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My mom has Stage IV Lung Cancer

Cl2012
Posts: 8
Joined: Aug 2012

Dear readers,

My mom is 63yo and she was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer about 8 months ago (brain, bones, and liver mets).
She is a fighter and is doing everything she needs to do in order to feel better. She has chemo treatment every month, completed several radiotherapy sessions for the brain mets. I am her primary care giver and my concern is that I don't think she understands the severity of her condition. I have indirectly asked her if she has any fears and how she feels. All she says is that 'whatever needs to happen, will happen'. And she 'needs to do what must be done'.
We have a great relationship but she is very closed off and has never talked to me about dying or any fears related to that. The doctors have not been clear about the fact that this is a terminal disease and that there is no cure. The rest of my family, including my siblings were always against telling her and possibly taking any hope away from her. I personally believe she should know everything that is happening to her. I don't knw if she knows. I don't know if she wans to know. I don't know if I should say something....

Lately she has been feeling a lot of pain and discomfort. She sleeps a LOT and spends mos of her time in bed... I wonder if this is a sign of final weeks/days? This is so difficult, unpredictable, and painful.

Please let me know if you have any advice. Thank you in advance for your kind soul and heart.

Love,
A concerned daughter

dennycee
Posts: 672
Joined: Mar 2011

From what you have said and what I experienced with my mom- she probably knows. I am sure of it. A recent study released by Mayo Clinic showed that patients who were told what their life expectancy was live longer than anticipated. It was hypothesized that the patients who knew fought harder. Qualifier- this did not happen in all cases.

It is important that you have a conversation with her about end of life issues. Simply tell her that everything she has gone through has you worrying that you don't know. It may give her the opening she needs to ask questions or express any fears.

Cl2012
Posts: 8
Joined: Aug 2012

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I agree that she knows... Perhaps she is still processing all that is going on and I must respect her time. I just dont want to regret anything that i say or do not say right now.
I must clarify here that i thought a lot about whether I am doing this (wanting to have end of life conversations) for her or for me and I concluded that it is both, but mainly for her. I want to give her the opportunity to talk; however, I realized today that she is a fighter and is not comfortable talking about the end of her life. She wants to feel better, and that's her focus right now and that s what is keeping her alive - I must respect that. If she desires to talk (eventually) I believe I made it clear that I am here to listen, talk, and support her... I just hope she knows.

LungCancerSux
Posts: 3
Joined: Sep 2012

Just from my experience is, my wife only lasted 4 months from diagnosis. We never had the end of life discussions. My wife was 37 year old female who was 26 weeks pregnant when we found out. We found out she had Adenocarcinoma of the lungs stage IV in both lungs on April 9th. She died on August 7th. I never found the right time to talk about death. We were bound and determined to fight this. She was only 37 and strong. What I have learned is Cancer don't care how old or how strong you are. I am sure my wife knew even if we didn't talk about end of life. The only thing i regret is how she wanted to be buried and any plans or wishes to carry out after she passed. We were only married 8 years and never thought this would happen. I think your mother probably knows but deals with it the best she can. We all have to deal with diagnosis, fighting, and death in our own way.

Cl2012
Posts: 8
Joined: Aug 2012

I am really sorry about your loss. She was very young and you are right... cancer does not care how old or how strong you are. It is just a matter of time.
Although "a matter of time" is just as true for you and me, my mom, and everyone else. I believe cancer really highlights the unpredictability of life, meaning that whether we want it or not, we must face death and questions that we never thought of before. I guess there is no right or wrong for us (family members). Loss is painful and we cope in our own way...

again, I am really sorry. My prayers are with you and your family tonight.

vigilde001
Posts: 5
Joined: Sep 2012

I am also a concerned daughter. My dad just got diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer that already spread to his bones end of July. Its almost been 2 months since the diagnosis and he sleeps alot and is always tired and I feel like the end is coming in the next months. I just don't know and I get worried for the unknown. Doctors have not given us a prognosis ... we haven't asked yet. We don't know if we wanna know. He is always in pain .. (chest and back pain) and has trouble swallowing pills. He is 64 years old. Anyone else in this situation? I have no one to talk to. I'm the only child and I am taking care of him full time.
Thanks!

Cl2012
Posts: 8
Joined: Aug 2012

Dear Vigilde001,

I am sorry you're going through this. My mom is 63 and I'm also with her full time. Right after we found out about her diagnosis I read every article on the subject I could find. I was devastated because her prognosis is not favorable. However, each case is different and there are people who have recovered from stage IV lung cancer. What I am saying is, the probability of recovering is minimal but anything is possible!

My mom was diagnosed last November and since then, our lives have been like a roller coaster. This disease is unpredictable and there is no way of knowing for sure what will happen. A friend of mine said that this disease, in fact, only highlights the unpredictability of life... We always try to control our future knowing that we really don't know what could happen, or when.

Anyway, three things I learned through all of this: faith, love, acceptance.
Faith that my mom has the strength to cope and ability to learn with all of this.
Love life today. Love the opportunity to be with my mother today. I lost my father when I was younger and I always wished I could hug him one last time. I imagine I would feel so much love and comfort. With all the fear, uncertainty, anger, and sadness that I often times feel, I am able to hug my mom with that much love and comfort. I hug her everyday and I feel so blessed to be able to do that.
Accept that I am doing everything i can. It may not be perfect, and I am not perfect, but I have faith and I have love in my heart. I am also confused, afraid, angry, and yet I keep on moving forward and giving my mom the support and love i can give her.

At this stage we can feel very helpless but know that all you can do right now is minimize his suffering, maximize times when he feels better (again there have been so many ups and downs)
I know this is a lot (that I am saying). You just learned about our dads diagnosis and I know how sad, frustrating and scary it is.

One last thing... My mom still spends a lot of time in bed. She feels a lot of pain due to bone mets. However, I realized that she was sleeping more than usual because of the strong medications she was taking. Since then, we have been trying different doses, medications, intervals, etc.

Unfortunately pain meds are like shoes... You have to try different ones and sizes until ou find something that fits. This adjustment has been constant with my mom but it is helpful to know that a lot of the symptoms such as extreme fatigue, sleepiness, confusion, slurred speech could be due to medication that's too strong. Perhaps giving less amounts more frequently - this is my experience thus far and I'm only mentioning it because it would be a good question to ask your dads doctor.

My thoughts and prayers are with o tonight. I hope this wasn't too overwhelming and that it helps...

Much love

Cl2012
Posts: 8
Joined: Aug 2012

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