• What do you do when your loved one is talking about giving up ; and would rather die, then try to continue to fight ? I am lost for words.

    Asked by Syd_Pea on Tuesday, October 16, 2012

    What do you do when your loved one is talking about giving up ; and would rather die, then try to continue to fight ? I am lost for words.

    I don't know what to do, or what to think.

    18 Answers from the Community

    18 answers
    • Harry's Avatar

      It's awfully hard to answer this. Where is your loved one in their cancer journey? Newly diagnosed? Been fighting for a while? For the newly diagnosed I would suggest finding out as much as possible about the cancer, treatment, side-effects, etc. More knowledge may help your loved one see that all is not lost. If the fight has been going on for a while and the results discouraging, then I suppose all you can do is show your loved one what they have to live for.

      In the end, though, it is their decision. Maybe the best you can do is support them in their decision. It's a hard choice. And difficult to understand.

      about 5 years ago
    • StrongSteph's Avatar

      This is a very tough position for anyone to be in. I know I had a time during my treatment that I felt that it was too painful and wanted to give up...luckily for me, it only lasted a short time. I would talk to their doctor and mention depression. As for the patient...I think one of the best approaches to these feelings is to have empathy and understanding that times are REALLY HARD and look into the future. I always looked forward at things I wanted to do when I was well again...and that helped me to get through some of the dark times. Other times Mom and I ( my mom took care of me most of the time) would cry together...it just sucks getting through cancer. God Bless!!

      about 5 years ago
    • teddyfuzz's Avatar

      I'm so sorry that you are having to go through this. When we love someone and don't want to lose them, we want them to do absolutely everything they can to live. But, it's not about you. Your loved one is the one who has cancer. They're the ones who have to endure the treatment and all the nasty side effects, not you. I think the answer to this question depends on how long your loved one has been fighting. Like Harry said, if they are newly diagnosed then they may just need some support to see that all is not lost. If they have been dealing with this beast for a long time and the treatment is being used to add a few more months then you have to ask yourself why you aren't supporting your loved one in not continuing the treatment. It could be that he/she doesn't want to live out the rest of their life in pain and dealing with the side effects. I think now more than ever is when they'll need your love, support and strength. Remember, this is about them, not you. Tell your loved one that you wish they would keep fighting but that you understand and will support them if they don't. God bless both of you.

      about 5 years ago
    • ticklingcancer's Avatar

      A lot of things to consider. When a decision to no longer receive treatment is made it's usually due to quallity of life. I realize there may be other reasons as well. Chemo is tough. It makes you sick. Makes you feel horrible. If you're told you have 6 months to live but if you take this chemo, we might get you 12 months BUT..during these 12 months you will become increasing sicker...what do you do? This is a hard one to answer because I don't know what I would do in that situation.

      about 5 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      I am so sorry that you and your loved one needs to go through this. What they are saying can come from many places. Two of the most common 1) Anger in the moment. treatment is so hard and difficult and changes our lives and our image of ourselves in so many areas. If this is the case, the best you can do is let them vent, and get it out of there system. Perhaps have them see a therapist who specializes in treating cancer patients. 2) The treatment is no longer working and their quality of life is impacted. They want to be able to enjoy what time they have left, free of pain and treatment. If this is the case, remember each person has a right to live what ever time is left to them in dignity and in as little pain as possible.

      You need to be supportive, speak with their medical team and get a true assessment of what the odds are. Be their advocate. Having someone in pain and suffering for just a "few more" days or months, can take a terrible toll.

      about 5 years ago
    • Stevedarke's Avatar

      Hi Syd_Pea

      I believe when you are so ill it is absolutely ok to be selfish to your own needs, I have said it many times that I would rather have this illness than watch a loved one go through it so I do understand how hard it is on those who are watching and picking up the broken pieces as I have been where you are now. Not long after my father-in-law and best friend died of another cancer I was myself diagnosed with esophageal cancer. There is often a case for saying enough is enough and like others have rightly said should be judged by issues around quality of life. I have known many who have braved treatment to the cost of all else, which has ruined any quality time that was left.

