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chemotherapy doesn't work

Cindy Bear
Posts: 564
Joined: Jul 2009

My mother was diag. with Stage 4 uterine cancer in Feb. and 4 mos. later she was gone. We were told with chemo she had a good chance of going in remission. She was to have a total of 6 rounds orig. of taxol/carboplatin. She was starting her 5th and what they said might be her final round the week she died. She had a catscan in Mid may that was 'basically good" then started to have some setbacks (ie.an episode of heavy bleeding that required a blood transfusion) but they poo-pooed it as oh that happens sometime. They told us every week her blood work was good. Apparently at some point the chemo just stopped working and her cancer took off with a vengance. They never told us this could happen. So don't be thinking your cancer can't grow or spread while you're on chemo it can esp. since you're immune system is being destroyed. When I questioned the Nurse Prac. in the hospital while my mother lay dying she said, "Oh blood work isn't a real good indicator of how well chemo is working" She told my sister, "The treatment must not be working. You think??? I've been doing alot of research on the web. Chemo only works for approx. 2-4% of all cancer. Mostly leukemia, some lymphomas, testicular and a few other rare cancers. "Tumor shrinkage" the holy grail of how they measure chemo success/and get FDA approval has no bearing on survival rates. In fact on theory is tumor shringae does more harm than good because it allows other sleeper cells to grow as the main growth shrinks.
I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, just be very very careful and think twice before you agree to any chemotherapy. Do the research, look into alternative remedies, clinical trials and nutrition/lifestyle changes. I believe my mother would still be alive if she hadn't agreed to chemo. Certainly her quality of life would have been better.

daisy366's picture
daisy366
Posts: 1493
Joined: Mar 2009

Cindy,

Your news is shocking and I'm so sorry for the loss of your mother. Thanks for sharing information that we need to be aware of.

Some blood work does correlate with cancer effectiveness - at least that's what I was told about CA125 for my cancer - uterine papillary serous carcinoma. What kind of cancer did your mother have?

Chemo does compromise our immune system. The Dr. at Moffett Cancer Center in Tampa looked me in the eye and said "If chemo does not work you'll probably be dead in a year" - the PET scan showed activity throughout my body. So what does a person do? I couldn't wait to get started!!! It's hard to know what to do.

A FUNCTIONAL ASSAY was done to determine WHICH chemo worked best with my cancer. Ladies, check this out. Our cancer tissue is saved "indefinitely" I've been told. They are doing HER 2 testing on mine now - 10 months after surgery.

Cindy, again I extend my condolences to you and thank you for sharing your experience.

God Bless you and your family,

Mary Ann aka Daisy

Cindy Bear
Posts: 564
Joined: Jul 2009

Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts. Yes My sisters and I are in alot of pain and shock. She went so quickly and we never ever thought that could happen while she was on chemo. I know it's a scary scary thing, my mom was scared but she was a brave little lady . I think anyone who goes through chemo is incredibly brave. I don't think I could ever do it but I realize that it's impossible to know what you would or would not do until it's your turn at bat. My mother had endiometrial cancer (uterus lining ) and it was stage 4 is all i know. I don't have her medical records in front of me right now. She initally had CT and Pet scan and then another CT 3 mos into treatment. That was the halfway point. They were going to do a couple more rounds of chemo and then another CT and then look at surgery. When i asked the Doctor why they didn't do a CT when my mother was admitted for heavy bleeding 3 wks before she died, he said, "Oh well we don't like to do those more than 6 wks apart, I am sure you've heard they cause cancer. " I guess nobody likes the bearer of bad news but this guy was cold , clinical, a real jerk. I know this anger is going to end up destroying me and I need to get rid of it. Maybe in time but right now I'm in a daze, just going through the motions. Good luck and God Bless all of you ladies.

maggie_wilson's picture
maggie_wilson
Posts: 616
Joined: Nov 2009

mary ann,

i appreciate your response and info. sounds like you had the functional assay before your chemo, so i'm wondering what kind of chemo you were given for your upsc. no assay was done before i had my chemo which is apparently the standard carboplatin/taxol for upsc and ovarian, i believe. if i have a recurrence, my chemo doctor said i'd probably have an assay then. seems a little after the fact, but better late than never. i don't know why the assays aren't standard procedure for all chemos. oh wait, yes i do; they probably cost a lot of money. in fact, my insurance may well not pay for an assay, so it might have to be out-of-pocket, but seems well worth it.

take good care, mary ann,
sisterhood,
maggie

daisy366's picture
daisy366
Posts: 1493
Joined: Mar 2009

I had the standard Carboplatin and Taxol. With my recurrence, doc said they did not have enough tissue for another assay (which I requested) - he said if chemo is done again, he will recommend carboplatin, taxol, plus avastin. Right now I am doing nothing except my nutrition and other alternative treatments.

