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Just found out today that my mother has stomach cancer.... Not sure how to understand or take it.... Any advise??

cariglz
Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 2010

Found out today that mother has stomach cancer. Doc still doesnt know on what stage its on. Were all praying to god that its not bad :-( . Any advice, suggestions, help anyone can give. I would really appreciate it.

liveinhope
Posts: 83
Joined: Mar 2010

Hello,when you find out that someone you love has cancer its almost an equally hard blow.Just now you need to be as cool and calm as possible because a lot of decisions will have to be taken.You have to,very quickly,understand the medical jargon that goes with this disease and take informed decisions.Above all you have to be very positive(almost every stage of cancer has treatment)
Are you with your mother now?As your doctor would have told you there are 3 modalities of therapy-chemotherapy(before and after surgery),surgery and radiation and often all three are used.Nowadays a lot of new drugs are available to reduce the side effects of chemo and from my own experience its not all that bad.I had breast cancer about 18years ago and my son stomach cancer 15months back.Over time one learns to live with ones fears.Keep your spirits high and look for the best doctors possible for your mother.It has to be a doctor who specialises in cancer of the abdominal organs.
My thoughts and good wishes are with you Nisha

mother23
Posts: 5
Joined: Sep 2010

Great advice from Liveinhope. Try to act as fast as possible because this type of cancer is quite aggressive. Stay as positive as you possibly can! It may be a long journey but there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

tuffoldbird
Posts: 7
Joined: Sep 2010

Hi! We chatted a bit in the chat room last night, and I'm glad to see you went to the Board. As I said, I have stomach cancer, Stage IV, inoperable due to mets to my liver and nearby lymph nodes, and encroachment into my esophagus. I was diagnosed in November, 2009, by an endoscopy and CT scan.

As I said in the chat, stomach cancer is a sneaky disease, although in hind-sight, I should have realized something was wrong long before I did. I turned 70 in May of 2009, and noticed that my appetite had decreased and also that I was losing a little weight. I chalked up the appetite change as simply due to my age, and what gal minds losing some weight without really trying? Silly me! As the summer progressed, I continued to lose weight and ultimately began having a lot of burping and thick saliva, but at no time did I feel nauseated or have any pain. By Fall, however, I had lost about 50 pounds, had little energy and was getting weaker by the day, so I finally made an appointment with my family doctor for a complete physical. He got no farther than feeling my stomach and told me he was going to refer me to a surgeon. By this time I was unable to swallow virtually any solid food and was pretty much living on broth, soup, milk, and juice.

On November 13, which by the way was a Friday, the surgeon examined me and scheduled me for an endoscopic procedure on Monday, the 16th, and a CT scan on that Wednesday, with a followup appointment on Friday, the 20th. It's hard to accept how much your world can change in just five business days! He explained that he was not qualified to perform a gastrectomy and sent my scans, etc. to OHSU in Portland. Three or four days later, they reported that they did not feel surgery would be helpful for me. He told me this and I left the office with no referral, no treatment plan, or any information as to what to do next. So I did what anyone would do . . . . went to bed, pulled the co
vers up, and stayed there for about a week. Then I got up, made another appointment with him, and demanded a referral to an oncologist. Wonder of wonders, I was able to get in to see him that very day. By the time I left his office, I had been scheduled for a port placement on the following Monday and for my first round of chemo on Wednesday!

To make a story that is getting too long a bit shorter, I had the scheduled six rounds of Oxaliplatin and Doxyrubicin, with oral Xeloda added once I could swallow the tablets. There were a few glitches during the chemo (treatments every three weeks), but nothing I couldn't deal with, especially since I was able to swallow soft foods after the second round on December 21, and I slowly began to gain some weight, energy, and strength back.
I had another CT scan in March, and the tumors in my stomach and esophogus were gone, as were the spot on my liver and the enlgarged lymph nodes. I had two "insurance" rounds of chemo in April and May, and since then have only been taking the oral Xeloda. I feel fine, am gaining weight, strength and energy with every passing day, and now that my hair is back, you'd never know I had been knocking on heaven's door only a few months ago.

I'm telling you this to let you know that no matter how dismal the initial news may be, there is ALWAYS hope. We are all different. You will have a lot more information soon, and your Mom is lucky to have you at her side through this. My dear husband was a rock for me through treatment. My advice to you would be to listen carefully to what you are told, don't be afraid to ask questions, and if you don't understand something you are told, ask again until you do understand. Make yourself very, very clear - one of my biggest problems was that my major problem was that I couldn't SWALLOW, but for some reason, everyone took that to mean that I couldn't EAT! Finally I was able to make it clear that I could put anything I wanted to into my mouth and chew it, but that was as far as it went. I was hungry all the time, just couldn't swallow any solid food! No nausea, no vomiting, just couldn't get it down. Fortunately, that issue resolved itself early on.

