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in urgent need of help

Posts: 5
Joined: Jan 2007

my dad was diagnosed with stage 3B non small cell lung cancer in October. he has undergone 4 chemos and had a CT scan last week that showed no tumor growth or spread - he has it set in his head that he is getting worse and that has lead him to having panic attacks where his breathing gets very bad. I do not know how to keep him motivated and he now has a cold and is scheduled for chemo number 5 on Tues. we have tried a number of resources to get him connected with a cancer survivor or counselor and so far we haven't been able to get him connected with anyone to help him thru this. he is falling apart and so is the rest of my family - any ideas?

reinstones1's picture
Posts: 92
Joined: Feb 2006

You should talk to his doctor (primary care AND oncologist) about the panic attacks. He can be treated for that with anti-depressants/anti-anxiety meds.

If it helps you at all, my Mom was diagnosed with Stage 3B non-small cell lung cancer last 12/7/05, and she's still here fighting 13 months later.

No tumor growth is a good thing-- it means that chemo is keeping him stable. Chemo has not put my Mom into remission, but it has kept her stable for over a year. You learn to be very happy/grateful for stuff like this!

I know what a scary time you're having right now. I was there last year. Does your Dad have access to a computer, and can he come and post on this board?

My best to you.

Plymouthean's picture
Posts: 264
Joined: Jan 2004

I'm a five year (+) survivor of NSCLC. Initially inoperable/incurable, I'm still here, lung cancer free. I experienced panic attacks because of difficulty breathing after surgery, but that problem went away with a prescription for Atavan (generic is lorazepam). Ask your dad's doctor for a prescription asap.

Posts: 10
Joined: Dec 2006

They have a cancer support line.

Posts: 1048
Joined: Aug 2006

I'm stage one and have not had need of chemo yet, but after surgery I had some trouble breathing so I can identify with the panic attacks. Crying or sometimes just getting upset was enough to cause wheezing and shortness of breath and that in turn led to more upset and more breathing problems. You get the picture. The surgical nurse said to make myself calm down, sit upright and practice taking slow deep breaths. She went over ways to reduce my exposure to germs and what to do if I did get an infection. She suggested yoga, ti chi(sp?), deep breathing exercises, calming music, stress reduction tapes, prayer or whatever was needed to get me to calm down so I could breathe. The doctor reminded me to use the equipment I got from the hospital to practice blowing hard and strengthen my lungs. Your dad could also visit the chat room on this web site to talk to other long term survivors or visit your local ACS center to meet someone personally. Good luck!

Posts: 35
Joined: Apr 2002

Hi, I, too, am another non small cell survivor. Stage 3-4. Had lobectomy, chemo, radiation. All my scans have been clean. It is now 8 yrs and I am fine. If your dad doesn't have the patience to read now, you can read him the e-mails right here from survivors. It will help him develop a positive attitude, which is very important! Good luck to him and your family. Karen

Posts: 5
Joined: Jan 2007

thanks for you ideas and encouragement - I wish my dad could get on this website - but he's not computer savy.
he has a cold now - does that mean he'll have to skip this chemo?
he has a supply of Xanax - but I'd rather have him learn to calm himself down then the depend on a med.
how do I go about getting survival stories for people with the same stage as my dad's?

Posts: 156
Joined: Aug 2006

Hi pahahn,

These are scary times indeed. The best medicine for that is to reach out to survivors and current patients battling cancer. For me, just reading the testimonies of survival, particularly that from enrol, plymouthean and most of all, karenlee3sons, provide that spark of hope to fuel that optimism.

Be patient and don't expect any overnight cure. Take each day as it comes and note the little improvements - whether it be his appetite or energy. Those can be boosters to the morale.

Chatting on this site is a good suggestion. Even if your dad isn't computer savvy, can't someone help him? Spend some time to navigate the site and type his messages? Those are the "little" things his loved ones can do to be supportive and active in his road to recovery - mentally and physically.

Undergoing chemo compromises the immune system greatly. It may not bear out with a few sessions, but believe me, after 15 sessions, the blood count will be affected. You just have to be very careful and aware of hygiene. Limit the exposure your dad has with the public or even in the home. Anybody has the potential to carry germs that could make him sick. Measures he and your mother can do is to make sure the hands are always washed, as for anyone who visits. Disinfect surfaces that are touched and handled, such as doorknobs, counters, light switches, remote controls, etc. I wipe down kitchen surfaces with a diluted bleach solution at least every day. And a little less frequently with bathroom surfaces.

To calm him down, I think a good option is to keep his mind occupied with other distractions than focusing on his condition. Have friends and family call him, but keep the conversations to topics of what they would talk about before cancer. I don't believe in avoiding talking about cancer, but I don't think it's always good to restrict discussions about cancer with patients. They need diversions and escapism, too.

Other diversions? DVDs, music CDs, playing cards, board games, whatever he liked to do before cancer, up the ante.

To treat your dad's cold, make home-made chicken soup with lots of onions and garlic. Those two ingredients have lots of anti-viral properties. Plus, the soup will help with any congestion.

Don't bother with the over-the-counter remedy. They mask the symptoms more than anything else.

Good luck to your dad and your family.

Posts: 55
Joined: Jul 2005

Hi,my thoughts and prayers are with you and your father.In August of 05 I had right lyng and 17 lympn nodes removed.Since then all my xrays have looked good but I also went thru a period of anxiety and depression where my world was falling apart. I all did was cry all the time.I got on lexapro and it helped me tremendously. There are still times i get scared and depressed but nothing like I did.Places like this helped also.

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