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Mom Diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma....and it really broke me down.

Posts: 3
Joined: May 2009

Hi Everyone,

My Mom was just diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma in her Lungs earlier this month. She has had a cough for a couple months. Her PCP sent her for an Xray and told her , that nothing showed. He suggested that she take cough medicine and wait for this to past. My Mom eventually changed her primary and the new PCP sent her to a Pulmonary Doctor. He noticed something on her Lung and did a biopsy and found cancerous cells. Couple days later, PET scan showed that it has spread to her Chest area and Lymph Nodes. For the first week, I kept this to myself and didn't tell my Mom or sisters (three older sisters) that it had spread. I am somewhat the point person here, since I am currently changing careers and enrolled a Nursing RN program. I had gone back and forth on how I should present this to my Mom and rest of the family.....and the days I held this to myself were the worst days of my life. I was not sure how my Mom would take the news or even if I should tell her or just hold it from her and let her go to her treatments without knowing the extent of her cancer. Not saying this was right...but these were the thoughts I had with trying to protect her. I thought I was a lot stronger than I was, but this has really broke me down....but I am better now and ready to help my Mom.

CT scan was just done three days ago and I am going to pick up the report and CD tomorrow. First Oncologist we spoke with said he wanted to treat her with Chemo. He specialized in Hematology and Oncology. He said he would do 4 treatments, and may extend this to 6 of Gemcitabine (Day 1 and 8) and Carbopatin(Day 1)….rest 1wk…then start again.

I was not comfortable with his Theurapeutic communication. Please understand I am realistic about what is going on here, but I was just hoping for a more therapeutic way of presenting this to me and my Mom. He explained that the Cancer cells did not spread to her organs (Metasis), which he said was good. He then stated that "Unfortunately" there is cancer activity in her Chest and I believe it was the Lymph Nodes in the Subclavicular area. The word "Unfortunately" threw me off.

We asked about her eating certain foods and he stated that my mom could eat whatever she wants. This seems to contradict everything that I have read.

The Dr kept asking over and over if my Mom was coughing up blood and we stated over and over again….that she was not. She has a persistent cough, but nothing is coming up. We now have an appt set for Tuesday, June 4th with a Dr Kris at Sloan Kettering in NY.

I am 40yrs old with three older sisters and we would appreciate any suggestions, comments, thoughts and prayers you can offer that will help us along.

And oh……just one question…..is there anything I can do for my Mom’s cough ? The Dr told us to take Robitussion, but this does not help. He added that the Chemo may help here.
Thanks in advance and if any of this is not clear or if you have any questions for me…please let me know.

Thank you !


loving daughter
Posts: 2
Joined: May 2009

Eddie - My mom was diagnosed with Stage IIIb lung cancer on April 17th. We saw Dr. Kris. He's excellent and your mom will receive the best care at Sloan. (PS - I work for a major pharma co. and our head oncologist highly recommended Dr. Kris) My parents live in Dutchess County so my mom is actually going to the Sloan satellite office in Sleepy Hollow, NY because she is getting chemo and radiation and the radiation is everyday and the trip into the city everyday would be too much. The care at Sleepy Hollow is excellent too. My mom has both a radiation oncologist and a medical oncologist there and they are both wonderful as are the nurses.

Your mom's treatment plan will depend on the stage of her cancer. The waiting for the tests and to get the stage is difficult ... but once you know the stage, they will start treatment as soon as possible.

Based on your description of what the first oncologist said and the "unfortunately" your mom probably has stage III - which means it is in the lymph nodes and or chest cavity and likely unoperable ... you should find all of this out on June 4.

The fact that this has "broke you down" is completely normal. I cry on a daily basis and still feel like the entire situation is surreal - like I'm watching a terrible movie starring my family. And, it is awful to not be able to do anything to make it better ... as smart as we are, as hard as we work, as much as we love, etc., there really is nothing we can do to help our moms. We can only show our love and support them in this journey.

My mom didn't have a cough so I don't have any advice. You should try to get your mom to eat as much as possible to maintain a heavy weight - shakes may help soothe her throat. My mom likes Ensure.

If you want to talk, let me know and we can exchange emails / numbers.

You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.


Posts: 3
Joined: May 2009

This means a lot...thank you !

MichelleP's picture
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2009

My husband was also diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer about 5 weeks ago. His is anencarcinoma and also in the lymph nodes. He too has a frequent cough but I am giving him cough syrup with codeine and albuterol via a nebulizer. That is helping him much better than the robitussion. His big issue is the very thick mucas right now plus I think he has a cold which scares me since he has his first big chemo 4 days ago.

His symptoms started with a chronic cough too and the doctor ordered a chest x-ray which did not show any cancer, but did show pneumonia. It wasn't until the 3rd chest drainage that they tested the fluid and found cancer.

He is also coughing up blood sometimes in his mucas but they tell me that is okay and not to worry. ( hmmmmm)

I wish you and your Mom all the best and will keep you in my prayers. Stay strong!

Posts: 3
Joined: May 2009

Thanks Michelle ! !

Going to try the Albuterol tonight...out of curiosity....how many times per day is your husband using this ?

stayingcalm's picture
Posts: 654
Joined: Feb 2007

Hi, Eddie -

I have NSCLC as well, but my primary reason for using albuterol is emphysema. I was told to use it twice a day (morning, evening), and I think that's pretty standard if we're talking about using it in a nebulizer. The nebulizer really gets the medicine down into the lungs and helps to open them up. You should ask your doctor, anyway. I also have an Albuterol inhaler for emergencies.

Another Deb

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