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Help identifying if end of life approaching?


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Someone close to me was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer 4 months ago. No treatment could be offered. The family was advised between 3-6 months life expectancy. Up until last week she could look after herself relatively well however within a week she is bed bound and not able to even to go to the toilet unaided. However she still has a sharp mind and can have a full conversation.

I would like to know if anyone had a similar experience in how quickly someone deteriorated and how long of a battle was it from this point. The deterioration in just over a week has been very scary for the family and the doctor has yet to really explain what is happening but has prescribed lots of new medication which I have read from google searches is related to end of life.

As a family I think it would help to know what to honestly expect in terms of timeline from here on in, but I understand everyone’s circumstances are different.

Thanks in advance

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Hi Zoc

So sorry to hear about your loved one. It’s a truly horrible place to be. You don’t want them to suffer, but you dread them dying. I think often professionals aren’t completely honest with people when the end is approaching. It’s hard for them to know exactly I guess and also they don’t want you to feel worse than you do already. But it can give you false hope that it might be days, weeks or even months. I can only tell you my experience. My husband was terminal and we knew that. But when he was discharged home from hospital the professionals were talking about putting in aids and adaptations and arranging home physio assessments. He died 3 days after discharge, much sooner than I thought he would. Trust your instincts and make sure you are there for them.

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Thank you for your reply. Really appreciate it. I’m also sorry to hear about your husband.

I think that is good advice to be there for them and to trust the instincts. Thank you.

The trickiest thing is definitely the unknown of the timeline.

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PCUK Nurse Lisa

Dear zoc2020,

I am sorry that you are facing a worsening in your loved ones condition. My name is Lisa and I am one of the nurses working on the Charity's support line here. I think that Borobi shares good advice - instincts, even without having experienced something like this before, are usually pretty accurate.

You mention that a doctor has been and prescribed some more medication, so I hope she is comfortable. Do you have the support of a nurse to visit, if needed? I hope you will also find further support from the Forum community here.

If you wish, you can speak to me or one of my colleagues on the support line - I will leave our number below. We have a booklet on End-of-Life Care which you can read, download or order, that may be helpful - https://www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk/information/end-of-life-care-for-pancreatic-cancer/

With best wishes,

Lisa Woodrow

Pancreatic Cancer UK Specialist Nurse

Support Line: Freephone 0808 801 0707

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