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Old 03-10-2008, 12:13 PM   #1
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Mom is very near the end - what to expect

Hi all,
I posted here over a year ago when my mom was first diagnosed with stage 4 nsc. She did the chemo thing for awhile, but then became too weak. She started having breathing difficulties a couple of months ago, so they suggested radiation to shrink the tumor that was causing the obstruction. The very first radiation treatment, she suffered a heart attack that night, and has gone downhill very rapidly. She is now home on hospice care. Hospice has been wonderful, but I wanted to hear from folks who have watched their loved ones die of lung cancer. I want to know exactly what to expect. Will she be gasping for breath until her last moment? How ugly does it get? I need to prepare myself to be strong for this. Just now, we had a scare. She started vomiting profusely, and seemed to be in agony, and now she is trying to have a bowel movement and says it's very painful. She also has been coughing more the last few days, not bringing up anything, it's more like a choking type of cough. I want her to die peacefully, of course, but if it's going to be ugly, I need to know so that I can summon the strength to be by her side until the end.

Jen

 
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Old 03-10-2008, 04:17 PM   #2
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Re: Mom is very near the end - what to expect

jen i dont have any wisdom but i am sending you good thoughts
i was wondering the same thing while my husband was ill but he died very suddenly.
im sorry
lisa

 
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Old 03-10-2008, 06:55 PM   #3
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Re: Mom is very near the end - what to expect

Quote:
Originally Posted by JM163 View Post
Hi all,
I posted here over a year ago when my mom was first diagnosed with stage 4 nsc. She did the chemo thing for awhile, but then became too weak. She started having breathing difficulties a couple of months ago, so they suggested radiation to shrink the tumor that was causing the obstruction. The very first radiation treatment, she suffered a heart attack that night, and has gone downhill very rapidly. She is now home on hospice care. Hospice has been wonderful, but I wanted to hear from folks who have watched their loved ones die of lung cancer. I want to know exactly what to expect. Will she be gasping for breath until her last moment? How ugly does it get? I need to prepare myself to be strong for this. Just now, we had a scare. She started vomiting profusely, and seemed to be in agony, and now she is trying to have a bowel movement and says it's very painful. She also has been coughing more the last few days, not bringing up anything, it's more like a choking type of cough. I want her to die peacefully, of course, but if it's going to be ugly, I need to know so that I can summon the strength to be by her side until the end.

Jen
I AM SO SORRY....but with Hospice...it should be not "horrible"...death is not enjoyable...by any means...but hospice can make it easier...ease the transition...ensure comfort...I lost both my Mom and dad to LC...both died on hospice...they WERE comfortable....breathing slowed....no agony...no pain...when they were personally ready...they left....breathing became more intermittent...but still no stuggling.....finally one last breath...still sucks from family perspetive....but i am sure both mom and dad left when they wanted to...without pain...and without suffering...hope this helped...c

PS hospice can tell you what to expect as the process happens...eases the fear ...increases the understaning ...but they really do a great job making sure the patient is comfortable...that is what they are all about!

 
Old 03-10-2008, 09:34 PM   #4
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Re: Mom is very near the end - what to expect

every case is different - I cant really say there is ONE way they pass.
I would say for the most part my husbands passing was somewhat peaceful...there were some problems the day before, but the day of not so bad..

I dont know if hopsice has given you the booklet "Gone From My Sight" -
This is extremely helpful in describing the process the body goes through when shutting down. I will have to say it was pretty accurate.

I cant say on the breathing issue - only to let you know that if it looks like she is struggling - they can give her increased meds to make sure that she is comfortable and not aware of what is happening. If that makes sense. They will do everything they can to see that she doesnt suffer and has a peaceful transition.

Is your mom on some kind of laxative like senekot or Miralax? they should have reccommended it esp if she is on pain meds.

Hospice should be able to help you with many of your questions.

I am sorry for what you and your mother are going through. This is very tough.

My thoughts and prayers are with you

 
Old 03-11-2008, 12:28 AM   #5
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Re: Mom is very near the end - what to expect

Jen,
I had went through the same thing with my mother. She was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer on in 9/2006. The doctors really weren't sure if it was Lung Cancer, they said that they never had seen anything like what my mother had. My mother in Feb. 2006 woke up one morning and tried to stand up and started getting really dizzy. So my father had brought her to the emergency room. They only took blood tests, never did any scans of her brain. They told her that she had vertigo and sent her home. When they came home from the hospital I had asked my father did they do any scans of her brain and my father said no, I told him that I couldn't believe it. Well a guess in afew days she started feeling better. My mother would tell me alot that she didn't feel right inside. She kept saying that she kept getting this twitching in her chest when she would fall asleep and she also complained about being tired alot. I had told her to go see the doctor and she did. Her doctor told her that she had anxiety from taking of her mother who was old at that time. My mother thought that she was so tired from waking up in the middle of the night taking care of her mother. Her doctor who is a pulmonologist had given her an antideppresant for awhile, then I guess it wasn't really working, so she gave her a different one. My mother said that she would cry at movies on TV alot. She also said that she couldn't keep her eyes open after 9:00p.m. My mother had always went to be late. I noticed that my mother would snap at me alot, asnd I kept telling her to go back to the doctor, so she did and they kept telling her it was stress. I remember that she would get dizzy alot when we would go shopping together, and she also used to get headaches and nauseas alot. There were times that we would be shopping together and she would say that I ham so hot and I really feel like I am going to pass out, I need to get out of this store. This was happening alot and I told her to tell her doctor and she did. She sometimes would go into the hospital when she would get a stomach virus becuse she would dehydrate and that was happening to her too. Nobody ever found anything. She would also go to her physicals and other appointments every and her doctor would say that she is very healthy. She used to exercise everyday and try to eat healthy as much as possible. She did smoke for years and she did stop when she was 60. I also noticed a few years ago she did wake up another morning and she said to my father that she could take air in, but it was a little hard for her to exhale. My father took her to her doctor and she did some tests on her and she told her that she had asthma. She put her on Advair and Nasinex. My mother had taken that for awhile. Then when my mother heard about singulair, her doctor had switched her to that and she said it had worked for her. I noticed when she used to pick my children up from school sometimes she would get out of breath, that was either when it was too hot and humid or it was very cold out, so she would blame it on her asthma. My mother used to come to my house and help me with my children everyday. In Sept 2006 my mother and father were at my house having pizza with my family and she seemed to be fine. The next day she woke up and I happend to call her, she didn't sound good. I asked her what was the matter and she said that she was extremely tired and she was talking a little funny. I told her that I would call her back in a little while, well she called me 30 minutes later and said that she had tried to stand up and she almost fainted and started seeing double vision, she told me to come there right away because my father was going to take her to the emergency room. They did a cat scan of the brain and they said that it didn't look good. She had many tumors in her brain and they didn't know where they were coming from. The doctors said we never seen anything like this. She had just had a physical in 7/2006 and her doctor took an xray of her chest and I am sure she did other tests and they said that my mother was very healthy. They did do another chest xray when she went to the hospital in 9/2006 and it was clear. She did also have a bone density test a little while before her physical and that came back that one side of her body was weaker than the other. They started running more tests on her in the hospital. They did a cat scan and an MRI of the lungs and they found a tiny lesion on her left lung and lymph node the doctors said that they didn't believe that it was coming from there. Then I guess they did a pet scan later on and one doctor said it looked like something was on her ribs, but when the other doctor read her scan he said it was nothing. They were very worried about the tumors in her brain, so she had to start radiation to her brain right away. She had 15 treatments. After the treatments were done they did another scan and it showed thar everything was clear. A couple of weeks later my mothers legs got very swollen and hard and I told my father to take her to the doctor because they didn't look normal. My father brought her to the doctor and they did a test and it showed that she had blood clots in her legs. So they then checked her lung and sure enough there was a clot in her lung. They caught it just in time so they put her on cumadin. She was doing okay on the cumadin. After a month or so she had pnuemonia and ahe was on oxygen and antibiotics. When she got better they started the chemo to her lung and lymp node they said that she would have to have 6 months of treatments, she did all the treatments. Then they did another pet scan and the doctors said that everything was clear. We were all happy. Not even being off the treatments for 1 week, she started having severe pain in her jaw on the left side, she went back to her oncologist and they did another scan, he said that her jaw kept lighting up in the scan, but he said that it wasn't cancer and he also said to my family that everything that lights up in a pet scan is not cancer, it could be inflammation. Her doctor had given her an antibiotic, but it wasn't getting any better. The pain was getting unbearable. She couldn't sleep, eat, or talk because it hurt so much. A week later her doctor sent her to an oncologist and he told my mother that she had osteocronosis of the jaw. He said some patients that take this certain chemo drug can get this and it is not curable. This dentist made us believe that it was that and her oncologist had taken her off that one chemo drug. Her pain wasn't getting any better so they gaver her a pain patch and told her to take tylenol. My mother did that too and it never helped. My mother started hallucinating