Hello everyone. At the moment going through a very hard time, I loved my mum with passion, and we lost her two weeks ago.
My mum was 87 year old had different health problems, heart and kidney disease, she had an aortic valve replacement and bypass at the age of 84. She survived the operation which was a very risky one. But she was complaining a lots about the side effects of the tablets and her health declined quite a bit, but she was still independent and had good moments.
After the operation she kept complaining about having to go to the toilet often but every time we went to the doctors they said the symptoms are typical from old age, after all she didn't have anemia or weight loss important signs to watch for according to the doctor and after almost three years of complaining he decides to refer her for a colonoscopy. My mum didn't want to have it but he insisted that it will put our minds at rest and if she had a polyp they could remove it and improve her symptoms. I did ask the doctor what about if is a tumor, and he said not to think the worse and not to discourage her it was important for her to have it done.
She finally had the colonoscopy and the doctor tells me straight away that she has a malignant tumor and that a biopsy had been taken. It was a great shock for us but decided not to tell her because she was very vulnerable and scared. We told her she had a polyp in the colon that needed treatment, and the doctors were informed about our decision.
Shortly after the digestive surgeon called us for an appointment informed my sister and myself first about my mum's tumor stage three didn't spread to other organs but was invasive and offered her surgery. My mother said no straight away. The surgeon understood as he said it had its risks, and he couldn't guarantee to be cancer free after the operation because he couldn't follow the protocol of radiation and chemotherapy before surgery because of her frail health condition and there was a chance that a malignant cell escapes and spreads the cancer, we were all happy with the decision. A week after that the oncologist give us an appointment. He says that as we refused surgery the only thing they could do is to treat her symptoms (bleeding and diarrhea my mum was going to toilet about 8-10 times per day) with four weeks of radiotherapy sessions and give her a better quality of life. He insisted that they were not curing the disease, and after treatment nothing else would be done for her.
He reassured us that the side effects were very mild as she would be given a very low dose.
A week after we saw the radiotherapist doctor, my mum was very worried and asked her concerns. He reassured her that he treated elderly patients in the past with great success living two to three years after treatment and dying from another health problem not from the "polyp".
My mum was convinced and started radiotherapy. On the 7th session she started complaining from lower back pain which we thought it was an isolated problem and she was given analgesic treatment. The pain was growing in intensity and lasting longer than we thought. As a result the doctor had to suspend radiotherapy treatment and she had to be reassessed. We went to the oncologist for him to see her, and he said the pain could be from the tumor growing and pressing against her back. He decided to refer her to palliative care without doing any tests, he just wanted her to be pain free but when I asked him if my mum would recover from her situation, he never guaranteed me anything. So from being independent with a little help, she becomes totally dependent in the space of 6 weeks. After that last oncologist appointment her health continued deteriorating palliative care team are assisting her and two weeks later she dies from heart failure. Now I have a lots of doubts weather we should have done the colonoscopy at all, and why did we go ahead with radiotherapy treatment. But we were following the doctor's advise and everything seemed very encouraging. Has anybody in the forum gone through same or similar experiences. Thank you for reading my post.