Mo’s husband Mick was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in June 2013. Mick started treatment immediately but sadly he died a year after he was diagnosed. Mo’s husband planned his end of life care in advance so they’d know more about what to expect.

Photo of Mo and Mick

Mo's experience

At the hospice, Mick told his doctors that he wanted to talk through what might happen in the days before he died and what signs there would be that things were coming to a close. Maybe it was his life in the RAF that made him want everything organised in military style.

Mick wanted me to be there to make sure that I understood everything. He also wanted me to hear first hand what he had been mulling over for some time. So I pulled up a chair and made sure a box of tissues was at hand just in case.

The questions started. What can I expect going forward? Are there treatments I can refuse if I want to? Can I go home soon? Why is it that I feel ok but everyone tells me I am very poorly? Will you make sure I get back in the hospice when the time comes?

What we could expect

The doctor said that Mick could expect to get progressively weaker, less interested in food and more sleepy. And that the hospice would make sure that he was pain free and comfortable.

Making decisions about Mick’s future treatment

Next the consultant went through a list of things that could happen to Mick so that he could decide if he wanted the doctors to treat them or not.

Mick decided to have antibiotics as long as he could take them himself. He didn’t want to be given anything through a tube. But he did want blood transfusions if they continued to help a bit. He put a ‘do not resuscitate’ wish in place.

The doctor explained that Mick could choose between having less or more pain medication. Less could mean he was in pain but more could make him drowsy or confused.

Mick was also able to tell them that if he wasn’t able to make decisions, he wanted me to make them on his behalf.

The importance of that difficult conversation

It was a really difficult hour. At times I was digging my nails into the palms of my hands to stay emotionally in control. But once it had been done, it was clear that Mick felt liberated. That night I think he slept really well knowing he could actually plan and control his destiny to some degree.

Mick was so calm about everything, it was truly amazing. He was very clear about his wishes. He was still joking and laughing even though things were obviously getting complicated.

He was very clear about his wishes.

My tips for men, family and friends

  • If your doctor doesn’t talk about dying to you, you can still talk to them. Asking about what to expect can be daunting and sometimes you don’t want to hear the answers. But it helped Mick and I prepare for what to expect. It made death less mysterious and less frightening.
  • Planning can really help. I didn’t want to make decisions about Mick without Mick. I didn’t want to decide what treatments he should have or whether he should be admitted to hospital. So knowing what Mick wanted saved a lot of stress later on. In absolute truth he made everything so much easier for me and that was one of the kindest and most considerate things a dying man could have done.

He made everything so much easier for me and that was one of the kindest and most considerate things a dying man could have done.

Read this next

Asking how long my husband had left to live

Read Ruth's story of talking to doctors about her husband's diagnosis.

I wanted to know what I should expect.

Read Ruth's experience