louder than words in a situation like this, and the action of sending a simple "thinking of you" card seems appropriate.
    Surgery 5/28/09 - Dr. William Ryan, Baylor Heart Hospital, Plano, TX

    AVR with On-X valve, ascending aorta aneurysm repair with Dacron graft, septal myomectomy, pulmonary vein ablation

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    My surgery was performed at Oklahoma Heart Institute here in Tulsa, OK, USA, on 22 September, 2009 by Dr James Spann.
    Posts
    1,291

    Default

    Bina, as my best friend was living through the last months of her battle with cancer many of her acquaintances abandoned her. They would say to me "Oh, I just want to remember her as she was" effectively burying her before her death. Even a short visit to tell your neighbor that he is in your thoughts is likely to be very welcome. When someone dropped by for a chat, my friend, Ginger, would perk up for hours. While your neighbor is alive, a visit will lift his spirits and those of his family. You don't have to talk about anything of consequence. Your presence will speak for itself.
    AVR 22 SEP 09
    Carpentier-Edwards Bovine Pericardial "Magna" with Sternal Talons
    Oklahoma Heart Institute, Tulsa, OK

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Tucson Az.(warm country)
    Posts
    1,912

    Default

    Bina, I have had friends and family with the same cancer. My hubbys brother and Father died of lung cancer. Its not a lovely site. They told us just visiting and being there and helping with ever was needed and was very greatful for that. I also sent cards just for encouragment and thinking of you. Do whatever is laid on your heart you'll be fine your very caring person.
    OHS 6/20/2006

  8. #8
    geebee Guest

    Thumbs up

    The tough part with this is not acting normal. People tend to tip toe around a dying person rather than address the issue. This makes everyone uncomfortable.

    A few years back, the son of a good friend of mine developed terminal cancer. After many trips to the hospital, he finally came home to die. He had always been a large guy who liked good food and fun. When I went to visit, everyone was somber and things were so tense you could cut the air with a knife. I walked in, looked at David, sat next to him on the couch and said: "Boy, you sure picked a hell of a way to lose weight." After a few seconds of silence, David started laughing and, from then on, it became a party celebrating his life and not concentrating on his death.

    Not that I am advocating you do this. However, a card that reads something like: "We are so sorry to hear about your illness. You have been important in our life and we wanted you to know this. Thank you for being our neighbor."

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio USA
    Posts
    2,680

    Default

    Another thing you may think to do, if going to the store, see if they need anything. My former SIL just passed away with lung cancer. I used to send cards that were "thinking of you" and let her know "thoughts and prayers".
    Deb
    Coincidence is Gods way of remaining anonymous.
    AVR 7-6-07 Bovine Pericardial Valve. Akron City Hospital Ablation 6/08, Akron City Hospital

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    snowy - Sharpsburg, Ga USA
    Posts
    11,635

    Default

    many avoid a cancer patient who is terminal. it is hard to do before you go to see the patient but once you get there, you may find it is much easier than you thought. You just tell them you are so sorry to know they are ill and are in your thoughts and prayers. If it's a card, there are plenty of them that do not mention any illness, just thoughts of you during this time. Please do it because it is really important to the patient to have contact with friends and loved ones. When my dear Joe was dying of cancer, Hospice told us it would be nice if we could write him a note to let him know how much we loved him. He got letters from both of his children, some friends. It certainly uplifted his spirits. Have courage and just be the person you always have been.
    Ann
    My philosophy:
    No matter where you are, who you are with, what you are doing, enjoy every moment, every day. Blessins.........

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    the Classic Car Capital of Canada
    Posts
    1,571

    Default

    I was thinking of a simple "thinking of you" card with a note on it that says something like let us know if there is anything we can do.
    AVR September 6th, 2007 at age 52; Carbomedics/Sorin mechanical, model #R500, size 23
    Hamilton General Hospital - Dr. Semelhago - "Da Best"
    bicuspid; murmur diagnosed 1985 - warfarin, beta-blocker, BP pill

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Central NJ
    Posts
    5,229

    Default

    My elderly neighbor in my prior town developed pancreatic cancer. He asked me to come over through one of his sons, who approached me with some misgivings. His son coached me as we walked over that he was very near-term critical, and they were only saying positive things to him.

    He called me into his room, and he looked gaunt. We talked about the weather, the plants, the things we always talked about when we ran into each other. Then he looked at me in a different way. He said, "you kow I'm dying." I said yes, I understood that was the case. "They won't even let me talk about it and it drives me crazy."

    I said that they were afraid of losing him, and it was tough on him, but easier for them that way. He agreed, and said that he wasn't unhappy, he'd had a good life. I asked if he was afraid, and he said no. By then, his son was listening at the door. We talked a bit more and then he said, "you've been a good neighbor," and shook my hand. I said that he had been as well. He had a big smile on his face and looked greatly relieved. It was time to go.