I hope your Mom has been disgnosed early enough to be a candidate for surgery, but even if she isn't, there is still much that can be done. She might have to get a little creative in the eating department, though. I couldn't tolerate either the taste or consistency of the nutrition drinks (Boost, Ensure, etc.) but found a good recipe for egg-nog made with Egg Beaters to avoid any problems with raw eggs, and also found that the Carnation Instant Breakfast tasted much better than the bottled products. My neighbor made me about a gallon of turkey broth which she thickened a little until it was the consistency of a really thin gravy, and I literally believe it saved my life!

The chemo wasn't too bad, really - not nearly what I expected. I vomited once after my first treatment, and that was it. The fatigue was overwhelming for a few days, but then I was able to get around pretty well, and by the last few rounds, even that only lasted a day or two. I have only the most minor side-effects from the Xeloda, so my life is now as normal as it ever was!

Once you find out more about your mom's treatment plan, etc. I will be happy to help in any way I can. This is supposed to be twice as common in men as in women, but everyone I've run into that has it is another gal. Go figure!

Best of luck to you and to your Mom! You are a good daughter.
Sandy

sunnygalmd
Posts: 2
Joined: Nov 2010

This letter is written by a 45-yr old Daddy's girl, whose HERO was recently diagnosed with stage IV stomach cancer, which has spread into his spleen. Daddy is a 67 year old active guy, who just 7 weeks ago was golfing twice a week and winning tournaments. He started having pain under his rib and his stomach was distended. No appetite, gurgling sounds in his stomach, couldn't eat very much because as soon as he'd eat a few bites, he felt bloated. Two weeks ago, after an x-ray, ultrasound, two CT scans, endoscopy and colonoscopy, we found out about the diagnosis. He has now been scheduled to have a port placement, with EOX chemotherapy to begin (hopefully next week). One doctor didn't give a very good prognosis, so we've all be walking around with our heads hung low. Today, after reading your story, my father, mother and I have a renewed sense of hope and purpose. Thank you so much for the long story since it matched up quite a bit to Dad's. My God Bless You and Your Family! Sincerely, Anna.

illAussie
Posts: 21
Joined: Aug 2010

Hi Carigiz

Some excellent advice in the previous posts. I totally relate to Tuffoldbird's journey - my husband showed similar symptoms leading up to his diagnosis & I have made sure that ALL our friends now know that, if any change in personal habits change for a period of time of say 3-5 weeks (be it bowel, breathing, skin, digestion, whatever) MAKE SURE THEY GET CHECKED OUT BY A DOCTOR!!

So sorry to hear of your mother's diagnosis - everyone feels absolutely gutted when hearing of such a diagnosis, (myself included) but remember that Cancer is a word, not a sentence! When my husband was diagnosed with Stomach Cancer in May, a friend (breast cancer survivor & who's husband had died of bowel cancer last year) said ......"Cancer is not a death sentence, it is a reminder that all life is short and we all die of something. Make the most of the time you have and do the things that matter and aim high. With a positive attitude and the Dr's help, as well as help from a higher place he will make it. "

If she has lost a lot of weight, google diet stomach cancer & you'll get sites that offer recipes on how to build your mother up prior to surgery (assuming she has lot weight already, same as my husband did.) Try & 'value add' to all meals for her - put custard and eggs into her smoothies (if that is all she can get down.) When eating, put gravy on things, add custard & cream to desserts and add cream to pastas to get the calories up. She may well lose another 10% of her body weight during the next few months. If she won't eat - tell her to hold her nose & she won't taste it! Vital that she maintain as high a weight as she can get to. Now is not the time to count calories! Give her 'wet and soft food' = casseroles, soups, smoothies (nothing spicey) - dont give her 'hard stuff' = steak

Stay strong - if it has been caught in time, there is a very good chance of not even requiring chemo! Fingers crossed.

You are already on the right track - there is invaluable advise on this forum that will assist you and your family in the journey. Start a diary on what is happening. Get a Concertina Folder to start putting all the receipts, recipes, ct scans, path reports in, so they are all in one place.

My husband is just weeks away from completing his final session of chemo, then it is all about recuperating & putting weight back on, so our lives can regain some sort of 'normalcy'! It will never get back to 'normal' but we will have a 'new normal'. After having most of his stomach removed in late June, he is already eating normal sized meals!

If she has surgery for the removal of all or part of her stomach, demand that the surgeon fit an EPIDURAL during the procedure for the first 5 days Post Op ...... my husband had this & it helped greatly in his recovery. No pain whatsoever, but was able to get up & walk the day after surgery, with assistance of course, even whilst in intensive care!! Then after 5 days he went onto a PCA (Patient controlled Pain Pump) which he had until the day before his discharge. Both units assisted in his recovery BIGTIME!

All the best

illaussie

cp00059
Posts: 3
Joined: Oct 2010

Hi my Mother was also has stomach cancer. She's just starting to deal with it and her first chemo starts this week. We come from a huge family but, my faith has me going. I will pray for your Mother. I know coming to this website and knowing I am not alone helps keep you in my prayers.

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