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So NOW what???

califdreamin
Posts: 11
Joined: Jul 2001

I received a note from a dear friend Thanksgiving morning about his wife. In part he worte

"...she is starting to hurt pretty bad now. She has 5 tumors in her spine and ribs and she grown immune to all the chemo treatments. Her hormone treatment doesn't seem to be working either."

She was first diagnosed with BC in 1996, and with mets to the liver in 1999. The "bright spots" on her spine have shown up on scans for several years, but this is the first time he's "admitted" to me they were tumors. He's always passed them off as arthritis or some such thing in the past.

In any case, she has been on every drug known to man - or at least, so it seems. She had to stop taking Xeloda after a month, but was on Taxotere this year for about 9 months before it became evident it wasn't working.

Based on what he wrote, things don't sound good, but what do you think will happen now? Is it just a matter of trying to keep her comfortable at this point, or is there a chance she could actually find another treatment?

Also, I never knew you could become immune to all chemo. I thought when one stopped working, there was usually another one in the wings you could try.

Thanks for any advice or enlightenment you can offer.

hummingbyrd's picture
hummingbyrd
Posts: 965
Joined: Sep 2002

Sorry to hear about your friend. My best suggestion is take advantage of the Christmas holidays, if you can, and go see her. Be prepared though, if you haven't seen her in a while she may look real different. Loss of weight, yellow skin or ashy looking. My prayers are with you and your friend.
Of course there is always a chance, they could release a cure, the Lord could heal her, or we all may be raptured tomorrow! Meanwhile, what would be important to me is keeping her comfortable with pain meds and making sure she has accepted Christ as her Savior. Those are MY priorities. She has actually been blessed to live 6 years with mets to liver and bone, I'm sorry to say, as I too have mets to bone. Does she have children? How old is she? If she's interested there are trial studies she might qualify for, you might check out sites like www.nih.com (National Institute of Health) it will link you to other sites. They are making some exciting advances with vaccines, bacteria proteins that kill tumor cells, and meds that cut off the blood supply to tumors called 'angiogenic' I think. You might want to check with her and her family before you get off into to much research. In some cases of research she might even have to go to another country! In most cases they don't fund the expenses. God bless, hummb

Lord please bless this lady and her friend with a peace and hope that only you can provide. I pray that they stay strong in their faith in You, and that she has accepted Christ as her Savior. If it be your will Lord please heal this woman, lead her to a cure or heal her by faith. If this ladies time has come let the family accept it with the knowledge that only we mourn the loss, the ones who pass go home rejoicing! And though it seems a lifetime in fact we will be reunited with our loved ones in a blink of an eye. Whatever the outcome we know it is your will and your will is the perfect will as you can see all things and we only see a speck in time. Let us remember the greatest sacrifice and the worst death was sent here by you Lord. You allowed your Son to die for our sins. If it were any of us today, and that was our child, all we would see is tragedy. We have to remember that that tragedy was the greatest event in all of time! Through the crucifixion of Christ, sinners like me, can now one day rejoice in heaven! Thank you Lord for all that you have blessed us with. Please surround these people with your angels of mercy and peace. Whatever the outcome in this situation may it bring You honor and glory. In Christ' name I pray, Amen.

califdreamin
Posts: 11
Joined: Jul 2001

Thank you for your response. I doubt that she is strong enough to travel very far, much less to another country, even with the prospect of long or short term remission.

And thank you, too, for your beautiful prayerful blessing for her.

In answer to your question, she just turned 59 and has 2 grown daughters. Her parents live nearby, also, so she has a lot of family support.

inkblot
Posts: 705
Joined: Jul 2001

Hi:

This is such hard news for you to hear. For anyone to hear, really. I can only imagine how you must feel. I've been there and it is
not an easy road.

It's difficult to know what to do at such a time or what to expect. Much of it depends upon how close you are to her, what your own personality and belief systems may be, while also respecting her own unique personality and belief systems. If you have a rabbi, minister, priest, counselor, therapist, spiritual teacher or some such person, experienced in loss/grief, it may be beneficial to talk with them if you're feeling overwhelmed.

It sounds as if perhaps she's in the late stages. If that is the case, many people reconcile themselves to what's happening, find peace within their spirits about it and find that they want to spend quality time with those whom they most love and hold dear. When this happens, there if ususally a peace about the person that is unmistakable. It can also give others some measure of peace and courage as well. It's a strange comfort to realize that the person we're losing, who means so much to us, is actually doing better than we may be, inside. If she has not found that place of peace yet, have faith that she will and just be a good listener for her while she finds it.

My thought is that her family will most likely seek hospice care, if they haven't already. At least part of the time. I'd also imagine that she'll be given a choice of pain medications and how she wants them delivered, etc., so she will have the least pain possible, and a level of pain suppression which suits her own wishes. Has probably already made decisions as to where she'd prefer to spend her final hours and in general, has her affairs that matter to her, in order.

All you can do is be supportive to her. Let her know that you love her and what she means to you. I'd suggest a phone call first, keeping in mind that she may not want lots of visitors or she may prefer a steady stream. Reminisce, laugh or whatever she needs when you talk with her.

The next best thing you can do is be supportive to her family in whatever ways you can. Loved ones/Caregivers appreciate someone calling them once in a while to see how they're doing, etc.. Their pain can be overwhelming and they're often exhausted from their hypervigilant, emotional state of mind. If you're geographically close enough, making and delivering food for the family is also a good and useful idea.

As a suggestion, you may want to think of sending your friend a card, perhaps on Mondays or Wednesdays or whatever days you like. (A little rythm of sorts) You'll know, by who she is, what she'd appreciate most. It could brighten her day when they arrive and become something she'll look forward to. It could generate a "special" shared experience when she reads them to her family or they read them to her.

If they've exhausted every means of treatment, I don't know that they'd be pleased if you began making treatment suggestions (it may make them feel inadequate or that you THINK they are)unless they ask you about it first. I'd tread delicately on that particular ground and follow their lead, unless you have evidential reason to believe that she's receiving sub standard care on some level.

Otherwise, just be the friend she needs you to be...the same one you've always been. Let her know that you aren't afraid to still be her friend and on whatever level you always were. She won't expect you to suddenly be someone else.

Remember to share your own feelings with those close to you, who care because, short or long, this is not an easy journey.

Having lost several dear friends, these are just a few things I chose to do, which felt right and good and seemed to be helpful.

Hope it may help you in some way too.

Love, light and laughter,
Ink

califdreamin
Posts: 11
Joined: Jul 2001

Thank you, Ink. I think the part about my not making a lot of treatment suggestions is very wise. We live several states apart so it's not like I see any of them very regularly. Any "advice" I may try to offer at this point would probably seem to be coming from left field...although I did ask in my reply note if they had considered Hospice yet.

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