What can I expect as my loved one gets close to death from melanoma?

Posted By
8/18/2014 10:58am
Replies: 8

As taboo as subject as this is, I need and want to know what it will like and what I can expect to see as my loved one gets closer to death from melanoma.  Does anyone have insight that they can share about this?

I'm unsure if anyone can really offer meaningful advice.  It may depend where the mets are, age, treatments still being done...  My father passed away in April from melanoma.  He was 89 and had undergone no treatments for his melanoma since he was diagnosed stage II at age 81.  He spent the last month in a nursing home but that was a bit more related to my Mom's ability to care for him alone than anything else.  He had been bed bound about 2 months prior to passing away because he really couldn't walk anymore.  That's when we put him on hospice.  Mentally, in those 2 months, he had moments of confusion and moments of clarity.   I'm not sure where his mets were - we stopped scanning.  For him, I don't really think he had brain mets - at least I don't think his on-again off-again confusion was caused by brain mets.  He was still communicating the day prior to his death although he had more up/down days the last two weeks.  He did have some moments of agitation in the last week or so, but he only started pain meds the last week.  His only real obvious physical symptom was swelling in his left arm the last week - no idea why. 

Another good source for answers to your questions would be a hospice organization in your area. They were extremely helpful when I had to deal with my mother passing.

Thank you! I will start talking with hospice very soon.

I cannot say enough good things about the book, "Final Gifts".  It helped me so much as I dealt with a dying relative.


Strength and Courage,


Thank you!  I'm picking it up at the library today.

Caution: this is graphic and based on oetsonal experience: My advice would be to call in palliative care/hospice as soon as possible. I can only comment on my experience: my grandmother was at home with limited pain with 24x7 comfort care. Once her organs started to fail the transported her to hospice. Once it was determined there was nothing else they could do for her they followed her wishes. She wanted to die at home. Hospice brought in a bed and all the other necessary means to make her comfortable. She was very aware of what the circumstances were. Once she was home they brought in critical care, which stays for four days. If the patient doesn't pass by then, hospice  reevaluate and bring in critic care again. Needless to say that didn't happen. Her friends and family were there visiting she was conscious and the. She started to get really agitated. At that point they have her Ativan and morphine to make her comfortable. She fell asleep and essentially didn't wake up again except to open her eyes a few times. The body goes through different stages when it starts shutting down with different noises and hospice was great about explaining the experience. Essentially it was really peaceful. There was just a time when she didn't take another breathe, but she was peaceful and calm. They know when it's their time. 

Hi Im sorry to hear you are facing this too.

I suppose my father was really fortunate in the scheme of things. He battled nodular melanoma for 18 months and in that time his quality of life was good. One month before he passed away his leg started to become more paralysed (he had brain mets) and then in the last two weeks he couldn't stand and was wheelchair bound. He was in not a lot of pain and was coherent, he'd just nod off during a conversation and then in the final week his sight was really blurred. He went into pallative care on the Wednesday because he started to experience stomach pain (he had mets in his liver). Im not sure maybe my dad had a good pain threshold but he only started on morphine on that Wednesday and he passed away peacefully on the Friday. You could still rouse him into a short conversation up until the night before he passed. One episode of agitation and then they sedated him. We pretty much lost him then, but his body continued on until midday the following day. It was a peaceful death.

I suppose everyone's experience is unique.

All the best on your journey.

Thanks so much for sharing this.  It is so helpful to know what to expect so I can prepare our family mentally and with practical plans.