Jan 20, 2013 - 7:04 am
I was hoping some of you might be able to give me some advice as I'm feeling pretty frustrated and overwhelmed right now.
My mum was diagnosed in late December 2011 with stage III cervical cancer after she had a severe hemorrhage.
She was sent to Peter Mac, a cancer specialist hospital, and was told that because of the size of the tumor (5cm+), the location and the fact that it had spread to the nearby lymph nodes that surgery was not an option and instead she was scheduled to have 6 weeks external radiation, a course of brachytherapy and then 6 weeks of half dose chemo. The doctors said that it was going to be a challenge but that it was treatable.
Unfortunately my mum is heavily into the New Age lifestyle and doesn't really trust in conventional medicine, so she only had the external ratiation and then opted to persue so called "alternative treatment".
She found a doctor who was into complimentary medicine and was given massive doses of IV Vitamin C, she did reiki, reflexology, meditated, saw a woman who claimed to use ancient Amazonian herbs and "faith healing" to rid the body of cancer... in other words she wasted valuable time searching for the mythical magical cure.
The radiation had stopped the bleeding and mum was feeling really good and, thanks in part to her denial and the lies of an ~alternative healer~ she was convinced that the tumor was gone and that she was completely cancer free.
Fast forward to this Xmas and it was obvious mum was really, really sick. I hadn't seen her in months and I couldn't believe how unwell she looked- it was shocking, she looked like an 80 year old woman, she was so thin and frail.
2 days after Xmas my sister took mum to hospital where they discovered she had septicemia, an ulcerated, infected colon and a perforated bowel. In addition to all that the cervical tumor was bleeding again.
She was admitted to the colorectal cancer ward and was pumped full of antibiotics to get the infection under control so they could operate. A week later she went into surgery where they fixed her bowel and created a stoma so her colon could recover. They also inserted a stent into one of her kidneys and, unfortunately, discovered the other kidney was no longer funtioning. Over the next few days she had several MRI's, a CT scan and at least one PET scan to determine where the cancer was and what the options were.
Then last Wednesday mum and my sister met with the treatment team and were told that the cancer was inoperable. Not only that but chemotherapy would not be effective, nor would radiation (because she had already had a course) and that there were simply no viable treatment options left. They admitted my mum into the palliative care unit overnight and told my sister that we are looking at months.
Mum is currently staying with a friend and is due to meet up with the palliative care team over the next week or so if she remains stable, but my sister thinks she may have to go into a hospice or back into hospital soon. Apparently just walking from one room to another is enough to leave mum exhausted and while she's eating again it's not enough and she is not gaining weight.
I am heading down in a few days to spend some time with mum and my sister has warned me that she looks considerably worse than she did at Xmas- she doesn't want me to get upset and cause my mum any distress with my reaction.
Now I understand that mum lost her chance of full remission when she refused to complete her treatment last year, but I don't understand why chemo can't be used to at least slow down the progression of the cancer, or why they can't do a full pelvic exenteration or god only knows what else.
I have read through the posts here from women with stage IVb cancer and they almost all mention having chemo to slow the progression of the tumors. So why would someone not be suitable for chemo? I don't understand.
I just feel like surely there's something that can be done, even if it just means extending her life for another 6 months.
Can anyone please shed some light on this? Is there a point where there really is no point in pursuing any treatment?
I just can't stand the idea of giving up, of not even trying no matter how slim the chances.
I don't want to lose my mum, please tell me there's some hope, somehow.