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my mother/steroids

ohilly
Posts: 446
Joined: Jan 2008

My mother has non-small lung cancer, stage 4, that has metastasized to her brain. She had whole brain radiation and has been growing progressively weaker because of the steroids. The radiation was successful in shrinking the brain tumors and the cancer has not spread beyond the lungs and the doctor said it was slow growing. However the whole problem is the steroids: every time the doctors try to get my mother off the steroids, she has severe reactions and they can't get her off. Most recently when they tried to lower the steroids, she couldn't breathe and is now in the hospital. The latest news is that the doctors (she is at Rush Hospital in Chicago and is being treated by Dr. Bonomi if that means anything to anyone) at this particular hospital are all saying that there is nothing they can do to get her off the steroids and therefore they are not going to give her the chemo because she is so weak they are afraid the chemo will kill her. Just a few days before they were talking about putting her in a physical rehab to build up her strength. I just cannot accept that my mother is going to die because of the steroids, not the chemo. I have contacted my own oncologist (I have breast cancer) at the University of Chicago and am waiting to hear back from him if anything else can be done, but if anyone else knows a doctor who can help,a clinical trial, any suggestions, etc. at all, I would very much appreciate it. I believe in fighting to the end and don't want to give up on my mother (she also wants to live). Phyllis

cabbott
Posts: 1046
Joined: Aug 2006

((((hugs)))) I wish I knew. Ask your oncologist and maybe that will give you a lead. There are other websites for lung cancer where the posts may be more forthcoming. I am thinking of you and your mom.

C. Abbott

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

I feel for you and your mom. However, if I am not mistaken, you contradict yourself in stating that the cancer has not spread beyond the lungs after saying that it has metastisized to her brain. Only one of those two can be true, as far as I know.

Once cancer moves to a new location, it becomes a much more complex issue for doctors, to be sure; not insurmountable, but more complex. Please bear that in mind.

Re the steroids, I watched a man taking chemotherapy a couple of seats down from me, a few weeks ago, have an adverse reaction to one of his chemo meds, and they gave him steroids to dilate (open up)his bronchia or whatever you call the things in your lungs that make it easier to breathe. It worked!

It sounds as though your mom maybe in a situation such as that, where the steroids are helping her to keep her breathing passages open.

Meanwhile, it is the doctors' duty to continually assess your mom's strength and to make sure they are not giving her chemotherapy, which is essentially a way of nearly poisoning her to death while hoping to save her, if she is not up for it.

Routinely (including myself) patients are turned away from planned chemotherapy because they have low white blood cell counts, or low platelets, or a number of other factors that decide for them to turn a patient away.

So, it sounds as though if your mom is to get back on chemotherapy, she will need to recover her ability to breathe without assistance. How that is done, I am not sure. I would have suggested physical rehab, myself, along with a healthy diet of those breathing toys they give you following surgery for lung cancer, the ones you are supposed to use many time a day to improve your breathing ability. I no longer remember their names either, but I used them religiously while in the hospital, because I wanted out.

Hopefully, your onco can come up with something. In the meantime I would advise that it does not sound like these doctors or being less than diligent in performing their tasks. They simply recognize that chemo will do more harm than good to your mom right now.

Best wishes to her and to you, her caring daughter, and to your entire family.

Take care,

Joe

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