After one has decided to give up his fight against colon cancer, his final days will be different from other colon cancer patients. It is different for each colon cancer patient. For the 40-year-old active woman with three kids, it might be slow and steady, but for the senior who is suffering from diabetes and joint pains along with cancer, death can come swiftly, like a friend who is willing to spare him or her from the pain. Others might even be able to survive for weeks of meditation or online therapy just to get through their final days.
However, although it may sound devastating, certain symptoms may mean death but are already long awaited by the patient because they know these symptoms will be their comfort. If you have colon cancer and you would like to opt for palliative or hospice care, let your doctor know. He and the rest of the palliative care team are skilled at anticipating and providing maximum relief of symptoms during your last days of life – and yes, palliative care does make a world of difference for the body and mind.
Withdrawal is a symptom that is seen as waxing and waning a few weeks before one’s death. Most colon cancer patients go into an almost comatose stage, and obviously, this is not voluntary. Do not think that your loved one who is suffering has the nerve to ignore you during his last days. He does not have control over this state. Also, this withdrawal is not a result of the medications given to him to make him comfortable. Research and studies have not fully provided the reason for the withdrawal, but an assumption was made that is associated with mental and physical fatigue from battling with cancer.
Pain From Metastasis
“Treatment of the cancer can help the pain in these situations. However, cancer treatments, including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, also can cause pain.” says Timothy J. Moynihan, M.D.
Pain is among the most dreaded symptoms of end-stage colon cancer. If a loved one is on his last days, he is most likely suffering from widespread metastasis from inside the colon outward to the other vital organs. The pain is inevitable, and the patient is administered with strong painkillers and opioid narcotics.
Loved ones and caregivers of colon cancer patients most often ask how they can tell if someone is suffering from pain while they are sleeping. There are three marked signs that your patient is not comfortable even when he is at rest. Watch out for these signs:
- Breathing quickly
- Smirking and frowning
- Restless and nervous movements of the hands, feet, and legs
Before assuming that your loved one is hurt, make sure that you have checked the environment he is in. The pain might not be coming from simple discomfort due to wet clothes or increased body temperature.
Anxiety And Confusion
“Anxiety in those with cancer will often manifest as a generalised worry or sense of fear. This may be related specifically to treatments and the side effects or functional limitations that may follow.” says Nicholas J Hulbert-Williams, BSc, PhD.
Anxiety, stress, confusion, and hallucinations are among the most difficult symptoms that the patient will be going through. The cancer patient may be seeing creeping insects in his room, angels roaming around, or long lost souls that he doesn’t even know. He might have sudden bouts of anger or upset. There are medicines over the counter that can help ease your loved one’s anxiety and depression symptoms. Remember that when he is upset or confused, it’s best not to make a dispute and don’t make a big deal out of it. Instead, be gentle and be calm.
During his final days, your loved one may manifest with erratic breathing patterns. He may suddenly stop breathing for a while or breath with an accompanying snore or gurgling noise. This is called the death rattle. Just make him more comfortable by elevating the head of the bed. Do not offer water or any kind of fluid at this point. The sound is so troubling especially for the family members because it signifies the final stages of his death.
“Dying is not just a medical event. It’s also a psychological and social experience,” Brian Carpenter, PhD says. “Palliative care addresses the medical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of a person with serious illness and their care partners.”
Some colon cancer patients experience a rally during the final days of their lives, and they can be confusing to their family. Other family members will feel hopeful, thinking that their loved one is improving, but he is not. It is not known why not everyone goes through this rally, but people who have witnessed it personally say that it lasts for a few days and sometimes for just a short moment before they lose their loved one to colon cancer.