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Mom has cancer 2nd time-Lung- tumors showing up in the pelvic bone and sacrom area, What can I expect towards the end?

Posts: 2
Joined: Oct 2009

My mom is 78 this September. She is a throat cancer survivor. In July she complained she hurt her hip and had trouble walking. Thought it was a pinched nerve. Pet test showed a small mass in her lung and a tumor in her tail bone. Biposy showed lung cancer cells. She was given 10 radiation treatments for the bone mass to help shrink it and help her walk.Then chemo for the lung tumor. She had one chemo treatment and her white blood count went dangerously low so a shot was given to her. She had a reation with a rash and fevor that landed her in the hospital for 9 days. New MRI showed the original tumor in her tail bone did not shrink and a new one in her pelvic area. No more chemo or radiation.She is home now and on Morphine every 4 hours for the pain. Mom is in denial and says she will find another doctor. The drugs are helping her get around. She lives alone. No one is talking to us kids as to what to expect if this is it. We all have opinions and read on the internet about this cancer, but we are very scared and want to know how much time we can have with our mom and what can we expect near the end. Doctors are not commiting to anything right now.We have lost hope, but mom hasn't.

Posts: 16
Joined: May 2009

Hi. I am so sorry that you are going through this right now. I would like to tell you my experience with my dad. However, it's not good. I know that there is a lot of confusion, questions, and wondering what to expect. First of all, I am not sure what stage your mom is in. If you could find out her stage that would help you determine the severity of the cancer. Based on what you have written, it does sound like it has spread. When my dad was diagnosed, I was very naive. They diagnosed him at stage 4. I asked how high it went. They said stage 4 is it. There is no stage 5. The doctor looked at me in the eye and said "we are in very serious trouble". I asked him point blank if my dad was going to die, and he said "we will not go there". But his body language said yes. He wanted to give my dad radiation and chemo. Dad turned down the chemo but took the radiation. He turned down the chemo because he did not want to experience the side effects. If he was going to die, he did not want to be miserable while doing it. He took the radiation to keep the tumors down from pressing on his nerves and causing pain. They told him the treatments were not to cure the cancer but rather to slow it down and buy him time. Radiation wiped him out and he still had a lot of pain. Eventually, we called Hospice. It wasn't until Hospice showed up that my dad had no more pain. He was able to stay home and enjoy his sports on tv. He lived alone too. However, I ended up going to stay with him for almost 3 months because he should not be alone. The pain meds he was on made it to where it would have been dangerous to be living alone. Anyway, once hospice got involved I felt like my questions were finally being answered. I, too, asked what should I expect. They gave me a booklet called "Gone from my sight". This booklet explains the dying process in a very respectful way, and informs the reader of what to look for. The patient goes through a series of phases when diagnosed with a terminal illness, and denial is one of them. Dad went through denial very briefly. But we both decided we would not sugar coat anything and face it together. I know there are a lot of people out there that have survived stage 4 lung cancer. And I don't mean to disrespect anyone. However, my dad was a smoker and so am I. When you have smoked most of your life, and you're diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, less than 5% survive for 5 years. So, in my opinion, it doesn't look good for your precious mom. But I am not a professional. I am just going by my own experience with it. If she is stage 4, you can expect her to go through different phases emotionally. Even anger. She also may push you away. But just ride through it with her. She will finally get to a point when she will accept what is happening. This is the time when you all can talk openly. It is a very loving time. A lot gets said that needs to be said. I strongly urge you to at least contact hospice just to ask questions that you need to have answered, especially if she is in stage 4. They may also give you a copy of "Gone from my sight". Oh, and just to give you an idea, they said with chemo my dad could live for about a year, and without it 6 months. He lived 8 months. On October 10, 2007, we lost dad. I was very close with dad, and I will never be the same again. Good luck to all of you, and I will keep you in my thoughts.

Posts: 2
Joined: Oct 2009

Thank you for replying and being candid with me. Other siblings fear we will only have mom for 3 months. The denial is full blown and she has already tried to aliennate us by arguing about everything. I will do as you suggest and call Hospice for advice if not for Mom but for me. I need to know how to handle myself and Mom as the time nears for her to go. She is making this time very difficult and stressful for us all and all we want to do is be there for her and loving her as each day we can.
Out of the 5 children I am the most closest with Mom. The others are afraid I won't hold it together as they are relying on me to take care of her medically.I'm not sure I am up to the task but we do what we must.
Thank you again.

