Thursday 6 October 2011

Uncle revisited

I have posted several times about the heartbreaking situation of my 95-year-old uncle; demented, frail, incontinent, unable to walk and appearing to be pretty unhappy for much of the time (although it's hard to tell).

I visited him today, and the nasty sore on his face has been diagnosed as malignant. And guess what? The dermatologist recommends radiotherapy. This would involve distressing journeys to and from the hospital, disrupted routine, strange faces, more distress at having to lie still, and the painful after-effects of the treatment. And all for what? To keep alive someone who would naturally have died some time ago (he's been kept going by a multiplicity of drugs, antibiotics etc). Add to that the fact that the cancer may well have already spread, and...well, I despair. As next of kin I have made my feelings known, and the staff are very sympathetic, but how can anyone with an ounce of common sense and/or humanity even contemplate such a step? And that's putting aside the expense for a cash-strapped NHS.

As I said, I despair.


  1. So sad Frances is all I can say. Prayers for you.

  2. Since I have started to follow your blog only recently, this is the first time I've come across your uncle.
    And I fully agree with you.
    That is the good thing about it when something happens to our pet dogs, cats etc., when they get very old and frail and, like my old cat Mimi, have cancer: even though it hurts to let them go, we can take that decision for them and spare them a lot of suffering.

  3. No one should have to suffer this prolonged misery. I feel sympathy for you having to witness it. And for your uncle for being in a position none of us would choose for ourselves.

  4. That is quite indecent. How on earth can anyone contemplate putting such an elderly, frail person through this. I do hope divine intervention will take any decisions out of human hands very soon.

    On a happier note - I've given you a Friendly Blogger Award and you can pick it up from my blog any time it's convenient.

  5. I feel so sad for you and your uncle, Frances. The poor man. I'm all for keeping people going when there is quality of life, but in some instances it is just inhumane.

  6. I agree that in this case it sounds as though the cure (or probably just attempts at a cure) are likely to be worse for the patient than the problem. I suppose if he were well enough to benefit from the treatment he could refuse it, but as he's not, he can't.

  7. It makes me wonder - do living wills have any force in this kind of situation?

  8. Thanks, Susan. Prayers very much needed!

    Glad you feel the same, Librarian.

    Thank you, Joanna.

    Thanks, Rosemary, and for the award!

    Teresa, I am fighting this one all the way!

    Hi, Patsy. How true. I've made it clear to my family (including 3 doctors and a nurse) that I don't want on of this kind of nonsense when my time comes!

  9. Thinking of you and your uncle Frances.

    Kind regards.

    Anna :o]

  10. This is so sad Frmaces and my heart goes out to you, your uncle and all of your family. From what I know about radiotherapy (which is way more than I ever wanted to know) it would be too much for your uncle. It takes its toll on even the healthiest of bodies. Good for you for speaking up for him and what is best for him. Sadly I suspect it has something to do with Govt guidelines. When a person is diagnosed with cancer the Govt says that they have to be treated within a certain time or the hospital is fined. Good luck to you all.

  11. Alis, I don't think he made a living will, but I gather even these can be contested. Keeping people alive at all costs seems to be the thing nowadays, although it's extremely costly (quite apart from humanitarian considerations).

    Colette, thanks. I think common sense will prevail, even if I have to go down armed to the teeth to fight for it!