As for whether or not there is any chance for your Dad to beat this rap, at least for a while, I think that if your Dad is still going to the store alone he is still in pretty good shape and he should definitely look into other options. I don't really know enough about the options because my Mom had other health problems and was not a candidate for a whole lot of treatment besides surgery but I encourage you to look at other people's experiences with different treatments on this board and also the Medical Updates on the website (look under the Cholangiocarcinoma tab). I have posted before that I am sorry I did not find out about photodynamic therapy (PDT) until it was too late for my Mom, see the article here:
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/ … 041508.php
Also, how old is your father? I think age is a big factor in terms of fighting this beast. Does he have any other health problems?
As for the rest of your post, I do have some advice. When I first found out what type of cancer my Mom had, I started doing research because I am a librarian but I stopped after about 20 minutes because I couldn't handle what I was reading. I eventually went back to researching but there is a large learning curve with this cancer and everything happened so fast (she came home from the hospital after surgery and immediately had complications with her tube) that we had a hard time getting our bearings to know what we were up against.
In the back of my mind I kept thinking about how much time she might have and how to make the most of it. My mom had 7 kids and made a million breakfasts for us over the years and when I moved in with her she still tried to make breakfast but she was too weak and I think that when she realized she couldn't even scramble and cook up an egg, she knew what she was up against. I started making breakfast and made her my famous crepes one day and she loved them and I was really grateful I could do something for her that she could get excited about. I guess my point is, no doctor or person on this board can tell you with accuracy how much time your dad has, one infection can cause a major decline, but you can decide what you do with the time he gets and that little moments and pleasures are just as important as big ones. There happened to be a family picnic planned so my Mom got to see a bunch of cousins she might not have seen otherwise so you might want to plan something like that if there are people he has not seen in a while.
In the end, we lost my mom about 8 months after her diagnosis and feel very lucky to have gotten that much time, since at about 3 months she was doing too poorly for chemo/radiation and seemed to be rapidly declining. We also got a lot of quality time in the last 4 months, as she deteriorated she had more complications but we had become a little more savvy about her condition and what to expect and then with hospice she wasn't having to run to the emergency room when she got a fever.
As for your Dad letting strangers write out his checks, all of your family members need to talk to him about perhaps taking over some responsibilities. My Mom was really weak after surgery and had to stay at a rehabilitation facility for 6 weeks and I took care of her mail, etc., but when she came home she wanted to take care of it again and at first I let her but I could see she wasn't keeping up with it so I asked her if paying bills was how she wanted to be spending her last months and she agreed it was not and I took over those duties again. It is also helpful to take over financial duties now when he is coherent, as you will be able to ask him questions.