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How do I combat the "what if's"

Posts: 71
Joined: Mar 2006

Hello Online Family,
Mary from WI here; and I'm sorry it's been awhile for me since I've posted. Honestly, thankfully I haven't really had any concerns regarding my mom until today (and when you read below you will hopefully understand why).

But I hope each and every one of you are safe, happy, and well today and always! ;)

It's been 1 year since my mom's diagnosis and to recap her background here:

- Stage IV with mets to liver & lungs
- Had tumor in colon removed with surgery
- Had temp. colostomy thru 1st round of chemo
- 1st time around completed 12 treatments; CT scan
after 6th treatment showed 25% shrinkage in
liver and lung mets w/no new growth; 2nd CT
scan showed not shrinkage w/ no new growth
- She took a break for 2 months and CT scan showed
liver and lung mets were growing w/no new growth
- Now, she's on her 2nd round of treatment (just
had her 5th treatment); had a CT scan and we
are getting those results TODAY!

So, long story short (unfortunately, all of my stories turn into novels...sorry!), I can't help but start to think - WHAT IF:

WHAT IF this 2nd round of treatment isn't working?
WHAT IF the liver/lung tumors are growing?
WHAT IF there is new growth?
WHAT IF it has spread to another area?

And, I KNOW, I KNOW, I KNOW, I need to keep a positive attitude for me and for my mom; but I have to say that I'm just not ready to let her go!

Also, I start to think... after this is there still more options for treatment? It seems like she's been given every drug that colon cancer treatment has to offer already so...

See what a mess I am right now? I'm SO sorry for "unloading" all of this on all of you; but I thought maybe "someone" could offer some encouraging words I would be SO appreciative.

As always, my sincerest thoughts and deepest prayers are with you all always and forever!

Thanks again for listening!
Mary from WI

shmurciakova's picture
Posts: 910
Joined: Dec 2002

I know it is hard to be positive all the time, but you could try turning:
What if this 2nd round of treatments isn't working...to
What if the 2nd round IS WORKING
What if the liver/lung tumors are growing to
What if the liver/lung tumors are NOT GROWING...
etc...see what I mean?
I know it's easier said than done, but really the most important thing is that your mother has the will and determination and believes that the tumors are shrinking etc. If she has hope, that is the important thing.
Best wishes,

vinny3's picture
Posts: 933
Joined: Jun 2006

Hi Mary,

Just remember that as long as we breath we have hope. There is always something to be done or tried. As long as we can keep the beast at bay we can hope that something else will come along to help us. If they say there is nothing else to be done than there are other places to go and to get opinions from. It is difficult to keep positive when the results seem bad but we are thinking that your mom is going to get good news about her scan.



chynabear's picture
Posts: 483
Joined: Jul 2005

Hi Mary,

I am good at writing novels too :)

Great suggestions from both Susan and Dick. To go with Susan's: I learned to Scuba Dive many years ago. The day we did our certification was the first day any of our class had left the safety of our pool. On top of that, we were certified in a lake with very little visibility. Our Dive Master said to us, at any time that you start to get scared first ask yourself, "Can I breath?" When you realize that "yes, I am still able to pull air into my lungs" also realize that you are still ok. Just breath.

Voicing my fears to someone is always a great way for me to put things into perspective.

I have also learned to put it in God's hands. I have found that when nothing else works, I start repeating a prayer to God letting him know that I have found my breaking point and asking him to carry part of my burden through until I have the strength to carry it all myself again. For me, repeating it over and over to carry me through helps and pretty soon I feel calm again. I also think that using imagery in the prayer helps because I feel that the burden has been lightened and I am no longer scared.

Have hope.


scouty's picture
Posts: 1976
Joined: Apr 2004

While I agree about thinking positive, I also have gotten so I have to prepare myself for the other news too.

I was not prepared at all the first time my oncologist told me my cancer had spread to my liver and lungs and the horrid prognosis that went with that. I totally lost it like I have never before and it took me hours to calm down and weeks to comprehend it all. I told myself then that I would be better prepared going forward, I would never be that surprised and devastated again.

I actually think of all the types of scenarios I could hear from my oncologist before each appt; things are the same, the not so good news, and the bad news. I then mentally make a note of what I will do if I hear each one. I don't really plan any specifics just a general idea of what I would do. I never planned on hearing good news the first times I did this and when I got good news all I could do was hug my oncologist and cry (happy tears of course). Now I have questions and thoughts about the good news too.

I'm sure you will get some other ideas too.

Lisa P.

jams67's picture
Posts: 927
Joined: May 2006

I handle my "what if's" very much like you do. I have over months of thought come to the realization that I will fight the beast with all the knowledge and energy available to me. However, and this seems so simple, everybody dies. We will all die of something. "Thy will be done." That takes a big burden off of me, knowing that the decision is really not mine. People who are much younger than I am die, and I need to realize that. With that being said, I still will work as hard as I can and pray for a chance to keep living. "What if" my ct scan shows ... is not an easy place to be, but do your best and then leave it up to God. Jo Ann

katefm's picture
Posts: 112
Joined: Oct 2006

Hi Mary-

The "what ifs" stink! They STINK! I'm right there with you - when my mind goes idle the "what ifs" start to creep in. It's a terrible feeling.

What's helping us with the "what ifs" is constantly reviewing our action plan or researching new action plans - and visiting this board. We're constantly talking about new aspects of our diet, exercise, the new treatment options that are available, and things we'd like to speak about with our oncologist. We also have Jim signed up for a tai-chi class which seems to help with his "what ifs", and we also spend more of our time thinking about and preparing for our big celebration when Jim kicks the cancer - he's getting a tattoo and we're taking a trip to Hawaii! Those are the thoughts that keep us going.

We're in Wisconsin, too - I sincerely believe that freezing cold weather does NOT help with the "what ifs"! ;)

I know it isn't much but I hope it helps - you're in my prayers.


Posts: 71
Joined: Jun 2006

Here's my answer to your what if, my husband is the same as you are going through. We have had growth 2 or 3 times, first time was when he wasn't on chemo for several months after the reversal of the colostomy, the liver mets grew a little, he got back on chemo and we had a little bit of shrinkage, life went on, stable, stable, stable, doctor said let's just do avastin and see what happens, then we had a little bit of grown, then we added xeloda, it stopped growing, went stable again. We have always done cat scans every 6 weeks, the doc got comfortable and said let's move to cat scans every 3 months. First cat scan we had a little growth and a lymph node by the aorta near the lung, made me cry, freak out, but doctor said, we just need to make a new plan. The doc said I am sure we can at least stop the growth, if not get a little shrinkage. So, long story short, our appt with doc after the new cat scan was yesterday, I had faith that things were going to be better because hubby had been put back on oxciplattin and had his xeloda increased by 25%, was also on avastin, AND, no new growth, and maybe a tiny bit of shrinkage. YEAH, that means that he is still responding to this chemo. Remember, there are many drugs in our arsenal after these 1st line drugs. Be brave!!!

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