      As a loved one you can only be there in times of need and listen to what is said, that does not mean you should not have an opinion on why you think treatment should continue, but just discussing a problem can sometimes lead to a change in stance. My advice would be to stand back and give some space; the least helpful situation is for anyone to feel backed into a corner. Frustration infused with pain can bring out the worst in us and if given a little space this can pass, the most important thing is to base any treatments on informed decisions, which can be hard when on medication or in pain.

      In the end a decision to stop treatment is not normally taken out of hand and in my case I thought long and hard before taking the decision to stop treatment. My decision to stop treatment was an informed one, and turned out to be the right decision for me. It must be said that should you start a treatment there is always the option of stopping it if things are not going well, so having this in mind can give back a measure of control in what sometimes seems to be a sea of uncertainty.

      Try to be kind to yourself as you will be of no help to you or your dad if you make yourself ill through worry, it is good that your dad has you to help fight his corner. Cancer is a wicked thing and will affect everyone it touches, just carry on being the good daughter you are and trust your dad to make the right decision for him.

      Take care,


      about 5 years ago
    • lauratreasures' Avatar

      I understand how hard this is. My sister had this happened to us with our mom's battle with brain cancer. She endured no quality of life and no mobility plus the hard core everyday proton radiation and low dose chemo. She was close to the end of her initial treatment and wanted to stop treatment. We tried hard to convince her she felt better but at the end she did stop treatment. I believe her body was done and she was ready to go. I would encourage your love one to keep fighting but at the end it is their decision. There are not enough words to express how sorry I am or how hard I know this is.

      about 5 years ago
    • carm's Avatar

      Syd-Pea, I am an oncology/end of life nurse and I will make an effort to answer your post. I can see that many have already responded with some great input, especially Dulcinea. I live in Illinois and I have a few patients that reside in California. It seems all they do is bike ride, hike, and go to the ocean. Your weather there is beautiful and for the most part predictive, in that it is always better than ours here. Hailing from the city of Chicago, I can understand why it is called the "windy city" and for those of us who live here, we live by the Chicago rule, "If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes, it will change." I often think of what it would be like to live in a climate of beautiful weather all year round and avoid the snow and cold winters, or the brutal sweltering summers. But I can only imagine, because in reality, I live here. So I can understand that it is hard for you to understand your loved ones decision to stop the fight, after all, he speaks from a place you can only imagine. As a nurse, it is my job to support my patients with their decisions. I might not agree with the decisions they make, but I applaud them because they are the ones making the choice. In life, we all come up against many situations where we can be swayed one way or another. Sometimes we let those situations dictate our decisions. We yield to a possibility, or a probability. Sometimes we look within ourselves and see what it is we want regardless of that situation, and we choose to carry on regardless of the situation. We see that situation as a hurdle in the road, but never as the road. I would rather have 1000 patients who choose than 1 who yields. When we choose we do what is best for us, so it can never be the wrong decision. If we yield then we are living by someone elses' vision, for someone else. This life is ours, not theirs. They have their own life to live. Happiness is where we find it, sometimes it is with family, sometimes with a stranger. Sometimes it is at work, sometimes at home. Sometimes it is on this earth, sometimes beyond it. To live a life unfulfilled, to suffer for the sake of others and stay to appease anyone else, is not really living, its just maintenence. But what can you say when the love of your life says no more? How can you respond? Wisdom for most is to avoid it, after all, who wants to go to that place? It can be a difficult conversation. First you have to reconsile yourself. How do you feel about death? Do you see it as final? Where they just words when you both said you swore your love for all eternity, or do you know that love will survive no matter what happens? Death is a physical thing. Having spent most of my career helping people of all ages achieve it, I can tell you that death takes but one moment. I biological cessation of the physical anatomy. Even in an autopsy, some of the most brilliant pathologists cannot tell you the weight of a soul. Its not on that table, its still living. So ask your loved one how they feel about giving up. What made them reach that decision? If its pain, perhaps you require a pain specialist to get involved in their care. But if it is that they want a better quality of life, don't clip his wings, help him to soar. Wherever he goes he carries your heart as well. We humans, we come together, we mate for life. Not a physical life, but life eternal. If this is his decision, then you must support it in a way you would hope someone would support your decision when that time comes. Don't deny him that vision, that enlightenment, that tells him that life is more than geography. He knows that life stretches out before him endlessly. You see it with physical eyes as that winding bumpy road that just falls of at any moment. He knows that is only a jump off to a better, longer, more fulfilling road; the true journey of life is endless. He sees it with true eyes. As children we are told we were made in God's image. He is eternal, and so we are as well. I live alone with my pitbull Ella, and I can tell you that for the hundreds of people I have helped achieve death, I am never alone. I bask in their presence, felt but not seen, I believed them when they said we will be friends forever. They have never disappointed me, or broken their word. If he cooses to leave, he has a vision of a better life. Help him to teach you about this place in his mind you know one day you too will desire to go to. Embrace his decisions and pack his bags with love, and warm memories to keep him content until you reunite. More than anything else here, let me tell you with 100% certainty, that this place is not attached to theology, its not a heaven, its not a XXX, or even purgatory. Its not theoretical, its not a paradise, or a place of punishment. Where you go, is where you return to; home. There will come a time in everyones life when they too will remember and see it for what it is. No fairy tale, no fable, no hypothesis. We all want to go home, help him find the way, let him soar, he deserves the best. Good luck to you and I apologize for the length of this post, Carm.

