Posted 8/27/2014 1:26 PM (GMT -6)
I've mentioned this here before; my wife's youngest brother, age 50, is in the terminal stages of pancreatic cancer. We just came from the hospital, where he's struggling with a crashing potassium level, electrolyte imbalances, and blocked intestinal tract (likely due to the pancreatic tumor). His kidneys are failing, and may have stopped working. He can't eat anything by mouth now, and is only surviving by virtue of IV solutions to keep his blood electrolytes up. He's 5'9", normally about 250 pounds, and as of today he's down to 103 pounds! He's literally wasting away.
Tomorrow they're doing a sort-of hail Mary effort, an endoscopy with intent to install a stent to reopen his blocked digestive tract. He is conscious, but feels very poorly and on lots of pain meds. We pray the stent works, but there's no guarantee they'll even be able to place it. Lots of unknowns. He can't do any more chemo either.
By comparison, my mild complaints about hot flashes, fatigue, loss of libido (and all the related issues), weight GAIN, all seem pretty lame. I'm sitting with him, as he's fighting this and yet looking to a rather close horizon (weeks? days? hours?), and my personal cancer worries fade to a dim background. My cancer gives me a direct empathy for some of his emotions, and a closer connection to him than I've ever had, but it sure casts a different light on my concerns.
Perhaps one day I'll be there too, but in a real sense I'm feeling fortunate.
I'm also feeling quite sad; he and I have never been close, but he is family and it's really hard to see him fading. The impact on the rest of the family is hard too.