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Mom just diagnosed with Stage 3 b lung cancer - really need guidance and support

Posts: 4
Joined: Jul 2011

Today my mom was diagnosed with Stage 3 b lung cancer at the Mayo clinic in Rochester, MN. She has been fighting pneumonia for some time until finally local hospital found 2 spots on her right lung. She opted for the Mayo clinic as it is only 3 hours away from them for further tests. Today they found two enlarged lymph nodes on her extreme upper right lung, one confirmed cancer spot on her lower right lung with a possible second spot. Initally the "spot" was a sugical case until the enlarged lymph glands where found which now makes her non-surgical Stage 3b. She will go back next week for a biopsy of the lymph nodes but the PET scan showed they where enlarged and "a little off color". We assume after that they will prescribe a treatment plan for her which I think we are both scared about. I live 12 hours away from my mom who I talk to on the phone every day. It is so frusterating to not be able to be there for her right now or understand what she is going through or feeling. Even she does not know what all this means. I would love to hear some good news, or at least some words to help me prepare for what I have ahead of me. When you are only 35 years old it is hard to think of your parents mortality. How can I help her be strong through this? She is a VERY strong person and I know she is ready to fight this as much as she can but neither of us really know what to expect. When you research this cancer on the web it is not very good news, but when reading this network I see success stories. Any words of advice to help us stray strong from other mother/daughers out there?

joep531857's picture
Posts: 32
Joined: Feb 2011

Hi Hootie;
My name is Joe and I have non small cell adenocarcinoma of left upper lobe. I had surgery and chemo. My best advice is to take it one day at a time and not get ahead of yourself. Once they do your moms biopsy they will have a better understanding of the type of cancer cell she has and decide on her course of treatment. Cancer is no longer a death sentence so stay positive. I also would recommend that when you look things up on the internet, that alot of the info is years old if not older, Also, everyone is different. I will pray for both you and her and wish you both the best.

Ex_Rock_n_Roller's picture
Posts: 281
Joined: Mar 2011

My daughters are 27 and 29, and if you subsitute "left" for "right,' I am your mom. Diagnosed last April with inoperable 3B, lymph node involvement on the opposite side of the chest from the cancer. They hit me with what I suspect is very similar to what your mom will get, about seven weeks of concurrent radiation and two different chemo agents.

Good news #1: I got through it in what I would call excellent style, with no side-effects that were either health-threatening or caused any delay of treatment. In particular, I had no nausea, and only a couple of slight hints thereof, from the chemo. The radiation causes pretty severe fatigue as you near the end of the course, but nothing that you can't handle.

Good news #2: I felt like a million bucks approximately one month after the end of treatment. Hiking up mountains (small mountains, I will admit), and biking many miles a week.

Good news #3: More than a year past diagnosis with no sign of cancer activity, and I'm lovin' it.

There is no denying that the long-term stats look bleak, but somebody has to be a success story, and it could be your mom. My onco told me a couple followup visits ago that the odds do stink, but, for example, he was about to do a fifteen-year followup on the guy whom the cancer center is named after, and that guy had exactly the same diagnosis and treatment as I had (and your mom probably will).

As Joe said, take it a day at a time, and be willing to be that successs story. You mom may or may not need much extra help (I didn't), but be there for her.

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

It is all confusing for everyone when they are first diagnosed. I was diagnosed 2 years ago with non small cell adenocarcinoma, inoperable. I left the surgeons office thinking I was going to die any day. Unfortunately mine is back in both lungs and the lymph nodes, inoperable again but the thoracic surgeon did talk about doing a VATS wedge resection of the large tumor in my right lung. He wasn't sure if he could get it all but said he would try.

As Ex said, stay away from a lot of the articles on the internet. Many are not from reliable sources and others are outdated.

I'm sure it is even harder for you and is scaring you more because you can't be there with your mom every minute. Just keep calling her and letting her know that you are there for her. Don't give up hope and try to stay positive, especially for your mother. There are many survivors here who have survived for a long time. Your mother has a good chance of being one of them.

Please keep us posted so we will know how you and your mom are both doing. We will answer as many questions for you as we can or just be here when you need a shoulder.

Will keep you all in my prayers,

catcon49's picture
Posts: 398
Joined: Aug 2008

You didn't say how old your mom is, but you can check with your local american cancer society, they may help provide rides to and from chemo for her. Also her local agency for the elderly if she is a senior may help with transportation. My mom, although she has ovarian cancer, was dx about 1 1/2 hrs away. They prescribe chemo to a local oncologist who administered it here. Hope this helps. Good luck and God Bless.


Posts: 4
Joined: Jul 2011

Thank you to everyone who took time to help me out. I am feeling much better today - last night was a rough night. We will continue to take it one day at a time, make each day the most of what it can be and plan for success. The information on the web is so scary and final and it made me feel so good to hear it is not always right nor the best source of information. Mom seemed more upbeat tonight and I can tell she is trying to maintain a normal routine although everyone knows things are not normal right now : ) Tomorrow I will pass all of your information along to her and suggest she take a look at this site as it is so helpful. I'll let you know what next week and the biopsy brings. God Bless and thank you!

