Dealing with end stage cancer of the stomach is often worse for the family and friends than for you the sufferer.
Whilst you might seek some solace in this fact, there is no doubt that you will be having a lot of fears and concerns for those around you.
In the final stages of the disease, there are certain events that usually happen, both from your side of the illness and also from those that are there to provide love and support.
However, the end point has no script so, until it happens, it is difficult to predict other than to say you are unlikely to be aware of it which I hope you find comforting.
No one likes talking about the ‘big C’ and no one likes to talk about the ‘big D’ either.
It usually makes for difficult reading and so, rather than discussing it on this page, I will provide a link at the end should you wish to learn what is likely to happen.
You may have noticed that I use the term ‘journey’ quite a bit on this website and for anyone suffering from this disease; it is a journey with a start and an end.
The term ‘journey’ was used by Steve Evans, a very lovely, humorous man in his early fifties who has died from disease.
I will explain more about Steve, later on this page, as I think you will find his story inspiring.
By now, you are likely to have been travelling this journey for quite some time, but the beginning of end stage cancer of the stomach has likely been signalled by the withdrawal of any curative treatment for you.
I say ‘curative’ because it doesn't mean you won’t be offered any treatment, quite the opposite, but it will be directed at symptoms rather than ‘attacking’ the tumor itself.
End stage cancer of the stomach is usually defined by the doctors looking after you, although there is absolutely no reason why you can’t trigger this too.
The change in the journey is usually due to your tumor not responding to the treatments you have had, whether this is chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
When there is no response, maybe after a few failures, it is usually perceived that the malignancy is now following its own natural path.
However I mentioned that you too can trigger this change, because any treatment offered to you has to be with your specific consent, and you may feel that you have had enough.
After all, treatments are not without side effects and it takes a toll. If you are feeling this way, it is important for you to discuss this with both your oncologist, but equally with your family and your closest friends.
The answer to this question really depends on your symptoms. It may be a hiatus in your stomach cancer journey when you are not feeling too bad.
If this is the case, then my advice to you is to enjoy the days that you have with those you cherish most.
You may remember I mentioned Steve Evans earlier who had end stage cancer of his stomach.
He worked for his local council, had an interest in magic and liked fishing, something I enjoy too, although I am side tracking!
He was first diagnosed with stage 4 disease, 2 years 3 months ago. To say he was an inspiration is an understatement, because Steve touched so many people throughout the UK and possibly beyond and will continues to do so long after his journey ended on the 16th January 2014.
Steve had turned the ‘dark side’ of his illness in to a positive by inspiring people with his story. He became a media star through his radio and television appearances.
Talking about his illness undoubtedly helped him as well as helping many other people living with end stage cancer.
He used twitter and accumulated 26,9000 followers.
He tweeted every day about his life, what he was doing and how life was treating him at that particular time.
He tweeted from his home, on the road and even from his hospital bed when he has been having blood transfusions!
Of course, for Steve his journey has now ended, but it was his way of using his relatively short time as a positive and a coping mechanism too. You can catch up with Steve's videos here, he was truely an inspiration.
Now, I'm not saying you should do the same, but the point I would like to make is this, the latter part of the journey doesn't have to be ‘dark’.
How you choose to live your life at this stage is entirely up to you and something I know Steve would have advocated.
There are practical things that you may want to address and I will discuss this with you next.
It astonishes me the number of people who haven’t made a will. The Guardian newspaper, in 2010, quotes a figure of 30 million adults in the UK as not having a will.
If you have dependants this is vital. If you don’t have a will your estate will be dealt with through probity and this causes uncertainty if you haven’t directed where your estate will go.
So, my advice is to make sure you have a will! You might also like to consider a ‘power of attorney’, someone who can organise your financial affairs, when you are unable.
This can be a member of family, a trusted friend or a solicitor.
Some other practical issues that you might like to consider attending to are:
Some people at this stage wish to leave a present, a letter, a video, a recording or a life book in which they chart their life.
A life book is a way of leaving your legacy and is often something that is done by younger people with the disease, when children are involved.
However, any one can do this and if you feel that you would like to do so then do it!
You might like to consider an end of life care plan. This outlines your wishes as to what treatments you want in your final days, who you want with you, where you wish to be when you die and, if you have a religion, what involvement you would like them to have.
You don’t have to do this, but some people with end stage cancer of the stomach wish to organise their funeral, the type of funeral be it cremation or burial and the service you would like.
In the UK, agencies such as:
are commonly involved in your care.
In the US, the equivalent is the American Society.
Discussing your plans with them may make, dealing with the issues outlined, your final days a lot easier.