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spouse refusing treatment, thought it was in lung, but mayo report said thyroid cancer.

still_hope
Posts: 3
Joined: Aug 2007

Please help, my husband just wants me to accept that he will die soon. He said he'd see the onocologist if it would comfort me and help me accept this.

The trouble was the pulmonary dr. told him he had stage IV lung cancer, and the next day the report came from mayo that his biopsy showed it started in the thyroid. She tryed to tell us that it was good news and a big difference in the treatment. I think she had good intentions and was trying to convince him to get treatment as soon as possible, instead he heard that he was at the end of his life and had no options.

How can I help my spouse through this difficult time?

Thanks and hope I didn't blubber too badly
Ruth

Rustifox's picture
Rustifox
Posts: 131
Joined: Mar 2005

I'm sorry you are both going through this, ((Hope)), and it is very unfortunate that an initial misdiagnosis, of a sort, has put your husband through this shock... but you are right, it is likely that his prognosis is much better with thyroid mets to the lungs.

Even when it is in the lungs - thyroid cancer is thyroid cancer - not lung cancer... they are two completely different scenarios, with differentiated thyroid cancer often much more 'treatable' than lung cancer.

If it were me, I would go ahead and ask your husband to please see the oncologist (even if it is supposedly just to comfort you!...whatever it takes to get him in there).

Hopefully, the oncologist will be able to help him to more clearly understand that thyroid cancer in the lungs generally has a much, much better prognosis, and is considered to be more treatable than lung cancer.

In general, lung metastases from well differentiated thyroid carcinoma have a relatively good prognosis, with an estimated mean survival of 77% at 8 years - this is certainly a much brighter prognosis than many lung cancer statistics show.

You may even want to call the oncologist yourself, prior to the appointment, to have him/her understand that your husband believes he should be preparing to die from lung cancer.

If they are aware of his concerns, they can help you to address those concerns; but either way, you will want to take a position of support for him - because even if it is thyroid cancer of the lungs, it is still a very big shock to us.

I think we all question our mortality (ie "how long have we got left?) when we hear the word 'cancer'. Our first instinct is often to 'shut down', and think that the end is near for us...try to think how to prepare ourselves and our loved ones for the end, and even more so when we think we are dealing with an aggressive form, like lung cancer.

He's been through a very big shock to the system, and some depression is definitely to be expected - but the more rapidly he can be helped through this stage, the more rapidly he can proceed to treating this, and hopefully getting on with the rest of your lives together... which hopefully will continue for many more years.

When thyroid cancer spreads, even to the bones or lungs, it can often still maintain many traits of thyroid tissue... and this is a very, very good thing, as thyroid tissues (and well differentiated thyroid cancer) are often highly receptive to radioactive iodine, which has the ability to eradicate the tissues - both benign thyroid tissue, and well differentiated malignancies.

But your husband is going through a very difficult time right now - understandably, as he still believes he has 'lung' cancer - not thyroid cancer (and even in the lungs, it IS thyroid cancer - a much different issue).

He needs much more help to understand these issues than you can provide right now. This information needs to come to him from medical professionals... it isn't that he won't believe it if he hears it from you - it's just that he may think you are just trying to make him feel better.

Let them explain the differences to him. Many of us have been told by (well meaning) family members that we are "lucky", that we have a 'good' cancer... there is no such thing as a 'good cancer'...so you don't want to make him think you are minimizing what he is going through now, either.

It still is a very frightening thing for us, and can be hurtful if we think our families or our loved ones are trying to make it seem like it is a bad cold or something...(ie 'get over it - you'll be fine!...). That can be very upsetting for us... it's serious, and we have every reason to be going through periods of shock and depression after a diagnosis. It takes some time to be able to pull up our socks and get ready to fight it.

The inital shock of diagnosis is difficult to take, even with a 'treatable' cancer... so it is perfectly understandable that your husband would be trying to prepare himself (and you) for the worst, knowing that lung cancer has a high mortality rate... but if he has thyroid cancer, his odds have likely improved substantially - again, depending on the aggressiveness of the cell types found, your husband's age, and other risk factors.

Unfortunately, even well differentiated thyroid cancers can also be more aggressive in men - so you still have a few hurdles to overcome, even if this is thyroid cancer mets to the lungs; again, the oncologist, with a complete pathology report, will be able to provide you both with more details. Please make certain to ask for a copy of that pathology report, so that you can do research on the specific cell types found, and develop a better understanding of how treatable this will be.

There are some excellent documents (and flow charts) available in this set of physician guidelines:
http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/PDF/thyroid.pdf
This is where a skilled cancer facility comes in, and whatever it takes, you need to get him back to those doctors and the facility...even if it means he is doing it "for you", to help you understand. They should and normally do have both the counselling staff, and the medical 'know how', to help him through this 'shock' stage, and the shock of being originally misdiagnosed.