    His son bum's-rushed me out, obviously unhappy about our choice of conversation. He said that he had told me that they were trying to say only positive things around him. I replied that he knew he was dying, and that he needed to say goodbye, so I had to do that for him. That's why he had asked for me: he needed to be able to say goodbye to someone on open terms, even if it was just with a neighbor.

    The son was still annoyed, so I went home. Charlie died later that evening. A week later, his son came over and said, "I finally understand what you were doing." We were able to talk about it and I went through some stories I had of his dad. He thanked me for being there for his father.

    I'm not saying to open up the subject, and I'm not saying the person you're visiting would need what Charlie needed. I'm not saying that anyone will ever thank you for it. But I am saying to be willing to get tossed out on your ear to do the right thing if it becomes apparent, for your neighbor, your friend, your relative.

    Often, the family will not discuss the reality of the situation with the patient. They know they are dying. They need closure. They need to express their fears. They need to say goodbye.

    So, if nothing else, please let them look you in the eye and say goodbye.

    Best wishes,
    Bob H

    "No Eternal Reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn..." Jim Morrison

    Click here to View the Glossary of VR Terms and Acronyms

    I am not a Medical Professional. Aortic Valve Replacement (Medtronic Mosaic) on 4/6/04, at Robert Wood Johnson UH in New Brunswick, NJ. AVR again (St. Jude Biocor) on 08/25/09 at St. Michael's MC in Newark, NJ. Both performed by Dr. Tyrone Krause, a true Zen Master Mechanic in the world of valve replacement surgery.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    East Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    12,616

    Default

    My husband works with the sister of this man, so we have brief updates on his condition.
    I think we will send a "Thinking of you" card with a couple of farm photos inside and then we'll see where things go from there.
    A gift basket would also be nice to share with his wife.
    Thanks alot, your ideas are great and much appreciated.
    BAV-Aortic Stenosis...AVR Oct 11, 2005 / St.Jude Regent mechanical 21mm
    INR Home testing since 2007 with Coaguchek XS...Self-Dosing

    "Caution: I may have been in contact with Nuts"

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    East Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    12,616

    Default

    Bob H, thank you for sharing your experience. My husband is very freaked out about all of this, but I'm hoping that by sending a card/gift first, maybe we will get a call from them and go from there.
    BAV-Aortic Stenosis...AVR Oct 11, 2005 / St.Jude Regent mechanical 21mm
    INR Home testing since 2007 with Coaguchek XS...Self-Dosing

    "Caution: I may have been in contact with Nuts"

  15. #15

    Default

    I think the farm photos are perfect, I can imagine he would enjoy looking at them and thinking
    Lyn
    Mom to Justin 25 TGA,VSDs, pulmonary atresia/stenosis ect, post/Rastelli, 5 OHS, pacer in and out ... and surgery w/muscle flap for post op infection (sternal osteomyelitis with mediastinitis) www.caringbridge.org/nj/justinw

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    upstate New York
    Posts
    9,897

    Default

    I have to remember what one of Joe's doctors said, "You know, Nancy, Joe isn't stupid. He knows how he's feeling and he knows that he is dying."

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Foster City, CA.
    Posts
    3,836

    Default

    I like Nancy's idea of a small gift, plus 'thinking of you' card with photos of the farm, and as Jeanette suggested, add a note asking him to let you know if there is anything you can do (only if you are willing to be there when they need you) as this situation is very tiring on the family too and they might appreciate some help. When my sister was diagnosed with terminal cancer, we appreciated it very much when some neighbors called us in the morning for a chat and bringing a pitch of coffee!!
    Eva

    Aortic & Mitral valves replaced with St. Jude Mechanical valves @ age 57 on 9/2/08

    INR home tester/Coagucheck

    Forum Rules: " .... medical opinions expressed in this forum are the personal opinions of individuals. No person should at any time
    act on the information contained herein without the express consent of your own physician."

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    South Carolina
    Posts
    10,266

    Default

    When my best friend David was going through treatment and then to hospice I made myself available for whatever was needed ... I took him to lunch, then took lunch to him when he could no longer go out ... we talked, laughed and cried ... Sherry and I were by his side with his wife when he crossed over ... I will always treasure the times we had ... I like to think he does too ....
    No shoes, no shirt, no problem
    AVR with Ablation -St Jude Mechanical--2006
    ~Easy Does It~

    The early bird get the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    New Mexico
    Posts
    4,775

    Default

    I've been trying to stay away from this thread because having lost my eldest brother & a very dear nephew to this terrible disease, it just brings back so much saddness for me.

