Apr 04, 2013 - 1:46 pm
** MY ORIGINAL POST ON THE BRAIN CANCER FORUM: DOES WBRT WORK? IS IT WORTH IT WHEN IT IS NOT A CURE?
My poor Mother. Stage 4 adenocarcinoma of the lung which has metastasized to the brain. Lung spot was caught early and successfully treated with stereotactic radiation, but not before it metastasized to the brain. Initial brain spots were treated with stereotactic radiation, but recent MRI shows more spots have appeared. Doctors recommend WBRT -- NOT to cure it -- but to extend her life perhaps 2-3 more years. She is 86, very healthy, but frail at 93 pounds. Currently she is doing so well -- independent -- driving -- FINALLY having recovered from 6 months down with the stereotactic treatment to the brain which was very hard on her (the steriods/dilantin/being so tired). If we knock her down AGAIN with WBRT, will we ever get her back? I hear WBRT can be very hard with lots of severe side effects.
Decision time and I need help. Does WBRT work? Will she have quality of life after WBRT? It is not a cure -- is it worth it? Is she better off to just live as long as she can feeling good and doing well? Either way, I realize she is dying, but HELP -- will WBRT help? Should we -- shouldn't we? I am so confused?
AND WHERE WE ARE TODAY -- THE CONTINUING SAGA...
I've been so grateful for all the posts and heartfelt experiences related to WBRT. And so the saga continues. I'm suffering.
Back to Little Rock, Arkansas where we were told that the February 27th MRI showed 14 metastasis -- growing/multiplying (In January, there were 7). And of course, the recommendation for an 86 year old was WBRT. They proposed 13 treatments. I had really wanted to go Gamma Knife but they said for her that the intense radiation and the "criss-cross" needed would be too much for her and that she would need steriods AND anti-convulsants. We were told we had one to two months without WBRT and were hopeful for six months with WBRT. My Mother so trusts her doctor and WANTED to go forward with their recommendation -- WBRT.
Mother was doing so well before treatment -- healthy, eating well, expelling well -- everything. She has been healthy and active all her life.
First week of WBRT went off without a hitch. Second week was hard, but she made it through. We only completed 12 of the proposed 13 treatments and beginning the third week, the WBRT downfall began. She is taking a minimal steriod dose (only six mg per day) so we have been grateful for that. It has been two weeks since the last treatment and she has been bedridden for those two weeks and continues to be. We have been able to get her up and to the kitchen table for her meals, but it is always back to bed. She is eating well. Having carefully read about the shutdown process with brain cancer (www.brainhospice.com) however, I see many signs of shutdown. She needs help walking -- going to the bathroom -- getting to the kitchen table for meals. I am seeing her hands curl in and kept close to her chest. At times her legs will just buckle under her. She is eating well, but not gaining weight. Little (85 pounds), fragile and frail. She says she has no pain and is relatively cognative, but often wakes for dinner thinking it is time for breakfast (and vice versa). Her main complaint is just being so tired and wanting to sleep all the time. I've seen no improvement in her condition -- it seems we are only going backwards. If the radiation worked and the tumors are shrinking, why am I seeing signs of shutdown? Are the tumors killing her or is it the WBRT? Could the signs of shutdown I see really be the side effects from the WBRT? Is she NOT shuting down and maybe just recovering from the WBRT? So many questions -- the doctor has been no help, saying it is a good sign that she is eating well and we are able to get her up for her meals. Her vitals and her bloodwork look good and there is no indication the cancer is in the liver or in her bones. I cry everyday watching the decline. I would say that according to brainhospice we have two to three weeks left. Am I reading things right? Or will there be improvement after WBRT? If the shutdown process has started, is there any point in trying to circumvent it or are we just torturing her?
No pain for her, but tremendous pain for me.