They hadn’t had much to be happy about over the past year. A progressive disease, no longer curable given how far it had spread throughout the body. They were determined to continue their chemotherapy despite the demoralising side effects. Most people would’ve given up after two cycles let alone completing 12 cycles.
A strong-willed person with too much to live for. It was the uncertainty that troubled them the most. They knew death was coming and had tried their best to prepare for it. The loss of control troubled them deeply. They found the advance care planning handbook to be useful in covering the practicalities of this part of life. Funeral arrangements were pre-planned, their will was finalised.
They’d been offered an inpatient admission months ago but they were not ready for it.
“Not yet doctor.”
Some months later they’d become more unwell, wracked with pain and distress in the hospital. They were glad to be admitted to our inpatient unit, and we worked with them to bring their pain under control and they were able to return home.
Over the next month, the rate of deterioration worsened. As per their request, we tried to keep them at home with their partner and their children. They came for an outpatient clinic appointment and ended up needing to stay in as an inpatient.
“How long have I got left?”
“I’m not sure, could be as short as weeks. Could be longer, most people don’t have the level of inner strength you do.”
Once comfortable they were able to relax and even smile. They were on the receiving end of input from the local Dad Joke specialist. Laughter was heard coming out of the room that last week had only witnessed tears. Their laughter was one of my best achievements of the past week.