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How Long

Posts: 7
Joined: Apr 2011

My mom was diagnosed with stage IV Squmous Cell Lung Cancer. She is terminal as the cancer is in the blood stream and has spread to the bone. We asked the doctor how long, but she would not give us an answer. I have researched online and everything I have read suggests less than 8 months since chemo is not an option for her. Is this an accurage estimate? Here are her symptoms:

1. she has lost 40+ pounds in six months
2. she has been spitting up blood for atleast 2 months probably more (she didn't tell me until two months ago, but I am sure it has been much longer)
3. she has a hole in her spine where destructive cells are eating the bone (they are doing radiation to try and stop these destructive cells so her spine will not collapse)
4. she has a cluster of tumors on her neck
5. she has tumors in her pelvis and lower back
6. she is very fatigued, but she does have good days
7. she has loud wheezing at moments, but not too often

I want to spend some quality time with her, so I really am hoping that we have eight months to do some things she has wanted to do that we have put off. I know no one can tell me exactly how long, but I would like to know if that is true so we know how fast to plan these few things she has always wanted to do. The only reason I am putting it off any longer is that we are trying to get the pain under control with radiation first.

Posts: 1048
Joined: Aug 2006

Predictions of how long someone has can be very inaccurate. With cancer you learn to make the most of every day no matter what. Doctors that tell patients they have X amount of time are often wrong(and I've heard a lot of stories from some very angry patients who fortunately beat those predictions by years and some by decades!). However, from the sounds of it your doctor has moved to palitive care. That means he is trying to increase her quality of life however long she has left. I don't know if he has talked to you about getting hospice assistance. They can provide counseling and help with patient care. They could advise you on what symptoms to expect near the end of life and how to care for your mom at that time. They try to do whatever the family needs. I remember visiting my grandfather who had been put into a nursing home because he refused to eat. Well, we thought he was refusing to eat even though he would just say the food was too rich for him and he wasn't hungry. I noticed one night that his breathing sounded funny to me and told the nurse. She got a weird look on her face, I left, she called my Dad, who arrived just in time to be there at the end. We all knew he had prostrate cancer, but we didn't know that these were signs that the cancer had spread and that he was near the end of his life. A month later I found a book from hospice detailing what to expect. Loss of appetite was one sign. The "funny breathing" was a sign that death was hours to minutes away. I only wish we had known so that we wouldn't have wasted so much time trying to get him to eat.

Can you spend quality time with your mom on short visits especially when she is having a good day? An hour having a picnic, going to the mall, sitting and playing cards, looking at a scrapbook together, or just talking is quality time. She may not be up to a long trip or special vacation from the sounds of it, but I'm sure she would enjoy your company whatever you do.

Posts: 7
Joined: Apr 2011


Thank you so much for the reminder to take things day by day. I really have been consumed with the larger picture instead of focusing on these good days. Those are some good quality times you listed and I will definately drag out some old scrap books with her.

The Oncologist did mention hospice, but she did not go into depth about it. We meet with her again once the radiation begins, so she may talk about it more. I will bring it up to her if she doesn't mention it. I think she is okay at home with me right now. I have been told that hopsice can provide assistance even when they are still at home. It's been tough for me as I have a five year old and a brand new baby who is seven weeks old. Having that new baby around has kept my mom's spirits lifted. I sure am glad she was able to meet him too.

Again, thanks for taking the time to support me. May God bless you.

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