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I'm sure my 96 year old grandmother knows she is...but she doesn't know that the rectal scancer that was diagnosed 3 years ago has metastasized to her liver (tumors are present, but no evidence of them "attacking" yet). We haven't told her as we didn't want it to interfer with her stint in rehab. But she is home now and I feel she deserves to know. But how do we tell her?

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Yes, Veronica, that sounds very doable. As long as she is not providing hands on care while pregnant.
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hev1128 - a baby! Congratulations! I have a lump in my throat as I consider your situation. Forgive me if I'm being corny here - but I think you are in an exceptionally profound moment in life. At your fingertips are two lives - one beggining and one ending - the circle of life at its very essence. As things become more difficult for you and your husband - as his grandmother declines and eventually passes on I'm sure you both will find comfort in caring for this new life.
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Hey I absolutely agree with everyone else comments. If Gma asks questions answer truthfully Cancer in the very elderly grows very slowly and the patient frequently dies from another cause like an infection.
Definitely stop the nurses talking about hospice in Gma's hearing, that is not their call. However find out for yourself just what services are available in your area.
Many dying patients have a goal they want to live for. In this case it could be the coming great grand baby. Try and focus on this and show her everything you are buying and encourage her to look forward to the event and share your joy. Death will come when it is ready just as birth does Try not to focus on it.
Now if you are worried about being able to care for Gma once the baby arrives that is a different situation and could lead to hard decisions. But if at least for now things can remain the same then don't change anything. Having Hospice come into the home would be a good thing but moving someone out to a facility would be very upsetting.
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Hev, congratulations on your impending joyful bundle!
Just like life, there is so much happening at the same time. Be sure to take some stress free time for yourself. There should be no guilt-that added burden of guilt has no room in your life at present.
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Sendme2help, how we are coping is a loaded question. This is my husbands grandmother, so he can sometimes be an ostrich about her true condition. he doesn't want to give up on her. But, I'm almost 8 months pregnant and can't help with her care as much as I could before. and I'm feeling very guilty that our pregnancy is forcing some tough decisions to be made. Though, the bottom line is we both want what is best for her it's just a matter of how to get there.
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hev, Thank you for updating on your grandmother. You must have had that difficult conversation with all the compassion, grace, and mercy that is evident in your posts here.
How are you and your husband coping?
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Update for those interested...we had a small conversation with her last week since we needed her input on her care (she lives with us, we have aides, her money won't last forever, we are in planning phases) We discussed hospice briefly and explained that she qualified solely because of her age and that she had cancer. she understood and wasn't upset by it. we didn't go into the details. she is truly "living with cancer". we just want wants best for her with whatever time she has left.
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Yes, Garden Artist.
We are all living with something, until our last breath.
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Send the "living with cancer" is a distinction that I read about in the CURE cancer magazine several years ago. It was as I recall a major effort to moderate the fear, anxiety and depression that was associated with cancer, and I think it was a brilliant move.
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I think you have the right to speak privately with the visiting nurses as well as the agency through which they're placed, and ask them to avoid the hospice kind of conversation.
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P.S. After removal of one lung, my father rallied, was able to perform one more job as a tree surgeon, earn a little money and give each child $300, before he died going to the E.R. with a heart condition. This time he had, this time I remember was life, and I would not have wanted to be the one taking those last three months away from him as he lie dying in a hospice bed, overmedicated, after having given up. That is why when someone has cancer, I say they are living with cncer, not dying of cancer. The difference is, you will understand maybe later, is huge.
Love, from Send
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When visiting my father in the hospital after being diagnosed with lung cancer, the doctor said he did not tell him that he was terminal because my father did not ask. After query about how can this be right, the doctor explained that he might suspect or already know, however, not everybody wants to discuss this, may still be fighting, may not have given up hope. To have a doctor declare you terminally ill, with X months to live, can put a huge damper on your ability to keep fighting and remain hopeful. How many times have the doctors been wrong-because they have. The hope and fight left in you is, imo, what determines your quality of life!
You might want to carefully consider your own motivations-if they are anything like mine, they would be people deserve to know the truth.!
This may be the time to put mercy above the truth, and continue to visit, care for your loved one, let them know you care and are there for them, each day.

Next, ask yourself, after you tell, then what? Then, play out this scenario asking yourself, and then? Next, and then what? See where it goes, because so often, the patient will end up asking for assisted suicide, mercy killing, euthanasia way too soon. Will you be there? Will you be able to be truthful then?

So sorry you are faced with this loss and difficult time.
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I was thinking of the words I would use, but you must have rehearsed them in your own mind a thousand times. I think it is as you first said, at 96 she knows her life is ending soon, even without this diagnosis. Just reassure her that things will not change, that you will be there for her with the help of hospice. ((hugs))
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Seems the overwhelming majority of you think I shouldn't say anything...but here's our scenario. We have home visit nurses who are pushing/recommending hospice care. Grandma isn't a fool, she knows what hospice is. So she hears a discussion about hospice...but doesn't know the details as to why? she doesn't understand why she isn't getting stronger with her therapies (cause her body is failing her).

For those that ask about family, I'm her grand-daughter in law. Her grandson is my husband. There is no one else. she lives with us.
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I agree with everyone else - I don't see any benefit to telling her what she might already know, and besides, there apparently is no definite Dx that she is in fact in a terminal stage (based on what you wrote).

There's another issue: (a) do you think she doesn't sense that something's wrong, and (b) do you think she prefers not to worry you by sharing what she suspects? I.e., she may be thinking the same thing but does notwant you to be concerned.

Telling her can't change the progression of the metastasis.

I would consider that each day is precious, so spend it supporting her and making what could be the end of her life worthwhile and positive. Just do things together that you both enjoy, being mindful of the fact that her energy level either is still low or could decline.
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If she does ask, or you decide she has to know, her chief concern will probably be fear of a painful death. I would focus on reassuring her that you will be her advocate, and that hospice can help make her final moments peaceful.
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I am in agreeance with all of the previous posts, but if she does ask, you could say that the Dr says there are some Small tumors in your liver, but they are not bothersome to you right now. I wouldn't lie, she knows that she is nearing the end of her life, so calmly and slowly and without alarm, over a cup of coffee. I doubt she'll be alarmed. She's 96. Good for her! How Lucky you are to have had her this long, you will be OK. God bless!
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I would not tell her. As long as she doesn't know and is comfortable and feeling positive why burden her with doom and give her nothing to live for in the time she has left - and it could be a long time. If she asks, you could discuss, but chances are she will not ask. My mother did not ask, even at the end, she was fighting and didn't want to hear the words.
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How would this news benefit her? I agree that any number of things could cause her to pass away before that one. We are all dying. We just don't know when or how. Since no one knows that about her, I wouldn't burden her with such details unless there was a reason to know. I'd discuss it with the family and come to an agreement. Keeping grandmother comfortable and content as possible, would be my focus.
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I agree with ff and M88. I would not tell her and it is true she may die from something else.

My mother is in late stage of vascular dementia and has been put on comfort care. There is nothing they can do for her but keep her comfortable. No one has told her this as far as I know and I think it is better they don't. Part of keeping a person comfortable near life end is attending to their psychological/emotional comfort.

Just do what you can to make the best of the time she has left. No one know how long that is.

So sorry for this news. It is so hard for her loved ones.
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Actually, I read it somewhere... sorry... could have been here (do a word search, upper right corner of this page), but the person dying seems to know they are. Somehow, they do.
I agree with FreqFlyer, do not tell her.

Now, if she were to ASK...
What you say..........better yet HOW you say it.............will make all the difference
in the world.
You know grandma.
Why agitate her at this stage?
What do your other relatives say?
You all need to be on the same page on this one.
Sorry to hear about this. So painful to see our loved ones suffer and die.
Thanks for posting,
M88
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Personally, I would NOT tell her. Being that she is 96, something else could be the cause of her passing, not the cancer. So why have her worry over this.
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