The Final Stages of Cancer


Cancer has been a dreaded disease. In many novels and essays, it is often used as a metaphor for chaos, discontent, and societal problems, among others. It is included in the top percentile rank of diseases that cause mortality.

It can kill fast and slow as to the stage of its metastases.

While visiting the Oncology Clinic of one hospital (San Juan De Dios, Philippines) for more than a year, accompanying a patient ( my mother); I have seen how cancer stricken people battle with cancer, and how strong they have tried to live normal lives despite the sickness.

In the clinic – patients, relatives, friends, doctors, nurses, staff, helpers become one family. They have one goal: to alleviate the sickness and get on with life. It is evident that in life, each one carries his own burden but in this room set-up helping and supporting each other goes beyond limits of being just human. People become extraordinary when in their leap of faith, they try to be the best persons they can in spite of what circumstances cannot avoid.

In the case of the ovarian cancer at stage IV, the patient completes six (6) sessions of chemotherapy. Drugs/medicines are real strong, hence the wonders of science in the invention of healing drugs, if for a few more years. Some patients become stronger during the chemotherapy. Some patients, die though due to different body responses. In our situation: the tumor became smaller from 10cm to 2cm, so the patient lived longer.

The side effects of chemotherapy was cared for by the oncologist and/or the attending physician. Of course, medicines for the nerves were given as good meals were provided in their own homes. Drinking hot chocolate was the favorite of my mother. Eating a lot of good food that she required herself, made her a lot stronger, and looked to be out with cancer.

But then, science has its limitations. It cannot serve the body forever. Time will come when comfort care will be the only remedy (palliative care). This gives dignity to the patient, and humbleness to the family and medical staff.

Dr. Gerardo Cornelio is the attending physician of many patients (and my mother) in that Oncology Department. Ms. Cynthia and Ms. Beth are the nurses, among others.

Danger signs, please consult a doctor:

Persistent coughing, sores that do not heal, blood in urine or faeces, lump or puckered area in the breast, neck, etc., persistent tiredness with no reason, or unexplained weight loss.

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