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67 yr old mom with NSCLC stageIV

lcanlas
Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2006

my mom was diagnosed last month with lung cancer stage IV. doctor said it is incurable. part of her liver has a mass and her adrenal gland. she may only have months. she is taking Tarceva since last week. She is not feeling anything different a week after she started the pill. The doctor said if it doesn't work, she may start chemo. I am praying my mom will have a longer life. Any survivor stories will be great and I will pass along to my mom.

Plymouthean's picture
Plymouthean
Posts: 264
Joined: Jan 2004

Hi. At age 67, I was diagnosed with nsclc, stage 3a. No mets. I was "incurable/inoperable". I went on to chemo and radiation, and then surgery. I'm cancer free today. I once asked my oncologist, after all my treatments, how she could come to work every day and face such an uphill battle to help us who had cancer. Her reply was "Because we believe in miracles. You (meaning me) are our miracle". For what it's worth, - believe! The doctor bases dignosis, prognosis, etc., on statistics. Try to be positive. Sure, survivors, as a percentage, are in the minority. But SOMEONE has to make up that minority. Why not your mom? The doctor called me a miracle. Surely I'm not the only miracle that's ever going to happen!

reinstones1's picture
reinstones1
Posts: 92
Joined: Feb 2006

Hi. My Mom is 68, and was diagnosed with Stage IIIB NSCLC in December 2005. She was told that her cancer is IIIB or IV, depending on "whose chart you follow".

She presented with malignant pleural effusion, which is how she was diagnosed (fluid extracted from her pleural space contained malignant cells). From early December to mid-January, she had repeat thoracentesis performed to remove fluid, and it was really impacting her breathing and quality of life. She then had a surgical procedure performed to address the effusion (pleurodesis). It took 6 long weeks to get the pleural effusion under control before she as able to start chemo (which is every 3 weeks, using Taxol and carboplatin).

We were also told that she was inoperable/incurable. Although she couldn't undergo chemo right away, she did have every kind of PET and CT scan possible-- head scan, bone scan, etc. Everything was OK. Nothing spread during that time.

She just had a CT scan performed this week, after her 2nd chemo treatment (her 3rd was on 3/10). The CT showed no decrease in the size of her tumor in her lung, but showed marked improvement in the areas of her pleurae. . . she has NO fluid present in the pleural space. The disease has not progressed in 3 months since her diagnosis, her pleural effusion has been corrected successfully and has not reoccurred (this is the biggest positive for us), and she is tolerating chemo pretty well. So although we would have loved to hear that her tumors have shrunk, it's still early in her chemo regimen. Her oncologist considers her to be a "stable patient", which is better than the alternative!

I am NOT an expert on chemo regimens, but I don't think (???) Tarceva is usually used as a first-line treatment (my apologies if I am wrong on this)? I thought, from what I've read and been told by my Mom's oncologist, that Tarceva and drugs of that nature are generally used as a second-line treatment(or third)? Do you know WHY your Mom's oncologist has opted not to start with conventional chemo? I'm sure someone here knows more about Tarceva and WHEN they use it, and can provide more information. Regardless, my recommendation is to talk with your Mom's oncologist ASAP and ask him to explain why he's not starting with traditional chemo (which can STILL used if the cancer has spread to her liver). Being armed with as much information as you can get is KEY to dealing with this process. Be involved. Educate yourself. Be your Mom's advocate. It's what I've had to do to live through this!

In summary, my Mom was diagnosed just over 3 months ago. She's had 3 chemo treatments 3 weeks apart, and is doing well so far. She's tolerated the chemo pretty well. Everything I read about malignant pleural effusion gave a 3-6 month life span, and that petrified me, so I stopped reading.

Doctors don't know everything. They can't predict how long someone will live. That has a lot to do with the person's health to begin with, their will to fight, their will to live, and lots of other things beyond our control. BE POSITIVE. Have faith. Say lots of prayers. This is a scary, difficult journey-- soon, your good days will outnumber your bad ones. I've only been on this journey for 3 months with my Mom and I already feel like it's been a lifetime. But each day that goes by I feel better equipped to go on. Keep us posted on your Mom's progress. Be positive, and we will be here for you! Email me if you want to "talk".

Martha

8965
Posts: 34
Joined: Nov 2005

Greetings from Chicago..My dad 67 years old was diagnosed in November with stage IV lung cancer two spots on the lung and one spot on the liver. Incurable and they cant operate. He started chemo right away and had four rounds of chemo...just recently had a complete body scan and the spots on the lung are no longer visible and the spot on the liver is barely visible. My dad started tarceva a two weeks ago and has had no side effects yet. His chemo side effects were awful lost 30 lbs...hair fell out...weakness...numbness in hands and feet..ect. He has felt much better since the chemo is over. The news is great, we live one day at a time in my family. I am the youngest of four and I had a very hard time dealing with this. My dad was given a year at the most and he is doing great 6 months into this battle. He also has a lung condition called COPD and has heart failure the doctor told him "to bad the rest of your health is poor" because he did respond so well to the medicine. Ive only heard good things about this Tarceva, if its going to keep my dad around, Im glad he is taking it. I find such comfort coming to this site, it helps me when Im confused, sad, alone. Someone somewhere here always has a response. My prayers are with your mom and your family...keep me updated! Christine

Im pretty new to this "Cancer stuff" Im not sure why they didnt do chemo first? My dad was treated with chemo first than was given tarceva.

lcanlas
Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2006

Sorry, I am new to the site and I have to learn how to give an update:-) To answer the question as to why my mom started Tarceva right away rather than the chemo...my mom was a light smoker so my mom's oncologist said Tarceva seems to work better to non smoker asian women. Since my mom was a light smoker about 3-4 cigarettes a day and stop 20 years ago the doctor feels like it is worth a try and if it doesn't work she will start chemo.

She actually seen her oncologist today and she doesn't feel any other symptoms besides a swollen gland?? on her throat which doesn't really bother her. She only lost 1 lb so that is good because the doctor was expecting for her to loose wait. He will order another CT scan for her at the end of the month to see if the Tarceva is working. We are praying that it is working but if not she will do chemo.

I will keep everybody updated once she gets her follow up check up by the end of this month.

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