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The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation
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Terminal lung cancer what are the next steps?

My dad has terminal lung cancer and is now under the palliative care team who are trying to make him as pain free as possible. He is on steroids, slow releasing morphine and various other tablets. He is sleeping more in the day and is finding it difficult to breath at times. He has a relaxation cd to help with his breathing but still at times gets himself into a real pickle (which at times is hard to see my dad like that.) He has a hand held fan and a stair lift. Is there anything else I can get to help my dad. He is going to ask his consultant for some oxygen when he goes in a weeks time. Just really wanted to know what are the next steps. What can we do as a family to help dad and really get us prepared for the next struggle of this awful disease.

4 Replies

Hi trot, I am so sorry to hear about your dad's struggle. I don't have any real answers as to what to do. All I can say is give him all the support and love that you can. He may be afraid, so try and reassure and comfort him.


Thank you so much. We are a really close family so there is always someone at hand to be with dad. The sad thing is dad keeps telling me that he will be around next year to plant out his allotment again. I agree with him but in my heart of hearts I know he may not be with us. Maybe that is what is so hard to deal with, my dad won't be here next year.


Having been in your position reading your post brings back all the feelings I went/am still going through. How you described your Dad getting in a bit of a pickle is exactly how my Dad and us described his breathing difficulties

when they happened.

My Mam, brother and I nursed Dad at home. He had no pain until the very last couple of weeks however his shortness of breath and 'pickle' periods continued to get steadily worse. As this happened so too did his mobility. Dad was managed for a long time on oramorph for his breathing having regular doses plus we could give him extra if we preempted a pickle or during one. We were also given lorezepam to place under his tongue for severe episodes if he just couldn't settle esp the ones during the night. The coughing was always worse at night. He had saline nebuliser to keep his secretions loose and easy to cough. Lots of pillows and We found a memory foam v shaped pillow for him, invaluable in bed. Dad was on oxygen via nasal prongs, ask for foam to go on tubing that sits on/over ears. We weren't given automatically and ears can get sore. Ky jelly is good to have handy also as nose can becomes dry with the oxygen,to apply to nostrils. We got a table standing fan which eventually was on all the time to keep air circulating. It was better to keep rooms cooler and wrap him up for the shortness of breath.

Dads appetite really didn't dimish until the last month or two. We gave him what he asked for a bucket list of foods he wanted to eat, however portion size towards the end reduced number of meals increased as following large meals breathlessness increased.

As well as stair lift we got a wheelchair and commode up stairs they were both used for transporting dad around the house. We never needed a hoist, once Dad couldn't stand and transfer bed to chair he decided to remain in bed which was only a week before he died.

Dad was a into military modellimg, painting soldiers and war gaming. He knew he was going to die but like your dad continued to talk about future starting his next project and selling and ordering his next batch of soldiers to paint. However we also talked about him dying his funeral what he wanted our feelings we shed bucket loads of tears together, we laughed, we held each other everyday just to be held and cuddled especially in the silences when there was nothing else to say. We were extremely lucky and blest that we were able to do it, although it has to be said my Dad made it very easy for us.

I hope this is a little helpful if I can answer any further questions I will gladly help. Its just so awful.


I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Thank you for sharing your experiences through a very tough time. Your dads situation sounds very much the same as my dad. He has a large fan which he keeps on most of the time and we just wrap him up to keep warm. He also has a tablet which he takes when he finds it too difficult to catch his breath. My dad was on oramorph but now he only uses it to top up as he is on a slow releasing morphine tablet which he takes twice a day. He is going to ask for oxygen so I will get some Ky jelly in just in case we need it. I am also going to go and get a memory v shaped pillow for dad to try. Thanks again for sharing your experience with me. It really helps to talk to someone who has gone through this awful journey.


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