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DAD NEWLY DIAGNOSED LUNG CANCER...HELP

christianrain2005
Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2010

Hi,
I really don't know a thing about cancer. My dad went to the ER Monday because he kept falling at home and they wanted him to get doctor's orders for rehab...while there, they discovered he had pneumonia & admitted him for a few days...but the wonderful, elderly, Christian doctor showed up at my mom's door and explained to her that they had found a large tumor on Dad's lung. I'm from a small town, and the doctor's faxed (or whatever it is they do) the info/stuff/whatever to a larger city's hospital cancer hospital..Ellis Vachelle (sp?)...whatever information they had gathered, the doctors at the cancer hospital basically said, don't bother sending him. It's inoperable. The tumor was cancerous, had metastasized to bones & brain...and he wouldn't make any radiation/chemo... The doctor then told us my dad had a couple weeks to live. All this, and we didn't know my dad was even sick.:(

About my dad: 66 years old, 67 in a few weeks. Smoking nonfilter cigarettes, a lot, since he was 13 years old. Pneumonia off and on all is adult life, even called family in a couple times thinking he wouldn't make it. He has been 350 lbs or so for the last 10 or more years, but down to 315..he's really big, but he's sedentary...doesn't eat very much at all the last few years. He has a colostomy and catheter, and has had for a few years. Diabetic...been in the hospital 2 times the last five years for an abcess/boil tunneling inward with mrsa necrotizing fasciitis...close to death both times, 3 month stays, induced sleep for such intense pain, surgeries barely pulling out of as they removed half his stomach, scrotum, buttocks...that is why they gave him the colostomy/catheter...to keep areas as clean as possible. He has high blood pressure; He has cellulitis from knees down, bad edema in feet...hadn't really walked in a few years, maybe a little with walker, but past year just maneuvering self from chair to wheelchair. Sleep apnea. Last year he kept having seizures and stopping breathing, and they treated it as brain problem, and possible heart...gave him a shunt/stint or something to clear an artery...and the seizures, which had happened 3 times in 6 months...stopped. He sleeps alot...always has tho. Some weight loss. Definitely spaces off a lot, doesn't seem "on top of things" forgets things...especially names..he KNOWS what he means, but usually spits out the wrong name..like a type of aphasia/dysphasia..or whatever you call it.;)

So, sorry for rambling. I'm leading to some questions but I wanted to get the facts out first...doing some research on my own, I can see now that the seizures last year were probably the lung cancer that they didn't find for whatever reason. I can see the weight loss, the sleepiness, the seizures,the confusion...all of that ties into the lung cancer we didnt' kow he had....so I don't know how long he has had it, but I'm assuming it's been in his brain since last year, minimal, because of the seizures...

THE QUESTIONS: How does the doctor determine that chemo and radiation, or surgery, is out of the question? That it's too late to treat and that he only has a few weeks to live? He isn't using oxygen...he does cough a lot, phlegmy, pneumonia, fever, but not severe.....he does have pretty regular back pain that hurts him alot, he says an 8 level...but he's still dad, silly, ornery, says he feels fine...he knows it's terminal cancer, they did not give him the complete story, but I think he believes he has a few years left...So why doesn't he? I know that only God really knows...and his doctor is very nice and compassionate...I have heard of doctors giving prognosis like that several times and they are always right...but I have checked the internet, and studied, and I can't find where they tell how the doctors come up with the life expectancy number...or why they won't treat it. I'm sure his other problems are a major reason they won't treat it...he very likely wouldn't make it out of surgery...but??? Is this a major reason/probable? Can someone please let me know the proper questions to ask so I can understand the extent and why it's only a few weeks til death? thanks so much...my email is christianrain2005@yahoo.com.
God bless, Christy

legendsdaughter
Posts: 30
Joined: Dec 2009

I am sort of in the same situation as you. My dad was diagnosed w/Stage IV non small cell lung cancer about 3 weeks ago. He is 69 yrs old. At his 1st visit to the oncologist he told her to be honest & she told him that he has about 1 1/2 yrs, more or less. He has it in both lungs, one worse than the other & in his adrenal gland. I think that it may also be in his lymph nodes as well b/c he has pain under his one arm. He had a brain MRI on Christmas Eve morning, to see if it might have spread there as well. He has a great deal of chest pain. He is going for a 2nd opinion on 1/13, at Sloane Kettering, a major cancer center here. Like your dad my dad had smoke since he was a teenager. He is in "relatively" good shape, in that he played golf regularly up until weeks before his diagnosis. He is a man of average staure & weight so there isn't that complication. The pulmonary dr that he saw before said that he has emphysema, and his heart is not in the best of shape(a heart attack about 20 yrs ago).
I have been "addicted" to this network. It has been a great source of support and information. The survivors are a fountain of information for they have been there. although every case is differrent there are some similarties between the treatments. Also I have been taking the latest lung cancer books out of the library & researching the latest chemo drugs.
I don't know how much help I can be but I do know that when the drs. give a prognosis its based on statistics. The treatment received depends on the health that you are in besdes for the cancer. The cancer drugs are powerful as they need to be., but in the process of killing the cancer cells they also damage healthy cells, that's why you have to be relatively able to do handle the effects of the drugs. THe survivors on this site are GREAT.
I have been an emotional wreck the last few weeks & the holidays haven't been very joyous this year, but when I speak to my dad I have been a rock (w/out crying) & have tried to give him HOPE. He has been very depressed. Like I said we are still learning a lot right now & wish I could give you more info. If I hear or read something that can be of a little help to you, I will definately contact you. In the meantime keep hope & faith alive, as I am.

augigi
Posts: 89
Joined: Dec 2009

I am sorry you are starting the new year with such terrible news.

I can just agree that there are several pieces of info the docs use to make their best guess on life expectancy - tumor type, size, location, spread to lymph nodes or other organs; current symptoms; baseline health status; statistics that they know about this stuff from medical journals.

I would urge you to get a second opinion at a decent-sized cancer treating center if your dad is interested - you can always decide not to take treatment if offered, but you can't get it later if it's not medically suitable.

angler99
Posts: 4
Joined: Dec 2009

When I read your post Christy, and the ones from LegendsDaughter, it sure helps to know none of us are alone and there is a lot of info on this network to help patients. My very close fishing buddy was diagnosed with stage IV in mid December and his family and friends are in the decision making phase today. We have a couple of posts on the board looking for more info, but we know that trying to stay positive and trying to maintain good nutrition are necessary first steps. Remember that every individual is different; the statistics do not determine any individual's outcome. I also am sure all the prayers which are being offered for him will make a difference; I'll add you all to my list too. - Kevin

hollydancer
Posts: 7
Joined: Oct 2009

Christian,
Your dads dignosis will come from the type of cancer and how many new locations it has been found in. There are over 200 diferent types of cancer, some more aggressive than others.
Nobody understands the desparation in your voice more than I. I lost my mother to lung cancer at the age of 62. 18 months ago, only 5 weeks prior to her diagnosis my dad was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer. It gets unbelievable... I lost my father to colon cancer only 9 months ago. My mom was supposed to live possibly two years, dad 9-12 months. They were very much in love still after 42 years of marriage, and I their daughter was so lucky to have them as my mom and dad. However, what my family endured was and is a scar so deep to my heart that will never heal me and always tear me apart. The most desperate spot is where you are. You don't understand why nothing can be done? And you want so desperately to help. Anything! With all the modern medacine its almost unbelievable to think nothing can be done. So harsh. My mom had stage 3 single cell lung cancer, spread to the lymph nodes. Still today I don't understand why they deemed her inoperable. Cut her right lung out. Cut out the lymph nodes!!!! I didn't understand why they couldn't. Their solution.... hit her hard with radiation and chemo at the same time. My poor mom died 6 1/2 weeks after her treatment. Radiation poisoning. Treatment killed her.Dad was supposed to go first, instead he held her hand and apologised to her that he couldn't save her... meanwhile he was so sick himself. The day after she died my brother and I sat with dad as he was hooked up to his second round of new chemo as the first 10 sessions were not working. I believe your dads lungs are too weeak to sustain treatment. Possible chance a round of chemo would weaken him and he would be in worse shape. My mom and dad were young, fit with no medical problems prior. Yet still my mom was taken away. I wish we would have backed off on treatment a bit. They trippled her radiation in her last week at BC cancer agency. They killed her. I wish the whole world would understand the importance of the words pnemonia. Like your dad my mom had repeated episodes of pnemonia. Mom was a smoker... only about 4 cigs a day as she has to sneek to hide it from us. She was still a smoker, which is another message to all those who think just a few a day are o.k. Very wrong. None are o.k. My meaasge to you from my experience is to weigh the odds of how taxing the treatment would be in your situation. Your dad may have more strength without to last longer. My dad took chemo but no radiation. He was an electrical engineer and weighed the odds of fatigue on his body vs partial treatment and more strength. He was given 9 months without treatment, 12 months with sucessfull treatment. I made sure he had beautiful meals at all times and someone to eat with. We managed to get 15 months, that was the best we could do. My dad died 9 months ago he was 65. I loved these people more than my own life. They were not only my mom and dad but my best friends. If you have any questions I can help with please ask. I think on these two cancers I have just about done everything as a caregiver so could help. All I have left is to help others.
I hope I helped. Stay positive , as positive as possible.Its so important our loved ones get to try to have as many decent normal days as possible. Never stop hoping, just take one day at a time, work with everything you've got in that day and just keep trying to get another day.
Hollyd

phampleman
Posts: 16
Joined: Nov 2009

you are such a special person,i had to say god bless you,patty

mntexasgirl
Posts: 5
Joined: Jan 2010

Thanks for posting your story Christy. My father was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer on December 17. I was just home for Thanksgiving and he looked great. On December 17 I got the call that my mother was taking him to the ER because she thought he was suffering a stroke. We were shocked to find out he had three tumors on his brain that they could see and three tumors on his lung. Our lives have been turned upside down. He is currently undergoing radiation for the brain tumors and will start chemo tomorrow for the lung cancer. The doctors weren't willing to give us a prognosis but we could tell by their body language it isn't good. He looks really good but has lost some of his cognitive ability, which kills me because he was always such a brillant man.

The hardest part for me is I live in Minnesota and my parents are in Texas. I was able to be home through Christmas and New Years but I had to return to Minnesota because of my children. It was so hard to say goodbye. It really makes you put things in perspective. None of us know the future, none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. I was thumbing through a magazine the other day and there was a neclace that said, "Don't fear the future, because God is already there." I find great comfort in knowing that!

God bless you and your family, and please know you are not alone!

Susan

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