What is it like to die of cancer?
July 23, 2010 12:44 PM   Subscribe

What are your experiences with terminal metastatic melanoma?

My father has been diagnosed with terminal Stage IV melanoma, metastasized extensively throughout his brain and lungs. At present, the only symptoms he has are headaches and short-term memory problems, and he is undergoing radiation and chemo; however, his doctors have been very honest with him and estimate he has somewhere between 3 months and a year left, depending on how the cancer reacts to treatment. From what I have read and heard, this type of cancer is extremely aggressive and generally does not respond well to treatment at all. He is young (60), but was not in good health prior to this diagnosis. Therefore, I'm expecting that he probably has closer to 6 months than a year, and I'm trying to prepare myself for what these next few months will be like.

I have no experience with watching someone die of cancer. I have no idea what to expect - how long he will have his wits about him, how much pain he will be in, what the end will be like. I'm halfway across the country from him and his doctors and can't ask them these questions, and to be honest I wouldn't feel comfortable asking them in front of my dad even if I were there.

My relationship with my father is very complex emotionally, but I'm not really asking for emotional guidance here. I just want someone to tell me what the next few months are going to be like on a day-to-day, practical basis. Please share with me your experiences with end-stage cancer, and melanoma in particular. Thanks.
posted by something something to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
My mom, who died at 52, didn't get bad until the very end. She had pancreatic cancer, not melanoma, although it is also very aggressive and poorly responsive to chemo. The last few months were like watching her be swept out to sea, getting further and further, starting to drown and finally, at the last moments, vanishing, long past the point that anyone could help, vanishing. It isn't the death that's hard, it's watching them suffer. If there's one thing I learned and can tell you it is this:

You are not a bad person for wanting your father to die.

And at the very end, the last week or so, you will want him to die. You will see him in the bed, zonked out on morphine and still in pain, moaning, maybe. Sit there. Hold his hand. Talk to him if you like. Don't if you don't. You'll want to spend all your time with him but you can't. Keep your batteries charged. Take breaks. Try and not be alone unless you desperately need to be alone, and even then keep it short. His speech will go, eventually. Then his mind. Eventually, he will lay there doing the only thing he can do: breathe. You'll know what will come after. Hopefully you won't be there when it happens. Some people would disagree. I wasn't, and I'm glad.

Here's the question I asked when I was in the same position you were in, although I asked it about two weeks before she died, but expecting at least another month. She looked only a little worse than usual, a bit weaker, a bit more spaced out.
posted by griphus at 12:56 PM on July 23, 2010 [5 favorites]

The one thing I can recommend, unequivocally, universally: hospice. Hospice, hospice, hospice. Get in touch with 'em, tell 'em your story, see what they can offer. Having compassionate, talented medical personnel who have done it before, who know what is and is NOT normal, who can provide guidance and reassurance, who will do everything they can to maximize quality of life and dignity... it's invaluable. They are awesome.
posted by julthumbscrew at 1:10 PM on July 23, 2010 [10 favorites]

Best answer: From a MeFite who would prefer to remain anonymous
My experience is limited to a grandmother who died of lung cancer. The cancer that killed her was a recurrence of an earlier cancer, the treatment for which involved removing a lobe of one of her lungs. She was considerably older than your father, and also had the complication of emphysema. I was attending college nearby, so I was able to see her frequently through the end.

During the beginning of her last six months, she maintained a lifestyle not too different than she had for the past few years. She lived in her house in a retirement community until she passed away. She had her hair done once a week or so. Over time she stopped being able to go to the community dining hall for meals and began relying on family, friends, and caretakers to bring meals. She stopped being able to go out for groceries, even with the help of another person. Eventually she stopped being able to get around easily even within her own home and started needing assistance more or less continuously.

She began needing more and more oxygen and any time without it was very hard for her. She started needing pain medication. She needed help using the restroom, though the occasions for that were less and less frequent as she ate and drank less. She needed medication to make going to the restroom easier for her. She began to have bouts of confusion and restlessness. The pain medication dosage was increased and she was prescribed medication for anxiety. Eating and drinking became difficult, and she had to be encouraged to eat or drink anything.

