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My Mom - Stage IV Colon Cancer

Carla1121's picture
Carla1121
Posts: 12
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi everyone,

My mom was diagnosed on 6/11/2009 with Stage IV colon cancer. She is 76 years old and up until two hears ago was never sick a day in her life. She is in great shape, though she does have adult-onset diabetes and thyroid issues but these are under control.

Some background information: Mom's family has a history of colon cancer (and other cancers)...two brothers with it (one died at age 61 after 11-12 years), father had stomach cancer and died at age 80, mother died at 46 from breast cancer that metastisized to the lungs. Her other brother has had throat cancer. Mom has had several colonoscopies since turning 50 - once every 3-4 years. Her last colonoscopy was perfectly clean 3 years ago, however she’s been on heavy steroids since she was diagnosed with polymyositis (incurable muscle disease that can be managed with steroids) two years ago and that has suppressed her immune system. A recent colonoscopy in May revealed a small lesion that tested positive for adenocardinoma. On June 11 she had the surgery to get rid of what we (and the doctors) thought was a small, contained mass. Unfortunately when the surgeon came out, the news was not so good. Her tumor was pretty large, and although it was completely removed, it had spread. She has about 6 spots on her liver, spots on her duodenum, and some artery leading to her small intestine has cancer wrapped around it. She is going to need chemotherapy. She was just released from the hospital yesterday after 18 days. (They had anticipated a week in the hospital but she ended up with some bacteria called c-diff, atrial fibrillation, and 35 extra lbs of fluid on her small 135 lb frame).

Mom is due to meet with her oncologist next week to decide a game plan, and the oncologist brought her comfort when she said that great strides have been made in chemo and that it shouldn't be "as bad as you think." Naturally my entire family and I are scared and just want her to feel better. We have great faith in God and know that He will walk with her/us through this ordeal.

Being new here, I was hoping you could provide me with some guidance/info that might be helpful. I greatly appreciate your support and am very moved by all these posts. It's nice to see folks have a place to turn to when they need a friend.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post.

Blessings,

Carla

punch_vj's picture
punch_vj
Posts: 88
Joined: May 2009

Welcome to a wonderful and caring "family" :)

I'm new her too , but within this past month everyone has been very support, caring and informative. The other folks will be along soon with great info, resources, etc. I just wanted to say hello and you found a warm place to call home here :)

Carla1121's picture
Carla1121
Posts: 12
Joined: Jun 2009

Punch_vj: Thank you for the sweet comment. I can see how this site can bring comfort to those diagnosed with cancer, and for the family/friends who are battling right there with them. I look forward to learning and sharing along with you, and feel so encouraged by the outpouring of compassion here. Thanks once again. :)

Carla

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6531
Joined: Feb 2009

So glad that you found this site, but I'm sorry for the reason why. Sorry to hear that your mother has colorectal cancer. Your oncologist seems very wise in telling you about the strides that they have made for this type of cancer. He is correct. Please do not look at the internet statistics as they are outdated and irrelevant to how far they have come. Ask all the questions you have and someone will try to help you. Keep the faith and keep asking your doctor's questions. Sounds like your mom is in good hands with you helping her through all this.

Kim

kmygil
Posts: 881
Joined: Feb 2007

Hi Carla,

Welcome to the board, although I hate that you had to find us at all. I'm sorry your Mom is dealing with this disease, but it sounds like you are staying on top of it. Just a thought--given the family history, you and your clan may want to get tested for FAP and/or HNPCC. They are genetic mutations which cause colon and other adenocarcinomas. If anyone tests positive for this, colonoscopies are due early (as early as 25 years old) and frequently. That being said, a good idea for the meeting with the oncologist is to write down all questions and answers. Bring someone else because extra brains are better for processing information. Ask the oncologist if it is ok to bring a recorder and record the conversation, because a lot of the time our brains get stuck on one thing in the discussion and we miss other things.

Next, don't go researching survival statistics. Most statistics on the net are 4-5 years old by the time they are published and new treatment options come up all the time. Also, everyone is different and respond differently to various treatments.

Please keep us updated with what is going on.

Keeping you all in my prayers,
Kirsten

Carla1121's picture
Carla1121
Posts: 12
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi Kirsten,

Thank you for the information. My mom's regular gastroenterologist thought she might have some colon-cancer heredity thing going on due to both brothers having it. One died after 11 years, but the other was diagnosed in the fall and didn't even need chemo. They took out 18 inches, but there was no evidence of it spreading at that time. (He does now have newly-diagnosed prostate cancer that they will treat with hormones). I'm not sure what the FAP and/or HNPCC are but I will mention these to my mom. She has not yet met with her oncologist. She is supposed to meet with her next week, and I will be accompanying my dad and her to the appointment. I agree with you that it is smart to have an extra person there. I might print out and keep in a folder all of this information that you and the others have been so kind to share with me.

Thanks again for your prayers/support.

