End of Life Care

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Topics: Cancer, Oncology
End of Life Care

Death is a touchy subject. People pretend it is something that does not happen and refuse to talk about or address it. I am an ICU nurse. I have been for six years. I have dealt with plenty of death, in my own way. Death is a part of life. Whether it is something that is expected or not, it is our destiny. Having dealt with the suicide of my son’s father at a young age, death is something most of us avoid or do not expect. One is never prepared for it. Some refuse to accept it and move forward.Whether it is a loved one battling cancer for multiple years or a sudden suicide/death, it is never acceptable. Working in the ICU, I have seen many a prolonged death. Family members are never prepared for the death of a loved one. Whether or not my patient is ready to move on, family will do everything possible to prolong the death in hopes that the patient’s condition will improve or a “new” cure will save their lives. I have gone through spending an hour resuscitating a 20 year old with severe congestive heart failure to taking my time resuscitating a 98 year old riddled with cancer. Regardless of my beliefs, it is never easy for family members to accept their loved ones are no longer among us. I have mixed views about death regarding a person battling cancer. Many a times I have had a patient who is a “full code,” all life saving efforts to be attempted, that has metastasis of cancer to their liver, brain, and bones requesting all life saving efforts. In the medical community, we know life saving efforts are futile. The patient is in so much pain they can hardly stand it. They have no quality of life. Family members are hopeful that some medication will take effect and the cancer will disappear. But, by law, we are to make every effort possible at resuscitation. If a person has a good prognosis in surviving cancer, every effort should be made to prolong the person’s life. If the cancer has metastized and is now affecting other organs, brain, bone



References: American Cancer Society (2012) Cancer Facts & Figures 2012. Retrieved on November 2, 2012 from http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content@epidemiologysurveilance/documents/document/acspc-032010.pdf. Canady, B., Mays, T., (n.d) Avoiding Misconceptions in Pain Management. Retrieved on November 1, 2012 from http://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/418521. Gulanick, M., Myers, J., Klopp, A., Galanes, S., Gradishar, D., Knoll Puzas, M. (2003). Nursing Care Plans. Nursing Diagnosis and Interventions. St. Louis, MO: Mosby. Kinney, C., Rodgers, D., Nash, K., Bray, C. (2003). Holistic Healing for Women With Breast Cancer Through a Mind, Body, and Spirit Self-Empowerment Program. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 3 (21), 260-279. Retrieved on November 2, 2012 from http://perceivedwellness.com/kinney.pdf. Robinson, L., Segal, J. (2012) Hospice & Palliative Care. Quality of Life at the End of Life. Retrieved on November 2, 2012 from http://www.helpguide.org/elder/hospice_care.htm.

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