In the end, she could no longer eat and drinking was limited to the occasional bit of water through a straw. She was switched to a highly concentrated liquid morphine to supplement the fentanyl patch she wore because she could no longer take pills. She was prescribed medicine to counteract the side effects of the pain medication, and that made her drowsy. She was confined to her bed and wore an adult diaper because going to the bathroom was no longer feasible. Periods of lucidity were fewer and further between due to the pain, lack of food, and the medication. Sometimes she would be startled and panicked, saying things like "I've got to go! I've got to go!" These were hard times. It was harder still when she stopped speaking entirely.

The last few days were spent with people continually by her side, often simply holding her hand and talking, sometimes to her, sometimes to each other, remembering her life and the lives of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She had only one or two semi-lucid moments her last day, as the last two children arrived. Finally, she passed away, her four children by her side.
posted by jessamyn at 1:14 PM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I knew I forgot something. Way seconding "hospice." Home hospice, if you can. If my mom's was a standard one, they'll bring the oxygen (two kinds:powered one for the bed/couch, and a mobile one for wandering around/going outside), the adjustable bed (his body will pick a position to lay in that is most comfortable, and I can almost assure you it will be a contorted one), and everything else.

Also: Be ready for a level of physical closeness you've never had and probably don't want. Toward the end, there will almost certainly be enemas and suppositories involved. And they will be a team effort.
posted by griphus at 1:15 PM on July 23, 2010

griphus has it. my mom died two years ago of renal cancer and her decline, over months, was the way Mike Campbell (in The Sun Also Rises) describes going broke: "gradually, then suddenly."

I recommend you contact Hospice immediately. They generally want a doctor's prognosis of six months (MOL), and then you will have a buttload of support, counseling, handholding, respite care and dudes on motorbikes carrying painkillers to your house when you run out.

when my mom was dying, I was able take leave of absence from work using FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act). I had a few quality weeks with her before she got too ill to even go out, and we had, in our limited way, some fun and some good thoughtful time together. our circle of physical mobility shrank perceptibly, quickly. the first weeks we were able to go out and do stuff - shopping, museums - and I could handle her wheelchair and wrangle her into bathrooms. not long after, the best we could do was walk her chair up and down the street, and then maybe out the the porch or deck, for coffee and birdwatching.

the last week or so, she slept in a bed downstairs, and got up to see visiting friends when she had the energy. she rarely felt like eating, and dessert was the most motivating meal of the day.

one thing I can tell you about watching someone die of cancer (or any other such brutal disease) is that, if you are one of the caregivers, you will move in a dreamlike state through scenarios that you would have found unbearable if someone told you beforehand. but, since your journey goes alongside that of your loved one, you are swept together into the dying experience, to a large extent, and your mind adjusts.

regarding pain: my mom was allergic to morphine, and she had impaired swallowing as well due to her advanced (unrelated) movement disorder. They gave her something called Fast Oxy, which is a ludicrously strong, quick-acting liquid form of Oxycodone/Oxycontin that even people who can barely swallow can use. I can confidently say it kept a leash on her pain, and for that I'm endlessly grateful.

feel free to memail me if you have any questions.

(it took me a while to write this, so on preview I see everyone else has noted Hospice - I nth that)
posted by toodleydoodley at 1:31 PM on July 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Since your father apparently does not feel like he's dying (only has headaches and minor memory stuff), you might advocate to get him in to one of the many trials that are going on for late-stage melanoma.

I have no idea whether this is appropriate, but, as someone with early stage melanoma (which may or may not come back), the more trials and progress, the better.

Please forgive me if you have already asked about this. And, best wishes for both you and your dad.
posted by Danf at 2:01 PM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I also recommend hospice.

Those close to the person dying often become very upset when they no longer can or wish to eat or drink. One thing to keep in mind if this situation arises is that there often is less discomfort for the person dying when they no longer are digesting food.
posted by flummox at 2:21 PM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

The worst part for me (dealing w/ my mom's late stage breast cancer) was that she was slowly losing her mind, whether it was brain tumors and/or aggressive chemo that caused it, I dunno. Her mental faculties started to degrade to a noticeable degree every week and there would be weird fits of completely out of character behavior. It would sometimes be hard to have non-family around.

Physically, cancer started to spread everywhere, her bones became fragile and one side of her body was weak and in constant pain. Hospice was great and took care of most of the personal care-type stuff. It's still the psychological stuff just always sticks in my head. Over a month before she died she completely stopped being herself and making sense. I thought 'Shit, even though she's still here, we're never going to have a conversation again.'
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 2:27 PM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

My wife died of metastatic melanoma a few years ago. First I need to say how profoundly sorry I am for both of you--it's bad enough watching; what it is like for the sufferer I can only imagine. Yes the cancer is aggressive and difficult to treat. We had the experience of her apparently responding to a particular chemotherapeutic agent and then finding out she wasn't. Over the course of the last few days she sort of collapsed in on herself as her liver failed. Fortunately it happened quickly at the end.

As someone said above, be prepared for a level of physical closeness you may not be accustomed to. In fact my wife said once that this was one of the worst bits--having to have other people do things like clean her up after toilet.

And--there is some sort of genetic element in susceptibility to melanoma--my wife's family were part of a study by a university into how it tends to run in families. If your father has melanoma, for the sake of whatever god you believe in, get yourself checked regularly and keep an eye out for moles that do anything unusual.
posted by Logophiliac at 3:43 PM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: something something, I am so sorry.

A close family member died of cancer a month ago, and the experience is fresh for me. Every case is different; every patient is different; what I saw may or may not be what you experience.

Paperwork: Has your father has made a will? Signed a power of attorney and a durable medical power of attorney? Do you know how to find these documents? Does he have a living will? What about titles and deeds? Keys to safety deposit box? The power of attorney may not mean much to you today, but it's going to become important (for example, with the bank) soon. Your dad should have as much say in these matters as he is capable of having while he is still competent. The damage to the brain may set in quickly and *someone* needs to have these documents in order for various doctors/lawyers/businesses. If someone can put together a list of utilities, credit card acct #s, insurance policies, etc., that will be helpful down the line. (This site might be of help; there are certainly others.)

Your father's wishes: There never seems to be a good time to talk about death and dying. But your father's time is short; you need to know. Does he want extensive treatment? Or would he prefer a DNR? Funeral? Cremation? Memorial service? Your relationship may be fraught, but is there someone who can get these answers? A family friend, or other counselor?

Hospice: Do your homework on your father's local hospice. When there is no cure, hospice can help with the pain. Call and find out what is entailed for admission. My relative stayed at home, with help from hospice (meds, advice) for several weeks, and then spent two weeks at the hospice facility before her death. Her care was more than I could handle...but not more than they could. I cannot praise their help highly enough. I would also urge you to talk with a hospice nurse local to you, and ask him or her about the physical changes you might well see.

Physical changes: My relative went from ambulatory and able to get up and down stairs easily, to being winded by stairs, to conserving her energy for one trip upstairs and one down, to living out of her bed. The energy turned inward; her mind was trying to figure out how to cope, and there wasn't much left for her body. She wasn't hungry -- what she ate, the cancer consumed first -- and she became thin, frail and sunken. A bruise took a long time to heal. Certain plates and bowls became to heavy for her to hold. I saw such weakness take over. At the end, she had difficulty sitting up. But there was no pain; hospice saw to that.

Emotional changes: I believe her brain was affected, and she could no longer cope with new things (especially when we had her at our house). This frustrated her. Her thinking became disjointed in the last month,, and she was unable to have a coherent conversation. Lucid periods became shorter. Recognizing people became difficult. She...regressed toward the end. It became harder to see her as she had been -- an accomplished, bright, spirited, witty mother -- and easier to see her fears, doubts and insecurities. In some way, she became a child, reliant on reassurance and hand-holding. Whatever had gone before was stripped away and it was human being to human being, need (on her part) and hand-holding through the fear on mine.

The phone: I began to hate my phone, because every ring could have been bad news from hospice. But you know what? When the final call came -- "Come now, she's going" -- I appreciated the heads-up, so I had time to get there in time to be with her for the end. Who will call you? And when? How informed do you need to be along the way? Who can keep you updated? Who will be able to tell you when your father becomes no-longer-competent? (This is a significant question, in terms of honoring his wishes, and in terms of the level of conversation, as yeahyeahyeahwhoo points out.)

By the last few weeks, I was running on fumes. Garden neglected, children given short shrift...if it wasn't related to death, it could wait. A question that you didn't ask is "What will happen to me in the process of my father's dying?" I wish you good friends and good advice from doctors and nurses. This is going to be a very, very tough process.

Bottom line: Hospice YES, if at all possible. Know where to find documentation of your father's wishes. Recognize the point at which he is no longer a father, but a human being in deep need of comfort, relief from pain and hand-holding.

Again, I am so sorry. Pace yourself and turn to others as needed.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:54 PM on July 23, 2010 [3 favorites]

Hospice, definately! Usually they won't take unless the patient has 6 mo. or less. Talk with your doctor about this option.

My father died from multiple myeloma. I'm hoping things have advanced, this was 25 yrs. ago and his physician "didn't want to give up hope" and wouldn't allow him to have hospice at the end. I'm told things have changed.

Tell him to not be afraid of asking for pain medication. Also, let other family members know. During his last days (at home, prior to his admission to the hospital for the last time) I caught my mom not giving my dad his pain medication--she kept putting it off. I confronted her about it, away from my father. She was "afraid he'll become addicted". I told her "so what if he becomes addicted, as long as he is comfortable. He is terminal". My mother nodded. After that, my father received his pain medication regularly! My mother was in denial. She needed someone to point it out to her.

Not everyone moves through the grieving process at the same speed. I, personally, was glad to see my father pass. He would roll over in bed and fracture ribs. He was a shadow of who he used to be. He also knew when it was time. He was never a religious man, but he started talking in a way I had never heard. Be prepared for this, I wasn't. "The angels are talking to me" and "they are telling me it's time to go home" are things I would have bet I'd never hear my father say. He also "waited" to pass until he had see all of his children, (we were in three different states) and had given them advice. I honestly believe they have some "choice" as to when they pass.

Also, please remember HEARING IS THE LAST THING TO GO! I say that, because when my father passed, I as not a RN yet. I did not know this, and feel *horrible* about it.

Please, please feel free to MeMail me, at any time, if you want to ask questions or just want to chat.
posted by 6:1 at 3:58 PM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all for the thoughtful responses so far. I really, really appreciate it.

My father is already living in a long-term care facility, so his medical needs are going to be covered for the rest of his life. The first thing he wanted to do upon hearing the diagnosis was designate a power of attorney (my sister), set up the living will, and tell us of his financial accounts and funeral plans, so we are covered on those details as well.
posted by something something at 4:16 PM on July 23, 2010

contact hospice right away. they can do amazing things for his comfort and dignity. it's never too soon to get in touch, and it's always better to contact sooner rather than later.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:21 PM on July 23, 2010

I'm so sorry.

My father's at-home hospice workers actually made things more difficult, and I think my experience was made worse by having had my expectations built up about how wonderful and helpful it would be. . .so there's that.

But about this: "I'm halfway across the country from him and his doctors and can't ask them these questions, and to be honest I wouldn't feel comfortable asking them in front of my dad even if I were there."

I absolutely think you'd be okay in picking up the phones and calling your father's doctors whenever you had a question. I certainly did--and I know my questions got more pie-in-the-sky and wishful thinking there towards the end, and my dad's oncologist was nothing but patient and honest with me. I think oncologists might be prepared for and expecting this sort of thing, so if you feel comfortable giving it a try, I wouldn't hesitate out of concern for how the docs might react.
posted by tyrantkitty at 5:39 PM on July 23, 2010

Best answer: Long-term care facilities can be good. The question I have for you is whether a LTCF is going to be as skilled at pain management as a hospice will be. If your family is considering hospice as an option, it might be wise to 1) ask the facility about its pain management capacities (and where they stand vis-a-vis your father's end-of-life wishes; what are they required to do, what can they do, and what *won't* they do, especially if the doc rounds infrequently, or if they are not allowed to give certain medications); 2) ask a local (to your father) doctor for his/her opinion of the particular facility's reputation for end-of-life care (are there enough aides to handle the increasingly intense needs? Who will be allowed to give the really strong pain medications? Would a hospice facility, if available, be a better option.

If you think that he will probably die in this facility, then *talk to the folks there.* If they have a social worker, ask him or her how the facility typically handles its end-of-life patients. Ask the SW what kind of support is available to your father, and to your family. Get the little details in advance: Who will be allowed bedside, when the time comes? Who will pronounce? How and when will the body be removed? Can the family have time before that happens? My own limited experience with care facilities is that there's not enough staff to go around, and that unless there are volunteers, patients -- even dying patients, who may have incessant needs for physical care and emotional reassurance -- may not get the level of attention that they want/need. Can hospice come into the facility?

Even if you decide against hospice, have a look at palliative care-related materials, or ask your local hospice for materials to read.


Also, the National Cancer Institute answers your title question this way:

What are the signs that death is approaching? What can the caregiver do to make the patient comfortable?

Certain signs and symptoms can help a caregiver anticipate when death is near. They are described below, along with suggestions for managing them. It is important to remember that not every patient experiences each of the signs and symptoms. In addition, the presence of one or more of these symptoms does not necessarily indicate that the patient is close to death. A member of the patient's health care team can give family members and caregivers more information about what to expect.

* Drowsiness, increased sleep, and/or unresponsiveness (caused by changes in the patient's metabolism).

The caregiver and family members can plan visits and activities for times when the patient is alert. It is important to speak directly to the patient and talk as if the person can hear, even if there is no response. Most patients are still able to hear after they are no longer able to speak. Patients should not be shaken if they do not respond.

* Confusion about time, place, and/or identity of loved ones; restlessness; visions of people and places that are not present; pulling at bed linens or clothing (caused in part by changes in the patient's metabolism). Gently remind the patient of the time, date, and people who are with them. If the patient is agitated, do not attempt to restrain the patient. Be calm and reassuring. Speaking calmly may help to re-orient the patient.

* Decreased socialization and withdrawal (caused by decreased oxygen to the brain, decreased blood flow, and mental preparation for dying).

Speak to the patient directly. Let the patient know you are there for them. The patient may be aware and able to hear, but unable to respond. Professionals advise that giving the patient permission to “let go” can be helpful.

* Decreased need for food and fluids, and loss of appetite (caused by the body's need to conserve energy and its decreasing ability to use food and fluids properly).

Allow the patient to choose if and when to eat or drink. Ice chips, water, or juice may be refreshing if the patient can swallow. Keep the patient's mouth and lips moist with products such as glycerin swabs and lip balm.

* Loss of bladder or bowel control (caused by the relaxing of muscles in the pelvic area).

Keep the patient as clean, dry, and comfortable as possible. Place disposable pads on the bed beneath the patient and remove them when they become soiled.

* Darkened urine or decreased amount of urine (caused by slowing of kidney function and/or decreased fluid intake).

Caregivers can consult a member of the patient's health care team about the need to insert a catheter to avoid blockage. A member of the health care team can teach the caregiver how to take care of the catheter if one is needed.

* Skin becomes cool to the touch, particularly the hands and feet; skin may become bluish in color, especially on the underside of the body (caused by decreased circulation to the extremities).

Blankets can be used to warm the patient. Although the skin may be cool, patients are usually not aware of feeling cold. Caregivers should avoid warming the patient with electric blankets or heating pads, which can cause burns.

* Rattling or gurgling sounds while breathing, which may be loud; breathing that is irregular and shallow; decreased number of breaths per minute; breathing that alternates between rapid and slow (caused by congestion from decreased fluid consumption, a buildup of waste products in the body, and/or a decrease in circulation to the organs).

Breathing may be easier if the patient's body is turned to the side and pillows are placed beneath the head and behind the back. Although labored breathing can sound very distressing to the caregiver, gurgling and rattling sounds do not cause discomfort to the patient. An external source of oxygen may benefit some patients. If the patient is able to swallow, ice chips also may help. In addition, a cool mist humidifier may help make the patient's breathing more comfortable.

* Turning the head toward a light source (caused by decreasing vision).

Leave soft, indirect lights on in the room.

* Increased difficulty controlling pain (caused by progression of the disease).

It is important to provide pain medications as the patient's doctor has prescribed. The caregiver should contact the doctor if the prescribed dose does not seem adequate. With the help of the health care team, caregivers can also explore methods such as massage and relaxation techniques to help with pain.

* Involuntary movements (called myoclonus), changes in heart rate, and loss of reflexes in the legs and arms are additional signs that the end of life is near.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:44 PM on July 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

The dying process is different for everyone and the grief process is different for everyone. From the way you describe his condition, he may go pretty fast (which isn't a bad thing IMHO...watching people die v e r y s l o w l y of cancer is pretty horrible). It sounds like he is getting his legal ducks in a row which will be really helpful for the family afterwards. Nthing Hospice...they did a great job with my mom and provided very good information at the end about dying, like when my mom stopped eating and drinking and all of the kids were ready to insist on a feeding tube but the Hospice nurse explained that the body goes into shutdown mode at the end and the patient doesn't want/need to eat or drink (something I had never heard of). The end for my mom was first, lots of people visiting and lots of flowers (her place looked like a freakin florists shop!), then as she got sicker, she was in bed most of the time and most people stop visiting (for a variety of reasons), then pretty much, she was out of it on morphine at the end. She did have hallucinations and "sundowners syndrome" which made me want to be medicate, it was really freaky. Anyway, sorry about your situation, it is really sad.
posted by MsKim at 5:52 PM on July 23, 2010

My mom was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer in March of last year and died in August. PM me and I can provide you with lots and lots of info. People have hit on some important stuff above. Like tyrantkitty, I had heard people sing the praises of hospice care, and I actually don't really think for my mom it was all that great, but the stigma against hospice is harmful, and should end now. Pain management is extremely important, and I found it surprisingly difficult to effectively navigate the sea of people managing my mother's care so that her interests were best served with respect to pain

My mom had a lot of metastases to her bones. She loved a microwavable pillow that I picked up on a whim at Bed Bath and Beyond right after she got sick, like this, but one designed for anywhere on the body: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?sku=16883646&. It could be warmed up a bit and helped to soothe the localized bone pain. If/when your dad ends up stuck in bed, books, music, and TV are all great things. As are hugs and good conversations.

Like MsKim says, death and grieving are so, so different from person to person. The dying process was very quick for my mom--a matter of maybe a week or two from pretty much fully coherent but immobile to the end of life--but for others it is very slow--the same process could play out over many months as opposed to just a couple of weeks. There's no simple way to predict this, but one hospice worker I spoke with (who drew upon lots of anecdotal evidence) told me she felt that people with aggressive cancers who very suddenly find themselves sick with little warning often go through the dying process faster, while people who have had cancer for years and years go through it much more slowly, and could be in hospice for months or even years.

One last note: you mention that your dad is receiving radiation and chemotherapy. You haven't made clear what exactly his goals of treatment are, but I wanted to mention that there is a monoclonal antibody called ipilimumab that has shown great success in treating metastatic melanoma relative to the current standard of care. Some small fraction of patients who receive it do much, much better than they would on any other treatment currently used for the disease. You can view the clinical trials of ipilimumab in melanoma that are currently recruiting at http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?term=melanoma+ipilimumab&recr=Open. Obviously, whether or not your father would even consider such a thing would depend on his goals of treatment. He would also have to meet the lengthy list of health-related eligibility requirements that is listed on each of those trial pages, be near and well enough to a treatment center to receive the treatments, and so on. It goes without saying that he would need to discuss it with his doctor(s), etc.

PM me if you ever want to talk.
posted by holympus at 10:55 PM on July 23, 2010

I absolutely think you'd be okay in picking up the phones and calling your father's doctors whenever you had a question.

This brings up that in order for you to get personal health information about your father, he will have to add you to the list of people the doctor may discuss his condition with, (at least that is how the law/act was intended). You may want to discuss this option with your father.
posted by 6:1 at 11:11 PM on July 23, 2010

I'm not going to be the obnoxious "believe in miracles" guy. I've dumped too many boxes of stability samples into the big red waste tubs for that nonsense. But I know that there are successors to this thing I worked on a few years ago. And while our project failed in phase 3, it's looked really promising in phase 1 and 2.

The thing is, there were other companies looking at the same targets we were and then have trials going. Maybe they've figured out what we missed.

Good luck.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:12 PM on July 23, 2010

I am very sorry. My father, at age 67, received the exact same diagnosis including the brain/lung involvement. He went from feeling under the weather and short of breath to dead in about ten days; chemo failed. His strain of melanoma was extremely virulent but I tell you his story so you consider going to your father's side now, especially given that your relationship is complex.
posted by carmicha at 1:26 AM on July 24, 2010

I should add, to underscore why I urge you to go now, that my father was also given the same estimate of life expectancy that your father has been given. Feel free to MeMail me If you want lots of details; I'm using my phone now so it's not easy to type. Best wishes for you and your family.
posted by carmicha at 1:33 AM on July 24, 2010

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