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Thread: What to expect as death approaches?

  1. #1
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    What to expect as death approaches?

    I don't mean to be graphic but I would like to know what to expect as death approaches. Signs to look for. My brother is 53 with primary liver cancer. There are large masses 9cm and lots of smaller ones. It has invaded his portal vien. What can anyone tell me? Will it be sudden? Will he just go off to sleep? Thank you so much in advance.

  2. #2
    In my experience in losing my husband recently, I can only say it was not like in the movies. You should ask these questions of those caring/assisting with the care of your brother. Just love him as much as you can while he is here with you and do not hold back on that love.

    The breathing of my husband was quite disturbing to me however our kids,6 of them aged 14 to 25 had no issue with the way he was breathing toward the end. (he was at home)

    I believe that each passing is unique as each individual is unique.

  3. #3
    Administrator Top User brainman's Avatar
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    Hi, I am very sorry about your brother's cancer. Liver cancer can be so hard on a person's body. It is really hard to predict how death will come. He could die very rapidly if something else happens to him but Liver Cancer is often a slow killer. Usually death comes as the Liver gradually shuts down and does not filter out the toxins from his blood. The toxins will gradually build in his blood, making him weaker and weaker. His appetite will vanish. He will stay in bed more and sleep for longer periods of time. These will become worse with time until he first goes into a coma-like state and then dies.

    Has hospice become involved in his care? They are wonderful and can help you understand better than anyone on the Internet because they can actually observe your brother. On the Internet, we can only talk about what typically happens.

    You and your brother are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Jim
    Long-term cancer survivor
    1992 Astrocytoma grade 2, left motor strip
    2005 Recurrence this time said to be an Oligodendroglioma grade 3, same location.
    http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=2405
    My Story Part 1: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=2528
    My Story Part 2: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?p=7350
    My Story Part 3: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=8029

  4. #4
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    Thank you all for the responses.

    brainman - hospice is involved. The nurses that work with my brother in this small town are very young. Not that anything is wrong with that but they have let him run out of his chemo meds and has ordered his pain med refills way to late with only a days supply left. Something else for us to have to worry about. They have told us things that scare us and scares my brother. For instance she told us to buy black towels so if and when he starts to bleed profusely it want be so scarey. She did not follow up with this is something that is possible but usually does not happen. Or that your feet will start to bust open soon and you need to contact us. Why tell patient this? He has told them numerous times he does not want to know how long he has but they insist on giving him inuwindows and it truly pisses me off. They pay for his meds other wise they would not be part of this terrible ordeal. I have worked with hospice in other situations but this has been the most difficult one. Thank you for helping me understand what is happening to him. Please don't be afraid to be graffic. I just want it told to me and not to scare the shit out of my brother.

    Again thank you.

  5. #5
    Administrator Top User brainman's Avatar
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    idobelieveinfairies, I am surprised at your experience with hospice. In the Charlotte area there is more than one hospice. My advice to you is to select another one if this one is not helping your brother.
    Jim
    Long-term cancer survivor
    1992 Astrocytoma grade 2, left motor strip
    2005 Recurrence this time said to be an Oligodendroglioma grade 3, same location.
    http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=2405
    My Story Part 1: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=2528
    My Story Part 2: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?p=7350
    My Story Part 3: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=8029

  6. #6
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    Hi,
    Rarely are there indicators to show if your love one is about to pass.

    Others have said their love ones become confuse --> this is related to toxin generated from the liver. Horsey breathing, etc.

    In the case of my mother she went to the bathroom to brush her teeth, my father was downstairs at the time. Moments later she was found collapse on th floor. An ambulance was called. Her breathing was heavy. They were supplying her with oxygen, but she kept on taking off the mask. She passed away during transition to local hospital. [She was a fighter to the very end]

    You need to prepare for the unexpected; everyone has their own road to follow.

    My thoughts are with your family,

    Phil

  7. #7

    Re: What to expect as death approaches?

    I think eash individual is different. I was with my sister 6 years ago when she passed away with a brain tumor. She started having a death rattle or gurgling in her throat about 12 hrs before she died.

    My husband just passed away March 5th of this year. He had colon/liver cancer. His liver began shutting down and his urine was very dark. He also had a yellow tinge to his skin and his eyes were very yellow. The day he passed away I noticed a deterioration to the heels of his feet. I think the circulation of blood was slowing down. Then I saw a pooling of blood in his ribcage area. He had the death rattle but not as bad as my sister. We turned him on his side and he seemed more relaxed and took 2 deep breaths and was gone. My children and hospice was here at the time.

    I miss him terribly as we had been married 41 years, but in another way I am relieved he is not suffering anymore. He was always strong and active and the past 2 years were not easy for either of us.

