What is terminal cancer?
Terminal cancer refers to cancer that can’t be cured or treated. It’s sometimes also called end-stage cancer. Any type of cancer can become terminal cancer.
How long can you live with terminal cancer?
People with a terminal illness may live for days, weeks, months or sometimes years. It can be difficult for doctors to predict how long someone will live for. This can depend on their diagnosis and any treatments they may be receiving.
What are the next steps after diagnosis?
Receiving a diagnosis of terminal cancer can be extremely overwhelming. This can make it hard to know what to do next. There’s no right or wrong way to proceed, but these steps may help if you’re unsure what to do next.
Acknowledge your emotions
If you receive the news that you or a loved one has terminal cancer, you’ll likely go through a range of emotions, often within a short period. This is totally normal.
For example, you might initially feel angry or sad, only to find yourself feeling a slight sense of relief, especially if the treatment process has been particularly difficult. Others might feel guilt over leaving loved ones behind. Some may feel completely numb.
Try to give yourself time to feel what you need to feel. Remember there’s no correct way to react to a diagnosis of terminal cancer.
In addition, don’t be afraid to reach out for support from friends and family. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, talk to your doctor. They can refer you to local resources and services that can help.
Receiving a diagnosis of terminal cancer can lead to an overwhelming sense of uncertainty. Again, this is completely normal. Consider tackling this uncertainty by jotting down a list of questions, both for your doctor and yourself. This will also help you better communicate with those close to you.
What kind of care will someone with a terminal illness need?
Someone living with a terminal illness is likely to receive treatment and care which focuses on managing their symptoms and maintaining their quality of life. This is called palliative care. The aim is to make the person feel supported and give them a good quality of life, rather than cure their illness. People can have other treatments at the same time as receiving palliative care.
If someone is living with a terminal illness, it doesn’t mean they can’t live a full life. Palliative care aims to help the person be as well and active as possible, and it helps manage any pain or other symptoms they may have.
People living with a terminal illness and their loved ones may find that they need different types of practical help or emotional support at various points throughout their illness. Palliative care can involve psychological, social and spiritual support for the person who is ill and their loved ones. The palliative care team, which is a team of healthcare professionals looking after the person who is ill, can make sure family and friends receive the help and support they need.
Care Through the Final Days
As a person nears the end of his or her life, it is difficult to know what to expect. Responsibilities of caregivers may differ based on where the person with cancer is receiving care. For example, providing care at home instead of a hospital or hospice facility may include more responsibilities for caregivers. Regardless of the situation, the health care team will provide the best care possible through the end of life. And, they will do everything possible to ensure that the person dying is comfortable.