What do I do after my doctor telling me I have six months to live?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 16, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Hi, I was told a year ago that I have right lung cancer. And about a year and a half ago, I was diagnosed with left lung cancer. Last week, my doctor did another scan and said I, mostly likely, have six months left to live. I get around with a small scooter in the house and outside. He suggested hospice or nursing home care. I'm 76 years old. I also have spinal stenosis from my neck, which has left me whole left side about paralyzed. I'm confused as to what to do.

Expert Answers

Andrew Putnam, M.D. is a Palliative Care physician at Smilow Cancer Center at Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale University.

No doctor has a crystal ball to know exactly how long you have to live but your disease is serious. If your oncologist is not offering you any other chemotherapy (there may be none except those that are not likely to help or are likely to make you feel awful), then hospice is a reasonable option. Their focus is on helping you live out your life as comfortably as you can. They do nothing to shorten your life but they put the emphasis on quality of life not length of life. They treat symptoms and are there to help support yourself and your caregivers. Some people live for years on hospice and some live a very short time but they are a good group of people to involve in your care. You or your doctor can call them and ask them to come to your home and explain what they do with no obligation on your part.