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What a snowman can teach you about metastatic liver cancer

Posted Feb 08 2009 7:51pm



My logo depicts metastatic liver cancer as a snowman. Why is that?


Because when father became a terminal metastatic liver cancer patient, it reminded me on:


a snowman melting in the sun:


  • every day there a bit more was melted
  • every day it became more difficult to recognize what was once a complete snowman.


As a care-giver you need to be prepared for this.


Especially people in the street don't grab 'the snowman concept'. Most people experienced that sick people will get better.

So unconsciously they want to know if things are going better 'already'. Unfortunately, the answer normally will almost always be: it's all worse than yesterday.


Halfway father's prognosis of 6 months of life, his situation got extremely bad.

How bad? Compare it with a snowman during an extra sunny day: lots of snow will melt that day. The next day you can reshape the snowman a bit with whatever snow is left, but he will always be less than before.


Halfway those 6 months, father was rushed to hospital due to hallucinations. Doctors managed to stabilise his condition, but it was clear that from that time onwards, father's cognitive senses had deteriorated quite abruptly.


Father's hallucinations were a consequence of his liver no more being able to do everything it used to do.


It's amazing how little liver you need to function well. But once you pass that moment, father's mind started playing ugly tricks on father.


What a candle can teach you about care-givers


I also tend to compare father's last days with a candle.


Candle flames can easily blow out by a sudden draught. Only when you take extra care, you can let the candle burn longer. Eventually the candle will burn out.


Same with giving care: you can prolong the life of the cancer patient in a much more dignified way. But eventually the candle will blow out...

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