    But I agree with the others, that it's important that you not avoid your neighbor but instead make it known to him & his wife, that you & your husband are there for them when they need you. At the end, you will feel comforted by this gesture of love & caring.
    Best Regards,
    N Jean

    May/1975: AVR & MVR -- St. Luke's, Houston TX (Denton Cooley, Surgeon)
    Dec/1975: MV Repair -- St. Luke's (Dr. Cooley)
    Mar/2006: AVR -- St. Luke's, Houston TX (George Reul, Surgeon)


    "Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less."
    - Marie Curie

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    2,492

    Default

    Bina if you were in person,(notice) things you'd share if together you can write and enclosing the tractor pics is awesome cus it will expand his world @is easy gestureto remind him that there are friends who care

    Terminal cancer is so difficult on everyone and 3 years ago my brother hated tears around him especially his wife and I cry at a drop of a hat,but when he died in my arms it was the hardest and never will that memory fade me,i let him go with a smile on my face and in my heart,should have been how he saw me as he shortly opened his eyes wide and told him i'd be catching up with him shortly and he took his last breath and smiled back.oh sooo dificult on everyone in family thats sooooo close to someone we did well at keeping our tears private from him,but sometimes they would trickle....very difficult
    time and for his family too...im also sending my prayers to them to give them all strenght through this devastating time
    zipper2(DEB)



    AVR March24th 1992 (Carbomedic Valve)
    MVR January20th 2009 (St Jude)
    INR home testing with coagucheck xs:):)

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    5,787

    Default

    Yep, Norma hit the nail on the head in her last paragraph.
    Laughter is the Best Medicine

    MVR March 30/07 Carbomedics Valve - Said and done in 5 days - Shocked & Dumbfounded
    I've learned..That to ignore the facts does not change the facts

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    East Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    12,616

    Default

    All of your thoughts are much appreciated and today I will print those photos to include in the card, which my husband will deliver.
    Thank you.
    BAV-Aortic Stenosis...AVR Oct 11, 2005 / St.Jude Regent mechanical 21mm
    INR Home testing since 2007 with Coaguchek XS...Self-Dosing

    "Caution: I may have been in contact with Nuts"

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    On The Hot Seat
    Posts
    25,981

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mentu View Post
    Bina, as my best friend was living through the last months of her battle with cancer many of her acquaintances abandoned her. They would say to me "Oh, I just want to remember her as she was" effectively burying her before her death. Even a short visit to tell your neighbor that he is in your thoughts is likely to be very welcome. When someone dropped by for a chat, my friend, Ginger, would perk up for hours. While your neighbor is alive, a visit will lift his spirits and those of his family. You don't have to talk about anything of consequence. Your presence will speak for itself.
    I could not agree more. This is exactly how it is for them.

    I had asked a couple of my mom's closets friends to come watch her so I could have a break. They avoided her like the plague. I was rather appalled at them.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    near Fort Worth TX
    Posts
    5,974

    Default

    Bina:

    My thoughts and prayers are with your neighbor and you, too. Dealing with a friend's terminal illness is difficult, yet uplifting.

    I lost my best friend in January 2004 from lung cancer that spread to the brain. She had lung cancer surgery in 2001 or 2002, and they weren't able to get it all; it was an aggressive type of cancer. Neurological symptoms appeared in spring 2003. She had brain surgery in June 2003, just before my MVR.

    She lived in California, and we met at a cat show in Dallas in 1990. We met again a couple of years later and became very good friends, with more than cats in common. Several times a year, we picked cat shows so we could spend the weekend together -- Denver, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Portland, Phoenix, Dallas, Los Angeles, etc.

    In September 2003, her condition was declining. She decided, come hell or high water, we were going to have one last visit. In early October, she flew to Dallas-Fort Worth. I got a pass to meet her at the gate and she had to use a wheelchair. We drove to my sister's lake house 2 hours east of Dallas. My sister had plenty of tasty snacks to make sure she ate well. We spent several hours at the boat dock, drinking iced tea, watching the birds, fish and whitecaps and solving the world's problems.
    When she got home, she was moved up to Walla Walla, Wash., to live the rest of her days with a daughter. I called her frequently, sent cards -- blank cards that had photos that I enjoyed and sent them with just a couple of sentences, like, "this photo reminded me of you, thought you would enjoy it." I reported in on cat shows I had attended, who was there, what the cats looked like & what cats did well, where we went to eat on Saturday night, etc. -- our normal conversations for years.

    At one point, she asked if there was anything of hers I wanted. I remembered a cookbook, Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Her parents gave it to her for Christmas 1968. She had a friend send it to me.
    I want to see the Meryl Streep movie about Julia Child; I'm sure Catherine has already seen it!

    I'm sure you will find ways to let your neighbor know you have him in your thoughts and prayers -- without it being a somber time.
    Marsha (7-28-50), MVP 1990/MVR (St. Jude) & ASD repair 6/24/03 Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas Texas. Hometesting since 11/03, first with ProTime 3, now with INRatio.
    John (3-13-46), MV repair 5/10/07, Dallas Presbyterian, port-access incision, Dr. William Ryan. Chordae ruptured 12/05 in car crash.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •