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Can anyone tell me about colon cancer with a possible obstruction? My mom is 88 years old and is in the hospital with this diagnosis. What's next? I'm scared of what lies ahead.

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Wow MsAnnie. I don't think any of us with parents or loved ones expected the hospice staff to be there when the person passes. I didn't, and my mom was in hospice in a NH. I only have pretty positive memories of the hospice staff. They provided support to my mom with music, company and their cleric provided religion as well.
I don't think your expectations of hospice were realistic.
Our hospice nurse provided me with information to come to grips that my mother's end of life was near. It was in the middle of the night. No one was there except my mother and I.
Sorry you had a negative experience with hospice but that was not the norm for many of us.
Dealing with the passing of your mother is devastating. Hospice assisted but ultimately the child has to accept that they are going to lose an irreplaceable person in their life. Both the family and the dying person deserve comfort but death is part of life.
I'm for comfort through medication for the patient and enjoying together whatever time is left.
Blackcloud you have made the best decision you could have made.
Just enjoy your mom while she is here and keep her comfortable. Work with hospice to do so.
My mother will be gone 4 years tomorrow and I remember everything. I know when passed she was comfortable, clean and loved. It was not easy. But she went with the Angels to a better place that morning.
Clinically I knew what was happening but it was still hard to see.
Afterwards you are in deep grief but your realistic side knows they suffer no more. That in itself is a huge comfort, or was to me.
My mom was 89.
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A lot of folks swear by hospice, except those that have been the hospice patient and they're no longer here to tell about it.. but I am. I have been the patient of numerous hospices, and let me tell you they are not all alike. The one common denominator among all of them is the fact that there is a 99.9% chance that when your mother passes they will NOT be there with you until AFTER the fact. You WILL be alone, unless you have family there with you. Hospice has up to one hour to arrive after you call them, so chances are your mother will have already passed VERY painfully, I might add. They may or may not give you a morphine "kit" so you will in effect be drugging your mother (killing her) for lack of a better phrase. I'm sorry if this scares you, but it is the truth. People find the truth hard to swallow at times and certainly the hospices will disagree because they need to make that money, they have families to feed. I will suggest this site for you to read. hospicepatients org Please study that page carefully, it has a lot of good information. Read some of the stories by familes that have survived the hospice nightmare. There are other ways. BTW. You should tell your mom.. It's her life, her body, she deserves the truth and she deserves a choice. Unless she has given you a power of attorney. She still has rights. Best of luck
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Do not doubt yourself. This is the best thing you could be doing for your Mom...to depart in the company of family...in the comfort of home. Do not under value this!

Your choices are painful. But, rather than to see your Mom go through this over and over with complications and the whole problem just coming right back each time till she is too weak to hang on? No, you are choosing to let her have the best quality of life possible.

Longer life is only worth it if there is quality and hope of recovery.

The choice is hard. You are making the hard choice...by the right choice
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Hi Blackcloudone,
Been thinking of you so much!
Hope you're able to rest some and your mom is free of pain.

Hugs,
Bella
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Thank you so much everyone with your kind and encouraging words. I'm a little stressed today but I have to get us through this.
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What a precious, special gift of parental LOVE your parents gave you.
Remember when you are fearful God is right by you and your moms side.
Praying for strength and deep comfort for you and no more pain for your momma.
I'm picturing you lying there with her...how sweet and fortunate she has you there, that's a real blessing.😇
Thinking of you constantly sweet momma and daughter....🙏🏻
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BlackCloud, You are doing the right thing by bringing her home for hospice. How about asking if they can send someone to fix her hair - seriously! That is part of taking care of the whole person, and it's going to make your mom feel so much happier if she feels good about her self when she has all these new visitors. Really - call hospice and ask if they can send someone, even if you have to pay out of pocket. If you can get an appointment, tell her, so it's something she can look forward to. When she's struggling, you can remind her that she's getting her hair done next week, and that itself will help refocus her attention from any distress to her hair.
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I am so happy that you can be there for her now as she really needs you. You can provide her with pure acts of love for whatever time she has left. If she receives morphine or any narcotic these meds slow the motility of the GI tract as well as pain relief.
Does she like music? Maybe you can surround her with her favorite music to help her as well.
Try not to dwell too much on the negative. Yes I know you are worried about her pain level and comfort but try to provide relief for her (& your) psyche as well.
That may be difficult as this diagnosis came suddenly.
Bring her favorite flowers, let a little sunshine in, if she has a pet, let her see it. Hold her hand and touch her as the human touch from a loved one is very comforting. Brush her hair, massage her hands, rub lotion on her arms and legs. Give her a back rub if she can roll to the side without much pain. So hard this is. You can still find ways to celebrate life with her in these final days.
I know it's a terrible vigil to have to make. Try to enjoy each other while you can. Hospice will keep her comfortable when she has pain.
And no, the intestines won't burst externally.  Her belly may get distended. Is she allowed ice chips or anything by mouth?
Has she moved her bowels at all?
Sending good thoughts to you.
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B, darling girl, that's exactly the sort of thing you can ask hospice about.

I'm not sure what you're imagining or visualising, and I'm not a medical or nursing professional, but I don't think the colon can "burst" in the way you're perhaps afraid of. But rather than me guessing or looking on the internet, why not talk this through with your hospice team and ask them to explain to you how this is likely to progress, and how they would handle each problem if it were to arise.

Is your mother already being given effective pain relief? - if so, that would explain her thoughts' wandering as you describe. This doesn't mean you should second-guess your decision: you're not denying your mother a chance to fight this evil disease, because there isn't a real chance. But it does mean that she can't be in unbearable pain or feeling terrible fear, and that is what you're aiming for.

It's wonderful that you can be with her to reassure and comfort her whenever she needs it. And you sound like a pretty strong person to me :) Hugs to you, get as much sleep as you can.
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Thank you everyone so much.
I am scared. I am scared that the obstruction will make the colon burst and she will be in a lot of pain and hospice will not be able to do anything to comfort her. God bless my mother she says that whenever God wants her she is ready but then she'll say to let her try and do things otherwise she's not going to get strong again or that she needs to have her hair done. Isn't that sending crossed messages? I am confused! Thanks to all of you that I can open my heart to in the middle of the night when so far it feels the loneliest. I'm sleeping in her bed right next to her in her hospital bed.
As most of you gathered I'm not a very strong person, and even tho I'm an adult myself I never left her nor my dad. After I got married my husband ( that always loved my parents) and I decided to leave together as a big happy family and that's how it's been.
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Thinking of you black cloud,
Hugs, Bella
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Blackcloud I am sure you have made the right decision. As CM said hospice people know their stuff but remember you and Mom are in charge and make the final decisions as you have done now. Don't be afraid to speak up if you feel you want something different to happen.
I hope the NP who talked to you in the hospital is part of your home team, she was very much with the program. It will be hard, it always is but don't second guess yourself. You have made the best and most loving decision for Mom and that is all that matters. Blessings for Mom and the family
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You *are* the only person in world history who will ever lose your mother. It's just true. Obviously most people will lose their mothers, too; but they're not you and their mothers aren't yours. Nothing crazy about feeling so alone with this, and with the terrifying decision you've just had to make.

I have to say I'm pretty unimpressed with the support you've had in reaching that decision, with one professional saying one thing, and another saying another, and you caught in the crossfire. I'd have liked to get the pair of them together in one room and make them focus on the best interests of the *patient* and what you, as her advocate, needed their help with understanding. Shame on them.

For the little an amateur opinion is worth, I'm sure you've made the right decision - the one that puts your mother's comfort and quality of life first, and will let her find peace and dignity at home. Hospice teams know their stuff, rely on them but don't hesitate to speak up if you're worried or don't understand something.

Hugs to you, we'll be here to listen if you want to talk.
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I know what are you going through, we have to make very hard decisions and we have to trust the doctors in what they are advising because they are the experts. It is very hard because we think we are superheroes that we can safe our love ones from every situation but there are times that we have to give in and reassure ourselves that none of what it's happening is our fault, we have to became realistic all of the sudden and it is very hard to comprehend why we cannot help them anymore. 
I had to deal with it myself while my mother was ill I tried everything to go against the terminal colon cancer that was killing her, I didn't want to see the ugly reality that was in front of my very eyes, seeing my mum dying. 
I kept strong for her, making her and myself believe that she would be all right, and when it happened I was shocked, I should have seen it coming but I didn't want to see it because I was scared. 
Be there for her, make her feel comfortable and hopefully she can be with you for a while to be able to enjoy the time with her.
I have just sent you my e-mail through a private message.
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Thank you everyone. We decided to go home tomorrow with hospice. I didn't tell mamma that I just told her that nurses would come and help us. My main thing is to see her comfortable. The way that doctor talked was like her stomach would burst. The nurse practitioner told me if that happened it would be inside. I just want her to be out of pain.
Veronica you really think that's the best decision? My husband reminded me that every operation that mom had some complication always happened. Even the surgeon today said that she could not tell me that something could happen. Veronica is it going to be bad to see like that doctor told me?
I don't know how many mothers but when I give birth I felt like I was the only one that accomplished that. Now I feel like I'm the only one loosing a parent. I know I'm crazy.
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Blackcloudone. This is a between a rock and a hard place situation. It is now known that there is definitely an obstruction. This will certainly kill her rapidly. The Hospice treatment would be the much criticized liquid morphine for the pain, Compazine given as a suppository for nausea or some other anti nausea medication. An anti anxiety medication can also be added. With this combination she will become sleepy, lapse into unconsciousness and probably pass within 48 hours but she will be comfortable.
If you go ahead with the surgery they probably can remove the obstruction and she may or may not need a colostomy which is manageable. However the cancer will probably cause another obstruction within weeks to months and the scenario of her dying will be the same.
Even if Mom survives the actual surgery the chance of complicatios and death are very high.
As a retired hospice RN I have seen this playout many times at the end. Most patients had already had extensive treatment for the cancer and had run out of options. We were able to keep them very comfortable with the medications I have mentioned. There was not usually dementia involved so they were able to understand the situation before treatment started and did not want further surgery.
Many people will tell you that this is the way Hospice kills patients. This is never the intention. The aim is to remove pain and suffering and make the end as peaceful as possible. I would be guided by the hospice Nurse practitioner she has probably seen this situation many times before and understands the out come. It will be hard to watch Mom slipping away but much better than watching her struggle in agony. Blessings we will be thinking of you. Try to reaassure Mom that even if her intestines do start to leak she can be kept comfortable.
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This is such a tough decision. Good points made about saving someone from one type of death to later die of a worse one. I had an aunt die of colon cancer. She had it twice. Lived a long time in between episodes. The first time she was in her fifties and otherwise in good condition. The second time in her 80s. Each time she had treatment. It didn't work the second time. My grandmother, in her 80s was diagnosed with breast cancer. She opted to have the breast removed but declined chemo or radiation. She died several years later of an unrelated issue. If we had a crystal ball we would know what to do. Each person is different. I'm glad your mom has you to help her with this difficult time.
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WAIT! What have you tried as far as seeing if the obstruction will dissolve itself? Sometimes a liquid diet and stool softeners will move things along. Has she tried prune juice, eating prunes, try some pears... I understand her nausea. Promethazine helped me. I also liked Zofran. The earlier can be used more often I think, ask the nurses.  I could at least drink after taking them. So they helped as far as getting something in my tummy when I was nauseous. 
Someone probably needs to assess her strength and ability to survive the surgery before letting them touch her with a scalpel. Recovery from bowel surgery is tough. I did that. I have an ostomy and I'm 30 years younger than her. They trached me because I had emergency surgery (4 of them) for a blockage, my colon burst, I was septic. That's the worst that can happen, I suppose. Talk to doc. Try to resolve it without operation. See if you can do an alternative like the diet. Def get a second opinion from a Gastroenterologist, NOT a surgeon. Hospital should have one on duty. Best of Luck. Please let us know how it goes.
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Sorry to hear all this.
What a difficult decision to have to make. I would get the details of how your mom would be after surgery- would she has a colostomy? Tube in her nose? Not allowed to eat for how long? Who and how will pain be managed?
I would be inclined to do the surgery to remove the obstruction otherwise I can't imagine just allowing her bowels to enlarge with nothing done to relieve the pressure.
Please keep us informed on what you decide. Both options are not good. But if your mom feels she wants to have the surgery and she realizes the risks that might sway me to her wishes.
Good luck..
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4 years ago this was us - we thought mother's confustion was a little dementia along with a lot of temporary memory loss due to hypoxia from her bleeding colon cancer. We operated on her and that cured the cancer, but her dementia was much worse and we have never had mthr back fully again. If I had it to do over, I would have listened to Hospice and let them guide us. It is better to die from cancer than from dementia! If Hospice says to operate to remove the obstruction, then you can. But if they say not to because it is too much more pain, listen! Hospice will make her comfortable and ease the transition to heaven. I wish we had them on board but we did not know. Now mthr does not know who I am, and it is 4 years later and she has no cancer to save her from becoming bedbound and afraid of everything.
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Star68 I'm sorry I didn't say it before I just reread our conversations. I am so sorry that you lost you mother. You can for sure understand what I am going through. I lost my father 10 years ago and that was devastating. Time will help you with such a deep wound but there's always going to be a deep scar. No matter how old we are and our parents arrived at a good it's hard. God Bless you
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I am so confused they verified that mom has colon cancer with an obstruction. The surgeon said to operate but of course could be some risks, the doctor from hospital services says it's probably best to operate because if we do nothing it will be very painful and hard to watch. Palliative care nurse procticener just told me not too because with the operation they would just remove the obstruction and do nothing with the cancer. PC also said that she's so weak and this operation is too big so we don't know how she would recover. She said that she's not eating and will continue to not eat her body will start to slow down and eventually shot down. My mother didn't want to have anymore operation but when I told her that her intestines could blow up and have infections she told me it was best then to do the operation. PC said she would go with her first instinct not to because that's what mom always wanted in the first place. She said hospice will take care of making her comfortable. What do I do? I am so confused. The other day mom said to give her a shot so she would go, and she's always saying that she's tired of leaving, but then she says she wants her hair done. (Star68 I don't know how to send a private email)
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I understand how your feelings are right now. I have being there and it's very painful and worrying to see our elderly parents with existing health problems suffering with and additional health problem.
Hopefully they can relieve your mum's discomfort. In my mum's case they couldn't help her anymore because the cancer was too advance and it was pushing towards her spine, she had terrible pain for six weeks and passed away a month ago. Hopefully your mum's situation has a better prognostic, hang in there and remain positive for her, I did it with my mum, she was very scared and I had to be strong for her. Let me know how she's getting on and if I could help in any way. Send me a private e-mail if you like.
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BTW Star69 thank you for the link
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Hi Star69, we just found out but not much at that because she's been constipated for the last two weeks and they've been trying to clean her up all from the bottom because they can't really prep her the usual way with drinking all that liquid before her colonoscopy because she has a lot of nausea. We still don't know anything, just that they found a mass in the colon and it could be obstructed. I can't see her suffer like this. She's tired of leaving with all her aches and pains. I stay with her at the hospital all day and night. Most of the time I need to tell the staff what to do, they're just there for their paycheck.
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Hello, Is there is a possible obstruction, sometimes they operate to relieve the pain, but it depends how big is the obstruction. Is she receiving treatment for colon cancer or have they just found out?
Here is a link with the information:

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/coping/physically/bowel-problems/types/bowel-obstruction
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