Wishing you all the best. Mary Ann

pjk
Posts: 17
Joined: Jun 2009

Cindy Bear,

I am so sorry your mom lost her fight against this terrible disease. Thank you for coming on board here to give us your information.

I see a lot of pain and anger in your post. We have a lot of wise ladies here. I bet some of them can help you with that if you want it.

Take care.

lindaprocopio's picture
lindaprocopio
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

I am truly sorry for your loss, and completely understand your anger that the medical system failed to prolong your mother's life. So please don't misunderstand my post.

Because I can't allow the statement that 'chemotherapy doesn't work', go unchallenged when I know how hurtful it is to hear something like that when you are battling cancer, and have no other viable treatment alternative. Chemotherapy, surgery and radiation are all we have; and that combination has been proven to statistically prolong the lives of MOST uterine cancer patients. I'm so sorry that this wasn't the case for your mother.

Where did you get those dismal statistics? Because as surely as winter follows autumn, 100% of us with cancer and 100% of those without cancer, every one of God's creatures, will die an earthly death. That's the one sure statistic. And I can site many studies that show that those with aggressive uterine cancers have a statistically MUCH better chance of prolonging their lives when they have chemo as a part of their treatment protocol.

Again, my sincere sympathy for your loss.

Cindy Bear
Posts: 564
Joined: Jul 2009

Hi Linda:
Thank you for your condolences and I am not offended by any of your comments.
Just for the record, I am not saying anything negative about surgery or radiation. Initially , surgery wasn't an option for my mother. If it had been, we would have jumped on it. I don't know enough about radiation to comment on it one way or another.
As long as there is life there is hope, and I know if I was diag. with cancer, I would want to leave no stone unturned.

I could send you a dozen links supporting what I say but i am sure you've done your research and could probably send a dozen rebuttals. It's kind of like the blind men and the elephant. If you're looking for negative you'll find it and if you're looking for postive you'll find that too.

My own personal exp. with my mother and several other people, is that chemotherapy not only didn't prolong their lives but severely impacted the quality of those lives. Everyone is different, no one is average, no one is a statisic. As you know, there is a high rate of recurrence with uterine and ovarian cancers. CHemotherapy is a billion dollar industry and I guess I'm a person who sees conspiracy theory in everything.

Again, I wish everyone the very best. I guess my point is, do your research, ask questions and know that your doctor doesn't walk on water, unless its winter and the pond is frozen over. :)

nempark
Posts: 596
Joined: Apr 2010

Yes they all think that they walk on water!!! The last time I went to my Onc I waited for about one hour and when he finally came to see me it was 2mins. How are you and examination and good bye. (2mins.) Remember Cindy your mom is at peace and knows nothing it is as if she is in a deep sleep. The Bible teaches that there is a hope for us to see our loved ones again when God bring this wicked system to an end we will all enjoy good health and see our loved ones in a new earth again. My mom past away in May 29, 1995 and believe me I still remember it as if it was yesterday, you will see as time goes by every thing will be back to normal. If you think of it, it is just part of live, the part that is so difficutlt to understand. Be well my darling and take comfort that your mom no longer hurts, she is at peace. Hugs, hugs to your sisters. June

lindaprocopio's picture
lindaprocopio
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

You seem so worried that perhaps you should have advocated for your mother not to get chemo. I want to make sure that you are aware of this: Many times palliative chemotherapy is administered, not with the goal of a cure, but with the goal of relieving symptoms like pain from a larger tumor pressing on nerve endings, etc. You say that her quality of life may have been better without the chemo, and perhaps that is true, but perhaps not.

And sometimes chemo is administered because the involved patient wants to DO SOMETHING, and doesn't want to give up without a fight, regardless of the side effects. I know that I would have to at least try the chemo before I gave up that option, no matter what. My father waited until his cancer was very advanced before he sought a diagnosis. He refused all treatment to prolong his life, accepting only palliative treatment for pain. But that palliative treatment included radiation to shrink the tumor causing him the most pain. My step-mother is still somewhat bitter that he didn't seek treatment earlier or at least try and fight his cancer with at least one series of chemo infusions. But she abided by his wishes. Everyone makes their own decision as to what is acceptable for themselves; I am hoping that your mother was an active participant in her treatment decisions, and if she was, you may be able to find some peace with that.

