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Please help

Posts: 3
Joined: May 2009

I have a dear friend who was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer last November. He made it through the chemo and radiation. The doctors say the tumors seem to be non-existent now. They want him to have whole brain radiation and from everything I am reading, it doesn't seem worth it. He is so depressed from the original diagnosis and treatment that he will not talk to anyone about it and is exibiting behavior that I am afraid could pull him quickly out of his remission. He is in no condition to make such a large decision right now, but I read that this procedure should be done quickly after the original chemo and radiation treatments.

What is the consensus on whether whole brain radiation is worth it? It seems to me that there are so many side effects that it may take away his quality of life. I have read that he could have hearing loss, go blind, lose his memories, have horrible neuroligical symptoms, etc. Is there anyone out there who had this done that thinks it was the right choice? If so, why? He has no signs of tumors in his brain right now, it is just a preventative measure. If it's a preventative measure, then why in everything that I read, the prognosis of survival after 2 years is very low, even with the whole brain radiation? If there is a 75% chance that it won't spread to his brain from the treatment, what are these patients dying from? Is it the radiation or does the cancer show back up in other parts of the body? And, what will be his quality of life if he does have the treatment?

Also, what can I do to help him with his depression? Though he admits he is severely depressed, he will not speak to anyone about it or talk to other cancer survivors, doctors, etc. He is avoiding those who love him most. I call every day and leave messages (my nickname now is "stalkeratzie"...lol) and about once a week he will call me back, but I hear the sadness in his voice. He is beating himself up inside for the negative behavior (drinking every day, still smoking, avoiding loved ones, etc.) He's suffering horrible guilt on top of everything else. No matter what I say, it doesn't get through to him.

I lost my mother to cancer in 2001 and truly want to be there for my friend. I know what a hard battle this is and it breaks my heart to see him wasting the precious time he may have left. His wife also left him after the original treatments and that makes it all worse. He was a strong man who now feels out of control with his life. I tell him I am here for him and always will be. I don't know what else I can do to help but be there, no matter what his behavior is or becomes. I can't and won't walk away. When my mother became ill, she discovered quickly who her friends really were. But, she behaved in a different manner than my friend is. Though depressed, she embraced the support and love of family and friends. She was a fighter and though she lost her battle, she never, ever gave up.

My friend fought through the chemo and radiation with a positive attitude and has now given up. He's running away from everything by drinking all the time. His wife's non-support during the diagnosis/treatments and now separation has put him in a tail spin. Any suggestions to help him since he won't seek help himself?? I feel so helpless right now. This is a person I truly love and want to be there for with support, and understanding. I use humor, treat him like I did before the illness (he says he just wants to be himself again and when he is with his drinking buddies, he feels normal again), and listen when he talks about his feelings and illness. Can someone give me some more tips of what to do?

I appreciate any comments or suggestions from anyone. Thank you.

longingforhope's picture
Posts: 61
Joined: Apr 2009

I had a friend who died of stage 4 lung cancer 3 years ago. He underwent Radiation and Chemo and then the experimental brain radiation at the time. It was physically painful and did not prolong his life, he died almost 6 months to the day that he was diagnosed. I personally think quality of life is better than quantity especially when you are dealing with stage 4.

Depression is very common, if you can get him to a Dr. and on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds it would improve his quality of life. I've had to take a couple of friends to a Psychiatrist for that because the depression was debilitating and the Family Doctors just aren't equipped to handle a patient at that stage.

It's going to be a long road for you and all that love him but in the end you will be glad you made the journey. Now I'm dealing with my husband having stage 3 malignant matastic melanoma and the prognosis isn't good. I taked him into the Psychiatrist and the meds have helped his quality of life. Just be loving but persistant and take care of yourself too. You are going through the grief starting the day of diagnosis to the end. There's nothing wrong with being with his drinking buddies, when the guys that worked for my husband stop over with beer he lets loose and will talk and it's therapeutic. When someone is dying you just do what you can to comfort them and make each day the best it can be. I'm sorry to say small cell is the most aggressive form of lung cancer so fight as long as he wants to and when he accepts this inevitable you will have to too.

Research the brain radiation before you offer advice. They really don't know much about it yet. Take care and know you ACS family is here for support.

Posts: 3
Joined: May 2009

Dear LongingforHope,

Thank you so much for your kind and supportive words. It's very helpful. I am sorry for what you are going through now with your husband. I admire your strength and compassion.

After losing my mother from her battle with cancer, I think I just have been in denial and want to believe in miracles. Your words are the truth and have brought me back. I just want him to enjoy the time he has left. And, yes, I have been grieving since the diagnosis.

I especially appreciate you saying the drinking buddies are okay. I've been telling him the same thing, but he keeps beating himself up for his behavior, which makes the depression even worse. I will pass your words on to him. Maybe that will help.

I am definitely going to advise him to get a second opinion on the whole brain radiation. I have read a lot and asked a lot of questions and it's very scary. I am like you, I believe in quality of life versus quantity of life.

My prayers are with you and your husband. Kindness works two ways, and I am here to support you, too, if you need me.

Posts: 4
Joined: Jun 2012

My mom was diagnosed with the same thing your husband has. Can you give me more information on what were dealing with? Thank you and God bless.

longingforhope's picture
Posts: 61
Joined: Apr 2009

Look at that posting it may be helpful.

Dapsterd's picture
Posts: 291
Joined: Jun 2010

Do one or the above if he is under 4-5 mets, I would. Gamma succust rate is 90 percentile.
I Waiting on whole brain for last ditch effort. Alsready through 3-4 stero tactic. no WBR yet !!!


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