mom fighting stage IV cancer- extreme pressure in chest causing sleep loss

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Teranb1
Teranb1 Member Posts: 3
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
I'm new to this discussion board. My mom has stage four breast cancer with multiple tumors in her chest, but no signs of cancer in any of her vital organs. She has been undergoing chemo treatment since October of last year and just finished radiation on the cancer found in her neck. She's experienced pretty much every symptom related to chemo and it seems to be just getting harder and harder.

Our current concerns are with her weight loss and the extreme pressure she feels in her chest which causes her difficulties breathing. This in turn is causing her sleep depravation. We've consulted her oncologist and several other doctors concerning these symptoms and it seems that their answer is to prescribe stronger pain and sleep medication which doesn't seem to be solving the problem. Some of the stronger pain medications such as oxycoton and oxycodon 10mg is making her feel nauseous and seems to make her feel worse. Even with these pain medications and sleeping medication she is still only sleeping on average 3 or 4 hours a night.

So I guess my questions are many. Does anyone know what could be causing this extreme pressure on her chest? Could it be just the cancer?

Has anyone experienced these conditions and been able to find any relief, anything that could help?

Any suggestions about the sleep loss? she is currently on ambien and it doesnt seem to help.

For her weight loss we've added a high calorie VHC Carnation drink. It seems to be maintaining her weight, but as you can probably guess she has no appetite. She has suggested that she feels the drink may be a cause of this pressure, but I've researched and have found no evidence online of side effects. Has anyone heard anything different than this?

This has been an extremely tough road for us as I'm sure many can relate to. I still maintain hope and want to help my mother feel better. Please if anyone could offer any kind of assistance in these matters, I would so truly be grateful.

Thank you and God Bless,
Teran

Comments

  • carkris
    carkris Member Posts: 4,553 Member
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    perhaps the pressure is
    perhaps the pressure is reflux? When I had symptoms i felt like i was having a heart attack and I felt alot of gastric issues withthe chemo. Have they check out her heart? I hope this resolves and she is better soon.
  • Cindy Bear
    Cindy Bear Member Posts: 569
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    pressure
    HI Teran. I am sorry your mom is not well. I wonder if the pressure could be a SE of chemo or radiation ? My mom had uterine cancer Stage IV. She was on taxol and carboplatin. I don't know what your mom was on. She didn't report that as a symptom but I totally relate about the sleepless nights. I don't think my mother ever really slept again once she found out she had cancer. Yes they handed out more and more pills. They have a script for everything don't they. The ambien helped a little but not that much. A lady on one of the caregivers threads said that 'What to eat during cancer' by ACS I think, is a great cookbook. She reccommended it. I remember someone else saying watermelon is a great way to get your fluid intake up. Don't think you can get them now though, not in season. Sorry I can't help more. I think she just needs to be assertive and ask what is causing this pain? Is she scheduled for any scans any time soon?
    Take care and God Bless.
  • ms_independent
    ms_independent Member Posts: 214
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    my thoughts
    It sounds like your mother is not getting straight answers from her Dr.s. Who goes with her to her appointments? Can that person be direct and ask "Is the chest pressure being caused by the tumors?". If she has told the Dr that all information can be shared with you---you could call to talk with him and ask the hard questions. It was easier for me to call the Dr and ask questions without my mother listening. The Dr.s answers will help you all figure out the next step.

    Since she feels like the high calorie drink is causing the problem--maybe try something else for a few days and see how she feels, maybe it is just reflux. Unfortunately, sometimes it is the cancer causing the difficulties and there are no good solutions. You may be doing this already but, elevating her upper body (with a foam wedge or hospital-type bed) while sleeping may help. Have they tried anything else for sleep? Perhaps something for anxiety (side effect=sleep)would help or a different sleeping pill.

    I'm sure you will get good suggestions for tempting her appetite from others who have had (or receiving now) chemo (I was fortunate to not need chemo). But, I have heard that sweet potatoes taste good when nothing else does.


    I am so very sorry that your mom (and her family) is going through this. I KNOW (from going through it with my mom)how very painful it is to see her so miserable. You want so badly to make it better. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Please don't hesitate to ask for support.

