My partner, Peter, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2015. We found out basically straightaway that it was advanced. So that was a huge shock.
We’re both quite up-front people – we like to know the facts of things. Peter just asked straightaway was it terminal. And the GP just said, “Well yes, I’m afraid it is”.
Peter was very ill. He managed to sit in a chair for about six weeks and basically not move except hobble to bed and hobble to the toilet and hobble back to the chair. And I remember thinking I could look after him, but if he becomes any less mobile then things would need to change.
I’m more than happy to be his carer. I think sometimes trying to be his carer, his partner, his lover, his companion – just swapping between roles can sometimes be a bit tricky. It can be a bit tiring but I’m happy to do it. It’s more an issue of making sure I don’t lose myself and my own life in all of this.
We do try to talk about death. At first, I found that enormously scary. It felt like I was staring down an abyss and I just could barely even go there. I would cry and I would just have this huge wave of emotion, but I don’t feel like that now.
I know it will be enormously sad and I find it very hard to even imagine how I’ll be on my own. Peter’s very reassuring. He says, “You’ll be fine”. And I know I will, even though, of course, I’ll miss him enormously. I will want to come home and tell him about how the funeral was and he won’t be there. So, it’s horribly sad but I like that we can actually talk about it. I find it really helpful.
We’ve talked about things like a cremation and about how he doesn’t want flowers. He would like to die at home. Hopefully he might just slip away nice and peacefully. When I see him struggling, I think maybe it will just be easier for him to just die in his sleep. I think it’s very reassuring for both of us to be able to put that into words.
Dr Megan Ritchie, Staff Specialist Palliative Medicine, Palliative Care Service, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; Gabrielle Asprey, Cancer Support Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Rosemary Cavanough, Consumer; Louise Durham, Nurse Practitioner, Metro South Palliative Care Service, QLD; Tracey Gardner, Senior Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council Queensland; Karen Hall, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Linda Nolte, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC; Rowena Robinson, Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia, ACT; Helena Rodi, Program Manager, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC.
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