Posts: 5
Joined: Apr 2011

My wife was diagnosed with stage 3B NSCLC Squamos cell Lung cancer May 2 and since then we have been going through many tests and started treatment...Radiation 5 days a week and chemo 1 day...Originally we were going to have Carboplatin/Taxol but when they tried giving the the Taxol she turned Blue and coded...They brought her back to life and since then we have only been on Carbo but getting Radiation every day....This next week they are going to try combining another drug I think it is called Taxotere and see how it does....She is very tired and wants to sleep but like ex said she does not have any of the bad side effects Thank Goodness...It is too early to tell if it is working yet as we are only 15 radiation treatments in out of 30 and 3 chemo out of 6...My understanding is that once you are done with radiation you cannot get it again but you can continue to get chemo...is that true?

Posts: 4
Joined: Jul 2011

Today was her third visit to Mayo Clinic and it was not all good news. The GOOD news is that all of her other organs came back clear on her PET scan. The BAD news (1) they found two lymph nodes at the top of her right lung that biopsy showed as cancer and (2) they also found additional "spots" in her left lung where originally we felt just her right lung had been effected. She headed home tonight very down and scared and with all of this bad news and these set backs it's hard to find the bright side. She will go back (another 6 hour round trip) on Friday to meet with her doctor to get her prescribed chemo treatment plan. I trust where she is at and I am so glad we went straight to Mayo but we are all worried the treatment plan may be more bad news. She is still considered stage 3B but with her age (67) we really don't what what they will reccomend or what to expect. She is ready to get started however and I know my mom is a fighter - it's just COMPLETELY overwhelming and scary. This has been a life-changing week to say the least. Mom, if your reading this I love you and I will support you 100%.

Posts: 39
Joined: Mar 2011

Hootie... my heart hurts for you. Your story is very similar to mine. Our battle started this past Feb, and you're right... it is completely overwhelming and scary! Some days it still feels so surreal, like this can't possibly be happening to us. My father (age 67 at the time, now 68) was diagnosed with NSCLC stage 3A in Feb. Zero sign of illness until one day he was short of breath... the next week we were talking lung cancer. It was like hitting a wall. And I was /am devastated for them. Time has helped. It will help to have the treatment plan... and start focusing on fighting, and supporting your mom throughout treatment! Try not to dwell on statistics... I know it's hard, but try not to. This site has helped me tremendously. The people here are informative and supportive... and their stories humbling. I've come from a place a helplessness to a place of hope in a very short amount of time! Hang in there, and take it day by day. And let us know what the treatment plan is. Best wishes, strength and prayers to you and your mom.

Posts: 20
Joined: Oct 2011

Hi Hootie,

My mom is 78 years old and was diagnosed with stage III b lung cancer as well back in August, she has started her chemo/radiation last week and is doing quite well under the circumstances. Her cancer is localized (a tumor behind chest cavity which is attached 2 lymphnodes that also lit up on the CT scan. My mom also started out with getting real sick in August as they thought she had Phnemonia now, that we look back it was one of the symptoms of her lung cancer. We were all scared as well. The hardest part is the unknown, now that you know you can go ahead and treat her ailment and get her back on her feet again soon :) She sounds like a tough COOKIE...... :)

I agree that by going on the website that alot of the news is grim, so my opinion is not to go on those websites...I believe that your moms cancer is very treatable as my moms is (non operable as well). I also believe that being localized (sounds like your moms is too), that there chances are much greater than ones who has spread into other organs or body parts, however, those people are survivors as well, and still going strong!!!!

Keep positive, keep smiling and take one day at a time! prayers coming your way

Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 2011

Hi! I think we may have been at the Mayo Clinic at the same time? My dad who is 72 and not a smoker was diagnosed in Sept 2011 of lung cancer. Like you, I'm sure to hear that my dad has lung cancer changed my whole world and has ever since. My dad has been my hero earthly father my whole life and the thought of him having to go through with this crap of cancer is killing me. I'm 45 years old and live in the same town as my father so I feel lucky and thankful that I will be able to be there for him for whatever he needs and to go to all of his appointments with him. As sucky as cancer is, I look forward to spending more time with him on this next journey of life. Like you, it's soooo tough to have to watch a parent suffer. This is all new to me. Some days I wake up ok with this and other days I sit and cry. It's such a emotional rollercoaster right now. My dad started 4 hours of chemo last monday and will go back for another 4 hours in 3 weeks and then one more time after that. They hope to remove the lung but won't know until they see the tumor shrink. I hated seeing him lye in the chair as he was getting the chemo. I'm trying to be strong but really inside just want to cry but try to be positive around him. It's so hard to see everyone else in the room with brain tumors, loss of hair, all alone, sick, etc. This sucks!!!!! Isn't the mayo clinic an amazing place??? It's the best place in the world for your mom and my dad to be going. Keep in touch and let me know how you are doing. We will both be going on a new journey in our lives. Sincerely, Kathy dwp@hutchtel.net

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