Hugs,

Carla

samnangung
Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2009

Hi Carla and everyone,

I was on here reading and came by your comment. I just want to say that I am also scared of what's going to happen to my Dad. He's only 60 and was just recently hospitalized on 6/2/09 for abdominal pain and they found a mass completely obstructing his colon. It was diagnosed as colon cancer that spread to his liver. He had surgery to remove the mass in his colon and was supposed to recover in a week but he ended up staying for a total of 16 days. He's had an appt to see the oncologist but is refusing treatment. My family and I don't want to pressure him to do the chemo and radiation but we do love him and want him around longer. But it's also his body and his decision. In a way, it's hard to sit there and watch my dad refuse help. I hope that your mother does well with the chemo. Just wish my Dad would change his mind.

Thank you,
Sam

Carla1121's picture
Carla1121
Posts: 12
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi Sam & everyone,

First off, let me again thank all of you for sharing your thoughts/hope/prayers/information with me. While it's certainly not a picnic thinking of the reasons we all are here, the common thread we share brings me great comfort. I hope it does for you, too.

Sam, my mom had a similar hospital experience. Mom was diagnosed the third week in May with adenocarcinoma but the doctor who diagnosed her, who has been doing regular colonoscopies on her since age 50, thought the cancer was in its earliest stages as it "appeared contained." He couldn't have been more wrong. On June 11, the surgeon came out with the news that the cancer was no where even CLOSE to "being contained." Two or three days into her recovery, she was doing remarkably well, and then all hell broke loose. She started vomiting bile and could not stop. She of course had not eaten as they only had her on ice chips for the first several days. They ended up putting a naso-gastric tube in her and took her down for more testing thinking there was a blockage in her small intestines. Long story short, there was not one, and the doctors called her condition "ileus," a term indicating that the small intestine was "still asleep" from the surgery. This went on for several days and then the atrial fibrillation came along. She was moved to the cardiac care unit, still with the NG tube, IV fluids, and 35 lbs of extra fluid on her small frame which was taxing her breathing and causing great discomfort. She got some horrible bacteria causing severe diarhhea and just came home Monday after 18 days in the hospital. She is trying to get strong so she can undergo chemo soon, but I should tell you that her doctor only told her about the mets to her liver. He didn't tell her about the duodenum mets or the artery and we never said anything to her because she'd be doing chemo whether it was in one place or two. I am glad because I was afraid the "full news" might defeat her.

I understand your being upset at his refusing treatment because I feared this very thing. Our family decided that no matter what Mom chose to do, we would support her, as hard as it would be if she chose not to do anything. I know, easier said that done. Perhaps your dad just needs a little time to come to terms with his diagnosis. Maybe once he sees your family being so supportive and loving, he will want to give it a try. They say that attitude is half the battle. I think it's more than half!

Stay strong,

Carla

Sandi1's picture
Sandi1
Posts: 278
Joined: Aug 2008

Sam & Carla,

I just wanted to tell you about my husband. He has stage 4 colon cancer also, it has spread to his liver and lungs. He was dx'd on 8/15/08, he underwent surgery on 9/15/08 and then started chemo on 10/15/09. He has six months of aggressive chemo - which he did not get nausated, he did not lose his hair, he was just tired. Now in April of this year he went for a pet scan and it showed that all the tumors were gone and that he is now NED (no evidence of disease), he will be on maintenance chemo for the rest of his life. He has gained back the weight he lost and then some and is doing very well. The reason I tell you this, is that in the very beginning I too could only think of the bad things about Cancer. Yeah, It sucks, but yeah, they can help your dad get through it. But of course it is his choice - maybe he just needs to read some of the success story's on here to be encouraged. Maybe you should print some out for him and tell him there is a light at the end of the tunnel, he maybe just have to fight a bit to get there. Life if glorious after Cancer!

If you have any questions or just need to vent, please do not hesitate to send me a private message or come on here - someone will help you.

Sandi

Carla1121's picture
Carla1121
Posts: 12
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi Sandi,

Thank you so much for these wonderful words of encouragement. I hope that Sam will print this out and show his father. My mom is ready to fight.....and to be honest when I first heard the diagnosis I thought she wouldn't want to and that she would just want to "go be with Billy" (my brother/her son who died suddenly 8 years ago due to an undiagnosed heart condition called cardiomyopathy).

Sandi, once again - thank you.

Hugs,
Carla

tootsie1's picture
tootsie1
Posts: 5056
Joined: Feb 2008

Carla,

I'll be praying for you and your family, especially your mom.

*hugs*
Gail

Carla1121's picture
Carla1121
Posts: 12
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi Gail,

Thank you so much - I greatly appreciate your prayers/support.

Hugs back atchya,

Carla

christellabelle's picture
christellabelle
Posts: 25
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi welcome and sorry we have to meet this way.
I'm kinda new too, but let me tell you, you are in the right place.
this site is been very helpfull for me, so stick with us because you will find great support and comfort here to help you along the way.
You are in my prayers

christelle

Carla1121's picture
Carla1121
Posts: 12
Joined: Jun 2009

Christelle,

Thanks to you for your note. It is tough to meet this way, but I'm comforted by the outpouring of love and support already.

I will be praying for you and for everyone else who is battling this dreadful disease.

Hugs,

Carla

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