May 20, 2009 - 9:28 am
I have a dear friend who was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer last November. He made it through the chemo and radiation. The doctors say the tumors seem to be non-existent now. They want him to have whole brain radiation and from everything I am reading, it doesn't seem worth it. He is so depressed from the original diagnosis and treatment that he will not talk to anyone about it and is exibiting behavior that I am afraid could pull him quickly out of his remission. He is in no condition to make such a large decision right now, but I read that this procedure should be done quickly after the original chemo and radiation treatments.
What is the consensus on whether whole brain radiation is worth it? It seems to me that there are so many side effects that it may take away his quality of life. I have read that he could have hearing loss, go blind, lose his memories, have horrible neuroligical symptoms, etc. Is there anyone out there who had this done that thinks it was the right choice? If so, why? He has no signs of tumors in his brain right now, it is just a preventative measure. If it's a preventative measure, then why in everything that I read, the prognosis of survival after 2 years is very low, even with the whole brain radiation? If there is a 75% chance that it won't spread to his brain from the treatment, what are these patients dying from? Is it the radiation or does the cancer show back up in other parts of the body? And, what will be his quality of life if he does have the treatment?
Also, what can I do to help him with his depression? Though he admits he is severely depressed, he will not speak to anyone about it or talk to other cancer survivors, doctors, etc. He is avoiding those who love him most. I call every day and leave messages (my nickname now is "stalkeratzie"...lol) and about once a week he will call me back, but I hear the sadness in his voice. He is beating himself up inside for the negative behavior (drinking every day, still smoking, avoiding loved ones, etc.) He's suffering horrible guilt on top of everything else. No matter what I say, it doesn't get through to him.
I lost my mother to cancer in 2001 and truly want to be there for my friend. I know what a hard battle this is and it breaks my heart to see him wasting the precious time he may have left. His wife also left him after the original treatments and that makes it all worse. He was a strong man who now feels out of control with his life. I tell him I am here for him and always will be. I don't know what else I can do to help but be there, no matter what his behavior is or becomes. I can't and won't walk away. When my mother became ill, she discovered quickly who her friends really were. But, she behaved in a different manner than my friend is. Though depressed, she embraced the support and love of family and friends. She was a fighter and though she lost her battle, she never, ever gave up.
My friend fought through the chemo and radiation with a positive attitude and has now given up. He's running away from everything by drinking all the time. His wife's non-support during the diagnosis/treatments and now separation has put him in a tail spin. Any suggestions to help him since he won't seek help himself?? I feel so helpless right now. This is a person I truly love and want to be there for with support, and understanding. I use humor, treat him like I did before the illness (he says he just wants to be himself again and when he is with his drinking buddies, he feels normal again), and listen when he talks about his feelings and illness. Can someone give me some more tips of what to do?
I appreciate any comments or suggestions from anyone. Thank you.