Social Question

tedibear's avatar

If you had cancer, or another potentially terminal illness, what criteria would you use to decide whether you wanted treatment?

Asked by tedibear (19324points) January 27th, 2024

A few years ago, my brother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. He was 73 and made the choice to only have palliative care. He felt he had lived a good life, and didn’t want to spend months on treatments that would leave him weak, couldn’t guarantee him more time, and possibly feeling worse than he did with the disease.

He discussed this decision with my sister (his wife) and she supported him. She would have been there with him for every step no matter what he decided.

What choice would you make? What factors would help you decide?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

9 Answers

jca2's avatar

I think my age would be a big factor, the type of cancer and the stage of cancer would all play into my decision. If I were 80, I might feel differently about treatment than if I were 50. If it was stage 4, I might decide not to treat it, rather than if it were stage 1.

I’d also have to discuss with the oncologist.

I think it’s one of those things that’s hard to really accurately guess how you’d feel and what decisions you’d make until/unless you were actually in the situation.

My mom had stage 4 breast cancer when she was diagnosed, and she lived six years with getting treatment. Even though the treatment was not easy by any means, she was in remission for a good part of it and she experienced a lot of good times during those six years – great trips, family events, etc. It was only in the last six months that she was not looking so well, and in the last two months she looked very weak and infirm.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I guess age, and how progressed it was.
If early and not that old go for treatment.

JLeslie's avatar

If I had young children.
How effective the treatment would be.
How horrible or not so horrible the treatment is.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Mainly side effects, and pain.

canidmajor's avatar

In my mid-40s I had cancer that, with treatment, there was a probability of 60% chance of survival with some fairly harsh medical protocols. At that age, as single parent of a young child, it was a no brainer.

Almost 25 years later some symptoms came back and I feared a recurrence. I had all the tests and scans, drank all the barium, hung out, once again, in the oncology wards, and thought long and hard about having to revisit those rather debilitating treatments and adding to the nasty permanent damages they caused. I was (at almost 70) seriously considering the route your BIL has taken.

The thought of going through that fatigue again, the cognitive impairment, all the basic crap, ugh.

I’m fine, BTW. Whew.

I am sorry your family has had to deal with that, it is very rough for them.

seawulf575's avatar

In a situation like the one described I’d go the same route. We all die in the end. Doing something that might extend that period for even a few years but took away your joy of life would not be something I would want. My family can save the money the doctors and hospitals would have taken, they can save themselves the extended period of worry and stress, they can avoid seeing me miserable from the treatments. We could all focus on just enjoying life while it is there.

Forever_Free's avatar

Weighing the Quality of life with care versus without care.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’‘ve thought about this a lot, watching my mother fight stage 4 breast cancer for 12 years. Unless its very early, I’d likely choose palliative care/ no treatment. My reasoning would be quality of life vs quantity, and a natural death is my preference.

tedibear's avatar

Thank you all for your thoughtful answers. They are greatly appreciated.

My answer has changed as I have aged. At 50 I would have said fight, fight, fight! Now, at 60, I would have to know my chances of survival and the effects of treatment.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther