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Would you refuse cancer treatment?

(124 Posts)
Bluebellwould Tue 13-Oct-20 01:01:27

I have been invited for a colonoscopy as I have repeated bouts of diverticulitis. However I really don’t want to have one at all, in fact it’s quite a frightening prospect. But it’s not even the examination that’s stopping me, but the fact that I have no intention of having any operation, invasive treatment or chemotherapy if they find something bad. I suffered with my husband for 7 years as he fought stage 4 colon cancer, it was hell for him and as I am now on my own I know that I could not cope with any of that. If I do not intend to have treatment then really what is the point of having a colonoscopy that someone else who needs it can’t have, because I’ve taken up one of the appointments.
Have any of you decided, that if you were seriously ill, you would have no treatment?
I am 61, with health issues already that aren’t fatal but painful. I do not want to burden my children with any of this so would welcome your opinions, if you would care to offer them.
Many thanks

NotSpaghetti Tue 13-Oct-20 01:21:43

I think it depends on how much treatment.

For example, if they found something easily removable would you say "oh just leave it there"?

If you were going to become incontinent, would you reject a colostomy?

I think it would depend on what was found, but yes, in some cases I'd probably say no. In others it would involve much more thought.

Coolgran65 Tue 13-Oct-20 01:27:28

I just don't know if I would or would not have treatment.
Depends on a lot.
One of my offspring is in regular contact but lives far away and I'd like the chance for some real hugs.

However, If all your affairs are in order and it's what you would wish then that's ok.
Would you tell your children?

welbeck Tue 13-Oct-20 03:20:30

i can understand your thinking.
but what if it was just a little thing, relatively minor at the moment, that could be snipped off before they turn into something more menacing.
i think some suspicious polyps can be removed during colonoscopy. but i don't know, have no medical knowledge.
could you discuss it with an understanding medic ?

Txquiltz Tue 13-Oct-20 03:28:10

I think you might discuss this more in depth with your doctor. Very small polyps are quickly removed in the endoscopy. You have reassurance all is well and carry on.

Grandma70s Tue 13-Oct-20 05:56:44

I think the same way as the OP. I don’t think I would want any treatment except palliative care, but then I am 80, not 61. As others have said, it depends what is found.

I think I would probably have the colonoscopy, though like you I would be scared about it. After all, you could discover there is nothing much there at all.

It’s very difficult to guess how anyone would feel in any given situation. You don’t know until it happens.

mumofmadboys Tue 13-Oct-20 06:57:25

If you have the colonoscopy done you are then in a better decision for taking further decisions. Also all may be well and then you can have peace of mind.

Urmstongran Tue 13-Oct-20 06:58:36

My father died at the age of 47y from colon cancer. I had regular screening colonoscopies for years owing to my family history. One year benign polyps were seen. I had them snared off and was told that if left they could well have turned cancerous. That was 10 years ago. I’m so grateful I had that colonoscopy done.

Good luck,

Calendargirl Tue 13-Oct-20 07:16:02

I would have the colonoscopy, it might be nothing serious.
If it is, then would be the time to think about and refuse treatment.

EilaRose Tue 13-Oct-20 07:19:18

Bluebellwould, yes I have made the same decision if ever there is a serious diagnosis, so I totally 'get' you. However, with the info you've given I would have the colonoscopy just in case it's something more minor than you suspect, easily treated and maybe not be life-threatening.

Having said that though, I'm a decade older and with other painful problems that I can live with for now, but if things were to go downhill big-time, I will refuse all treatment, it's totally 'your' decision though and nobody can force you.

Not sure how close you are to DC's but I wouldn't share the info with them either...then again, mine are estranged (their decision, definitely not mine) so I wouldn't want their input, been there done that after an incorrect terminal diagnosis some years ago.

Please continue to post so we can offer some moral support as it's not easy having to make these decisions alone, specially after supporting your DH through his journey and knowing what's ahead. I've been there too!

Hugs flowers

Fuchsiarose Tue 13-Oct-20 07:35:54

I have numerous ups, but one last week made me think about my future wishes.
I had the procedure you mentioned years ago, but all was ok.
Twenty five years ago I did get cancer. They operated, it was all snipped out. Off to hospital in a minute. Post op checkup. Amazed am still here though. To be honest, it's too early to make the decisions you mentioned, because you dont have all the facts yet, to make an informed choice. The procedure you mentioned doesnt hurt

petunia Tue 13-Oct-20 07:57:09

I think, for me, this would be to early to decide. I would go ahead with the procedure and see what the verdict is. If its something minor, it could be dealt with and possibly make life a little easier. On the other hand, if it were to be something sinister, I would like to know in order to tie up loose ends etc.

cornergran Tue 13-Oct-20 08:01:52

Why not have the colonoscopy and then make a decision depending on the outcome? Seems better to have all the information. I found the actual process painless and interesting, staff understanding and kind. I’ve come to the same conclusion as you about anything requiring major intervention, a colonoscopy is a minor procedure though with the potential to easily manage minor issues so if it were me I’d go ahead. Is there anyone you can talk this through with? It may help you settle your mind. Wishing you well.

midgey Tue 13-Oct-20 08:06:44

Hmm, I think 60s is still young. You could recover and live for another 25/30 years. Otherwise I’m with you in your thinking.

sodapop Tue 13-Oct-20 08:09:53

I agree with cornergran and others, have the colonoscopy Bluebellwould then take it from there, it could well be something which is easily treated.
I agree with you about extended treatment or treatment which in itself is difficult and would only prolong life for a short time. I am quite a bit older than you though.
Good luck.