alot, we didn't know if it was the pain patch so the doctor lowered the dose. In May 2007, my mother woke up another morning and my father had noticed that she was talking very funny, so my father had called the family, because he was very scared. We went to the house. Then we decide to take my mother to the emergency room. We just got her there in time. She was having a massive stroke. The doctors told us that he could give her this certain shot it could either help her or make her bleed internally. We had to make that choice fast so we decided to go with the shot. My mother had to be watched in ICU for 48 hours to see how the shot would effect her. We kept praying and praying that she would get better. Well a few days later the doctors were so amazed they said that my mother had responded very well to the shot. She had to stay in the hospital about 5 more days to still be watched. Her oncologist had told my father to make another appt. with an oral surgeon, because when my mom was in the hospital with the stroke an oral surgeon had looked at my mothers jaw and he didn't like the way it looke. When my mother got out of the hospital ahe went to this oral surgeon that saw her in the hospital and he did a special test and saw a massive tumor in her jaw. The only treatment that they could do was radiation for the pain. She did tall the radiation treatments and at the end of the treatments felt a tiny bit better, but not much. Then she started to have alot of pain in her left hip. We took her to her doctor and they did another scan, that scan had showed cancer in her L2 and L3 also he said that it looke like it was back in her chest again. The doctor said that she could get more chemo to her hip, so she did for the pain and it really didn't help her. They were going to give her a pill form of chemo, but she didn't make it for that. On Friday July 13, 2007 my father had called me up and said that he couldn't get my mother up the stairs because she was so weak and he couldn't get her on the motorized chair. He said that he thought that was the end. Then he kept saying ni I don't think it is the end, I hpe it isn't the end. She was very pale and she didn't look good at all. We brought her to th ER again and she was dehydrated so they started giving her IV's. We thought it was just that, we kept praying that it wasn't the end. Then she started having trouble going to the bathroom, so they put a catheter in her , and they said she had a urinary tract infection so they gaver her an antibiotic. A few days later they tried to take ot the catheter, but they couldn'r remove it because she couldn't go to the bathroom on her own. My mother was starting to lose control of her bowels and we just thought it wads her disease. I noticed at home that she was having a hard time swallowing and my family thought it was because she was laying down a little. I had mentioned it to the nurse when they admitted her. They did a swallow evaluation test on her and the nurse had said that her muscles were not working properly anymore. They had to take her off food and drinks by mouth totally. Then for about 3 days she really didn't open her eyes or talk. The follwing day she tried to open her eyes and they were looking up at the ceiling, my sister kept telling my mother to try and focus on her hand. My mother could barely talk she kept mumbling. A few days later her arms started swelling and her face got very swollen and so did her eyes, we thought that it was an allergic reaction to the medicine she was taking to relax her because she was in so much pain. After she stopped taking the medicine, the swelling went down in her eyes, but her arms were still swollen and so was her face. I tried talking to my mother and she could barely talk it was so heartbreaking watching your mother, your best friend have to suffer like this. My mother and I were very close we saw each other every day and if she didn't come to my house because she was sick, we would talk on the phone 2 and 3 times a day. Her doctor had seen my sister one day out of the hospital and he told my sister that my mother was stable. Two days later he told my father that my mother was luck if she had 2 weeks left. Nobody told me that, because they didn't want me to freak out. Well the next day I went to the hospital and my older brother told me that she was lucky if she had 2 weeks left. My mother said that she wanted to go home, we couldn't take her home because she was bed ridden. We took her to a cancer hospital. She was there for 4 days. they gave her morphine by shot for the pain and IV's. That Friday night we were visiting her and the doctor was listening to her lungs and she said everything sounded clear, abot anhour later she came back and listened again and she nodded her head. I was so upset. She called us in the hallway and she said that she was going to put my mother on the critical list. The doctor said that sometimes they could bounce back the other way. I kept praying that it would happen. I was up all night that night. Saturday morning my father had stopped by my house before he went to the hospital and he told me that nobody had called him to tell him that she was doing worse. About an hour later my father had got the call and the doctor said that my mother was having a hard time breathing. I had called my husband's cousin and I asked her to bring me to the hospital right away. As soon as I got there, Iwas so afraid to go to the room, because I was so afraid what she was going to look like. I was praying that she wouldn't have that rattling sound in her chest and that was exactly how she was breathing. It was so horrible. I held her hand for three hours and I kept telling her that I loved her and she was going to be okay. I had to go to the bathroom and I couldn't hold it anymore. I had remebered my mother always tellling me that if you have to go to the bathroom don't ever hold it. I got up and I went to the bathroom with my sister-n-law and we went to grab something to eat downstairs in the hospital because I was hungry, we were only gone 15 minutes. When I got back to the roo, she had already passed on. I was so devestated because I had left the room. I miss her so much, I still cna't believe that she is gone. My life is not the same anymore. I wish she was still here with me. My grandmother passed away 1/2008 she was 91, at least she had a good life. I never thought that I would lose her to cnacer. That is one disease she hoped that she would never get. She never had the cough or any other symptoms of lung cancer, till this day I believe that she had another cancer, because she always had pains in her joints and she just htopught it was because she was getting old. Thank you for listening to me. I really don't have anyone to talk to now, because nobody understands where I am coming from. Please write back. I am so lost without her. Lori