For more help for you, on 'how to help'/what to say, you may want to use one of these support groups -you will likely find members of the "advanced thyca' group on yahoo who are very familiar with thyroid cancer which has lung mets/lung involvement, and success stories to share with you:
http://www.thyca.org/support.htm

Thyroid cancer, even with mets to the lungs! is frequently very treatable - and in many cases, even if it cannot be completely eradicated, one can expect to live many, many years, often without further symptoms or problems, even with 'active' thyroid cancer cells in the lungs, depending on the types of cells found.

Don't worry about 'blubbering' - everyone here knows how devastating a cancer diagnosis can be, even when the prognosis is likely positive. Take your husband up on his offer - see the oncologist, (to comfort you...), and hopefully they can help get through to him, fully explaining the differences between 'lung cancer', and 'thyroid cancer with lung mets' - there are very substantial differences, hopefully to your husband's benefit!

I hope some of this is helpful - I tried to put myself in your husbands' situation, as best I could... I know it's difficult for our spouses to try to support us, yet also to try to be sensitive to what we are going through, and encourage us toward hope at the same time.

Rustifox's picture
Rustifox
Posts: 131
Joined: Mar 2005

This poem was a great help to our family when we were going through my sisters' (ultimately terminal) cancer - maybe it will help you and your husband, too. I don't know who wrote it, but it is truly beautiful - maybe you can copy and paste it on a new document, and post it on your fridge to help both of you along through the next while. Take care...

Never Lose Hope
If you can look at the sunset and smile,
then you still have hope.
If you can find beauty in the colors of a small flower,
then you still have hope.
If you can find pleasure in the movement of a butterfly,
then you still have hope.
If the smile of a child can still warm your heart,
then you still have hope.
If you can see the good in other people,
then you still have hope.
If the rain breaking on a roof top can still lull you to sleep,
then you still have hope.
If the sight of a rainbow still makes you stop and stare in wonder,
then you still have hope.
If the soft fur of a favored pet still feels pleasant under your fingertips,
then you still have hope.
If you meet new people with a trace of excitement and optimism,
then you still have hope.
If you give people the benefit of a doubt,
then you still have hope.
If you still offer your hand in friendship to others
who have touched your life,
then you still have hope.
If receiving an unexpected card or letter still brings a pleasant surprise,
then you still have hope.
If the suffering of others still fills you with pain and frustration,
then you still have hope.
If you refuse to let a friendship die, or accept that it must end,
then you still have hope.
If you look forward to a time or place of quiet and reflection,
then you still have hope.
If you still buy the ornaments, put up the Christmas tree
or cook the turkey,
then you still have hope.
If you still watch love stories or want the endings to be happy,
then you still have hope.
If you can look to the past and smile,
then you still have hope.
If, when faced with the bad, when told everything is futile,
you can still look up,
and end the conversation with the phrase "yeah BUT .."
then you still have hope.
Hope is such a marvelous thing.
It bends, it twists, it sometimes hides, but rarely does it break.
It sustains us when nothing else can.
It gives us reason to continue and courage to move ahead,
when we tell ourselves we’d rather give in.
Hope puts a smile on our face
Hope puts our feet on the path when our eyes cannot see it.
Hope moves us to act when our souls are confused of the direction.
Hope is a wonderful thing, something to be cherished and nurtured,
and something that will refresh us in return.
And it can be found in each of us, and it can bring light
into the darkest of places.
Never lose hope.
~Author Unknown~

still_hope
Posts: 3
Joined: Aug 2007

I can not put into words how much your replies meant to me! Thanks for the strength and comfort that I could feel from you!
The insurance issues seem to have been solved and we have an appt. at the onocologist Wendesday...day after tommorrow. I was very encouraged when he stopped his plans and decisions to get his affairs in order...and is waiting to hear what this dr. says. Saturday when I was very assertive about Please listen to me...he said "oh, I didn't know I have options"

Things are getting better...I'm more calm the more I educate myself. I feel less overwhelmed, as we take things step by step. I have reached out and gotten such wonderfull support...I feel less fearfull of the unknown and realize that none of us need to feel so alone. I'm no longer feel invisible and with no input...especially now that we are starting to pull togther, not apart.

He actually listened today and seemed to be encouraged as I explained what I have been learning about thyroid cancer.

You both gave such thoughtfull and supportive replies...Thank You from our hearts to yours.
Ruthy

catcon49's picture
catcon49
Posts: 388
Joined: Aug 2008

I may have similiar cancer. Both Lung and thyroid lit up on PET SCAN. How did they determine it was thyroid cancer? After which biopsy? lung or thyroid. Did he have lung removed?

catcon49's picture
catcon49
Posts: 388
Joined: Aug 2008

My thryoid biopsy said no cancer. Thank God. Hope everything goes well for you.

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