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My 89 yr old Dad

JoAnneMarie
Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 2012

WE will soon be helping our Dad make decisions on treatment and I may be coming back here to ask opinions of all you wonderful survivors.

My Dad's health is good. Very active driving, mall walking, bowling, grocery shopping, bowling, laundry, some yard work, getting meals ready with my Mom (who is doing well with CHF but weaker than my Dad). Very sharp mentally, always on the phone taking care of business etc. He is 5'10....180 lbs. Does have heart disease. No one believes how old he is and he is very proud of that!

Went to have ear wax cleaned and from that visit ENT found BOT lesion. He is completely symptomless. Biopsy taken at our local comprehensive cancer care center. No apparent node involvement found as yet from CAT scan or examination. Size is more than 2 cm but less than 4 cm. Surgeon said it was like triangular touching the throat wall and epiglottis. Not sure if he meant it was actually invading these sites or not.

We get our results on Monday and I am so scared because of the harshness of treatment. His normal life span right now would be another 4 yrs. I wish you could tell if something like this is slow growing and if he could just live with it. I wish he never knew he had it.

I can't imagine him loosing 30 lbs at his age, going without needed nutrition, and all the side effects of radiation/chemo. I am hoping they can just reduce the size through oral surgery and he can just live with it without it affecting speech and eating. I feel like his only choices will be to choke to death or do this harsh treatment.

Knowing what you all went through...would you worry about your 89 yr old parents doing this? There really is nothing on the internet about this cancer and treating 90 yr olds. I did find one study that this age group tolerates RAD as well as younger people.

I will let you you know what the results of biopsy are...if positive a PET scan will be done.

Thank you all for any advise.

George_Baltimore's picture
George_Baltimore
Posts: 303
Joined: Jun 2009

To my knowledge, this type of cancer is very aggressive (at least my doctors told me mine was). The good part is I didn't really start having problems from radiation until about 4 or 5 years after radiation treatments stopped. He sounds remarkably strong for his age. He sounds like he could run rings around me at age 64. I'm sure he'll make it through treatments if they are necessary. Let's hope they are not.

JoAnneMarie
Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 2012

Thanks for your encouragement!

hwt's picture
hwt
Posts: 1832
Joined: Jun 2012

Just went thru very similar situation with my 87 yr old Mom, also very active. Doctors found, incidentally, an ulcer in her stomach that was malignant. I cried at the thought of rads/chemo for her and said I could not watch her go thru that. Long & short of it, we found a surgeon who removed it laproscopically and got clear margins. No chemo or rads needed. She was in the hospital 2 weeks and just went to care center for therapy to rebuild strength for independent living. Even though it was not H&N but stomach cancer, age played a big part. The surgeon said he looked at physical shape of patient not age when deciding if he could do surgery. Your Dad sounds much like my Mom. We ultimately left the decision to my Mom. On a weak day when my Mom didn't want to get up and walk, my brother reminded her "Mom when you made this decision, you said yes, I'm all in let's do it...well now it's time to get up and walk to prevent pneumonia" and she did. I hope when you get test results back you will not have this difficult decision. Speaking for myself, having been thru chemo and rads, I would not personally choose that option for myself at an older age. Having said that, my surgeon told me he had an 80+ year old woman go thru tx with no side effects. God Bless.

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8057
Joined: Sep 2009

Welcome JoAnneMarie...

There are so many factors that come into play with Dx, Tx and recovery...

As for myself, one of the largest is attitude...maintaining a positive attitude, and a little humor never hurts either.

Of course being healthy going in is a plus.

If seen people on here that are small, frail and whom you would swear would have problems..., they di excellent.

I have seen others, big burly and strong...that have had maximum difficulty.

You just never know until you get there...

Encounter what you can head on, stay as proactive as possible, well hydrated, and seek comfort and others experiences here.

Thoughts and Prayers,
John

Ladylacy
Posts: 462
Joined: Apr 2012

Radiation and chemo is hard on a person regardless of their age. Cisplatin, is one chemo they use and it is hard with many side effects, especially the kidneys. My husband has been thru 2 rounds of 35 each radiation and 2 rounds of 3 cisplatin and 7 carboplatin. While he isn't as old as your father, he was 73 when first diagnosed and is now 75. The treatment has been hard on him, especially the radiation. The cisplatin did a job on his kidneys but part of that was his fault for not staying hydrated. The carboplatin was given at a much lower dosage and he had no problems.

Whatever the course of treatment, let it be your father's. Don't try to convince him either way. I told our sons that whatever your father decided, I would back him.

