Palliative care for grandmother with cancer


Registered User
Mar 1, 2005
I really hope you can help me…

I have an elderly grandmother with advanced Alzheimer’s and Breast Cancer. Until recently I had been under the impression that she was being properly cared for in her current residential home with the support of her GP an Oncologist and Macmillan nurses. However I learnt today that this has not been the case…

Apparently the Macmillan nurses need to know what stage cancer she has before they can swing into action and, as they couldn’t answer satisfactorily; this was the first time that the GP had consulted an Oncologist. We are now waiting for test results to determine stage of breast cancer and any potential spread ad then I suppose things may improve…

I work away a lot and only found out about this because I managed to speak to a different carer at the home who was worried about her as she was ‘whimpering’ all the time like ‘a puppy/kitten in pain’ – but of course she cant tell them why. When I had composed myself I rang the home back and was told they didn’t know if this was pain or the dementia – but that they were limited in the pain relief available due to the level of anti-depressants she is on (I wonder whether she was ever depressed or just in pain). They explained that they specialise in caring for people with dementia not terminal cancer unfortunately most people who specialise in caring for people with terminal cancer don’t have the facilities to cope with people with advanced dementia.

My father had terminal cancer and I know how well he was looked after – I just want the same for my Nan. Do you know anywhere I can turn for help – I feel I am letting my grandmother down terribly.



Registered User
Feb 28, 2005
west mids

Hi Kris, regardless of whether they treat your nan actively for breast cancer or not, shouldnt affect the Macmillan nurses ability to treat her pain,. THe nursing home may not be able to address these issues, but Macmillan certainly will, its their specialist field after all. Like all of us with relatives with AD, every small issue becomes a big one, and we have to fight for their rights to fair treatment.
Be strong, express your concerns to the Macmillan nurses, pain control should be a priority , regardless of AD
Ally xx


Registered User
Oct 23, 2003
West Sussex
Dear Kriss, I get so angry when I hear yet another one of us being told that old cliche, "don't know what is pain and what is dementia routine" If it was me, I think I would get back on to the GP and tell them what the carer said about her whimpering etc. Tell them you need it sorted pronto! Be very polite, you don't want to alienate them, but be firm. Insist that your Nan gets adequate pain control. I am sure they will listen to you as they have already contacted the oncologist and the Macmillan nurses. But if pain control is needed quickly, I would start with the GP. Hope you get it sorted very soon for her, love She. XX