      about 5 years ago
    • Lafflady's Avatar

      I can't improve on the earlier answers; but as someone who suffers from chronic depression which was magnified by cancer and having to forego my anti-depression medications, I can tell you that the depressions I have had since chemo have been worse than the depressions I have lived with all my life. All's that you can do is listen and be supportive. When someone is severely depressed, they need to express the wish to die so they can see that they don't really want to die. As others said, it's about them now and their quality of life. Just living another year, but living in pain and depression is not something you would want for a loved one.

      about 5 years ago
    • JudyS's Avatar

      I'm really sorry that you both are on this tough journey, as you can tell from the reponses, you are not alone and neither is your Dad. I think all you can do is listen and be supportive while letting your Dad know how hard it is for you to hear him feeling this way. That you want him to fight because you love him but that the decision is his to make. Let him know that you understand that the treatment is very hard but that you want to make sure he's not wanting to stop fighting because this moment is tough and he is depressed, that this decision is for more than a moment, it's an eternity. I pray for your strength and peace and also for your Dad's!

      about 5 years ago
    • princess123's Avatar

      I have to agree with the other answers but would like to add. It's hard not to have someone on your side. You need to be on your loved one's side. if this is what they have decided to do, be on their side. As much as it hurts, you are most helpful and are giving them peace of mind just by being on his/her side.
      I am so sorry you both have to go through this.

      about 5 years ago
    • mgm48's Avatar

      25 Years ago almost to the day, my mother announced (yes we were told not consulted) that she had had her last chemo. Now remember chemo back then was harder on the body than today and was not as targeted but all of us took the news VERY hard. It wasn't until we met with the hospice staff that we understood just where mom was. We had one of the greatest holiday seasons ever. Mom got to be grandma and spoiled all her grand children one last time. She died on new years day with a smile on her face and we all knew she had done things on her own terms. She had always loved Christmas and she had a great last one. We'll never forget nor will the grand kids even though they were quite young. Give your loved one some space and understand that sometimes it's the quality not the quantity that's really important.

