Dear Dr. Espinosa. My father-in-law, Fernando, is dying of prostate cancer. He is 91 years old, was diagnosed about 3 months ago and the doctor said he has 2-6 months left of life. He lives in Central America and the family we have overthere has not been able to obtain information we need from his doctor about the en-of-life cycle.
We are deeply concerned at the same time that we are already grieving and managing his care. Fernando is in bed, unable to get up, barely able to move, refuses to eat or drink more than a couple of small bites or a sip of water. And now, he has not passed stools for about 3 days. He is responsive, but appears to have no energy and complains a lot of pain. His cancer is at a “final” stage; is has metastasized to the sacral spine and the bladder.
What we are desperate to know is what we can expect as he dies of cancer. What changes will his body go through? Will pain increase? Will he eventually stop speaking? Will he lose consciousness/will he be able to hear us/understand us? Is it normal for him to lose the ability to pass stools? We have searched and searched everywhere – books, the interned, asked doctors – and no one can explain any of this to us.
Any information you can share will be deeply appreciated.
Usually, in end stage of cancer there is nothing alternative that can help. Of course, you want to keep him well hydrated and perhaps give him some fiber like metamucil ( or something like it). Palliative care to decrease pain and discomfort would be best for him. It sounds like he is ready to move on and you and the rest of the family should embrace that. The goal is for the transition to be as smooth and painless as possible. I hope this helps.