Mesothelioma is a disease that has no cure but has lots of treatment options. Unfortunately, those options can run out and comfort and quality of life is what we are left to focus on. That is not a bad thing but it is not what we had hoped for. Talking about dying is one of the most uncomfortable topics that I know of. Death is the last phase of life and we are all going to be faced with it. I recently received a phone call from a patient telling me that her loved one was weak, frail and she was not sure what to do. She thought if she took her to the hospital she possibly would not be able to come home again because she thought the end was near. Although her caregiver could not say that she thought she would die she said everything but that. We are so filled with fear when it comes to death. As we progress in our lives we know that we will all age and be faced with this transition.
I agreed that her mother sounded like she was in poor shape and she may not survive a hospitalization. To be honest I too never used the words dying either. The one thing I did suggest was that she talk to her Mom and see what she wanted. These discussions are difficult but in the end, it may give clarity as to what is important to her.
As a cancer diagnosis is given I am sure self-evaluation takes place. Even a scare of a cancer diagnosis can cause reflection. The question is what do you want for the rest of your life. Do you want to spend your time with loved ones at home or would you prefer to pass at an institution? There are no wrong or right answers, it is all what you want. The questions are very overwhelming. Sometimes the end of life is dominated by what is expected by a culture. This is a lot to think about and it can be overwhelming.
If a person can make some decisions prior to these moments it provides some sense of control. We have taken care of patients that are at the end of their lives and have gone as far as making their final resting arrangements. Some of these conversations are hard but with more discussion it allows understanding of what the sick person would like. Often when it is our loved ones we try to change the conversation, ignore the elephant in the room and pretend that the end is not coming. Please try to allow these conversations to be spoken and ask questions. This is the time to allow someone’s ending be the way they want.