 
Old 04-09-2008, 12:23 PM   #6
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Re: Mom is very near the end - what to expect

i dont want to give a long story, but my mom just passed away from lung, spine , bone cancer. they wanted to take he off the resperator and i too was afraid she would be gasping for air like when she collasped. But she didnt, her breaths i dont know how to explain it, but if you count how many breaths you take every second, well my mom would take 1 to my like 5.

She was in the hospital so she was pretty doped up, so i dont think she knew anything. We knew it was coming from the monitor, when it was getting to the 20's then 15...it was something i cant get out of my head.

But i saw her take her last breath, and it sucks, the whole ordeal was horrible.
you will be in my prayers..

and if i can ill try to write more..

but be assured she wont be gasping for air..

 
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Old 04-09-2008, 02:04 PM   #7
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Re: Mom is very near the end - what to expect

My Mom's passing was very peaceful. Her breathing slowed down and got more and more shallow until it was essentially little puffs. It does suck watching it. I know I'll never forget watching my Mom taking her last breath.

 
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Old 04-09-2008, 11:17 PM   #8
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Re: Mom is very near the end - what to expect

My mother was never put on a respirator. The doctor said that she was not a canditate for it. She was taken from one hospital to another hospital that only dealth with cancer patients. My mother also had lung cancer, brain and bone. When she first was diagnosed in 9/06, it was already stage IV. She had many tumors in her brain. Then it had spread to her jaw bone and in her L2 and L3. She was in so much pain. Her last two weeks was so horrible. She couldn't really talk or open her eyes that good. I was praying that I wouldn't of had to hear that rattling sound in her chest when she was at the end. I sat there for 3 hours that last day and held her hand and I had to watch her take deep breaths and there was nothing I could do. I still feel like they killed her, because they only gave her oxygen towards the end because they said she was having a hard time breathing. I miss her so much. I still can't believe she is gone. She passed away 7/28/2007. I really don't know what to do with myself, I wish I could have her back. She was only 70. That really stinks. Her mother passed away 1/08 and she was 91. We had to bury her the day before my mothers birthday. thank you for listening to me. Take care.

