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Quality of Life

Posts: 4
Joined: Jul 2006

A "routine" colonoscopy for my 83 year old father revealed three minor non-cancerous polyps and a suspicious, albeit tiny area (so tiny it was tattooed to insure detection should it prove to be malignant). The biopsy of the area confirmed colon cancer and a CT scan staged the growth as Stage II. Laparoscopic surgery was performed on Wednesday, and although he is 83, Dad is doing great, looking forward to getting back to walking two miles a day and his 30 minute exercise bike routine. He has survived and thrived after bypass surgery a number of years ago and things were going great after this one as well. Three days post-op, the surgeon now informs us that three of the nodes tested show the presence of cancer cells and the diagnosis has been changed to Stage III. There was a quick consult with the referred oncologist who seems to be advising that considering my Dad's age, we take a wait and see approach to further treatment. What are we waiting to see? If we know what we are in for, we can handle just about anything. As a family we have begun to reassess the family dynamics as up until now, both of my parents have been very independent. Dad is handling things very realistically and is at peace with the situation. My 86 year old mother is terrified and is trying to be brave. We are bracing for all contingencies. If the wait and see approach is adopted, what can we realistically expect?

kerry's picture
Posts: 1317
Joined: Jan 2003

I am so sorry your family is in this situation. Chemotherapy can be very hard on the body of even a young otherwise healthy person and I know the doctors are considering your Dad's age. I have heard of 80+ people taking chemo treatment and doing quite well.

You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers as you tread this new journey in your lives.

Let us know how you do.


pepperdog's picture
Posts: 96
Joined: Jun 2006

Your family's doubt toward the 'wait & see' attitude tells me that you guys want to act on this diagnosis. Given that your dad is so physically active and has a great attitude, I would put on the boxing gloves and sucker-punch this thing. It never hurts to get a second (or 3rd) opinion. Don't let the doctors sugar-coat this because of your dad's age. 83 'ain't so old' if he's still physically active and feeling good otherwise. I assume he has no other major health issues that would prevent active treatment of the cancer......My husband is considerably younger (55), but has had 25 rads/6 wks oral chemo, surgery and now 6 mo. of drip chemo. He already had serious heart damage (+ bypass history), but we are doing okay. The Cancer Ctr where we receive treatment is full of 70-80+ ages who are actively getting treatment. Best wishes, your dad is lucky to have you as an advocate.

KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

I agree with PepperDog....never hurts to get a 2nd opinion....you all need to feel comfortable with the treating docs...
Kerry is right, too....chemo/rad in this area of the body is VERY tough...I was 49 and I couldn't imagine how these 70+ survivors were doing it...and staying perky. I asked one gal, she was 79....funny response: "I figure that by my age, many of the normal rapidly reproducing cells have stopped rapidly doing ANYTHING, so it is actually easier on me than on you". Wow, now THAT is a GREAT attitude!
Please keep us posted....
Hugs to you AND dad!

Posts: 719
Joined: Feb 2005

Hi there. I am so happy that your dad has such a healthy lifestyle. I am sure that it will help him to bounce back from surgery very quickly. As for the wait and see, I would get at least a second opinion and then think about all of the options: chemo, a strong nutritional plan - or both. This has to be a shock to everyone in your family. I am sure, though, that you can settle on really positive approach. All the best to you and your family - Maura

Posts: 1560
Joined: May 2006

It does not make any sense to me why they performed the laparoscopic surgery on 1 area without waiting the result from other 3 and then proceeding to remove them all at the same time?

I would not like wait and see attitude. What is to wait for? Until they would get bigger? If they confirmed that those 3 spots are cancerous why would they not remove them as soon as possible? I would move in this direction.

Best wishes for your father. And please do let us know what happens next.

Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2006

Hi, I'm RazlDazl's sister. They had discovered the colon cancer as a result of a colonoscopy, and the laparoscopic surgery was to resect the colon. During that procedure, they sampled lymph cells and subsequently found cancer there. Now the question is how to handle the lymphatic cancer. Thanks for your concern.

Posts: 1560
Joined: May 2006

If they removed everything they could remove during the surgery, then the question is whether to proceed with the chemotherapy. If there is still something to remove, I would do that first.

As far as chemotherapy and quality of life is conserned: I am a caretaker of my mother 68 years old who has alzimeirs type dimentia and who was diagnosed with colon cancer in february of this year. I am my mother's conservator which means that I make all decisions for her.

After the surgery because the cancer was stage IIB the oncologist recommended the chemotherapy in the form of pill Xeloda. Many people on this board took it without major life-threatening problems. Common side effects that people had were nausea, mouth sores, sensitivity to cold, fatigue, etc.

