My dad passed away from sepsis...why?

I know I haven't posted much, but I have read many many stories. Many of them I found to be encouraging. My dad was dx with stage IV adenocarcinoma of the lung with mets in June of 2006. He was feeling much better lately. He has beat the "medical odds" so often. We even had good news about him being a candidate for cyberknife. Three days after we went to the cyberknife consult he was hospitalized into the ICU. He was in septic shock due to pneumonia. Needless to say, he did not pull out of it. He passed away on Aug 20. It was just 3 days after he was admitted.

It has been harder than I expected to deal with his passing. I think it may be because there are questions I have that the drs can't answer. I don't know if it's because there's really no right answer or if it's to try and spare my feelings.

I have tried & tried to find an answer to how long he could have had sepsis? Are there any signs I could have missed? He was treated for pneumonia in mid-July...could it have been still lingering? With a lung CA patient, is it common protocol to not follow up with a chest xray after treatment? I don't know. If anyone could help shed some light on this it will be greatly appreciated. When I tried to ask the dr, I just kept getting the same answer...I am sorry, Tracey, we did all we could do for you dad. I understand and believe that. I am not looking to try to find an error on their part. I have others saying...atleast he's not suffering...I understand that too & I never ever wanted him to. It's just so hard to absorb, knowing he was feeling so good just days prior. Thank God, he was never bed ridden and walked unassisted, even out to the ambulance Monday morning(3 days before passing). I think I just need some answers to help me begin to heal from such a great loss. I don't know how to begin healing. I never knew it was possible to hurt so bad.

I have found this site to be so helpful and very informative. I hope I am not out of line by asking these questions, but I just don't know where else to turn. Thanks a bunch!


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I am so sorry, Tracey, to hear about your Dad's death. He put up such a vallient fight from his diagnosis in 2006.

As the following passage indicates, sepsis isn't unheard of in pneumonia, especially with a MRSA infection. Given your Dad's worn out body, it sounds like the pneumonia was just too hard to ward off.

"Sepsis and septic shock are potential complications of pneumonia. Sepsis occurs when microorganisms enter the bloodstream and the immune system responds by secreting cytokines. Sepsis most often occurs with bacterial pneumonia; Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most common cause. Individuals with sepsis or septic shock need hospitalization in an intensive care unit. They often require intravenous fluids and medications to help keep their blood pressure from dropping too low. Sepsis can cause liver, kidney, and heart damage, among other problems, and it often causes death."

The real question behind "Why" is probably because you love him so much and it just doesn't seem fair.

My heart goes out to you in this time of grief. You did everything humanly possible. He was lucky to have you in his life.


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Tracey, I am so sorry about your dad's passing. I have been where you are right now, my dad passed at the age of 62 9/25/07. He had colon cancer with mets to liver which started as 11 spots on the liver which the chemo got rid of all but 1 tumor and that was inactive. He went into the hospital Sept. 4, 07 for a colostomy (the tumor in his colon was very low and needed to be removed). He did great thru the surgery, recovered in the next few days, but then got a fever... long story short... he wound up with a blood infection and never recovered. We were told by his surgeon that the tumor in his liver was so large that it blocked off the blood supply and it was "not fixable"... His death certificate didn't say a word about cancer... his death was caused by apoxia (no blood oxygen) and renal failure (kidney's shut down)... that had NOTHING to do with his liver. Why we were never told about his real cause of death we will never know. We feel like we were lied to. But at the end of the day it really doesn't matter to us because it isn't going to change anything. Just know that you will get thru this, the pain will ease, the smiles will replace the tears, you will be able to think of your dad and remember all the good times with a smile on your face. I read once "there is no greater gift then to be the daughter of a loving father"... we are very lucky to be able to say we had such wonderful fathers. My dad and I were so, so close, I never thought I would survive, but I did. He will always be with me, only in my heart and memories, but that's what keeps me going. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

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Prayers for you and your family. God bless.

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Tracey - it's not fair - and you may never get any answers - but you loved him - and he knew that - he didn't suffer and well- you've heard all the rest - it's not fair - and it stinks - just get angry - do a primal scream - vent here to all of us - only time will heal this hurt - and never quite completely - losing a parent is a unique pain that never really goes away completely - but eventually the happy memories take over - and one day you will be telling someone a story about your dad and you will be giggling.....and so will he!

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Dear Tracey,
I think all of these questions is due to the fact that it was a shock to you that he died so fast, and so quick. I know he had a terrible disease, and of course we never know how long we will make it, but when you see him day to day and he is doing fine, or on the outside looks to be doing fine, we wonder how could this have happened. the fact is honey, you were not ready for dad to go anyplace yet. he was ready, but you were left lingering behind wanting daddy to live on forever. Sheila explained it all so expertly about how the body reacts when it gets sepsis from a bacterial pneumonia. These things happen when the body can'tr fight and win any longer, it is a quick thing, it can happen in an instant and they are here one moment and gone the next. I lost my husband just over 3 years ago, and again not from the cancer he had, but from a complication like this one your dad had. It is a blessing, please believe that, a true blessing. I am happy to hear he died, and he was not in severe pain and agony. Some of us who do stay on until the very end have so much pain we need to be medicated so much we are like zombies, this is no way to see your dad either. I know how sad you feel right now, and it is going to last a long time, but it will ease up, and the pain will be a little easier to deal with. Right now you need to vent to people as much as you can, and relive all the days you did have with your dad. Go and touch his things, smell his clothes, listen to his m usic, keep him alive with you at this time, you are so not ready to let go, when you are things will change and you willl see each day a little more relief from so much pain. I would suggest to pray to God to hold you in his arms and help you to heal. It is the worse sadness a person can feel in a lifetime. I remember it with my husband. I think we need ot go through this to begin life without them. go ahead, find some of his things he cherished or he used every day, and feel them, smell them and keep them close to you. Maybe if you get lucky your dad will come to you in a dream, my husband did for me, and this was when I truly felt better, I knew then that he came to let me know it was okay for me to stop the grieving so much for him, he came to let me know he still hung around me. Your dad is around you right now too, if you listen real close you may hear him. You are in my prayers.
god bless you Sandy.

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What a shock. It is very upsetting when you realize it's not the cancer that can kill someone but the infections that their bodies become so vunerable to developing with a compromised immune system.

I can only say your dad lives inside you and will always be with you in your heart and spirit. I know my mom watches over me and my family. Your dad will be watching over you and your family now as well.

Sending you hugs and prayers for strength as you deal with the loss of your dad.


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Thank you all. It really is comforting to know that I am not the only one that has dealt (or dealing) with this. I appreciate the prayers, more than you all know. I know the grief process cannot be rushed, but honestly, it does feel better to know that I am not alone.

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Tracey, I am still questioning everything in my mind and its been over 3 years since my healthy Mom fell and seemed fine within an hour after only to die from a blod clot in the hospital within a couple hours after being admitted??? I do not want to digest what they told me.....and I feel a void......I wake up wondering if she would be with me today if I had been by her side and not left as she and staff wanted me to, for to wash her clothes so that she could go home later that day. I still wonder if they left her alone and forgot to check on her....maybe she dozed and woke up in that room and freaked out which caused a stroke? Doctors explain it was they just say that or was it really the truth? I go on with life, recall the great moments with Mom, and go on with those good thoughts. she would never want me to be distraught over how she was just so sudden, it is hard to adapt to "sudden" and unexpected experiences.

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My extremely healthy brother in law went to doc and told him he did not feel well. Doc found no problems and 2 days later he was admitted to hospital and few hours later he passed away from sepsis. We could not understand how this could happen so fast.

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Warmest sympathy to you on the loss of your father.

I Googled SEPSIS and found considerable information (even from Wikipedia) which would seem to cast light on your questions.

I also Googled PNEUMONIA AND SEPSIS but had less luck with it than just plain SEPSIS.

Maybe you have already researched your questions some--if not, you might want to
do so via Google. There is a world of information out there, and something tells me you will be greatly comforted by it. I hope so.


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I'm sorry for your fathers passing. I have heard that sometimes that a person gets a "Last Horrah" please excuse the spelling. But what it is, you may have heard is that for some reason I believe it's God, That God gives you a gift of "Feeling Good," kinda like a false everythings alot better feeling, just before your time to pass. Maybe thats what happened. God gave ya'll a gift.
Anyway, Thats my thought.

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Hi Tracey,
I'm so sorry to hear about your father. It hits close to home as my dad is stage 4 NSCLC. While on chemo my dad develop septic pneumonia. Because the treatment caused complications (pneumonia and him needing 3 units of blood) the doctor decided to take him off chemo and put him on Tarceva. I guess he just got lucky. Or maybe everyone has their time on this earth and it wasn't his.