      Keep it positive and smile :)

      about 5 years ago
    • Lindy's Avatar

      I am with teddyfuzz on this one, tough but one we all must consider, discuss, plan for. It is their life, their quality of life, quality of death. I did not interfere with my husband's planning on treatment options and his wish not to include heroic measures in the end. He opted for radiation only for his form of brain cancer. It broke my heart second by second to watch love slip away, to feel I was failing him when in reality there was nothing I could do but love and care for him as best I could in his personal journey. Support, love, share; be strong in that love.

      almost 5 years ago
    • hikerchick's Avatar

      Is it "giving up"? Or is it surrendering? To me, there's a very big difference. If I surrender my will and my life over to the care of a Power greater than myself, I am free; I'm at peace. How much power did I really have to begin with?
      For me, "fighting" infers that I am a victim of something. I don't feel like a victim and I don't want to feel like a victim. Making peace by accepting an outcome I am not in control of is not what I call "giving up" (but I know that's pretty much how our entire society perceives it).
      There have been many good answers given about supporting the decision that is his. His decision: that IS something he has control over and is best left to him alone. No one else is experiencing his journey the way he is. No one has the right to make the decision for him if he is capable. I don't think anyone has the right to guilt him into changing his decision. It's a very tough decision for him to make and I'm sure he won't make it lightly. I hope it will give you time to become strong enough to accept and respect whatever decision he makes.
      None of this is easy.

      almost 5 years ago
    • 1Survivor4life's Avatar

      You remind them of the things in their life that matter. You remind them of the loved ones who are not giving up on them. If they are not convinced to fight then maybe the treatment is too much. It is hard because we don't want to give up, but sometimes we lose faith. Prayer is the best thing for ones faith. Stay positve and pray. God bless you and I pray he doesn't give up. I was stage IV non hodgskins Lymphoma and I had a stem cell transplant. I survived, but it was not easy. Nothing good in life is. I had doctors give up, but I refused too and I am 12 years cancer free.

      almost 5 years ago
    • izzysmom's Avatar

      Before my cancer, I had been the caretaker for my entire family, even some friends. When things looked bleak, I would thank the person for fighting-that I could only imagine what he/she was going through but I was grateful for them not leaving me. I would do the same now, however being the one going through this, I understand that nothing one can say, can instill the desire to live through this awful disease. If this is end-stage or it is near, I would spend my time letting my loved one know how valuable they've been to me and spend time checking things off a 'bucket-list' which I highly recommend having one. Before my 'list' I was just passing time. Now I am purposely checking things off my list and feel as if I am living again. The most powerful thing you can give someone is LOVE, UNDERSTANDING, PATIENCE & EMPATHY.
      Best wishes to you both....

      almost 5 years ago
    • emnurse73's Avatar

      I don't know if this is helpful. I can only speak from my experience. I had never been sick was an emergency room nurse for close to 40 yrs and always said if I get cancer I will choose to do nothing and trust the Lord for the time He chooses to give me. When I was told I had stage IV bone (spine) Non Hodgkin Lymphoma with maybe 2 months and would be bedridden because the spine was like a sponge- it was clear to me I would do what I had told all my kids I would do-nothing. My younger son was my friend and said he would support me with what ever my decision was. That meant so much to me -I could make a decision about how I was going to live and maybe die without feeling guilty that I didn't do what they would feel OK or good about. I feel that gave me peace about asking the Lord as I prayed what HIS will was? I did not have peace that God was done using me-I still had a purpose. I did take 6 RCHOP and Zameta treatments and had some very tough times. That was almost 3 years ago- in remission which was never even suggested that could happen and I am back to work as a nurse part time. My prayers are for your loved one and you.

      almost 5 years ago
    • Reel's Avatar

      I've made the choice for no clinical trials for my cancer - there is no chemo. When I explain it to others they can't understand. My choice was made when I was not in pain and suffering, and was not depressed. I completely understand the choice not to fight. You always want to respect the choice of the one with cancer, but you have every right to let your wishes be known too. Just be there to support and love him.

      almost 5 years ago

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