In the case of my mother it went really bad. Her liver enzymes were elevated right away and we had to stop taking this drug after each round. Then she developed very severe case of pneumonia and almost died from it. As the result of pneumonia there was low blood pressure in the start of the disease which affected her kidneys. The treating physician in the hospital explained to me that chemotherapy jeopardises the immune system and it does not fight the infection. That is why she got the pneumonia. My mother is recovering now but whe was literally on verge of dying from the pneumonia because of chemotherapy. So, of course, my decision was to not continue with chemotherapy any more. In my mind - for mother it is not worth it.

I think that your father is right to take things realistically. He may or may not take chemotherapy well. It may or may not cure the problem. His quality of life may or may not be jeopardized. I think that he needs to know all pluses and minuses and then he needs to make a decision whether he is willing to go through suffering via chemotherapy with the purpose of saving his life. But then again, cancer can come back even with the chemotherapy, so the question is: is the chemotherapy worth the effort? This is only your father can answer. Luckily he is in his sound mind and can make his decision.

I know it is difficult for you to stand by and wait and watch. But I would get all information first. The option to try it and then stop if it does not work is always there, but you could be taking a risk like I did and I am lucky enough that my mother did not die from pneumonia. On the other hand the risk is if the chemotherapy not given. So, it is 2 sides coin....

Another issue to keep in mind is: how is his health otherwise? Does he have any other problems that may threathen his life? What is his life expectancy otherwise? I think you need to take this into consideration if chemotherapy is worth the effort.

Please e-mail me if you want more information or just want to talk.

Best wishes for your father and your family and May God bless and help everyone in your family.

Best Regards, Eleonora

Posts: 553
Joined: Mar 2006


My dad is 77 years old and has stage IV colon cancer. He is just about on his 6 month of chemo and is just know starting to experience some of the side effects, i.e., mouth sores and neuropathy (tingling and numbness) in his hands. He has done so much better than we thought he would do. We thought he would have very bad nausea and wouldn't be able to do things he loved to do. Well, he has handled it pretty well.

I should tell you that my dad's first onc told us that my dad has lived a full life and basically in so many words, that he really shouldn't have chemo. He only recommended 5-fu and leukovorin (the lower dose of chemo) because he thought that because of my dad's age, he couldn't tolerate the first line treatment. Well, we decided to get a second opinion, and this other onc. said that he though my dad could tolerate the chemo as did my dad's surgeon and some oncology nurses. My dad's surgeon felt that we should try the first line treatment and if he couldn't tolerate it, we could always abandon it. You can even call the American Cancer Society and talk to one of their oncology nurses about this. (that's what we did). They were very helpful and helped us make our decision.

I think that if you are not happy, you need to get a second, third, or even fourth opinion until you feel comfortable with the doctor. I am so tired of these doctors who think that people over 70 should just sit back and wait to die. Your dad sounds very healthy otherwise. I would try the chemo. Also, my family has looked into supplements and diet changes for my dad in addition to the chemo. I have done tons of research on colon cancer, especially among the elderly. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me, and if there's one more piece of advice I could give you is not the take the "wait and see" approach.

God bless you and your dad,


2bhealed's picture
Posts: 2085
Joined: Dec 2001

Hi Razl and Nova,

I have great news!! You DON'T have to wait and see!!

there is a ton you can start doing right there right now for your father. First off cancer feeds on sugar so getting your father off processed foods, sugar, red meat, dairy etc can do wonders. Then I would highly recommend that you look into juicing fresh organic veggies. (www.discountjuicers.com) (I have a Champion) and finding out everything you can about cancer healing nutrition.

I was dx'ed with Stage 3 colon cancer almost 5 years ago. I watched my 33 year old sister die a horrible death from intestinal cancer so when I was dx'ed there was no way I was going to do any chemo. Besides, they had removed the tumor and told me that wouldn't know if the chemo was working or not. I had no CEA (which has been a blessing cuz I don't have to worry about the levels). I opted not to do any chemo, but that doesn't mean I didn't do anything!

I have done a ton to work at healing this cancer and so far so good.

I recommend the book Beating Cancer With Nutrition by Patrick Quillin. It's a wonderful resource for supplements and cancer nutrition.

There is no reason you have to "wait". Just start researching on your own alternative cures. They're out there. And they have nothing to do with cytotoxic chemicals.

Because I did not do any chemo:

I will never fear secondary cancers from the chemo

I will never fear kidney damage from the chemo

I will never fear heart damage from the chemo

I will never fear a liver disease from blood transfusions that are given sometimes during chemo

I have never/nor will ever suffer from peripheral neuropathy from the chemo

I did not lose any hair

I never had mouth sores

I never got an Erbitux rash

I was never hospitalized from dehydration from the chemo

I was never hospitalized with diarrhea from the chemo

I have never regretted this decision and every time I come on here I am convinced that I made the right choice.

Hope all goes well for your father.

Oh, and just to clarify a point.....if the colon cancer spread into the lymph it is still colon cancer and not lymphatic cancer...unless he has that too separately.

peace, emily

spongebob's picture
Posts: 2599
Joined: Apr 2003

Ahoy, Raz & Nova -

There is a lot of great advice here regarding both standard chemo regimes and naturopathic regimes. All of it is right on the mark in my opinion. I just wanted to add the mantra that old timers here have heard dozens of times before from me:

Your dad's doctors are his employees. They are being paid to advise him. If he doesn't like their advice, seek another advisor. You guys don't work for them.

Otherwise, nova - the cancer in the lymph nodes is colon cancer still. The problem with it being detected in the lymph nodes is that the cancer can use the lymphatic system as a sort of subway system to move around the body and find other places to set up shop. It's not actually lymphatic cancer.

Your dad is very lucky to have you both looking out for his well-being so well. My hat's off to you.


- SpongeBob

scouty's picture
Posts: 1976
Joined: Apr 2004

Hi there,

Inhale, exhale.

It sounds like you and your family are very overwhelmed right now and I can certainly relate to that!!!!!

I am a stage IV survivor that did not follow any of the standard "stuff", but yet I am still here.

I think you have some questions to ask your Dads' oncologist. He/she needs to share with you their expectations and schedule. Once you hear that then you can go for a second opinion.

It sounds like the big question is whether he needs chemo or not, that is the next step if it is needed.

I think you have an amazing Dad and that their delay is because of that. If they cut out all of the cancer like it sounds like they did, then why do chemo. I personally do not think all cancers are spread thru the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is one of several "waste elimination" systems we have and finding cancer there does not surprise me or alarm me.

I would ask your Dad's onc the same questions you asked here.

And by the way, this has absolutely nothing to do with "quality of life issues" yet. It just may be that he doesn't need chemo. Bottom line he has lots of years ahead of him by what I read.

In the meantime, get the book "Beating Cancer With Nutrition" by Patrick Quillan to learn how to fight cancer without drugs and their nasty side effects.

Lisa P.

Moesimo's picture
Posts: 1080
Joined: Aug 2003

I was a healthy 46 yo when I had chemo, radiation, surgery and more chemo. It was awful and I was sooooo sick. I cannot imagine having this if I was in my eighties. That is just my opinion.


I would definitely get a second opinion at a major cancer center.


jsabol's picture
Posts: 1156
Joined: Dec 2003

Hi RazlDazl and sis,
Just to confuse the picture, I thought I would weigh in with my dad's experience. He was diagnosed with advanced stage III at age 80; he had a nearly occluding tumor (the scope couldn't get through during his emergency work-up, as well as an encircling tumor). He lost much of his colon during his initial surgery and had 12 positive nodes! So, as you can see, his clinical picture was more severe than your dad's. That said, he and his docs decided to go with chemo, influenced in part by my dad's experience of his own mother's death from "stomach" cancer. He wanted to try to lick this thing. He had what was then (7 years ago) first line treatment (5FU and leuco), weekly infusions for 1 year. He tolerated them EXTREMELY well, far better than I did when I had the same treatment 3 years ago! And had very little problem with his new short colon. He walked to the senior center, over a mile each way, 3 times a week, where he volunteered with the meals on wheels crew and was in charge of bingo. He continued his vegetable garden in his free time!
He did have a major recurrance 2 years out of treatment; whether the initial chemo helped to keep the beast at bay, we will never know. His mets was extensive and beyond treatment at that point.
My colon cancer was one - 1 cm polyp with 1 positive node, diagnosed on my baseline colonoscopy. Given the aggressiveness with which my dad's cancer spread, I clearly planned to have chemo. I did have 6 months of chemo, and am now 2 years out of treatment and keeping my fingers crossed. At 53, I found the fatigue to be tough as time went on, and I did not have any of the newer drugs. BTW,hope you and sis are planning your own colonoscopies at least at age 50!
Best of luck to you and dad with this decision: he's lucky to have such caring kids. Judy

Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2006

I guess the question for us right now is :What is really going on? Is this really colon cancer that spread to his lymph nodes, or lymphatic cancer that spread to his colon, or a cancer from some other area that spread to both? The colon cancer was so small that they had to dye stain the cells to locate them. I guess we'll have to wait til we get more info from the oncologist once Dad's recovered from this surgery.
Thanks to everyone for their input!

vinny3's picture
Posts: 933
Joined: Jun 2006

You can bet on it being colon cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes. In the final analysis there is probably no single right answer. Chemo is tough and can cause some significant deterioration in some of the recipients. The odds of that happening are greater as one gets older. However, as you can see from this website, there are some older ( when I was younger I called them elderly) people who do quite well. There are also some treatment regimens which may keep the beast at bay without causing so much of the quality of life problems. All you can do is learn as much as possible, pray for guidance, and in the end let your father make the decision.

Good luck. Dick

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