Caring for someone with a terminal illness

David ' Interview 08

Age at interview: 58

Brief outline: Ten years ago David's father was diagnosed with lung cancer and he died three years later. David now works voluntarily for several national cancer organisations and charities representing carer and patient perspectives.

Background: David is married with one grown up child. He is a retired research consultant and volunteers for several national cancer organisations and charities. Ethnic background' White British.

Audio & video

Ten years ago David’s father was diagnosed with lung cancer and at the time it was decided that it was too late to operate. David describes how this came as a real shock to their family, especially because his father had never smoked. He was treated with radiotherapy, steroids and painkillers and eventually died three years later.

As a family they understood he was likely to die from the lung cancer and David explains how they coped with this by taking it day by day. David describes his father as ‘brilliant’ at dealing with his illness as he managed to push it to one side and focus on other things. David’s father had always been physically independent and so when his mobility deteriorated he was too proud to ask for, or accept help. His pride also meant he often downplayed the effects of his illness. This meant it was often difficult for David and the family to be involved with his care and they were not always informed of the effects of his illness. David felt frustrated that more care was not provided for his father, although he understands that his father may not have communicated his needs, he feels that health professionals should have recognised this and provided some care at home.

David’s father was in a palliative care ward of a hospital before he died. Although the family knew he was going to die they did not expect it to happen when it did as they were told he would deteriorate more towards the end. No one was with David’s father when he died because it was unexpected and so David feels there are still some questions which remain unanswered, such as how peaceful his death was.

David’s father’s death has impacted massively on his life. He now works voluntarily with several national cancer organisations and charities, chairing groups, speaking at meetings and being involved in research. David represents the carer and patient perspective and feels that using his experiences to help others has helped him grieve for his father. David was unaware of support groups before his father died and feels this knowledge would have been more useful earlier on. David advises other people in similar situations to have the confidence to question health professionals’ opinions and to research the options which are available.


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