• I was diagnosed with deadly form of cancer that has spread. I'm leaning towards refusing treatment & question about dealing with loved ones

    Asked by Breath_Of_God on Monday, September 10, 2012

    I was diagnosed with deadly form of cancer that has spread. I'm leaning towards refusing treatment & question about dealing with loved ones

    I am a fairly young individual who has been the pride and joy of my family because I have been driven and followed my dreams with much success. I have always been seen as the strong one. Last spring, I was told I had a rare and difficult form of cancer. Got different opinions. But consensus is that surgery/procedure has risks. Have been teeter-tottering on full treatment due to already spending nearly six figures on treatment, travel (no health insurance), plus the small chance. Just recently learned I likely have kidney cancer (will find out this week). My kidneys are already frail, and between the two, its a low chance of recovery. Over the months I've realized I would rather spend as much time with my health enjoying life. But I know my family will not understand. I don't feel this is suicide. My heart wouldn't be in putting my body through XXX for a slim chance. Not asking for someone to decide for me, but thoughts are welcome on that and how to cope with my family.

    7 Answers from the Community

    7 answers
    • nobrand's Avatar

      Hey there, it's a tough decision there and only you know best. I'd make sure to have a second opinion to make sure I hear the facts from two separate doctors-- you never know!

      You are correct that probably 90% of your family will not understand your decision if you decide to avoid treatment. They all want you to stay around, and I'm sure they will try to change your mind here and there. I'm a firm believer in doing what works for you, and sometimes treatment is not in the cards. Just weigh your options, and if you see any glimmering hope/possibility in the treatment give it a good night's rest before flat out saying no :)

      over 8 years ago
    • Bellamore's Avatar

      My first reaction when I was diagnosed was to forego treatment. But then I got a second opinion and was encouraged to try a hepatic artery infusion pump that pumps chemo directly into my liver. There were no side effects. My cancer spread so I'm doing system chemo - still no side effects. Most days I feel fantastic, It was worth the risk. I will be doing chemo for the rest of my life unless they can shrink my tumor enough for surgery (which they doubt). So I understand how special each day is.

      As for your family, no they will not understand. I'm old enough to be your mother and it would break my heart if my son refused to try treatment.

      over 8 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      We have been through this twice in our family. Both Mom and Dad were diagnosed and eventually had to stop treatment. All I can say is if it were me, and in the same position, I would be sure, I say never quit, unless 100% sure that there is no other way. At that point, I say enjoy life, and as Tim McGraw says "live like you were dieing" When dad was in the hospital he was craving some chew, and a shot of whiskey, we got him both. Mom wanted to go see some things, we made sure she did. She was diabetic, we made sure she got what she wanted.

      It's a personal choice, and I wish you the very best!

      over 8 years ago
    • Jayne's Avatar

      My husband went from perfectly healthy to Stage IV colon cancer in the blink of an eye. He underwent multiple surgeries initially (colon/liver) and was left quite broken physically. But, I would not let him stop, I dragged him from one end of the country to the other trying to find someone to help, I simply could not , WOULD not let him go. He ended up having a very pointless and difficult surgery which really made the last few months of his life intolerable. He did it for me, and only me.

      Had I had the courage to understand that we all have an expiration date, we could have spent the last year of his life quite differently. We could have taken the trip to Thailand to see our son, we could have found solace with Hospice care, we could have just "been" with each other and let him go peacefully. I live with the realization that I made some very bad choices, and put my fears and panic over losing him above his very basic need to make the call to stop.. I know that now, and wish I had just had the courage to listen. I can tell you that Hospice (which I called in way too late) really helped me to be ok with letting him go. That and some counseling. For me it felt like we were giving up, Hospice made me realize that it was not my choice to make. I wish you a peaceful heart and your family the courage to accept your wishes.

      over 8 years ago
    • mgm48's Avatar

      My mother made the same decision you are contemplating. She explained to us the rationale behind her decision and over the years since her death, the entire family has held her up as a hero. It was great to have HER with us for one last Christmas and that's what we all remember. You and only you can make the decision about the quality of your life. I'm sure you have a bucket list. If that's what gives you quality, go ahead and do it. Your family will come to understand.

      Keep it positive and smile:)

      over 8 years ago
    • carm's Avatar

      Hello, I am an oncology/end of life nurse and I might be able to shed a bit of light on this topic. I can understand your frustration, and I can see where you would find yourself entertaining these thoughts. We work so hard in this life and expect nothing more than reward for our hours and years of dedication; then a disease suddenly changes your course. Of course, the choices in life we face are always ours alone to make. We were all given the gift of free will when we were given these lives we embody. Whatever happens, and no matter who objects the loudest, this will always be your decision to make. If you follow the suggestions of another because you fear the hurt an alternative decision will cause, then you are living your life their way, not your own way. Thats not how it was meant to be.

      Everyone, but the eminent dying and those of us who care for them, fear death. It is that variable of the unknown. It has many associations to it, a face with many masks that spans the globe through culture and and experience, Stories brought down from generation to generation. We come into this world with so much promise, so many goals and dreams, but death is not a part of them. We fear what we refuse to embrace. We reject the notion to look at it head on and see it for what it is. We think it is that dark end, when in reality, it is a rebirth. We cry at the thought of it without stopping to think that we have all done it before. We came kicking and screaming into this world, torn from our homes, though a birth canal into this life. Yet, we never seem to consider that. At some point in our lives, when our journey is almost done, down to precious days or hours, it comes to us all, the realization that we are going back home. I have heard this said to me by every patient, at every age, from every culture; and I have stood well over 500 as they have taken their last breath of earths' air.

      It can be very difficult to discuss your decision with family members. After all, how can you sell them on a concept you don't believe in yourself? If you should decide that you still have a will to live, then you owe it to yourself to seek treatment elsewhere. Every oncologist has a line in the sand, you just need to find one whose line is a little further down the beach. If you have the will to leave, then you must first come to terms with that decision and then approach your loved ones with your plan. Let them know that although you understand and hear their objections, this is your journey, they have their own and you would never try to alter theirs no matter how much you opposed their decision. Working in oncology, I see many patients who I feel should keep fighting, and many who should not. However, my job is to educate them so that they can make an informed decision, and then support that decision. I can not interject my personal thoughts into their decision making rationale, it just isn't my journey. You think of life in incriments of time, how many days, weeks, hours, holidays you have left. But time is man-made, in reality it does not exist. What exists are the moments in life. You step into a moment and then step into another. Moments are what is vital to us. We fall in love in a moment, we explode in emotion in a moment, we pause and reflect in moments. Moments that serve a purpose to us all. They serve to teach us about the things we will need to know when we leave this earth and begin our journey once again. In hospice we have an old saying, "The beauty of the flight is to glorify the sight."

      Before you decide to speak to your family, first speak to your heart. Embrace the concept you choose. If you embrace it, you cannot fear it. Once you have done that, then you can help others to except your decision. If they are upset, ask them what it is that you can do to help them though this? Ask them how they feel about your decision? Validate their concerns, but also help them to understand that as much as you value their input, this is a decision only you can make. It has to be made wihout bias or pressure. You would expect as much respect for that, as you would be willing to give them. I am always here if you need any help in the dialogue, after all, in my line of work, the best tool in my drawer is a good conversation. If you still feel that will to live, then do not deny it. There are other options. Always choose and never yield. I wish you all the best, Carm.

      over 8 years ago
    • Sweetmouth01's Avatar

      Hello and You and dear Please Pray. I am beginning to feel the same way due to not having any place to live to get back and forth to the doctor and having a place to live and not be stranded. I am scared that when God bless me to get to Atlanta Georgia to get to the doctor that I may be told that my health has worsen. I have two kids son age 27 with 2kids, and daughter age 20 with a 4month old son. I am the only child, deceased mom and dad. Family members are all over Atlanta, but does not care to help me espically the people whom I am residing with whom are my dad two sisters and one brother. I have no income, no health insurance, no life insurance, and God knows I do not want to leave my kids like this. All I am doing all day is crying, so it is so easy to tell some one to be strong when I find it hard to do myself. Lets keep intouch and please email me at [email redacted] if you would like. I am willing to be here at anytime for someone espically when they are facing hard decisions like myself. Read your Bible to find the most comfort, watch christains television stations, and listen to gospel music. I do the same

      over 8 years ago

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