I think this article gives a good argument for both sides of this issue, and I hope it will allow you to let go of your anger and find some closure during your time of grief:

http://www.supportiveoncology.net/journal/articles/0101065.pdf

A note about the surgery: I, too, jumped at the chance for the surgery. But having had surgery, chemo, and radiation, I must tell you that the surgery was the worst of the 3, by far. My huge 8" belly scar will be a life-long reminder of that horrible recovery. Compared to the surgery, the chemo and radiation were easy. So please take some comfort that your mother was spared that. ((((BIG HUGS)))). You are in my prayers, Cindy.

LDNdee
Posts: 3
Joined: Aug 2009

Cindy,

I have cervical cancer stage 4B ( terminal)and have been through "useless" chemo knowing now that chemotherapy has limited benefits on this type of cancer.

Actually chemotherapy only effects 2- 4% of all cancers and only "treats" the rest of cancers. The cancer will reappear later which mine did.....

Being told I am terminal and get my affairs in order...and nothing further could be done in Feb 2007 I found Low dose Naltrexone.

I have been on it for over 2 1/2 years and it is keeping me alive where I was told I only had months to live.

Although it is not a cure, it can stop or hold back the cancer giving the patient a longer survival time. LDN is non toxic, safe and low cost but not known in many oncology areas. It is considered one of those "alternatives". But a "grass roots" effort to get the word out, now about 100,000 people are taking LDN for various ailments, including cancer.

Doctors are now getting on board to promote Low dose naltrexone and get gov't stamped approval for this wonderful treatment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVpjsDK0LPA

Your story moved me to register for this site and maybe help a few who are looking for some answers...

LDNdee
htt://www.ldn4cancer.com

LDNdee
Posts: 3
Joined: Aug 2009

Cindy,

I have cervical cancer stage 4B ( terminal)and have been through "useless" chemo knowing now that chemotherapy has limited benefits on this type of cancer.

Actually chemotherapy only effects 2- 4% of all cancers and only "treats" the rest of cancers. The cancer will reappear later which mine did.....

Being told I am terminal and get my affairs in order...and nothing further could be done in Feb 2007 I found Low dose Naltrexone.

I have been on it for over 2 1/2 years and it is keeping me alive where I was told I only had months to live.

Although it is not a cure, it can stop or hold back the cancer giving the patient a longer survival time. LDN is non toxic, safe and low cost but not known in many oncology areas. It is considered one of those "alternatives". But a "grass roots" effort to get the word out, now about 100,000 people are taking LDN for various ailments, including cancer.

Doctors are now getting on board to promote Low dose naltrexone and get gov't stamped approval for this wonderful treatment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVpjsDK0LPA

Your story moved me to register for this site and maybe help a few who are looking for some answers...

LDNdee
http://www.ldn4cancer.com

howdybooth
Posts: 44
Joined: Aug 2009

I have also heard of this drug and we are keeping it in mind for my sister. She lives in El Paso, TX and there is a Doctor in Las Cruses, NM that will prescribe it if her doctor won't. There is a lot of info out there about this drug if anyone is interested. It started out as a drug to help with addiction and other uses were discovered.

Cindy Bear
Posts: 564
Joined: Jul 2009

Hello. I am glad you have found something that helps you. I want to apologize to all the ladies on this board. My original post was written out of anger and grief, shock and disbelief . It was never my intention to hurt or alarm or discourage anyone. My mother was diagnosed in Feb. with Stage IV endometrial adenocarcinoma. She was 78 at the time, 79 when she passed 4 mos. into "Treatment" .The gyn/onc. - head at major hospital never said she was terminal or how dismal her chances were even with chemo. She was to have 6 rounds of taxol/carboplatin. 1x a week /3 wks on/1 wk off. She made it thru the first 3 rounds okay.. usual SE, had a Catscan midpoint, was told the results were basically good. Was to have 2 more rounds (6 treatments) then he'd look at doing surgery. During the 4th round the bottom fell out, heavy bleeding, hospitalized, Blood transfusion, no exams or imaging done. They poo-poohed it as one of those things. Opted not to give her any rads because "You're doing so well on the chemo". Started the 5th and what we hoped was final round on June 15th, died June 19th. Admitted with horrible pain that morphine hardly touched. I'll spare you the details, her last day on earth was not a pleasant one. How does that happen? Deemed well enough to have a double header on Mon. Dead on Fri. I've been told the following by Dr. God and his NP "It's not an exact science you know. She came to us in advanced stages, He wouldn't have given her chemo if she didn't want it." My mother didn't want chemo. She cried. But it was a lifeline they were holding out. Those CA marker nos. they give you mean jack-sh*t. The highest I remember my mother having was a 58. She was down to a 21 one month. Was that her remission? One crummy month of not sleeping, no appetite, night sweats, aches, pains, always cold, low grade nausea. Some remission. I am consumed with grief and anger and I need answers. I try to hide how depressed I am from family and friends because they wouldn't understand and have their own problems. I am self medicating right now. Beer mostly, whiskey and gin. Some people cry or read, sex or tv themselves to sleep.I drink. My mother prayed. She never missed Sunday mass until she became ill. She prayed the rosary. To her credit, she never asked "Why me. Never wished her cancer on anyone else. I did. I'm not proud of that. So Please forive me if I loiter from time to time. I'm looking for answers and it's comforting to come here. Good Luck to all you wonderful brave ladies.