 
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Old 04-10-2008, 06:49 AM   #9
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Re: Mom is very near the end - what to expect

wow blueeyes i felt like i posted your post..

I rmeember when they took my mom off the respirator they were suppose to put the mask on her, they never did and i was so messed up from it all i didnt relize it till after it all.

but i remember the sounds of her chest cracklin. it all was horrible.
I too feel like they killed her.
They kept saying she didnt know us, she wasnt in pain..but when we would say things like blink once or twice for a question she would.
she wouldnt acknowledge the doctor when she would come in, and i told her mom if u want something for the pain you better let her know you are in pain, and she turned her head and looked at the doctor.

the doctor freaked out and told me You tell me when your mom needs the meds.

they were horrible to my mom, i understand she wasnt coming out of the hospital but they needed to remember this was my mom and she was a great mom and to treat her the way they would like to see their mom treated.

we never knew mom had cancer, so when she collasped, i thought the chair just gave out and she hit her head. so everything was unexpected and a shock. they pulled the respirator out on mothers day morning, and didnt expect her to make it but after a few breaths...but being the mom she is she made it until monday 100am(right after mothers day) like she wanted to spend moms day with us.
it was all a bad experience and i dont wish it on anyone, but after reading these post i guess it is more common then what i always thought.
i know i can still hear, smell, see it all like it was yesterday.
my heart goes out to all of you, and my prayers..

 
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Old 04-10-2008, 06:51 AM   #10
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Re: Mom is very near the end - what to expect

Blueeyes - I understand how difficult it is to lose your mother. I took care of my mom for the last month & she died at home with all of us with her. She died on 1/1/06, which is also my birthday. I too miss her terribly. I am now 50yet the pain of her loss is so great. I was very ill a couple weeks ago & just wanted to be able to talk to her. It seems there are days I miss her more than others.

Hospice was very good, they gave her medication to keep her comfortable, brought in an oxygen machine and came to the house every day. Her passing was calm, and I am so glad we had hospice. They made it so much better than if she had been in a hospital. It seems they are better at taking care of not only the patient, but the family too. I recommend them instead of being in a hospital if at all possible. They also follow up with the family for at least a year if desired to make sure everyone is doing ok.

 
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Old 04-10-2008, 08:59 AM   #11
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Re: Mom is very near the end - what to expect

First off I am very sorry for what your going through, I watched both my parents die from this horrible disease.

My mom was at home, Hospice was a God sent to us. They gave us a small pamphlet that explained what would happen and her passing was exactly like they said it would be. She was not eating and went into a coma, she started with the rattle in her lungs, the bottom of her feet and the palms of her hands started to turn blue. This is just like how people get frost bite; apparently the body is sending all the blood to major organs. She took one last breath and that was it, it was sad but peaceful.
My father's was a little more drawn out, he labored for a day or two.
Anyone that things they are ready for this, believe me you are never ready to see your parent die.

Both my parents were heavily sedated, hospice should help with this, there is no reason for them to be in pain.

 
Old 04-11-2008, 05:11 PM   #12
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Re: Mom is very near the end - what to expect

Hi Jen, let me just say that I really feel for you at this time as I have lost several close relatives to cancer of one form or another. My dad had lung cancer and died valentines day 06 at the age of 55. Unfortunately he went very suddenly and I wasn't able to be there for him, something which i regret everyday. Although not the same as a mum, I was with my grandma when she died from cancer. Luckily it was very peaceful, and was like how some people describe it.... just falling asleep. It is hard to describe what it will be like, or how your mum will be, but you must be a very strong person to come on here and ask "strangers" for help, that alone takes great courage, and I feel that if you can do this, then i'm sure that you will have the courage to be strong with your mum. It won't be easy, and no matter how you do react, the main thing is that you love her, you're there for her and nothing will ever change that.
sending you my love and prayers
poppy x

 
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