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Posts: 5
Joined: May 2011


My 55 year old mom is battling esophageal cancer. On Easter day of this year, she was working (at a hospital luckily) and started to feel faint, several of her nursing co-workers forced her to go to the ER. She was treated by a wonderful doctor that admitted her with the suspicion of a bleeding ulcer due to the stress of the recent deaths of her parents. The next day after an endoscopy was preformed she was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Later she received a PET Scan placing the cancer at stage 3. She has completed the first stage of treatment, which consisted of three rounds of chemotherapy and 28 radiation treatments.  She had a successful, Ivor Lewis esophagectomy (minimally invasive) in October down at UAB hospital.  My surgeon was wonderful and was able to remove the entire tumor.  

Since that surgery, she has been working hard on recovery. Unfortunately, she has had a few setbacks a mild case of pneumonia and some time without being able to eat.  In early December, the doctors found a large tumor in her brain, around the size of a golf ball.  She had started falling and showing signs of a stroke, with paralysis on one side.  That was removed by a wonderful local surgeon, and will start radiation on monday. She is now recovering from that and hoping to gain back all of the feeling in left my hand, left my leg and recover some of the lost sight on my left eye.  

I, however, paralyzed with fear that the cancer is somewhere else as well. They suspect the tumor was in her brain the whole time, but are unsure because a MRI was never performed only PET scans (which don't show brain tumors). Am I crazy to have hope that she will live more than a few months? I take care of her full-time and I am trying not to lose hope. Does anyone have any advice for proactive changes that have helped in your experience.

Sad and fearful,

SlowRollin's picture
Posts: 75
Joined: Nov 2011

Howdy Ms. Emma,

I'm sorry you've had to join our group in this way, but I'm glad your mother has you by her side. First off, no one can tell you for certain how long each of us will live, but you are not crazy to think she can thrive longer than a few months.

If you allow the fear and anxiety to eat at you, it can become overwhelming and even cause some illnesses. Please do your best to keep things in perspective and try to take care of yourself. I know, easier said than done. You have to try to stay healthy to provide care for her when she needs it. You also need to make time for yourself and know when to ask for help. The Caregiver role is a thankless one, but honorable and I'm sure your mother is grateful you're with her. Know that sadness is normal but try to work through it so it doesn't take over. We were asked to walk or jog, eat a plant based diet, try to sleep, and do whatever your body will allow. When it's time to stop and just rest, than just rest.

It takes some time to get a handle on this and get into some sort of groove, but you'll do fine. We've found comfort in our faith, talking about our concerns, and agreeing to allow others to due some of the menial stuff while my wife and I spend time with our boys or just go for a walk. It still hurts and we're still worried, but we're trying to take it in stride. Here's praying you find your stride. Plug into this site and ask questions often. You've come a long way already!

Best Wishes,


grandmafay's picture
Posts: 1639
Joined: Aug 2009

Once cancer has touched someone you love, you life is different. You become conscious of how this disease can strike and how reoccurrences can come. I have talked with people who have been cancer free for many years who still dread every blood test or scan. The fear is always there, we just need to learn how not to let it rule our lives. My husband fought colon cancer for 6 years before his death. After the first reoccurrence, we decided that we were going to see each treatment, test, whatever as buying time. When I mentioned that to one of our pastors, he pointed out that that what each of us is doing. We will all die sometime. Anyway, that helped us. We tried to make the best of whatever time he had. I still try to do that. He lived longer than anyone expected, but not long enough. It is never long enough. I guess what I am trying to say here is that the fear is normal and very human. Try not to let it ruin whatever time you have with your mother. Just take today and make it the best day you can. Hopefully you will have many more days, weeks, months, and years. Use whatever time you have to make good memories. Believe it or not, some of my favorite memories come from those last six years with my husband, and we were married for 42 years. My husband liked to say that he wasn't dying from cancer; he was living with it, and living he did. Take care, Fay

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