As far as losing weight, my husband has always been too skinny for his height. He had a PEG tube from August 2010 until May 2011. And now he has had one since May 2012. The doctor doesn't want to remove it just yet. He is able to swallow now after having a throat dilation and the doctor just wants to make sure. He does have difficulty eating foods, not so much with soft foods.

Whatever your father decides, the treatment will be hard. We were told that treatment for head and neck cancer is the worse there is. Don't know about that, but it was and still is hard on my husband. I'm not trying to worry you anymore that you already are, but just know that everyone is different in how they react to treatment and what happens to one might not happen to another.

Best wishes to your father and your family. Sharon

Grandmax4's picture
Grandmax4
Posts: 578
Joined: Dec 2011

abut your Dad, but he sounds like a determined man and that, along with attitude, is a big part of the treatment.
On November 2,2011, I was operated on by de vinci robot and my epiglottis was removed. My wonderful team of Drs at The James in Columbus, Ohio , had given me the choice of surgery ( with the possibility of chemo and radiation after) or chemo and radiation. I decided, I wanted the beast out of my body......the 9 hour surgery was harder on my family than me, I slept thru it :). The recovery has been rough, but I'm now almost back to my old normal...speech is great, voice loud and clear, after 11 months of soft diet, I'm now eating some real food..it's wonderful. The biggest plus for me and recovery was my speech therapist, that's her title, but she truly has been a miracle worker in getting my voice back and swallowing techniques.
I'm 66, have always been fairly healthy, never a broken bone and only in the hospital twice before for births of my son and daughter, so this was like a sledge hammer to me.
Good luck to your Dad whatever his decision and please keep us posted.

JoAnneMarie
Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 2012

Thanks everyone for sharing!

Pam M's picture
Pam M
Posts: 2194
Joined: Nov 2009

Chiming in, here. I'm following the pack on this one. Definate plusses are his health and activity levels. Sounds like he also has the prerequisite stick-to-it-iveness. Keep us updated.

Tim6003's picture
Tim6003
Posts: 1490
Joined: Nov 2011

89!!! and sitll bowling, mall walking and everything else you mentioned. Your dad sounds like he could live on the Alaskan frontier and outdo everyone!! :)

I'm sorry you have to worry so about him...I think your dad will do great, but of course it hurts to see our parents no matter how old they are suffer through the treatments he will need....

You hang in there and keep us posted...whispered a prayer for you and your Dad that all will go well, for strenght and great outcome!

Best,

Tim

tommyodavey's picture
tommyodavey
Posts: 351
Joined: Nov 2011

Joanne,

I am with you when you said you hope it is not an aggressive type of cancer if indeed it is cancer. Hopefully it is some strange cyst or something of that nature.

Roughly 80-90% of oral cancers are Squamous Cell Carcinoma. (SCC) Lucky for me I was one of those who had a different one that was a slow growing cancer. Mine was Mucoepidermoid Carcinoma. I had a tumor on the base of my tongue for many years before it was discovered by accident. If that is what he has then ask the Dr. how long you could wait until action must be taken. Just a lucky shot in the dark with me. I wish the best for your Dad. Waiting is the hardest part.

Tom

JoAnneMarie
Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 2012

Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, concerns, for our family. We got Dad's biopsy results and he has a papilloma benign tumor. Most of it (70%) removed from taking out chunks of it for biopsy. They will monitor it but I am so glad he will not face the decision of treatment. He lost 7 lbs and is a little weak and wobbly just from the experience of the biopsy and subsequent sore throat. I admire you all for going through the treatment required for these types of cancer.

Wishing you all the best!

JoAnne

Tim6003's picture
Tim6003
Posts: 1490
Joined: Nov 2011

I am wonderfully happy for you and your Dad .....You do not have to join our group which is a good thing for you ... :)

Best,

Tim

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8057
Joined: Sep 2009

Absolutely awesome news...

Congrats,
John

phrannie51's picture
phrannie51
Posts: 3617
Joined: Mar 2012

that is great news...I'm SO glad your dad doesn't have to face this treatment, too...

p

Pam M's picture
Pam M
Posts: 2194
Joined: Nov 2009

Wonderful, wonderful news. Very happy for you and yours. Enjoy!

ToBeGolden's picture
ToBeGolden
Posts: 697
Joined: Aug 2010

Our little club really doesn't need more full members. We're happy to have "honorary" members join us on our journey. And yes, even benign tumors cause some headaches for both the patient and their caregivers. And I'm always glad to hear of individuals a couple of decades older than me who have remained active. Rick.

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