Posts: 16
Joined: May 2009

I don't think anyone can be up for a task like this. I know I wasn't. But, like you said, we do what we must. When my dad was first diagnosed, and I began staying with him, he would snap at me alot. Dad and I were also very close. I knew not to take it personal, yet I felt that all I was trying to do was to help him. I think they get angry at the situation. They don't mean to take it out on us. Eventually, one day my dad said to me "I wish you would be in a better mood". I replied "Why? My dad has stage 4 cancer. There's not much to be happy about dad." Well, we ended up talking and I let him know that he was snapping at me a lot, and that all I was trying to do was to be there for him. I told him that he was not going through this by himself. He may be the one that has the cancer, but we are facing it together. You know, after that, we didn't have anymore issues. But I think anger is one of the phases they go through shortly after being dianosed. It kind of helps them stay in the denial. If they actually put their anger away, that would mean they would have to accept the cancer. And that is very scarry to do. Your mom will eventually come around. But, I would like to suggest to you to talk to her about her anger. Just because she has cancer doesn't mean that you are automatically her personal verbal punching bag. Reassure her that you will walk through this with her and you will respect her boundaries, but you will not tolerate her being mean and that she needs to respect your boundaries too. Hospice will defineately offer you a lot. It was completely on my shoulders when my dad was sick. My sister was estranged from him. Once Hospice got involved, there were more people helping him and myself. They are not just there for the patient they are also available to the patients family. They were way better than the doctors. And if your mom's prognosis is poor, then you are really going to need them for her and for your own sanity, as this gets extremely rough. You will be in my thoughts, and if you want to share how it's going I will keep my eyes open on the discussion boards for your comments. Even if you just need to vent, I will try to be there for you. You are going to have to have a soft place to fall. You will also experience every emotion and thought under the sun, and will need to vent. This website is a great place for that. Take of yourself.

Posts: 15
Joined: Oct 2008

I had sarcoma in my left leg and in my spine. I was then diagnosed (1 year later) with non-small cell lung cancer. Both of my cancers are stage 4. I know the statistics and choose to fight to one of the survivors of atleast 10 years! I want to see my kids graduate and get married and most of all see my grandchildren. I am 45 years old and smoked socially for about 10 years. I lived with 2nd hand smoke my whole life. Chemo is not wonderful but my life is worth it!
I go to the Cleveland Clinic. Dr L. Angelov and Dr Chao used stereotatic radiation surgery on my spine tumor to kill the cancer cells there. It was successful! I am now going thru chemo for my lung cancer. The Cleveland Clinic is one of the very few hospitals in the states that have the stereotatic ratiation surgery and a sarcoma (specialist) oncologist. Dr Budd is the name of my sarcoma specialist at the Clv. Clinic. You can email me gsmeyers92@aol.com for more info. Good for her for not giving up! God bless you and your mom.

Posts: 10
Joined: Nov 2009

My name is Tammy. I just read your post on www.csn.cancer.org website. In 2001, my sister had several lumps on her left foot and the Dr. said that they were normal tumors. She went in for surgery, just to take the lumps out. In 2006, those lumps came back larger and finally they found out that was cancer. They cut her foot to her ankle and she went back for exam after that they told her that everything was clear. In mid 2008, she had dignosed that it had spread to her left lung. She finally went on chemo in Oct. of 2008.....She is very weak now and they has stopped the chemo after ten times.
She lives in Vietnam. I am so sad since I could only help her to pay some of the chemo cost and cannot see her because I live too far away. The last couple of days, she is more sick and she doesn't have enough blood count.
I'm so sad.

Glenna M's picture
Glenna M
Posts: 1576
Joined: May 2009

My radiologist is from the Cleveland Clinic originally so he is very familiar with the stereotatic radiosurgery. When the Wentworth-Douglas hospital was interested in this type of radiation they went to Cleveland to check it out and now we have one in New Hampshire. My radiologists' name is Dr. Arul Mahadaven and I am so glad he moved here to New Hampshire and was able to treat my NSCLC with the stereotatic radiosurgery. I won't know the results of this treatment for another 2 months as I just finished this treatment a month ago but he seems so optimistic that I can't help but feel that the results will be great!!

This type of targeted treatment is so much easier that the other types of radiation and I only had to have 4 treatments. When they treated the squamous cell carcinoma of my larynx prior to treating my lung I had to have 35 sessions of radiation (plus chemo) which really wiped me out. I'm also awaiting the results of the treatments for my larynx but I now have my voice back (I had lost it for almost 6 months) so I am quite sure it must have shrunk the tumor or destroyed it. I can only hope for the best, as they say, the waiting is the hardest part, so I am trying to be patient and optimistic.

My best to all of the caregivers and survivors who are battling this horrible disease.


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