Good News/Bad News????!?!

RacheleC Member Posts: 5
edited March 2014 in Colorectal Cancer #1
My dad was diagnosed 16 months ago with stage 3 colorectal cancer. He had surgery to remove the mass as well as 12 lymph nodes, of which 4 were positive. He had radiation and chemo, after which the cancer returned. He had another round of chemo (Camptosar, this time) and got a clean CT scan 2 months ago.

Last week he went for another CT scan, and had his doctor visit this morning. The doctor is saying that although the CT scan is still clean, and he can take a break from chemo, that it's only a "break" and eventually the cancer WILL be back. Not MIGHT be back, not MOST LIKELY will be back, but WILL be back. When he asked her if his cancer was incurable, she said "yes". No one has ever told us that before. I've heard that stage 4 is incurable, but is stage 3 as well? Is this really true?

Can I PLEASE ask for success stories that I can share with my parents? I know this doctor is not God, and only He knows for sure, but can I please have some proof that long term survival is possible after a stage 3 diagnosis?

He was just starting to race again. He was just feeling good again. We were just starting to relax again.

The doctor also mentioned some "spots" on his liver that we were always told were just cycts, and nothing to worry about. Now she's sending him for a PET scan, and she said that if he has no tumors in the back of his belly, she'd like to send him to have the spots on his liver removed somehow. But we were always told the spots on his liver were not cancer.

I'm getting this information second hand from my poor mom who's crying between words, so forgive me if I'm not making much sense.

Does anyone have anything to share, please?



  • alihamilton
    alihamilton Member Posts: 347
    Hi Rachele,

    I can imagine how anxious and confused you are. I sometimes wonder if the doctors realize what a terrible time this is for patients and caregivers and that any information given should be clear but compassionate.

    I am sure you will get replies from survivors of both stage 111 and 1V... I know I have read posts of survivors of both stages, but to find those posts at this point would be difficult. I just hope they will read yours and be able to encourage you and your parents.

    My husband is nearing the end of his treatment for Stage 111 with several lymph nodes having been involved, so I am very anxious about the outcome. I just feel if he were to be told that he had to go through it all again, he may not be able to handle it.

    I hope you get some clarification on all the issues you have raised. As to the spots on the liver, the doctors may be concerned now as the cancer returned that the spots were malignant. Let us hope not though.


  • jgomez
    jgomez Member Posts: 25
    Rachele I'm sorry to hear that your father is ill, but the worse part of your story is to hear a doctor would mention the word incurable. Everybody has a chance to fight.
    I had stage 3 with 4 positive lymph nodes out of 22. My operation was 3 years ago and I haven't had problems.
    Try a second opinion, and if its possible a third opinion. Check my webpage.

    Have faith.
    Jose Gomez
  • kerry
    kerry Member Posts: 1,313
    Hi Rachele,

    Gosh, I don't know whether to say congratulations or I'm sorry!! I was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer, with 2 out of 10 lymph nodes positive, 6 months of chemo also with Camptosar. I've had 3 CT scans which have all come out clear and my doctor was more positive than I was. His last words to me were, I think you are going to be "all right". A doctor can never guarantee that cancer will never come back and I don't think they should, but to say it definitely WILL is not right either. Hang in there. Perhaps your dad should seek out another doctor, especially to check out those liver spots that are "not" cancer, just to make sure. Seems like there is a lot of information missing.

    Here at this site you will hear from individuals diagnosed with Stage 4 who are doing just fine now.

    Hang in there. It sounds like your mom may need some emotional support too. Maybe you could go to the doctor with your dad the next time and speak directly to his onc.

    You'll be in my thoughts and prayers. Keep us posted. Read some of the personal web pages and you'll find lots of Stage 3 and Stage 4 folks who are living life to the fullest.

    Take care

  • shmurciakova
    shmurciakova Member Posts: 906
    Hello. I am a Stage III survivor of 2 years. I had one recurrence to the liver about one year ago and then went on the Camptosar. My surgeon, who is one of the best in the world, literally, told me that many people could survive and be "cured" of colon cancer at that stage. I have no idea what type of recurrence your father had, so I cannot say w/ any certainty that his cancer will not come back. However, I do know that there is a strong connection between the mind and the body and it's ability to heal. If your father had two recurrences then, maybe, your doctors could say that it is "unlikely" that he would ever be completely "cured", but if a doctor ever said to me that there was "no chance' I would change doctors. I feel that this doctor has done a huge disservice to your father regardless of how realistic that they are trying to be. If your fathers CT is clear, and his CEA is normal, then he does not have cancer as far as anyone can tell. He needs to get into the mind set that he does not have cancer. For a doctor to plant that seed of fear into his head is disgraceful. I would not tolerate it and would seek another doctor.
    The bedside manner of some of these people is truely appaling. The placebo effect works both ways.......
    Get another doctor and try to convince your father that mind over matter is very, very important.
    Good luck w/ this problem, Susan
  • ron50
    ron50 Member Posts: 1,723
    Hi Rachele, I had stage 111 colon ca lost 14 inches of my descending colon plus 13 nodes 6 of which were positive. Had 48 sessions of chemo over a year. It has now been 6yrs and 3mos. I am still ca free and have offcially been told that my tumour will not return but to be vigilant for new polyps. It can be beaten ,good luck to dad and you,Cheers Ron.
  • bob000
    bob000 Member Posts: 4
    RacheleC, I had Stage III colon cancer in Jan. 2001, had surgery to remove 1/2 of my colon and all 13 lymphnodes (7 of which had cancer), then 7 months of chemo. I am now 3 years cancer free but I go in every 4 months for checkups. It's awful to learn that your dad's doctor is so pessimestic. I think a change of doctors is in order, quickly! A lot of recovery is how the patient percieves he is doing, so a positive attitude is essential. My doctor also told me that sleep is SO VERY therapeutic, so I get at least 8 or 9 hours a night and sometimes a short nap during the day. Hang in there and just know that there is HOPE and that some of us are beating this horrible disease!! God Bless your family during this stressful time. Carol G.
  • livin
    livin Member Posts: 318
    Hi Rachele, I am a survivor of Breast and stage 111 colon cancer. Breast 1999 October, Colon 2001 Feb., 2 pos nodes for colon cancer. I think your father needs another Doctors opinion. Livin
  • drmrgirl47
    drmrgirl47 Member Posts: 129
    Dear Rachele, I was diagnosed with stage 3, 3 positive nodes out of 6. I am currently undergoing chemo and radiation. My surgeon is so optomistic. He keeps reassuring me I will be alright. What kind of doctor tells a person that it most likely will be back? I truly don't believe stage 3 is incurable and neither does my doctor. Is your dad's doctor the oncologist or the surgeon? I am curious. Anyway, what I am trying to say is what everyone tells me, try to stay positive. I know it is hard at times so just hang in there.
  • 2bhealed
    2bhealed Member Posts: 2,064
    Wow I never heard that!! I'm Stage 3 lymph pos and how I remember it was a 60/40 odds. That's n ot 100% death rate in my book. throw out the odds anyway and just tell him to live.

    Why OH why do doctors do this? They would change their tune if it was their own dx no doubt.

    You know, with having been given this "death sentence" by his ignorant doctor I would recommend you all read Spontaneous Healing by Dr. Andrew Weil. He addresses this problem that some doctors have with prophesying death. It is bad juju. Please reassure your mother there are folks who live after cancer. I am so sorry you are going through this.

    peace, emily who is not planning on dying any time soon no matter Stage 3 or not!