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Wednesday, December 03, 2008 cfrey, Community Member, asks

Q: How do you tell when a pt is ready to die?

My aunt has stage 4 breast cancer with boney mestassis spread all over her body she sleeps all the time and is not eating and picking at bed linens and talks about others that have passed. How much time do you think she has?

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Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
12/ 3/08 8:45am

No one ever knows how much time someone has.  If you are your aunt's caregiver or close to the people who are, you might suggest calling Hospice if they haven't been called already.  Although Hospice services vary in each community, everyone I know who has used Hospice says they wish they had called sooner.  They are the experts in pain management and also provide physical, medical, and emotional support to the patient and family.  Usually people can live a long time with bone metastasis from breast cancer.  If your aunt is sleeping and not eating because she is depressed and/or having problems with her medications, Hospice might be able to help her find the right combination of medications to feel better.  If she really is near the end, then they can help the whole family with the emotions and choices involved at this stage of life.  I'm sorry to hear about your aunt's situation.  I'm sure it's helpful for her to have your concern and love.

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By cfrey, Community Member— Last Modified: 11/17/10, First Published: 12/03/08