The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation
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stage 4 lung cancer

my dad in law is 86 and has stage 4 lung cancer which has spread, his liver readings are very high! he has been eating although nowhere near like he did, yesterday he seemed to eat loads but today very little and hardly anything to drink. he is in a nursing home which is a wonderful place. his right arm is swollen x3 to his left which looks awful his hand looks like he has a boxing glove on. today when i visited he was very sleepy but not as confused as he has been over the past 2 weeks, maybe because they have increased his morphine. he is on zormorph 10mg twice day, morphine sulphate 5mg twice day and oromorph 10mg 4 hrly, he was also very yellow, due to the cancer in his liver?? but he seems pale now, it is horrid seeing him like this and his arm and shoulder gives him so much pain :(. will we know when he is due to pass over, will we have any warning signs so we know to be with him 24 hrs?? thanks

ps his urine is like strong unmiled tea, they also have a poo list with different pics of poo and tick the one which my dad in laws represents??

6 Replies

My mum knew 2 days beforehand she was going to die, she told one of her neighbours but didnt tell any of us. On the friday beforehand she wanted a bath and I had to help get her dressed as she felt so weak. On the Sunday she died in the clothes that I had help dress her in, I still didnt have a clue she was going to die though. Mum had a small cell lung cancer and was given between 3 and 7 months, she lasted 42 days. She never got as far as morphine, she refused to take it and managed on co dydramol and paracetamol. She was on oxygen though, she found it helped her sleep easier because she also had COPD.

I feel as though your father would slip away without wanting to cause too much hassle. He will just go to sleep and not awake. Trust me you would not want to see someone just before or just after they died. I was with mom when she stopped breathing. It haunts me, Im so glad I went to see her afterwards in the funeral home though because she looked beautiful. Just like my mom when she was well.

Your dad is 86 and a very good age. He has brought up his children and saw his children have children. He wants to be a proud man and slip away when he thinks no one is watching. XXX


Mum's GP phoned me when my Mum was put on a "72 Hour Vigil" because she was being treated at home by District Nurses and they expected her to go in the next couple of days. We all rushed to her bedside and had 2-3 days while she was still lucid - she lasted six days. The district nurses were fantastic in every way conceivable at any time of the day or night. Conversely, the Macmillan nurses were so awful we kicked them out of the house and the medical team told them not to come back, (a common criticism it would seem).

We wanted to be with my Mum at the final moment and she wanted us there, (3 sons in mid 40's early 50's). It was beautifully handled by the district nurses. Although we are all glad we were there, I am haunted by the whole experience and still deeply depressed four months later. I have now seen two dead relatives and would not wish that experience on anyone. Think very carefully before you decide where you want to be because you have to live with it for the rest of your life. Look after yourself first.


Many thanks for the replies, my heart goes out to you. I dealt with my mum dying of cancer 16 years ago, the worse day of my life, but she did pass peacefully and died in my arms, and she looked so peaceful and at rest. Cancer is an evil illness. My mum was a very young and healthy 68 yr old, she got ovarian cancer and survived 15 months after diagnosis. My dad in law is now doped up on morphine, his pain is so bad and he has deteriorated in the past 2 -3 days, he spends most of the time sleeping ( a morphine induced state) he is still eating bits of food, but its so sad to see. I would like to be with him at the end, but I do appreciate he may just want to slip away whilst alone. He is in a wonderful nursing home the nurses are angels and nothing is too much trouble. I just hope they would phone us if they suspected time was running out. Geoff I hope you are getting help with the depression, I still have cry days over my mum and get angry that she was taken from us with such a cruel illness, my son at the time was 10 and all mum ever wanted was to see her one and only grandchild grow into a adult. I am happy to say she would be as proud as punch of him! x


My partner Colin had SCLC and on the day before he died, ate fish and chips, but he had developed a chest infection and the Macmillan nurse had made arrangements for a bed to be available at the hospice. Later that night ( Christmas Eve) - he felt unwell and asked us to take him to hospital so we took him to the hospice ( part of me sort of thought he may not come back) and after he was sedated, as started to hallucinate, we left him sleeping soundly. In the morning, Christmas Day, hospice staff told us he had a good night and was sleeping - 2 hours later they rang us and told us to come quickly as it wouldn't be long - he was heavily sedated, but they thought he could still hear us, we stepped out of the room for 10 minutes whilst they changed the meds in his syringe driver, and when I came back into he room, he was no longer breathing.........he had died whilst we were out of the room, which you hear so many times happens with was very sad as I actually wanted to be with him when he took his last breath but it wasn't to be......

Hopefully the staff will be able to give you a rough idea of when things are coming to an end, but it isn't easy and it isn't pleasant - but they are no longer suffering - and that is the main thing

Tania x


Hi Tania

It really is a cruel disease. My dad in law is sleeping a lot more now and for the past 2 nights refused to get undressed for bed. When we went to the nursing home yesterday he was lay dressed on the bed and looked so grey, old and poorly. He is very dopey. After 15 mins or so he said he would have a cup of tea and insisted it was in a cup and not in 'one of the baby beakers with a straw', so he managed to get up off the bad on his own and go sit in the chair (he refused and did not need any assistance) he then drank a full cup of tea from a 'proper cup and saucer'. then he seemed to perk up a bit and was even having a joke with us. We couldnt get him to eat his cake though, but he had had quite a good breakfast in the morning. I asked the staff and they said he was sleeping more but apart from that he was still the same as he wwas whebn he first went in the home a week ago. As i said, when we first walked in his room yesterday and saw I thought we were in his last couple of days, but when we left I thought he may survive quite a few more days. As long as he is in no pain I can cope xx


Dad in law is still with us, and sometimes I wonder (apart from the weight loss) if he really is ill!! On rare occassions he does go off on a tangent but most of the time he is compus mentus! The sad bit is, his relationship with his wife was very volatile and he was a bit of a control freak and she refuses to go and see him. They have not seen each other now for 2 months. She has literally washed her hands of him. We have tried our best to get her to see him but she refuses. Now whenever we visit him in the home he constantly asks about her and questions why she wont go and see him, his latest is if she carries on refusing he will get the police/solicitor to make her visit! Is that him or the cancer speaking??? He still wants to go back home although he is not capable of looking after himself. It seems that he is frequently soiling the bed. He is now saying he is going to starve himself to death and is asking us to stop taking mum shopiing etc until she agrees to visit him. Which we have refused. Its so sad to see him like this, I feel as if he will keep himself alive until she visits, but she never will so I think when I next visit I will have to tell him to give up any idea of her visiting, cruel to be kind???? I really don't no what to do.


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