    Take care,
    Bronna

  8. #8
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    I am sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing. He is still with us but deteriorating very fast. Can I ask what the pooling of blood in his ribcage looked like exactly?

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    My mum has died today of primary liver cancer, she had upper right abdomen pain, for several weeks, and got weaker and weaker, and slept more and more, this went on for several weeks, it took ages to get a diagnosis, after endless test, colonospy/endoscope, ct scan and Liver Biopsy, she was so weak she couldn't get out of bed and had carers coming in, night and morning, then she was diagnosed last friday and died early this morning ( just 5 days later), her decline was very fast, with swelling of abdomen, then legs and arms, then her throat muscles went, and she slipped into a coma like state, just opening her eye's a little now and again, she could not speak in the last few days, and it was a blessing she passed quickly, be strong and make sure you make the most of every moment.

  10. #10
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    experience with someone passing

    as many have stated on here,it is true that each person before they leave us is different.my father had pancreatic cancer which spread to his liver....about a week before he passed we noticed him falling asleep at the table,or in his favorite chair,but he would say to us Im not sleeping just resting my eyes,his skin was yellow for awhile before he passed .He started to get ascities in his legs one week before he left,i could feel his feet were cold as his circulation was bad...my father got delerium the day we brought him to the hospital,and he was taking very deep breathes,and then would mumble words....he lost his appetite a few days before he passed,alot say theres a death rattle,but for me i never heard that,my dad looked very peaceful to me in the hospital and the day of his passing i was not in the room but my aunt said he took two last breaths and opened his eyes,and she said he was looking in the sky,and then he was gone....My father was in no pain through his sickeness fortunalty,he took the odd morphine pill,but never once was in any ecrutiating pain..which i thank god everyday for that...it will be a year in june for us since we said goodbye to my dad,and i miss him like crazy,but i know that he is looking down on his family and watching over us,and hes in our hearts forever....

  11. #11
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    Hi, sorry to hear about your brother. I am in the about the same position. I am 53 was diagnosed with liver cancer a few days before christmas. They told me it was 10 cm and had gotten to my portal vien and of course inoprable but I have no other spots on my liver but it is on bothe lobes. I was curious if your brother has recived nexavar and or had the therasphere procedure. I have been doing nexavar for about 4 monthes and just had the last therasphere procedure. Feel a little like the flu but should be gone in a couple more days. My main doctor said he is hoping for a transplant but I dont think that will happen but for the most part Ithink they are trying to give me a better quality of life as they like to say. They say the therasphere treatment will last about 10 months then I dont know what. all the best wishes to you and your brother.

  12. #12
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    Hi Chuckackoff,

    My mother is in a similar position as you. We're you on nexaxar first and than did therasphere? Or did you do therasphere and than nexavar? We are doing nexavar right now but my mother doesn't tolerate it very well and we got a second opinion to do the therasphere instead since there less side effects. Would worked for you? Just some backfround my mother is 63 and was diagnosed march 2012 and is stage 3 hcc patient. Thanks so much.

  13. #13
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    It took me about a month to get used to the nexavar. I started on the nexavar first and did it for 3 months. That was at the VA hospital then went to a private doc. then got the therasphere treatment. I had two opinions that they would have done the therasphere a lot soner like first thing but the VA didnt. Will not know for 5 months what the therasphere did for sure. Seems like a long time but thats what they tell me. I have lost all taste for food and am tired and naususe (cant spell to well ) alot but think that is from the therasphere treatment witch I had the last one 2 weeks ago. But the docs. told me I would be on the nexavar for the rest of my life unless I get a transplant.

  14. #14
    Senior User Bamabelle's Avatar
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    Wow. Brave and helpful folks around here.

    FWIW, here's some very general info from the cancer society that might be helpful:

    Nearing the End of Life
    Dxed with Stage IB2 cervical cancer by one doctor and IVB by another in 10/11. Finished six weeks of pelvic chemorad in 12/11. Lung tumor found in 10/11 dxed as IB NSCLC in 8/12. Dec. '12 scan showed clear pelvis, no growth in lung tumor and new activity in remote lymph nodes. Is it a Stage I and a Stage IV, three Stage Is, or a cured cancer with something benign going on? Lost interest and went off the reservation after a year of unsuccessfully fighting for a good biopsy.

  15. #15
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    Bamabelle,
    Thank you so much for that link. I will read and re-read, but most important will read with my husband who has been diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma metastasis( sp?)& has been advised to seek hospice help. I think this will help us both immensely.

  16. #16
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    I, too, am in a similar position. Husband has melanoma but has mets to his liver and lung. He has really deteriorated in the past 2 wks. No appetite, but still wants little drinks of coke, water, juice, even Kool-Aid at times. Hospice became involved Friday. This is so new to me, I have never been around anyone dying. But I do better when I know the details and what to expect.

 
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