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Son-In-Law needs help

Son-In-Law
Posts: 6
Joined: Apr 2011

My father-in-law is currently at Sloan Kettering. This past weekend his doctors in Florida found a mass on his cerebellum. When they did a PET Scan they found a mass on his lung too. Yesterday he had the mass on his cerebellum removed in what the doctor said was actually a simple surgery. The doctor said is was malignant but did not say whether it was metastatic.

I just heard from my wife that the lung doctor has said that the lung tumor is inoperable. That is all the information I have. My father-in-law had lung cancer 11 years ago and both his brother and mother died of lung cancer. I have put all these things together and concluded that he has stage IV lung cancer. As far as I know, no one has come out and said it, but my research all points this way.

I am at such a loss of what to do. First, I want to support my father-in-law. He has been anxious, scared and depressed since he got the diagnosis this weekend. I can't help but think giving him hope is good for him. At the same time, I don't want to say things that aren't true.

I am also confused about the treatment options. I am told the cancer is inoperable. I have read that stage IV cancers are inoperable. Why is that? If the cancer was only found in the cerebellum and the lung, why can't they just remove the lung cancer the way they removed the cancer in the cerebellum?

If he can't have surgery on his lungs, what are his other options. How long can he really live on a diet of radiation and chemo? is it possible he can be "cured" without surgery? I read that less than 1% of people with stage IV lung cancer live 5 years. My father-in-law knows this which is why I put him on the phone with my uncle who is more than 1o years removed from surviving pancreatic cancer.

What do I do to support my wife? She is a hard woman. I don't mean difficult, I mean tough. She doesn't share her emotions very easily or readily. She herself just survived melanoma surgery 2 year ago. Despite having a huge crater in her skull, she went to work the next day (she now admits that was a ridiculous idea). Also, as the only sibling out of 4 who has had any type of cancer, in a family with a long history of cancer, I am already worried about what the future will hold.

I have so many other questions and fleeting thoughts, but I know I need to stop now. I guess I just want someone to tell me I am wrong. That my father-in-law will be fine. That my wife will be fine. That the next four months, sixth months, or however long, aren't going to be painful for my wife, her family, me, or, most importantly, my father-in-law.

medi_2's picture
medi_2
Posts: 510
Joined: Aug 2009

Welcome! First of all, don't assume what stage your FIL is in because 'inoperable' is not interchangable with 'terminal'. My tumor was inoperable, but that was because it was in a bad location on my lung (too close to the heart). (mine was limited stage sclc) I had chemo (cistplatin. epotiside and radiation) and now just have a bit of scar tissue where the tumor was. That was over 2 years ago and I feel great and am considered 'cured'.
so, Pretty Please; show you FIL posts on this board for all sorts of survivors. And don't freak out if he loses weight. Feed him ice cream and Ensure if he can't take anything else. But most of all give him hope because it is there and the glass is half full my friend...
Cheers!
Medi
PS..stop reading anything you come across, most of it will scare the wits out of you. Ask your doc what sites to review..

Son-In-Law
Posts: 6
Joined: Apr 2011

I know that he is the one who needs hope, but not me. Your answer was so simple and supportive, yet, for the first time, I am finally crying.

Thanks.

medi_2's picture
medi_2
Posts: 510
Joined: Aug 2009

Hi Here is a link to a long discussion of Stage IV Lung Cancer Survivors:

http://csn.cancer.org/forum/129

I wish you well!
Medi

Son-In-Law
Posts: 6
Joined: Apr 2011

I was not at the Dr. today when my FIL got the pathology. Apparently the cancer on his cerebellum was not lung cancer that had spread. Instead, it was a melanoma. He has had at least 4 melanomas in his life. I still don't know anything about the tumor in his lungs. It too could be melanoma.

I was initially excited that this could mean that it was not stage IV lung cancer. Instead, it appears as if it is Stage IV melanoma. Not sure that we are any better off.

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

I can't say it much better than Medi, I just want to let you know that I also had inoperable lung cancer because it was too close to the pulmonary vein and the surgeon said he could remove my lung and it still wouldn't get all the cancer. I was diagnosed 23 months ago and I'm still here enjoying life.

I was also diagnosed 2 weeks after they discovered the lung cancer with laryngeal caner. It was not mets, they were two completely different types of cancer, I was just unfortunate enough to get two cancers at the same time.

I want to give you the same advice that my doctors gave me...stay off the internet!!! Most information is outdated and will only scare you, especially if you don't have all of the facts.

As Medi said - inoperable does not mean terminal, it just means he will have chemo and radiation instead. I had Stereotactic Radiosurgery, which is a more target radiation treatment, I was a candidate for this type of radiation because there was only one tumor in my lung and it was small enough that this would have the best results without destroying the good cells in my lung. I also received chemo, cisplatin, which is one of the stronger chemo drugs.

If you browse the boards you will find many long term survivors and that includes stage IV lung cancer.

When you receive more information on the stage, type of cancer and what his treatment options are please post again. We are all here to help you through this.

Remember...there IS HOPE!!!

Stay strong,
Glenna

Son-In-Law
Posts: 6
Joined: Apr 2011

Thanks. I am on my way to visit him. I am going to print out these posts and bring them to him. I guess the nice thing about owning my own law firm is I can go visit him whenever I want!

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