Nortsat Tue 13-Oct-20 08:10:55

Bluebellwould I am so sorry to read your post. What a difficult situation to face on your own.

Your current thinking could be bound up in the grief and pain of your husbands long illness and sad death. That huge loss is certain to be impacting on your thoughts.

I would think it is worth having the colonoscopy, so that you have a clear diagnosis /prognosis. If you then decide not to have treatment, you are doing so, from a position of knowledge.

Is your GP someone whom you could have a frank conversation with?
Do you have a trusted friend you could work this through with? I think talking about it face to face must help.

I would also suggest that you think hard about how your children would feel, if you don’t tell them. They may not feel ‘burdened’, but might want to support you, through the next steps, whatever they are.

Is it worth considering phoning the Samaritans? I think talking things over with another trusted person is always useful.

Do keep posting, as you work things through. Take care and try to relax. 💐

BlueBelle Tue 13-Oct-20 08:17:30

I agree with all the above posters
I too like you have decided if I was to get a terminal disease I would not have treatment to prolong the inevitable BUT at this stage you don’t know if you have or not surely the time to make that decision is AFTER the colonoscopy (I have a real dread of ever needing one I think they d have to sedate me)

My friend was in just your position 5/6 years ago she had the polyops removed and a part of her colon but didn’t need a bag and although she has ups and downs she’s lived to become a Nan and welcome two grandsons into the world that have given her an enormous amount of pleasure one is now 5 the other nearly 2 she has other health problems but lives a reasonably decent life and gets out and about and with her husband does quite a lot of childcare she’s now 72
I totally understand and agree with your decision but think the timing is a bit wrong
Good luck

GagaJo Tue 13-Oct-20 08:17:52

Fuchsiarose, me too. 10 years ago. Also stunned I survived. I had quite a high chance of recurrence.

I had 5 ops, one 13 hours long, chemo, radio. If there was a chance of surviving again, I'd do it again. I have my DD and GS to survive for.

Oopsadaisy4 Tue 13-Oct-20 08:26:37

I’ve had a Colonoscopy. precancerous polyps were found and removed at the time, 6 months later a follow up and they removed another one.
Having a Colonoscopy is nothing to be worried about, but I was terrified, unnecessarily as it turned out.
My DD had cancer when she was 25 , I would try and fight Any illness for her, my DH and my GCs and would do whatever it takes to treat whatever is found.I’m older than you but I don’t want to die yet.

However, it’s a very personal decision, but I would be very sad if you were my Mum.

Taffy1234 Tue 13-Oct-20 10:22:25

I had stage two colon cancer when I was 64 and had the surgery and 30 treatments of chemo. Here I am at nearly 80 best of health except for arthritis which obviously nothing to do with the cancer. My first grandchild was born fifteen years ago and I have enjoyed every minute. I am so glad that I have been part of their lives and hope they have enjoyed knowing their Mamgu. I cannot imagine refusing treatment, my daughters would have frog marched me in if I had ever suggested such a thing. Please think again it might not be th e disaster you are envisaging.

TBsNana Tue 13-Oct-20 10:22:42

61 is too young to take this view. No two cases of any disease are the same so have the test and ho from there

SooozedaFlooze Tue 13-Oct-20 10:23:23

My dad was diagnosed with cancer and refused treatment. The doctor requested I attend an appointment with him. Prior to said appointment dad & I had a long chat about the diagnosis and his decision.
At the appointment the doctor explained to me that dad had cancer and he could have chemo but had refused. I asked the doctor what he wanted me to do and he replied to change my dads mind. I informed the doctor that my dad was of sound mind and had made his decision and I stood by him.
In all honesty this was one of the hardest times of my life but for selfish reasons. My dad had prior injuries and was in constant pain and had just 'had enough.'
Do what is right for you.

biba70 Tue 13-Oct-20 10:27:32

If you don't have the colonoscopy, you will always have in the back of your mind that you are very ill and have not future. Why not have the procedure, as others have said, then KNOW what the possible treatments are, etc - and then make an informed decision.

I am a fighter- and if ever I was struck by a serious disease, I'd fight it like hell on earth. But at the stage when it became clear that the battle is lost- I'd stop fighting and be out (something I can do as I live in Switzerland) - having that choice is so so reassuring.

Fingers crossed - you may find it is not so serious and that treatment can be less invasive than you expect because of your really tragic experience with your OH. Rooting for you.

biba70 Tue 13-Oct-20 10:28:04

Taffy 1234 - bravo. Wonderful to hear.

henetha Tue 13-Oct-20 10:29:33

I think 61 is too young to be thinking like that. You might have something that is easily treatable. I do hope so and send you all my good wishes.
I'm over twenty years older than you, and yes, possibly, I think I would probably not want invasive or difficult treatments.