    Hugs, El
  • meena1
    meena1 Member Posts: 1,003
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    my thoughts
    It sounds like your mother is not getting straight answers from her Dr.s. Who goes with her to her appointments? Can that person be direct and ask "Is the chest pressure being caused by the tumors?". If she has told the Dr that all information can be shared with you---you could call to talk with him and ask the hard questions. It was easier for me to call the Dr and ask questions without my mother listening. The Dr.s answers will help you all figure out the next step.

    Since she feels like the high calorie drink is causing the problem--maybe try something else for a few days and see how she feels, maybe it is just reflux. Unfortunately, sometimes it is the cancer causing the difficulties and there are no good solutions. You may be doing this already but, elevating her upper body (with a foam wedge or hospital-type bed) while sleeping may help. Have they tried anything else for sleep? Perhaps something for anxiety (side effect=sleep)would help or a different sleeping pill.

    I'm sure you will get good suggestions for tempting her appetite from others who have had (or receiving now) chemo (I was fortunate to not need chemo). But, I have heard that sweet potatoes taste good when nothing else does.


    I am so very sorry that your mom (and her family) is going through this. I KNOW (from going through it with my mom)how very painful it is to see her so miserable. You want so badly to make it better. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Please don't hesitate to ask for support.

    Hugs, El

    Sorry to hear about your
    Sorry to hear about your mom. I do not have any lung tumors, however, i did have a lot of chest pain. It was very painful and sometimes felt like a heart attack. I actually was suffering from heartburn, so i was prescribed prilosec which helps a lot. it is also acid reflux, indigestion. You can google acid reflux and it will tell you what foods to avoid, i would start there and see if that helps. Also, she may want to sleep propped up a little, i know may be uncomfortable, but it does help some. Just some ideas to try. take care
  • Teranb1
    Teranb1 Member Posts: 3
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    carkris said:

    perhaps the pressure is
    perhaps the pressure is reflux? When I had symptoms i felt like i was having a heart attack and I felt alot of gastric issues withthe chemo. Have they check out her heart? I hope this resolves and she is better soon.

    We tried anti-acid reflux
    We tried anti-acid reflux medications and unfortunately it didnt help. We did have to elimate dairy from her diet, we found it was upsetting her stomach as it does for many chemo patients.

    They did check her heart. They did a stress test and found it to be a little weak but in otherwise good condition.

    So, we are still workin on figuring it out. I truly appreciate your suggestions and questions.

    I hope you are doing well.

    Thank you.
  • Teranb1
    Teranb1 Member Posts: 3
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    pressure
    HI Teran. I am sorry your mom is not well. I wonder if the pressure could be a SE of chemo or radiation ? My mom had uterine cancer Stage IV. She was on taxol and carboplatin. I don't know what your mom was on. She didn't report that as a symptom but I totally relate about the sleepless nights. I don't think my mother ever really slept again once she found out she had cancer. Yes they handed out more and more pills. They have a script for everything don't they. The ambien helped a little but not that much. A lady on one of the caregivers threads said that 'What to eat during cancer' by ACS I think, is a great cookbook. She reccommended it. I remember someone else saying watermelon is a great way to get your fluid intake up. Don't think you can get them now though, not in season. Sorry I can't help more. I think she just needs to be assertive and ask what is causing this pain? Is she scheduled for any scans any time soon?
    Take care and God Bless.

    HI Cindy Bear, thank you
    HI Cindy Bear, thank you for your response. It could be a symptom of the chemo and or radiation I suppose. She's on taxol currently and she was on some heavier chemo drugs initially for four months. These symptoms really started occuring I guess a little over a month ago which is about the same time she started taxol. However, I was under the impression from the doctor that the taxol would be much easier on her that the previous chemo drugs.

    We'll definitely look at the ACS cookbook. Thank you for suggesting it. Right now the nutritionist has my mom on a high calorie diet because she's lost so much weight. She's at 92 lbs right now.

    The watermelon idea sounds like a really good idea. I'm sure we can find some.

    As for the scans, we are going to request some more. My mom has discovered increase lumps in her right breast we are concerned about. Which i really dont understand, we were told that her markers have gone down, but now there seems to be more lumps-possible tumors. I really thought that if the markers are going down, then the chemo was working against the tumors. Now im not sure if thats the case. I'm hoping we can get some more answers next week.

