Social Question

MooCows's avatar

Do you know anyone who had cancer and decided not to be treated for it?

Asked by MooCows (3185points) December 13th, 2016

I am trying to visualize how it would be if you
found out you had cancer but decided not to
treat it and just lived out your days…...
Do many people do that?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

23 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

There was an article on this very subject sometime in the past year, in some magazine, possibly Time: the title was something like “What if I don’t want treatment?” Some people do decide against the long and uncertain ordeal of treatment.

My father underwent chemo for several months before opting out. He said the cure was worse than the disease. He stopped treatments in January and died of lung cancer in March. This was 1983. Treatments have improved a lot since then, but people still have different degrees of reaction and response to them.

My husband was successfully treated at stage 3 eleven years ago.

Cruiser's avatar

Not sure about any real numbers but I sense most fight it and wish both my mom and dad did not fight theirs. They would have live more than a few months maybe years longer had they not opted to fight it. The treatments killed both of them. My dad that very first day and my mom in less than 2 months.

Coloma's avatar

I don’t know of anyone I can think of in the moment, no, but I know that’s my plan.
No chemo, no radiation, no crazy drug cocktails and no extreme life prolonging treatments. I think more people should just accept their fate and refrain from highly invasive treatments especially if you are older than 60 or so tops. That’s my opinion, people die, we’re supposed to die and given the population these days I think we all kinda have an obligation to die, sooner rather than later. haha

MollyMcGuire's avatar

I know someone who made that decision about a month ago. If I had cancer I would seriously consider just doing something I would not want to miss and spending as much time with my family as possible. Some people find out and spend the rest of their lives sick from treatments. That is such a horrible shame.

Cruiser's avatar

@Coloma I think it truly has to be relegated to a case by case basis…and hind sight in my parents case is simply a bitter pill to swallow but in the end a cause for celebrating the discomfort my parents avoided by their choices. I offer as contrast our own @worriedguy who transitioned into @Luckyguy because he chose to stand up and fight his cancer diagnosis. Forgive me LG for publicly using your journey to make my point

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I don’t know what sort of treatment she had, but my mother was found to be pregnant at about the same time she found out she had cancer. She made the decision to refuse treatment that would affect the pregnancy. This shortened her life, but she obviously felt giving life to her baby was more important than a few more months. This was a long time and she was not going to survive.

Coloma's avatar

@Cruiser Of course, it’s a highly personal choice, but an option never the less, one that quite a few people would,will make.

JLeslie's avatar

My friend’s dad opted to do nothing about his prostate cancer. He was in his 80’s, it’s a slow moving cancer, and even his doctors advised to do nothing. It seemingly went away eventually. He died in his 90’s, if I remember correctly, from something totally unrelated.

Rarebear's avatar

My father did. He died with dignity.

gorillapaws's avatar

One of my father’s patients many years ago was a young mother in her 30’s who had a small lump in her breast. They scheduled a biopsy for her, and she no-showed. The office kept trying to reschedule her but she didn’t want to deal with it. She finally came in many months later and it had metastasized and was terminal. Had she undergone treatment early on she would have had a very high survival rate, but because she delayed, she left her young kids without a mother.

Steve Jobs tried to cure his cancer with pseudoscience and then went full 180 when he realized that it wasn’t effective. By then it was too late.

Cancers are all very different, and in some cases for some people, it may make good and rational sense to forgo treatment. In other cases, indecision, pseudoscientific treatments, or delaying treatment can turn a survivable cancer into a death sentence. It’s a personal choice that should be informed by very good, scientific, factual information.

Seek's avatar

A couple of friends and acquaintances of my husband have taken that route. More because they couldn’t afford treatment than anything.

One guy was a musician, and he spent his few dying months recording everything that came to mind. His band was left with several albums’ worth of raw material to mix and master after his passing.

zenvelo's avatar

Yes, a friend decided no further treatment when cancer recurred after two previous bouts. She was exhausted with the regimen and with it returning in a way that would mean little quality of life if successful, decided to live out her end without nausea and induced sickness.

BellaB's avatar

My mother decided against invasive treatment of her pancreatic cancer. Treatment of pain only. She knew she had 3 – 6 months at the time of diagnosis and lived 4.

My uncle decided against traditional treatment of his mesothelioma. He knew there was no successful treatment. He decided to go into an experimental protocol – felt he could at least try to help people in the future.

syz's avatar

Yes, and she died horribly with a necrotic breast.

Mariah's avatar

Everyone I know who’s had cancer has chosen to fight it; most have survived.

I would only choose the palliative route if it were clear that I would not survive anyway.

It is a highly personal choice. Just because we’ll all die someday doesn’t mean it is somehow easy to accept dying years earlier than you otherwise might, or shameful to fight against it. There is also no shame in deciding to let go rather than walking through hell. This is the last thing anyone should ever be judged over.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Plenty, as a nurse. Most of them were patients who had gone into remission for the second or third time and were’t willing to go through treatment—and recovery from treatment—again. They were tired, had made their peace, and were ready to go.

I only remember one first timer. She had lived a very healthy lifestyle, vegetarian, yoga, a nice quite life. The recommended treatment was chemo and she just took a pass.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

My very dear, very wise Aunt Maggie. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at age 89. Her oncologist pushed for surgery, chemotherapy, and permanent residency in a nursing home. My aunt researched the prognosis for pancreatic cancer – very bleak – and considered the realities of her age. She opted for no treatment whatsoever and a few more quality months. The end was peaceful.

Aunt Maggie had already taught me so much about living. In the end, she taught me how to die.

JLeslie's avatar

^^Just beware that if pancreatic cancer is operable it’s often “curable.” I don’t know your aunt’s specific situation, my guess is since they prescribed chemo and radiation it wasn’t simply operable and would be gone. I’m just mentioning this to you in case you or someone you know is diagnosed to look into it.

Pancreatic is usually a death sentence within two years of diagnosis, because it’s rarely caught early, and so it’s very rarely operable. Someone mentioned Steve Jobs above. His was caught early, and if he had operated he’d likely be alive today. By the time he was willing to consider western medicine solutions it was too late. Justice Ginsberg was diagnosed early, by “luck” and it was operable, and that was 7 years ago. As far as I know she still has no reoccurrence.

si3tech's avatar

@MooCows I’ve seen a person with AIDS refuse treatment because they didn’t want to deal with the unknown side effects of the drugs saying they preferred to deal with “the devil that they know” rather than the devil they don’t know.

Rarebear's avatar

@si3tech And that’s a shame. Because HIV is one of those diseases that can now be controlled with medications with relatively few side effects, and people can live normal lives.

si3tech's avatar

They had some drugs then but this was 23 years ago. An awful lot has changed since then. At that time it was a death sentence. And today it no longer is. As you say, they can live fairly normal lives.

Rarebear's avatar

@si3tech Oh, then you’re right. 23 years ago the drugs were terrible and didn’t work well.

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