Again, I feel your sorrow as we can never truly keep the ones we love in life safe.

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I too have just recently lost my mother to the same condition as your father just a few weeks back (9/18/2009.) I have never in my life ever heard of Sepsis, and for the life of me didn't at all think when she was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with Pneumonia that she would pass away not even 24 hours later from the time she was admitted. She was just up and around the previous night cooking dinner. My mother was 59 years old and has been treated with chemotherapy for a spot found on her Pancreas back in 2000 and although she was not undergoing chemo anymore, she was still required to make routine visits to the cancer treatment center to make sure everything was okay. Her last visit was the week prior to her death (why didn't they see anything, then???). My dad did not accompany my mother to the appointment, but my father says that my mom said that she had a clean bill of health. I am like long can a person have this??? What kind of signs could we have seen or possibly missed because I have been researching and reading all that I can about this Sepsis and from what I have researched...and I am falling short as well. Reading your situation really hits home for me because I know now that we are not the only ones to be devasted by this. When we were at the hospital....I thought that the Dr. was lying to us or that he didn't know what he was doing. I thought that he had just made up this thing called Sepsis....and I couldn't understand what it had to do with Pneumonia. They had us in the chapel of the Hospital telling us they she was not going to make it....we have done all we can do...all he kept saying....and they had us go in to say goodbye to her. We watched her blood pressure and her heart rate continue to decline...we prayed and we prayed....and just like that she was gone.
You are not alone coping with this....and now I know that my family that is not either.

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I still feel your pain. It has been just under 2 months and it feels like yesterday. I know people say it takes time to heal, but as of now it still leaves me devistated. Today is better than a month ago, but it is hard. It scares me that we haven't had all "the firsts" without him here. It has been suggested that I go to a support group, but I haven't yet. I do find it helps to tell my story over and over again. I have a hat and tshirt of daddy's that I keep in my room. It is comforting to pull it out and touch it, smell it, and cry on it. I know he cannot be brought back but I know we will meet again one day. My prayers are with you. Hang in there!

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Thanks so much for your words of encouragement. I know that over time it will get better, but you are is hard!!!
Last night was especially for me, and it all came kind of suddenly. One moment I was fine and the next I was a complete mess. I haven't considered a support group, but do feel that the more I talk about it and cry about it.....the better I feel.
I love that fact that you have those personal items of your dad. I created a photo slide show my mom that we played during her funeral service. I have to watch it everynight before I go to bed. I look at how beautiful she was....I think about things... like how I never really noticed how much I look like her....and I think about how proud I am to be her daughter, and I cry. Sometimes I feel like she's right there with me. You hang in there too, and remember that his legacy lives on through you. Take care!

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Hi Dina:

Usually a death certificate can have up to 3 leading causes of death with what they call primary as #1, secondary #2, etc. My father had pancreatitic disease. Pancreatitis to be exact. Something you usually do not recover from. He was operated on and ended up in septic shock. His death certificate said Sepsis due to organ failure due to pancreatitis.

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I just saw this I know it an old post but my dad died from the same thing. He had been fighting penumonia for a month and when it did not get better they found he actually had lung cancer too. They out him in the hospital to try to treat the pneumonia there and 2 days later his BP dropped and he could not catch his breath. He made the decision to be put on a ventilator and 5 hours later he went into cardiac arrest. Everything just shut down. I know how sad you must feel. If you want to chat just email me. My dad just died less than 2 weeks ago so the pain and visions of seeing him in the hospital and hearing that code blue are still in my head,

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Hi Tracey, and everyone else. . .

Tracey, thanks for starting this topic. I am so sorry to hear how things turned out for you. I am in a similar boat, hopefully I will see a different destination...

My dad IS bedridden, unfortunately. He had a stroke a few years ago, and to me, my dad has already died. He is still alive, my dad you know, but he is not the way he used to be. Don't get the wrong impression, I still love him dearly. No one can say why life turns out the way it does, and we on this earth will always be searching for answers.