lindaprocopio's picture
lindaprocopio
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

I can hear your pain and grief in your post, and my heart goes out for you. As much as we love an optimistic oncologist that allows us to hope, it really sounds like yours did not balance the hope with any hints of other possible scenarios. Someone should have explained what a poor tool CA-125s are for many people in measuring their cancer. For many people it is not a reliable indicator of any kind. Only when combined with a "No Evidence of Disease" clear CT-scan does a low CA-125 suggest remission. You were so unprepared for what happened and left alone to replay the 'what ifs' over and over. I'm so sorry for that, and for your terrible loss.

Please try to let go of your anger; it only hurts you and you know your mother would not want you to be festering in bitter anger. Chemo isn't fun for any of us, but I would do the whole 6 rounds again in a minute if I thought it might buy me additional time. Your mother must have wanted to 'fight the fight' even if she cried in fear of the chemo. I cried when they put that poison in my veins, too, but I WANTED it and the hope it represents. Try to find some peace, knowing that your mother could have refused the treatments, but she wanted to fight. And she got her chance to bravely fight. For some of us, that's all we have. And for some the fight is more acceptable than a choice to just give up and let the cancer have its way without a challenge. Every oncologist gives you a choice and even makes you sign a paper saying you understand the consequences of your decision. You may have been caught completely unprepared, but I doubt your mother was. Her personal knowledge and acceptance ahould make this a little easier for you, as she was not a victim here. Instead she was a warrior to the end.

Cindy, please talk to someone about all this. It's a hard hard thing to watch someone you love suffer treatments that don't succeed. Don't keep this bottled up, sweetie. (((Big hugs)))).

vmtz2001
Posts: 1
Joined: May 2010

My wife was diagnosed with 1st stage, invasive lolular ductal carcinoma (breast cancer) at Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa Ca. in 2006. She took no radio or chemo, followed only a holistic homeopathic treatment and a variety of other supplements, diet, herbs etc. A year later at UCSD Med Center in San Diego, the diangosis was non-invasive ductal carcinoma insitu, which means that the cancer was no longer in the lobules and ducts, but confined only to the ducts. It went from stage 1 to stage 0 and was no longer invasive. Still the doctor at UCSD insisted she saw no change, saying her diagnosis concurred with that of Grossmont Hospital a year earlier, that it was Ductal Carcinoma, she apparently didn't read or remember that Grossmont had said she was stage 1, not stage 0 and invasive not non-invasive, nor that it was in the lobules as well as the ducts. Well, all along, she kept denying the tumor was getting smaller, even though we knew it was. It certainly was not as hard. Well, lo and behold, 2 years after not seeing the doctor, she ordered a mamo for my wife. It was completely normal. We've yet to do more extensive studies, but the fact remains that a tumor that was so easily spotted in a mamo and huge 4 years ago is no more. This is all a documented fact. Of course, they'll say it was a fluke, mind over matter, etc.

Cindy Bear
Posts: 564
Joined: Jul 2009

Hello. That is very interesting and I am very happy for you and your wife. Have you posted on the BC thread. I am sure they would love to know the details. Please understand that when I wrote this post, I was angry and blindsinded with grief. I should have titled it Chemotherapy didn't work for my mother. Her age (79) and the fact that her cancer was very advanced were big factors in this failure, I believe. Also, she didn't have a very good mindset. She was not the same after my father passed and she was def. a TYPE A personality. I do think that for many people, including the brave women I have met on this board and the ovarian and breast cancer boards, chemo can buy time and comfort. My BIL is currently terminal. He has esophygeal cancer. He was not a canddidate for surgery due to a pre-existing heart condition. He did have a very aggressive chemo regime and also radiation. Now he has a stent in and has been on an all liquid diet for over 2 mos. He is on borrowed time now but he has lasted a lot longer than original prognosis. He told my SIL he doesn't regret any of the treatements he's had. The chemo/radiation did shrink all the cancer but sadly it grew back. I think most people realize that chemotherapy is not science, there are no guarantess.. but a soldier has to use the weapons at hand and it is a war isn't it.
Good luck and continued good health to you and your wife!

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