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They think my Mom has lung cancer

Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2010

I will be her caregiver. Can anyone advise me on how to be the best caregiver I can? I'm so crushed by this and my heart is breaking. I'm so lucky she lives with me and my husband and I can care for her.

She says her neck hurts. Does that mean that the cancer has spread to her brain?

Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2010

Sorry to hear your news! I think the doctors will order the tests that will determine the diagnosis. There are GREAT resources on this web site for caregiving. Also, don't hesitate to reach out for help & the resources that are available in your community!

Posts: 1048
Joined: Aug 2006

The doctor will have to run some tests to determine if your mom really does have lung cancer. Maybe he already has. If so, see if you can go to the hospital where they were done and get the reports with written permission from your mom. The reports belong to her not the hospital. Having a copy of those reports in a three ring notebook will keep things organized for all the decisions you need to make and all the other doctors she sees. Oh, there are ways for the doctors to get reports shared, but that takes time and sometimes they don't keep things as well as you may wish they did. Keeping track of the tests and reports can save you and the doctors time and headaches. Also, it will give you the information you need to make treatment and care decisions.

Radiologists write up reports on xrays and various scans. Most folks with lung cancer have xrays, CAT scans, and a PET scan to pin point just where the cancer is. The xray shows just the torso in 2 dimensions. The CAT scan is like multiple xrays and is on the computer so that the doctor can see a 3 dimensional view of the problem. The PET scan shows if the cancer seems to have set up camp in other parts of the body.

To diagnose the cancer the doctors usually need to look at the cells under the microscope. Lots of different kinds of cancer can move to the lungs. And lung cancer that starts in the lungs can be of different types. Different kinds of cancer (even the different types of lung cancers)require different medicines. Sometimes a shadow or spot on the lungs isn't cancer at all. Sometimes it's an infection or a scar. So to be sure what it is the doctor needs to look at the cells under a microscope and run some tests for various other problems. The pathologist writes up a pathology report with all those tests.

I've dithered away here to try to explain that the answer to your question "Does that mean that the cancer has spread to her brain?" has to be answered by the medical reports. That is where you should find out IF she has cancer, WHAT kind of cancer it is, and WHERE the cancer is. While cancer (which is just a bunch of cells gone crazy growing where they shouldn't) can hurt when it is pressing on nerves, often it doesn't hurt at all. I had no idea I had cancer until the doctor told me. It showed up on an xray and the CAT scan.

If the cancer is causing the pain, talk to the doctor about what can be done to relieve the pain. Good luck!

Posts: 15
Joined: Aug 2010

I agree with the advise of the person who said get a binder and keep everything. Try to organize immed after leaving dr. Ask for all reports,mri disc everything,lab work. Most dr offices will give you copies of this if you ask the day you have it done. It may save you from getting stuck again at another dr--just say we had blood drawn last week and here is the report. This has saved us time and money so many times. I know you are new to this and you probably think you will remember what day this happened and which doc you saw but believe me -after 2 1/2 yrs IT is all jumbled together. Good luck and your mom is so lucky to have you with her. It may be painful but this is the time to ask her what if Mom ...the chemo or rad doesn't work--Do you want Hospice if the chemo doesn't work:Are you scared Mom. What way can I help you most,Mom?If you stop breathing or your heart stops do you want to have cpr(resuscitated).

Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2009

You will be the best caregiver you can be, there is no doubt in my mind. Having been there, love and adrenaline will take you a long way. Work hard, sleep hard. Keep educated, organized and vigilant. Has your mother completed all testing to find out the stage and type of cancer yet? For neck and back pain, a barley bag and gentle massage helped my mom. If she has other symptoms, let me know, and I'll advise what helped my mom. You and your mother are in my prayers.

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