Asked and Answered


    What to Expect with Various Illnesses

    Someone with brain cancer can expect different kinds of symptoms, all of which change as brain cancer progresses. There’s likely to be an overall decline, which affects the body as whole. There also may be an effect on a specific area of the brain or on the whole brain, which may be caused by swelling and the tumor. Different areas of the... read more...
    Leukemia is different from many cancers, as there is no tumor. Rather, the cancerous cells are found throughout the body, in the blood or in bone marrow. Leukemia interferes with the normal production of red cells, white cells, and platelets in the bone marrow. The medications used to treat this disease may also injure the healthy stem cells... read more...
    Someone with lung cancer may have symptoms specifically related to a tumor in the lungs and may have symptoms caused by the general effects of cancer on the body. When people have a tumor in the lungs, they often cough or are short of breath. Some people experience these throughout the illness. For others these may only become a problem as... read more...
    Each person’s disease progresses in its own way, and it’s not always possible to predict what can happen as a disease progresses. Someone with colon cancer may have symptoms specifically related to the tumor in the colon and may have symptoms caused by the general effects of cancer on the body. When cancer spreads to the lungs and liver the... read more...
    One of the most obvious effects of liver cancer is jaundice. This is a yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes, caused by a buildup of bile in the body. Bile contains a pigment called bilirubin that causes the yellow colour. Jaundice is a sign that the liver is not functioning well, and can’t move the bile to the intestine, where it’s normally... read more...
    When cancer spreads to the liver the metastasis may have direct or indirect effects. This depends on the size and location of the metastatic tumor, and ranges from no visible effects to several serious ones. The person may also experience other symptoms caused by the general effect of cancer on the body. The liver is a large organ with a fair... read more...
    Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) is not a single disease. It’s a complex group of cancers that start in the body’s immune system. The diseases have similarities at the cell level, but they have different effects on the body and show different responses to treatment. A person’s experience with NHL will depend on the type of disease, its location... read more...
    Much of what can be expected during cancer treatment depends on the specific individual. Many treatments place some burden on a person’s body. This is usually temporary, but requires a period of recovery. People who generally are doing fairly well are more resilient and recover more quickly. Those who generally are feeling exhausted and without... read more...
    Each person’s illness and situation is unique, and so the person’s health care team is in the best position to provide specific information about what each person can expect. Some of the symptoms result from the type of cancer and where it’s located. Medications may also cause some side effects. As well, there are some general effects of cancer,... read more...
    Learning about what might be expected as part of living with a disease often helps people feel more prepared or in control. There are many great websites that provide information about the various kinds of cancers, and how those cancers are diagnosed and treated. As you try to make sense of the information you find, it is important to remember... read more...
    Congestive heart failure (CHF) means the heart is failing to pump blood properly and can’t meet the requirements of the body. Different heart diseases or disorders can cause this condition. The degree of heart failure is often described using a system developed by the New York Heart Association. It has four classes, which define the degree... read more...
    It can be very difficult to predict the course of chronic illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or congestive heart failure (CHF). Chronic illnesses place energy demands on the body that slowly deplete a person's energy reserve. In the later stages of illness, energy reserve is low, and seemingly small problems like... read more...
    When diabetes treatment is focused on making someone comfortable, the main goal is usually to avoid low blood sugar levels. Low levels cause the most symptoms in the short term and are most risky for the patient. There isn’t much margin for safety if they go even lower. So it’s preferable to have high levels rather than low. It’s reasonable... read more...
    One of the jobs of the kidneys is to remove waste products produced by normal body function. These waste products can be toxic. In the case of kidney failure, the kidneys can’t remove waste products effectively. As the toxins build up a person’s energy gradually decreases and the desire to rest increases. In the final days or weeks of life... read more...
    The liver is the second largest organ in the body. It is located in the right upper abdomen under the rib cage. The liver has many important jobs. It filters harmful substances from the blood and converts food and fluid into the nutrients and energy the body needs. It also helps clot the blood. Causes of liver disease include viral hepatitis,... read more...
    Assessing pain in a person with Alzheimer disease can be difficult. Pain assessment is usually based on the individual’s ability to verbally report his or her pain, but many people with Alzheimer disease have difficulty communicating. Some people are able to answer “yes” or “no” when asked if they have pain, and some can point to where it... read more...
    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly called ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive disease that affects the nervous system. The disease eventually affects someone’s mobility, independent functioning, communication, swallowing and breathing. Generally, care for people with ALS includes these considerations: the illness itself; the... read more...
    The progression of cerebral palsy varies a great deal. In general, however, people with cerebral palsy have some common experiences in the final weeks or months: Decreasing strength and energy This causes decreasing mobility, communication, alertness and ability to breath and cough. Usually it’s not a cause of physical distress. Rather it’s... read more...
    Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive disease of the nervous system. It can cause a wide variety of symptoms, which may continue or worsen as the disease progresses. The most common symptoms include fatigue , walking difficulties, bowel and bladder disturbances, vision problems, changes in brain function, changes in sexual function, pain... read more...
    Alzheimer disease is a progressive disease of the brain. It’s characterized by loss of memory, judgment and reasoning, changes in mood and behaviour, and eventually a reduced ability to perform the activities of daily living, such as eating, dressing, bathing and toileting. In end-stage Alzheimer disease, the brain is no longer able to tell... read more...
    There’s often a difficult shift in perspective required at some point in a progressive disease. When someone has COPD, then throughout the illness there’s usually a focus on pulmonary function tests, treatments for infection, and efforts to slow the progression of the disease. As COPD reaches advanced stages, these efforts have less effect... read more...
    The Canadian Thoracic Society defines COPD as "a respiratory disorder largely caused by smoking, which is characterized by progressive, partially reversible airway obstruction and lung hyperinflation, systemic manifestations, and increasing frequency and severity of exacerbations". 1 Each person’s situation is very different, which makes it... read more...