He lived 15 months with an incurable brain tumor, a little longer than usual for a patient in his late 70s. Perhaps equally important is that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy lived those months well — able to work almost to the end, to sail the choppy New England waters he adored, to help elect a president he supported, and even to give him a dog.
Time is important to any cancer patient. Quality of life, not just how much life they can squeeze out, is increasingly the focus for people with a terminal illness, cancer specialists say. It also is one of the chief goals of treatments for brain tumors, since these therapies typically do not buy much time.
"The advances that we've made in prolonging survival aren't as big as we've liked them to be, but people have stayed at a good quality of life right up to the end," said Dr. Matthew Ewend, neurosurgery chief at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Even after treatments can no longer control tumor growth for patients, "we can usually keep their quality of life pretty good with medicines for brain swelling, and then the end is usually pretty graceful," Ewend said.
Well I'm not sure how graceful it is to die from cancer. Having watched my mother do it I think the only word for it is hideous. - post by mydomesticchurch