I caught a very bad cold and I believe "I" caused my dad to develop pneumonia as he was unable to fight off what I believe he caught from me. It turned into pneumonia. We did not realize it was anything more than that until the day we were at the hospital ER. They were taking all sorts of blood tests, chest ex-rays, and an ekg. As we watched his blood pressure drop to 61/39 we were then told the doctors had detected he had Sepsis. They immediately put him on liquids and started two IV antibiotics. They told us "later" that my dad was on the brink of going into Septic Shock. Of course they tell us these things "after the fact" and I suppose it's good that we don't know "everything" at the time they do, but that I feel makes me wonder what they DON'T tell us.. later or even never...

Right now as I am typing this message, my dad is still in the ICU room of the hospital, being treated for Sepsis and Pneumonia. I am glad that I have found this forum. Prayerfully I will not need to tell a sad ending to my story, but I feel good knowing there is someplace that I can turn to.

Please everyone please say a prayer for my dad who is fighting for his life. I did not realize the extent of the severity that Sepsis is until I read each of your posts.

again, thanks for starting this thread. God Bless you all for sharing your stories and your advice. I will keep each and everyone of you in my prayers. Please do the same for me!

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I hope this is not too long past the original posting to reply to this. I am sitting here at the computer while my Dad is likely spending his last day on this Earth. He has sepsis due to a perforated bowel from adrenal cortical cancer. I am home I can not witness my Dad leaving. My Mom is with my brother who is there with my Dad. I sat down at the computer with eyes so swollen from tears I could barely see. I am still, somehow searching for an answer to help him. And the very first site that came up from google was this one. As I read through the posts on this thread I was amazed how no matter how different we are, we are all just as similar.

The suspicions of the doctors..boy can I relate to that. The litany of questionable choices from doctors will haunt me forever. The questions of why didn't I say this or ask that or demand whatever will always cause me great pain. Why did I get so annoyed with my Dad for little thing that are so insignificant? I would sell my soul now to have him do any one of those things. Just to see his face, his bright blue eyes again. But who I would see today would not be my Dad. And my brother told me today my Dad talked with him about this and he knew this would be too hard for me to do. He wanted me to think of him being healthy, not who he is right now. But once he leaves, I can never change my mind. I am still struggling with the guilt.

Cathy, I read your message and hope so much your Dad is ok. It struck me because my Dad too had a stroke (tiny one) about 5 years ago and it changed him forever. I too had a cold and my Dad got sick a week or so after I got better. The whole cold scenario, sneezing, coughing, etc. Then they thought he had a "touch" of pneumonia. After that, it spiraled into where we are now. They decided he never did have pneumonia. But I too have the feeling that I started this horrible thing by being sick. Why didn't I stay totally away from him when I knew how his immune system was down? Did I do this to him?

Tracy, your original post asked so many ?'s I have. I can only tell you my experience. From all the research I found, sepsis is so completely devestating, it wouldn't be long from development to it taking him without immediate and extreme measures. My Dad has been in the hospital for 2.5 weeks. We nearly lost him 2 weeks ago tonight. They kept saying they "thought" he had some sort of infection, but couldn't identify it. Not until Friday, nearly 2 weeks later, did they see on ultrasound his cancer had apparently perforated his bowel. They never said sepsis, but I looked it up and the infection you'd get from a perf'd bowel is sepsis. They put him on dialysis, etc. but today they said his bp is not able to be maintained. He is max'd out on all meds to control it.

His only symptoms before he was hospitalized was of a really bad cold. He had been constipated which we attributed to the Nexavar chemo he was on. He didn't tell us but we found out when he went in the hospital he had been having trouble urinating. Then in the hospital he began to have a lot of stomach pain and inability to keep any food at all down. And severe trouble breathing to the point where they put him on a vent. Did he have sepsis all that time? I don't know. You'd think as doctors, they'd be able to determine something so basic as sepsis. But I don't and will probably never know.

I am so sorry. Sorry for you, sorry for your Dad. Sorry for all of us who have to be here. Sorry we all seem to need to ask ourselves if we did enough. If we missed something. If we did the right things, said we loved them enough. And now I sit here, terrified for the phone call I know is going to come.

Please, pray for him as I will for all of you.
Lisa and family

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Sepsis and staph are frequently caused by a place you consider safe--the hospital or by med procedures done out of hosp. They are called nosocomials.

There is no way you can prevent this and never think it is your fault. I should really be wearing a mask since my lungs are premanently scarred and I get frequent URI's. I just feel foolish doing so. People do not realize they are a danger to me, not the other way around. It's difficult to pull off in Az because the weather is generally nice enough to go out.

Please start to feel better about yourself.


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