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the hardest decision

Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2005

Back in April my mom, age only 47, was diagnosed with stage 3c ovarian cancer. It was a common story, where her doctor treated her for irritable bowel for months, despite ultrasounds, even told her a growth on her ovary was only a cyst months before without bothering to do a CA-125.

She's been through a lot, complete hysterectomy, my mother getting fluid drained because her stomach fills up as if she is 9 months pregnant, cancer immediately attacking the small wound where they put the needle in. It seems her form of cancer is so strong.

Since May, the doctor has changed her chemotherapy multiple times. Just this past Friday, he told us that he cannot cure her. He tells us he basically was sure of that after the first chemos did not improve her to the extent needed, but he did not tell her because my mom suffers from manic depression and he was afraid she would give up right away. He says people that started being treated around the time she did were now cancer free.

And this is the hardest part yet now. She is being asked to make a decision. Does she want to stop the chemo, and allow the cancer to take over and pass away within a month or two, or, does she want to continue chemo which may give her 6-12 months.

The doctor is telling us that if he gives her smaller doses on a weekly basis, she may not get as nauseated as she does. But he's telling us that no matter what, she is going to die. She, we, do not know how to make this choice.

Have any of you ever been faced with a decision like this? Or known someone who was faced with this decision? We want to only consider her happiness at this point while she is still here, and we want her to suffer as little as possible. Has anyone's doctor ever told them this and suddenly if they continued chemo, months later it worked? Any responses are greatly appreciated.

Posts: 6
Joined: Apr 2005

I am so sorry to hear about your mother's health. What you and your family have to decide is a horrible predicament. There is no right answer to this question....each situation is unique. The best advice to give you is try to talk openly and honestly with your mom. Ask her what she feels she can do. Has the chemo made her life miserable and not worth continuing, or does she think she can continue. Support your mother whichever way she feels she must choose. Try to take advantage of what time she has left to make memories that will last you a lifetime.
I didn't have to make this choice while I was going through chemo. However, I bet everyone that has ever had cancer has considered the possibility that they would have to make this choice. I often wondered if I could make it through the next round of chemo...there's no denying that it is rough. I hope that you and your family will be able to find the choice that is right for your mom.

BonnieR's picture
Posts: 1549
Joined: Jan 2004

I am so sorry to hear about your mom. The decision she is facing is very hard and there are no right or wrong answers. I have one question, have you ever seeked a second opinion? Our uncle who has pancreatic cancer was told by Mayo Clinic he had only 6-8 weeks and his son insisted he get a second opinion. It is now almost 5 years later and he is doing really well. I don't want to give you false hope but know if my Dr said their isn't anymore he could do I would probably make sure another Dr is in agreement with him.

Again my prayers go out to all of you.


Posts: 5
Joined: Sep 2005

I completely understand what decision your family is facing. My mom was diagnosed with Primary Peritineal in Sept 2005. My mom was 78. After her debulking surgery she was going to have to face chemo.Which in the course of this entire thing was my biggest fear. What the chemo would do, how she would do with it, and the choice of quality of life or the quantity of life. Her best case was 3yrs with taking the chemo, that was if she tolerated it and if it did what it was supposed to do. I believe and always have that quality of life is more precious than quantity. You state you only want her happiness and want her to suffer as little as possible. Only you, your family and your mom can decide whether the quantity of 6-12 months is worth the side effects of the chemo. The best advice I can give you is to remember in the end the choice is your moms and the best you can do is stand beside her choice and support her whatever it may be. God Bless and best of luck!

Posts: 13
Joined: Jan 2006

I am so sorry to hear about your mom. May I suggest a second opinion. I too have ovarian cancer 3rd stage. the first dr. told me I had 2 years. My 2nd doc is telling me I will live to see my 80's your mom has been through a lot give her lots of love, support. and a second opinion!!! God bless. and good luck. Diane

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