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Interview 16

Age at interview: 75
Age at diagnosis: 73
Brief Outline: Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001, followed by surgery, radiotherapy and hormone treatment.
Background: Brewer (retired), widower, 2 children

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Talks about different emotional stages that people with terminal illness may go through.

Talks about different emotional stages that people with terminal illness may go through.

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Everybody's got a different belief about life and so forth and I get a great deal of comfort from having been with other people who've been ill and died because they've been utterly practical. When you're in this sort of situation there's nowhere to go. It's no good sort of backing off and thinking, 'It isn't going to happen to me', because it is. So it's, the best way is, I feel, is to come to terms with the illness and hopefully that it won't be too painful.

Can you tell me more, what you mean by, 'come to terms with the illness'? 

Yeah, it isn't... I mean people go through... I can't remember them but there... they... it's said that there are five stages' One, that you disbelieve it, that you can't, that isn't, 'No they've mixed my diagnosis up with someone else's'. Then you become angry and say, 'No, no, no, no, I'm, I'm not ill, I'm not ill'. And then another one I think is that you grieve, not for yourself but for other people, relatives maybe. And then there's an acceptance which is I think probably where I've got to at the moment. And I've always had the feeling that material things are not that important. I don't get a buzz out of a big car or big house or anything. I think we don't come into the world with anything and we certainly don't go out with anything. We're just custodians while we're here. So that's where I get quite a lot of strength from, I think.

 

He had excellent help from social services and from Age Concern (now Age UK).

He had excellent help from social services and from Age Concern (now Age UK).

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So I've had help from social services who have been very good, excellent. They offered me Meals on Wheels, which I stopped this week because I thought, I was getting a bit too dependent on and so I thought, “No, go back to doing it yourself”.  

So I've done that, started to do that. And they offered me the chance for someone to come and clean the house which was very kind but I turned them down and when they asked why, because they wanted to keep things right for themselves and I said, “Well there are two reasons. One is I don't like strangers poking around my belongings and the second reason is they couldn't do it as well as I can”.

Yes. I was surprised at how much help there is. I mean in some of the BACUP books (now Macmillan Cancer Support) there are lots of organisations that are extremely helpful. There's a whole list of the people available for whatever cancer people have. And then I wanted a heater put in the bathroom and I thought, “I don't know any electricians, I wonder who could, I could trust to ask them”. And I suddenly thought, “Age Concern*”, and I rang them up and they were quite superb. 

A man came and he advised me that the heater I had in mind wasn't the right one and suggested something else. He got an electrician to come who brought the heater and fitted it. And then while he was here he came, he looked all round 

to see if I had smoke alarms and that the place was secure. So that was a great help and I would ask their help again.

* Now known as Age UK

 

He was pleasantly surprised to find that he was eligible for Attendance Allowance, even though he...

He was pleasantly surprised to find that he was eligible for Attendance Allowance, even though he...

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The other thing that happened was that I'd had one or two MacMillan nurses and the first one who came was a lady and she said, 'Do you get any financial help?' and I said, 'Oh no, I don't. I don't think I qualify'. She said, 'Do you get an Attendance Allowance?'  and I said, 'Well, no, because nobody's attending me'. She said, 'No, that is a bit of a misnomer really. You're entitled to apply for some money to help with the bills and get the garden done and I said, 'Oh no, I don't... I'm pretty sure that I shan't... I don't qualify'.  

So she filled in a great form and signed it and she said, 'I'll send this off and if you get a reply which says you don't qualify tell me and I'll reapply'. And I got it straight off. It's very useful money and it's not taxed and so that was quite an unexpected piece of help. Yeah.

So you didn't realise you, you were entitled to it?

No I didn't. No idea.  But it has been useful. I've got two nice ladies who come and do the garden. So that was nice.

 

Says that it is easier to talk to people who know about the illness.

Says that it is easier to talk to people who know about the illness.

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I was asking you what you learned about the outcome of your illness?

It could be a terminal illness but at my age it isn't going to be long anyway, probably. It's a question of coming to terms with reality really and I've had a great deal of help from the Macmillan people and the local District Nurse and my GP has been outstandingly supportive, as have my family as well. 

I get lots of kind help and I also go to the Sue Ryder home because I find that it's very much easier to talk to people who are professionals than it is to my friends; they tend to back off. It seems to me that if you're bereaved people's sympathy has got a span of about 3 weeks, and with cancer it feels much the same. It's very much easier to talk to people who know about the illness.

 

He believes that pain can be controlled and that euthanasia is the “next stop to murder”.

He believes that pain can be controlled and that euthanasia is the “next stop to murder”.

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I believe you can go to Switzerland or somewhere and there's a beautiful place that you can go and they give you a shot of something and that's it. That just seems immoral to me. That's giving another person not only the power to do it but the power of life and death and that doesn't belong to anybody. No.

And you say that because of your religious faith? Is that right?

In a way, yes it is. It must have been formed by what I believe, but if you sort of ignore the religious side of it, I still don't think that... that's the next stop to murder really. And I don't think people should do that. I've enough faith in the palliative care to feel that people shouldn't have to suffer that much pain.  No. I may be wrong. I may be being trite or something but '

No, I don't think so.

But I don't. I can't relate to that, no. That seems wrong.

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