    Thank you so much for your suggestions,

    I'm sorry you are going through this as well with your mom.

    Take care and have a blessed day
  • aztec45
    aztec45 Member Posts: 757
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    I Am So Sorry
    I am so sorry your mom is having problems. What is up with the onc, though. I am surprised that they are not doing something more to get to the bottom of your moms breathing troubles. Not breathing and not resting is only exhausting her further and delaying her recovery. Did they find fluid in the lungs? Does she have an infection? If it is not chemo related, maybe your primary care physician can help her.

    I hope she gets to feeling better. Good luck.

    P
  • Wolfi
    Wolfi Member Posts: 425
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    Sleeping 3 to 4 hours per night
    Teran,

    Although my diagnosis and treatment are different than your mothers I also awake every night because of chest pressure. It feels like someone is sitting on my chest and squeezing. When I get up, take some deep breaths and move a little bit it gets better but usually takes a few hours to totally stop hurting.

    I had stage 3 DCIS and a bilateral mastectomy. I had radiation and was on Tamoxifen for a few month but had to stop due to side effects. I have been done with radiation and off medication long enough that if my chest pressure was caused by those things it should be getting better but I still only get 4-6 hours of sleep most nights. I was on sleep medication to help me get more sleep but I would still wake up after a few hours and then just feel groggy because of the medication. I don't take sleep medication anymore.

    My suggestion is that your mother take naps whenever she can and whenever she feels even a little bit tired. It's not the best way to get sleep, but at least she may be able to feel a little bit better which may also improve her appetite. I hope she feels better soon.
  • Tux
    Tux Member Posts: 544
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    Wolfi said:

    Sleeping 3 to 4 hours per night
    Teran,

    Although my diagnosis and treatment are different than your mothers I also awake every night because of chest pressure. It feels like someone is sitting on my chest and squeezing. When I get up, take some deep breaths and move a little bit it gets better but usually takes a few hours to totally stop hurting.

    I had stage 3 DCIS and a bilateral mastectomy. I had radiation and was on Tamoxifen for a few month but had to stop due to side effects. I have been done with radiation and off medication long enough that if my chest pressure was caused by those things it should be getting better but I still only get 4-6 hours of sleep most nights. I was on sleep medication to help me get more sleep but I would still wake up after a few hours and then just feel groggy because of the medication. I don't take sleep medication anymore.

    My suggestion is that your mother take naps whenever she can and whenever she feels even a little bit tired. It's not the best way to get sleep, but at least she may be able to feel a little bit better which may also improve her appetite. I hope she feels better soon.

    I had "soft tissue damage"
    I had "soft tissue damage" after rads & had a lot of problems breathing. However, it has gotten a lot better. I hope that your mom can get some relief soon.
  • DianeBC
    DianeBC Member Posts: 3,881 Member
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    my thoughts
    It sounds like your mother is not getting straight answers from her Dr.s. Who goes with her to her appointments? Can that person be direct and ask "Is the chest pressure being caused by the tumors?". If she has told the Dr that all information can be shared with you---you could call to talk with him and ask the hard questions. It was easier for me to call the Dr and ask questions without my mother listening. The Dr.s answers will help you all figure out the next step.

    Since she feels like the high calorie drink is causing the problem--maybe try something else for a few days and see how she feels, maybe it is just reflux. Unfortunately, sometimes it is the cancer causing the difficulties and there are no good solutions. You may be doing this already but, elevating her upper body (with a foam wedge or hospital-type bed) while sleeping may help. Have they tried anything else for sleep? Perhaps something for anxiety (side effect=sleep)would help or a different sleeping pill.

    I'm sure you will get good suggestions for tempting her appetite from others who have had (or receiving now) chemo (I was fortunate to not need chemo). But, I have heard that sweet potatoes taste good when nothing else does.


    I am so very sorry that your mom (and her family) is going through this. I KNOW (from going through it with my mom)how very painful it is to see her so miserable. You want so badly to make it better. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Please don't hesitate to ask for support.

    Hugs, El

    So sorry about your Mom.
    So sorry about your Mom. Sending you both prayers and positive thoughts!