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My mom has stage 4 lung cancer

bonnieg17
Posts: 3
Joined: Jun 2011

My mom was diagnosed in April 2011 with stage 4 lung cancer that has spread to her brain. She surgically had one of the tumors removed so she could regain the user of her right leg and arm(that was her first symptom of this). She is 64 years old and has never smoked. She has since had 10 treatments of whole brain radiation which she handled well. She will be starting chemo for the lungs on the 24th. My question is what kind of prognosis are we looking at? I know there is no cure, but is that it spread to her brain give her a worse timeframe? I'm very concerned she is going to end up suffering through chemo. I just don't want to ask her what they have said to her regarding time left, and I don't have my dad to ask because he passed away 11 years ago to a heart attack. Thanks so much.

Glenna M's picture
Glenna M
Posts: 1580
Joined: May 2009

I know how scary this diagnosis is for you and your mom but please don't give up hope and please don't look for a time frame. We are all different and react differently to treatment so there is no way the doctors can give you an accurate time frame.

There are many here who have survived stage 4 and I can think of one woman in particular who has had mets to the brain. She just finished treatment and seems to be doing fine, I believe she is even back to work.

Chemo can be rough but it is very doable and can have remarkable results even at stage 4. Just be with your mom, love her and encourage her.

Hopefully someone with more experience and a similar diagnosis will post soon to help ease your fears.

Stay strong,
Glenna

sleepless in jersey
Posts: 185
Joined: Feb 2011

I know what your going through, my Mom (60 yrs old)was DX 1/3/11 stage4 NCLC (lung,brain,spine & pelvis)she had brain surg. to remove the large mass had WBR for 10 days had carboplatin/alimta also zameta & B12. She did well so far with the TX, however had to change TX do to scans 1 of the buggers in her lung grew 20% and the rest the chemo did its job. Her side effects were very tired and needed her naps, loss of hair and may have gotten sick once or twice. Chemo has changed, we thought it was going to be like her sister when she was receiving TX 15yrs ago sooo sick and didn't eat at all etc...
This new chemo is a little difft. but still not to bad.
We never asked her Onc her time, were in it for the long hall and thats what were doing.
So please just stay positive and just be there for her!

stayingcalm's picture
stayingcalm
Posts: 656
Joined: Feb 2007

I'm sctually not sure what stage I am, maybe 3b or 4, I was diagnosed in 2005, and I've had brain mets too. I've had brain surgery twice now. I'm 55, only ten years younger than your mom. I personally don't feel that anyone needs to be talking about "time left" for your mom - she has every reason to do as well as I have (in fact she's one up on me because I was a heavy smoker for years!).

Best of luck to you and your mom.
*I'm going to pass on something to you - sometime during my treatment I had a collapsed lung, and the treatment for that was to blow talc into my lungs; the talc has the added benefit of blocking new lung tumors. cool, huh?

Take care,
stayingcalm

lekkerone
Posts: 199
Joined: Jan 2011

That is very cool Deb.

ButterflyLake's picture
ButterflyLake
Posts: 44
Joined: May 2011

Hey Bonnie:

From what I understand, everyone's cancer is different.

Here is what I have been told consistently, after a lot of research: Prognosis is based on statistics, and the circumstances of the particular patient will dictate their reaction to treatment. Bonnie, I know that is as clear as mud.

Here's our situation: My mom is Stage 4 lung with mets to brain, diagnosed last July. If this helps, we sought out the opinions of four cancer hospitals. The one thing that was a common theme was that brain metastasis is NOT the worst case scenario (I couldn't believe it; anything brain-related is really icky to me). The way it was described to us was that metastasis to the abdomen, pelvis, etc., are more likely to lead to further metastasis quicker. Her treating oncologist said, "once the cancer goes up (to the brain), it takes a long time to come down, but if it goes down from the lung, it can spread quickly."

The consistent answer that we got was that metastatic cancer, even when it can be put into abeyance, will metastasize again. It is just an individual question of when and where. So...frustrating.

Having said that, my mom's cancer has remained totally unchanged for a year since her brain tumors were removed and she underwent chemo and radiation. She's young too (in her early sixties). She's had a hard road with treatment side effects and an infection brought on by her lowered immune system, but we are thankful for the treatment. If she hadn't had it, there was a really high chance she wouldn't be here today.

None of us want our loved ones to suffer. It's a total gamble on how treatment will affect the cancer, and how the patient will react. I will pray for your mom and you to have clarity to come to a decision regarding her treatment, and for you both to have strength and ease throught the process.

JennyMarie
Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2011

My mom also has stage IV lung cancer which recently mets. to her brain. She's had many chemo treatments, and is now having her 6th of 10 radiation treatments. I am my Mom's caregiver so when the doc read the results that it had spread to her brain I immediately thought we were near the end.
So thank you ButterflyLake for the info that cancer spreading up is the better diagnosis and it takes a long time to come down.

JennyMarie
Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2011

Hi Bonnie....
Seems you and I have a lot in common. My mom is 77 and also has stage IV lung cancer. She's had a portion of her right lobe removed and then chemo. She had a break, but then the cancer did come back in her chest cavity which meant more chemo (every 3 weeks since January). Recently she was experiencing double vision; a spnial tap revealed cancer cells in the fluid around her brain. Which meant 10 radiation treatments. All the while all I do is wonder "what's coming next?!".
But we, as caregivers, have to learn to not dwell on the future - but appreciate the moments now, and hopefully we have many, many more ahead.
You did the best thing by joining this support group. I find it so helpful to know that I'm not the only one going through the ups and downs of dealing with a loved one with cancer.
All the best to you and your mom.....

Jenny

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