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Question
Posted by: Gracie | 2009-11-04

VERY ILL FRIEND

I have a friend who is terminally ill with bladder cancer - she has had chemotherapy and radiation treatment, but the treatment has not helped her! I often visit with her, which I find to be very emotionally draining - whenever I leave her I am extremely emotional, have outbursts at work and just cry when anything upsets me. She cries almost constantly because of the pain - she is using morphine drops, but same do not seem to alleviate the pain at all, the doctors have therefore increased her dosage, which now makes her very " confused" . I feel extremely sorry for her, but I don' t know what to say to her when I am there - often we just look at each other and then she will start crying and ask God to take away the pain. At times we both just cry the entire time I am with her. I have tried to be strong, but I break down when I see her. She is so ill, so thin, has no hair because of the treatment. She also does not want to eat, so that makes her even more weak than se already is. I probably sound selfish, but I don' t know how to handle the situation any more. I cannot go there and ask her how she is - I know how she is feeling. I have tried to encourage her to be more positive under the circumstances, but she feels as though she is being punished for something she did and that' s why she is so ill. I am at the stage where I feel very anxious when I know I am going to see her as I don' t know what to expect when I get there. I have never been this close to a terminally ill person before and I suppose I don' t know how to handle the situation other than to just love and support her as far as possible. Any advice please? I really love this friend of mine and it' s very upsetting to see her suffer the way she is. The doctors have also advised her family that there is nothing they can do for her and that the end is very near.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

I hope she is being seen by a hospice / Palliative care specialist from the nearest Hospice or through the National Cancer Association, as pain control ought to be possible. And everything possible should be done to assess and control that pain, because apart from the unpleasantness of the pain in itself, as you note, it dominates everything else and prevents her from using or even enjoying more of the time she has, as she becomes pre-occupied with being "in pain".
Similarly, a good palliative care tam could help with appetite and other symptoms. It is very likely that she could be better cared for within a hospice ; and would be more at peace there, and more able to enjoy visits from friends.
And they can also provide a counsellor or even an enlightened shrink, to deal with her sense of guilt and punishment.
I share Lola's thoughtful comments, having nursed my late mother for her last 2 years, and a struggle that grew increasingly grim. There is always room for regrets, but at least if you do all you can,you can treasure the time that is available for both of you

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Our users say:
Posted by: Lola | 2009-11-04

Hi there

I understand what you are going through, my mother past away early October due to Rectum cancer and what eve more upseting is that she was only 49 years old, 2 weeks before she past away my sister and I were nursing her and it has been the toughest period of our lives, this was because hospice released her after she spent 2 weeks there, she was weak, coiuld not est, we had to change her nappies, bath her as well as chage her colostomy bag, during her last week, she wasn' t talking anymore

Your friend' s behaviour is normal, with the pain she is going through. I was depressed most of the time to a point I was just looking at her crying and will do the same, sometimes I didn' t even want to go there but I' ll tell you this, I was there when she dies, I held her hand as she took her last breath and it still haunts me till itoday up to a point I spent 2 weeks at VISTA clinic due to depression, I wish I told her how much more I loved her more, giver her more hugs and so forth, all I can say is cherish every moment with her because the Doctor' s gave her 6 months but she lived for 4 months

I' m truly sorry about your friend but try to get psychological help, the lady helped me a lot and together with my pychiatrist, I' m officially off medication now and cherish every moment I spent with my mother, as much as there was nothing I could do, I know she knows we were there for her till her last moment, that gives me comfort

All she did was to hold my hand and look at me in the eye, I knew it was the end, she dies later that day in the evening, I know she is no longer in that pain

Yes it' s draining and no one can blame you for feeling tired but dont loose your last moments with her as they will not come back

Again pray to God to give you the strength to cope and deal with the situation. Believe me you are stronger than you think which is why you can talk about this

you can e-mail me on my priviate e-mail address if you wish and we can talk about this

Cancer is a dreadful desease and I cant wait for the day God relieves us of all this pain and suffering

With lots of love
Lola

Reply to Lola
Posted by: cybershrink | 2009-11-04

I hope she is being seen by a hospice / Palliative care specialist from the nearest Hospice or through the National Cancer Association, as pain control ought to be possible. And everything possible should be done to assess and control that pain, because apart from the unpleasantness of the pain in itself, as you note, it dominates everything else and prevents her from using or even enjoying more of the time she has, as she becomes pre-occupied with being "in pain".
Similarly, a good palliative care tam could help with appetite and other symptoms. It is very likely that she could be better cared for within a hospice ; and would be more at peace there, and more able to enjoy visits from friends.
And they can also provide a counsellor or even an enlightened shrink, to deal with her sense of guilt and punishment.
I share Lola's thoughtful comments, having nursed my late mother for her last 2 years, and a struggle that grew increasingly grim. There is always room for regrets, but at least if you do all you can,you can treasure the time that is available for both of you

Reply to cybershrink

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