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Giving up on treatment?


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I am not sure how to help my in-laws. My FIL had surgery in Sept, then chemo, now has started a 25 day regimen of radiation. He wasn't sure about doing the radiation - his onc wasnt really recommending it, but his other doctors thought it would be a good idea. He went into it thinking that he would start, and if the sore throat/swallowing problems that go along with radiation got too bad he could stop if he wanted. He does have a hiatal hernia, and so may have more serious affects from this than people without.

I spoke to them last night, and I guess that he is starting to have the sore throat/difficulty swallowing. He said he doesn't think he wants to continue treatment, and then basically said - I am going to die from something anyway. He is 81, but he really does have a very good quality of life. He bowls, golfs, cares for his own house - physically is more like someone close to 70 years old!

Of course, the doctors cannot tell us definitively that doing the full course of radiation will help his chances of non-recurrence. And they cannot tell us what the consequences are of stopping the radiation mid-course.

I guess it just scares me that he wants to just stop treatment and be done. I can certainly understand it...but am just afraid of what will happen if it comes back.

I tried to give them lots of suggestions that I have gotten here regarding food choices that have worked for others - but most of the answers I got were "he doesn't like that" or "he always eats this or that for breakfast".

I don't know how else to help - other than just being encouraging and supportive - it is his life and ultimately his decision, and I know that he just wants to feel better.

Maybe I am sometimes just too controlling! It is hard just to sit back and not feel like I am helping.

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I know how hard it must be for you to feel that there is nothing you can do to help your family right now. As hard as it may be, we sometimes have to listen to our loved ones and allow them to decide how to proceed with their treatment. Your FIL sounds like a very active person that enjoys life. Many treatment plans can really wear the patient down and all but destroy their quality of life. At the age of 81, I think I would be looking for quality more than quantity of life. It's amazing how some people decide to discontinue chemotherapy and seem to feel like living again. I know how hard this must be for your family. I'll be saying prayers.

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I know it can be difficult when treatment stops, either by choice or necessity. My husband has not had any treatment since the last radiation to his brain in sept. The truth is he is doing very well. His quality of life has been wonderful. Yes we wonder every day when the cancer may come back, but for the most part we just enjoy living everyday. My husband was the sickest when he was under going treatment. there is no clear cut answer to any of this, I just wanted to share what my husband and I have been through. Many prayers to you and your family

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Thanks for your insight and support...I guess it is so hard for us to even think of being in his shoes, and therefore hard to understand how it feels.

I just always have this need to fight harder, try harder, to get what I want - I need to not project that onto him!

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Your dad is the ultimate decider on what treatments he is willing to go through or not. If I were 10 years older, I am not sure I would want to go through radiation that would play havoc with my esophagus. As far as eating, he is on chemo and nothing is going to taste right. Your mom needs to understand that the old norm is not operating and she needs to recognize a new norm. The new norm is to eat, whether it is delicious or not. I never gave Lucie the option of to eat or not. I would suggest several things and insist she pick one. I still do that to some extent. Good luck. Don

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