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Table 6 Symptom, description of what makes the symptom unbearable and rated category; examples

From: Symptoms, unbearability and the nature of suffering in terminal cancer patients dying at home: a prospective primary care study

Symptom Description of unbearability by patient Rated category
Tired? I hardly can do anything, it is nearly impossible to explain it in words. I never imagined a person could be so tired Physical
Lonely (important people absent)? I have one son, he does not visit me Loss of meaning
Feel dependant on others? I used to be very independent, and do all myself. Now I need to ask for everything, or wait. Loss of autonomy
Hiccups? It comes sudden and unexpected, it makes me feel uncivilized and ashamed Loss of dignity
Feel to be a burden to others? My husband, he needs to care for me continuously Burden to others
Restricted sexual functioning? It is gone, it is in pieces, not only for myself, but also for my wife Loss of sexual role
Fear of future suffering? I am in fear of suffering pain, that the pain will be unbearable Fear of suffering
Nausea? I feel panic. Am I going to vomit? Is it going to be difficult to breathe? Is it going to happen when I am eating? Anxiety
Fear of future suffering? I am frightened to suffocate Death anxiety
Feel depressed? This depressed mood in itself is unpleasant, at the same time it grows, because my daughter is doing less well Depressive thoughts
Negative thoughts, worrying? It haunts my mind all day: dissemination of cancer to my liver, 2 to 3 months to live. An operation? Other possibilities? Worrying
Feel tensed? To be able to be more relaxed would help me; now it makes me lose much energy Feeling tensed
Hopelessness? To take up a piece of paper , I can’t manage it, I cannot stand it Hopelessness
Trouble accepting present situation? The fact that it is as it is, to look it in the face. It is over, I am just waiting Pointlessness