Home Forums For Caregivers Only To Tell or not to Tell??

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    My father is suffering from Anorectal Malignant Melanoma.

    (metastasis in brain,lung etc.)

    Me and my mother are looking after him.

    Last week, the doctor has stopped giving Temozolomide and has given up.

    (because he is too weak to carry on with the treatment.

    morphine has been prescribed as pain reliever).

    Presently, he is very weak.He Can hardly get up to go to toilet.

    However, his logical ability of the brain is fine.He is able to understand what we say.

    (but unable to understand what is written)

    Main ISSUE:

    He is not aware that he is suffering from Melanoma.

    We never told him that this is incurable and death might be just around the corner.

    From a past few days, he has started asking some tough questions regarding his treatment.

    We have told him that presently, the doctors are clueless but if he keeps eating adequately things will eventually turn around.

    My mother is very much against telling him as she thinks this will kill all “hope” he has.

    I would like to have your suggestions/views on the following-:

    1. Given that he has only a month, will it be “generally” advisable to tell the truth now??

    I am sure people on an average take more than a month to face the situation.

    Since, even slight physical movement is troublesome;

    I fear that all hope and happiness ( whatever little there is ) will vanish, if the truth is told.( lying on a bed for 24 hours doesn’t give much incentive to fulfill last wishes, if any)

    2. Doctor has prescribed “morphine” for pain.He hasn’t complained of pain so much that we start giving him opiods in such a weak condition. Do you think in the last days giving “morphine” will help alleviate the pain, weakness and make him more cheerful and optimistic??

    3. Tell me anything, which you think is important for me to know.

    (any tricks used by you to keep your loved ones happy, involved, optimistic etc.)

    I hope, I am coherent enough.


    Abhinav Sharma


    Sometimes we withhold information out of compassion, but I believe the most dignified answer is to tell him the truth immediately. I would not want anyone keeping this kind of information from me if I were the patient. My husband is the patient but I do all the research. He did not fully understand his situation as his doctor was really sugar coating everything. I did not share what I knew with him for several months and I should have told him sooner.

    Catherine Poole

    I agree that the truth is usually the best way to go. I truly think he knows more than he lets on and is also protecting you and your mother from his fears. When all is open and honest than sharing your fears can happen and normally everyone feels a lot better. Unspoken truths are common and there is much we know by instinct and vibes. So please have a heart to heart talk with him and your mother and then you can breathe easier. The narcotics usually don’t improve mood, but an antianxiety medicine such as ativan is often given to ease the stress of the situation. Morphine will ease the pain and make him sleep more. I’m so sorry for what you are going through and know you are not alone in this journey. Keep in touch.


    Thanks lunchlady and Catherine.

    Well noted. We (me and mother) will think again based on your inputs.

    I will post, if there is anything significant.

    Abhinav Sharma


    To tell the truth is always best, but you have to weigh this for yourself with your Mom. When my dad, received his diagnosis of metastatic cancer of his colon, he told me: litarely: I know now, but do nt want to hear anything about it any more, he gave instructions to his doctor that he should discus everything with me, an I had to promiss him to do (or not do) whatever would be necessary. He did put all the responsibilies with me.

    He lived for about another year (was given 6 months) , had surgery to remove the tumor, and after talking to the doctors, no other treatment was advised, it would make him more ill then and not prolongue his life. I vaguely discussed a Hypothetical situation and he told me that longer suffering should be avoided.

    I followed the path, and tried to make his last year, as pleasant as possible.And we sure had a fantastic year, whatever was possible, we did. As the disease progressed he did not ask any questions, made comments as: I dont beleave death is around the corner, but if it comes I am ready. The path became very difficult – as you can imagine- being there yourself now, but I gave him everything I could.

    It was in his last week that he asked: what is happening to me? He was on morfine and anti-anxiety drugs, and cowardly me; I did not have the guts to tell him he was dying. The following morning I went to him to “talk truth”but he was feeling better and I gave him his soup, and he said: I am so happy with all you did for me – your entire life. Then I presumed he did not wanted to know. He died 2 nights later in his sleep.

    I still have the dilemma if I should have told him, we have been very close ( also when my mother was ill and passed away) , specially in his last year, and I am sure he knew – but did not wanted “to know”. But I could have made an error, that can never be changed now.

    My heart goes out to you and your Mom, but can only tell you what I did – and wish you the wisdom to do the right thing.


    Catherine Poole


    Thank you so much so sharing your story. Your father was so fortunate to have you! And losing your mother too, how hard for you. But you sound so resilient and you did what felt right and as I mentioned before, so much goes unspoken, but is a known thing. So he probably knew. You gave him some wonderful quality of life, what a gift you are.

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