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grave prognosis

Posts: 41
Joined: Oct 2006

hello everyone

when filling out application forms for insurance, my mom's oncologist wrote down: "unfortunately, the prognosis is grave".

I know I shouldn't let this get to me. But the truth is, it's been bothering me! One moment, the doctor says her xrays are clearer. next moment she has a grave prognosis. what on earth that does mean anyway?

please... i would appreciate any words of advice... I have to be strong for my mom, but that "grave prognosis" is making that really difficult. Someone please explain to me what that really means, and how I could deal with it... I'm having a tough time right now...

My finals are next week and I haven't even gotten close to thinking about studying... this is such a hard ordeal!

God help us!

ernrol's picture
Posts: 91
Joined: Apr 2006

A grave prognosis, this is his opinion based on his past experience and some outdated statistics. Remember that there is no cancer that someone has not beaten. You can not put your faith in an opinion. I had one doctor that tell me I had 16 to 18 months tops. Well December is month number 17 and I am still cancer free. There are no statistics on a group of people the same as Ruth. Medication is different than what was used in the past, so why can’t the outcome also be different. The only one that knows about Ruth or me is the good Lord. How is your mom doing now and what treatment is she getting. Is she still taking Tarceva. Keep us posted.

Stay positive,


Posts: 10
Joined: Dec 2006

One of the reasons I chose my oncologist is he told me right off "I don't give prognosis' because it would only be a guess on my part." Now, he will tell people his best "guess" if they really want him to. I never did.
The first onc. that visited immediately talked about "buying time". I was devastated, in tears. Thank God for the nurses there that told me I didn't have to stay with her, that I could find someone else. They even took care of "firing" her for me.
Ernie is correct, the only one that knows is God. Stay positive, keep your mom positive and think about studying. ;-)
No one ever beat cancer with a negative attitude!


Posts: 41
Joined: Oct 2006

thank you both for you kind words... It is so comforting to know that God will never leave our side in this battle. And you're right, doctor's can not know nor give reliable prognoses because God is the only one that can do that.

Ernie.. my mom is doing fine. She still has a cough but it has improved quite a bit. She has back pains as well and her oncologist said that those pains could be because of her cough. I hope it is... I would devastated to hear about more metastasis. Overall though, she looks fine. No one would even guess that she has cancer if you see her. She's still on tarceva, she's on her 35th day now. The side effects are so minor, and as of her last xray they said it seemed clear. Hopefully it stays that way and it clears up even more.

Thank you for your prayers! and remember that you are all constantly in my prayers as well. God be with you.

Posts: 6
Joined: Nov 2006

Hi.. you have the right user name.. "itrustgod".. My mom was diagnosed with lung cancer in early November. Here is the sequence of events:
My mom went to her primary care doctor because she had some numbness in her right arm on 10/31. They sent her to a facility for mri tests, ekgs, x-rays, etc.. then told her she needed to be admitted to the emergency room because she had a mild stroke. She stayed in the hospital while they poked and prodded and the neurologist said she did NOT have a mild stroke.

Meanwhile a nurse came in to take some information and due to her poor understanding of english she wrote down that my mother had a positive TB test.. So based on that information they isolated my mother and said she had tuberculosis.

After extensive testing they discovered that it was not TB and it was stage iv lung cancer. Long story short.. they said she had a small tumor on her brain and one in her upper lung.

The general doctor on the floor of her hospital wing came in and told us she had lung cancer.. I went out to speak to him privately and asked him what the deal was and he said it was stage IV lung cancer..I asked what that meant and he said "Remember Peter Jennings?" All I could remember was that one day he announced he had cancer and a few weeks later he was gone...

The doctor then said, "yeah your mother has about 6-12 months to live." Just like that..no buffer, no offer of hope, no suggested treatments..

After I broke down and sobbed, I came to my senses and realized he wasn't even the cancer specialist/oncologist so who is he to make those statements?? I called the lung specialist who performed the biopsy with the interventional radiologist earlier that day and asked him what the deal was and he said he had no idea because the pathology results had not even come back yet. He was furious that the doctor would give us that info with out test results. (Of course I researched him and found out he was a very new doctor.. obviously never learned the human side of medicine).

From there I did a whole lot of research and prayer and realized that I too TRUST GOD.. who gave me the strength and wisdom to call on some specialists here in NY for proper treatment and options. This doctor made me feel so much better about everything and my mom just had surgery last week to remove the brain tumor and feels fine. (prior to the diagnosis she had none of the symptoms associated with lung cancer). Everything I am reading is that if you tell a person there is no hope then their spirit and their body gives up the fight. Cancer is no doubt an unpredictable disease but it doesn't always win!

It is very important to a) get a second opinion and b) choose a doctor that makes you comfortable. i know that every case is different but I can't help but mention all the people that beat cancer and live longer than any doctor could predict. Yes my mother does have what is called stage iv lung cancer but we won't claim it! The specialist we saw says we have a good chance to get the cancer out. No promises but he didn't give us the gloom and doom show..

Keep your trust and faith.. what your doctor didn't want to admit was that he may be working with old statistics and old drugs so he has no clue.

My prayers are with you..

Posts: 41
Joined: Oct 2006

thank you so much for the reply!

that definitely made me feel better. :)

My mom really trusts her oncologist. Her first one was a general oncologist and upon reading the results of my mom's cat scans, he started shaking his head and he kept on saying "that's not good". Thats when he told my parents that my mom has lung cancer and that there is no cure for it. surgery is no longer possible either. he wanted to put my mom into radiation and chemo right away and he told her to stop working ASAP.My mom ended up meeting this lady who is a lung cancer specialist at the BC Cancer Agency. She told my mom almost the same things as the first guy, only without the "that's-not-goods" and head-shaking. She was much more gentle in talking about treatment options. She said since the cancer has spread to her lymph nodes and her bones (rib cage/collar bone), radiation would also be hard to do because it is such a big area to do radiation on. she then offered my mom a clinical trial to test tarceva (a pill) out as a first-line treatment. my mom opted for that one because she liked and trusted this lady oncologist better. The new oncologist said that if the pills aren't working after two cycles, then we'll look at other treatment options. but since this pill is here, why not give it a try because it is said to be most effective on non-smoking asian women (which is what my mom exactly is). After the first cycle of her treatment with tarceva, my mom had an xray and the oncologist said that it seemed clear so far. so that was such a relief! although xrays aren't as conclusive, it's still a relief to hear. my mom's scheduled for a CT scan on the 19th of this month so I'm praying really hard for that one.

I guess the "grave prognosis" came out because of the insurance forms... I guess with insurance if you're not frank with them, they're not really going to take your claim as seriously.

How is your mom doing now? please keep me updated. and again, THANK YOU for the reply. Its nice hearing from other daughters who feel the same pain as I. It's tough, eh?

"itrustgod" is the most appropriate screen name. in times like these, it doesnt matter if you've got the most magnificent oncologist in the whole universe.... trusting in God is what's going to get you through. With complete trust, everything else follows.

My prayers are also with you and your family. God bless.

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