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dreamsraih's picture
Posts: 5
Joined: Apr 2009

hell everyone ive read most of your stories on here and they give me great hope my mother has stage 4 small cell carcinoma and its spreading everywhere they are saying she has a couple of weeks but i really dont want to believe that i read about some drug called alimta i told the doctor about it and he said he never heard of it what should i do

Posts: 1048
Joined: Aug 2006

Dear Dreamsraih,

I am so sorry to hear that your mom and you are having to go through this. I looked on the internet to find out about Alimta. It is a drug used for Mesothelioma, a kind of lung cancer people get after exposure to asbestos. If you were talking to your mom's surgeon, especially if he was a general surgeon or perhaps just a principal care physician, they might not know about stage 4 cancer drugs or treatment. If they were an oncologist (a cancer drug specialist), I would be very worried and look for another doctor. I'm no doctor and I found the drug on the internet in about a minute.

It is very difficult to know what to do when doctors give bad news. They are not God and cannot predict the future. On the other hand, they have a lot of experience we haven't had and may have a pretty good idea how things may turn out. So what do you do?

If you haven't already, make an appointment with the best lung oncologist you can get to and present all her tests, scans, surgical reports, blood tests, whatever and ask what can be done. You would probably find the best at a teaching University Hospital that has a lung clinic. You are looking for someone who knows lungs and drugs. That might be a pulmonary oncologist. You need the appointment as quickly as possible, so while you might have to wait till Monday when they are open, I would spend the weekend searching the net to get phone numbers in order so you can get that second opinion as quickly as possible. The main questions I would want to present are what can be done to stop or slow this beast if at all possible (and what is the physical cost of doing this) and also, if it cannot be stopped what can be done to make her as comfortable as possible during this time so that she has as much quality of life and dignity right up to the end. Radiation treatments and pain medication can help when given correctly but they are usually done as "palative care" to treat pain rather than to stop the cancer. There is no good reason to leave anyone in pain even if treatment to stop cancer is ended. I hope you don't have to go there, but you need to still have treatment for your mom even if the experts have nothing to stop the cancer.

Even if they are "sure" the end is near, be aware that no one knows for sure. I have talked to one lady who was at the terminal stage of cancer that made it for 22 years (she was in the her late twenties when told she had 2 or at most 3 months to live) and she was still raising her kids and battling cancer (chemo for the 5th time, well though wearing hats again) when I met her. Go figure! Her advice is like mine above: get to the best oncologist you can get to and do what they say. I have also talked to family who were told it was time for hospice (you have to be at terminal stage with 6 months or less left to live for this excellent supportive care for patients and their families) and their loved one passed away over the weekend. They had also been to the best and though greatly saddened though gratified that they had done all they could and that her end was much easier than they had expected. Their advice was to get papers in order, stuff like wills, insurance papers, burial arrangements, who is to be notified, even the obituary written, while you are able. It made things so much easier for them because they had already gotten that stuff settled before she started hospice. Hospice, by the way, provides counseling during and after this difficult time as well as palative care of the patient either in the home or the hospital as needed by the family. They are definately worth getting in touch with if you need them. The kind of care you get will depend on the people involved, so interview them and see if they can meet your needs before you take them on.

My prayers are with you and your mom,

C. Abbott

ARobben's picture
Posts: 46
Joined: Apr 2009

I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer in 12/08, although mine is non-small cell. Since then I've been treated with Cisplatin, Alimta, and Avastin every three weeks and was told this was one of the best combos to treat Lung Cancer.

I echo Cabbott's advice. Find the best oncologist you can and get a second opinion.

dreamsraih's picture
Posts: 5
Joined: Apr 2009

ive been working on it but i heard goods new today about her condition and that alone gave me alot of hope

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