stopping your treatment

You may get to a point in your treatment when your doctors feel that despite having tried various treatments they are having no effect on the cancer. This can be a very difficult time of readjustment both you and for those you love. If you have not already done so you may want to consider getting a second opinion. Some people find this helpful just to check that they have explored all the options even if a second opinion does not suggest anything new.

There may also be a time when you decide that you don’t want any more active treatment because the side effects are outweighing the benefits.  This can be a difficult decision to make. You will obviously want to discuss this with your family and friends but it is important to remember that this is your decision. You have had to undergo the injections, chemotherapy and side effects. Try to avoid being pushed into having or continuing treatment that is causing you distress. It may help to discuss your concerns with someone outside the family.

It is important to remember even though you and your doctors have decided not to continue with active treatment you should still be receiving care. This may be from a different team of doctors who are specialists in managing symptoms, often known as the palliative care team.  You should make sure you know who they are and how you can contact them.  It might help to meet a member of the team who will be looking after you.

Occasionally people are made to feel guilty that they are not trying hard enough or they are not being positive enough. This can be very hurtful especially when you are struggling with important decisions yourself. It may help to have someone to explain the situation to friends and acquaintances.

“… despite a lot of treatment the doctors and us have come to the decision that the cancer treatment does not appear to be helping and so we are going to be referred to a different team of doctors who are specialist in dealing with symptoms. Please respect this decision, it has not been an easy one to reach and we would like time to adjust to these new circumstances. In time we will appreciate your help and support…”

Having made your decision you may experience a wide variety of emotions. You may feel relieved that you are not going to have more chemotherapy and all the tiring hospitals visits that this entails but feel sad that you have come to the end of active treatment and the future is very uncertain. Some people look forward to having more time and energy to do things they have wanted to do for a long time.

Having made the decision to have no more active treatment, you may want to get your affairs in order. Try not to spend days on end doing this without breaking it up with more enjoyable activities. You might also start to decide where you would like to spend your time. This could be at home with your family, which can be arranged with the help of Marie Curie Nurses, district nurses Macmillan Nurses and your GP.

It is important to keep your options open as no one will be able to guarantee that you will be able to spend all your time at home.  You may need to go into a hospice or hospital even just for a short while to manage symptoms or for respite care. This may be hard but it does give family and friends quality time with you rather than being taken up with day to day care.

Last review April 2016
Date of next review April 2018

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