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St3 Non-Small Cell Treatment

Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2014




Hi All.  I am a caregiver or sorts for my mother who has stage 3a nsclc.  She was diagnosed in May of this year.  I was hoping to get some insight and experiences from others in ways to help and to get a better understanding.  My father passed away 9 years ago from stage 4 lung cancer, but I was then a young and stubborn person in school, and sadly wasn't there for treatment and/or appointments for him as I am my mom.  My memories of his treatment vastly differ than what we are experiencing now.  I know each situation is different, so I shouldn't compare, but it seems night and day.


But I digress -- 3a nsclc in May of this year.  Port was installed, and treatments started within 2 weeks.  Radiation therapy daily. Carbo/Taxol once a week for 6 weeks.  We are approaching the last week of chemo.  We missed only 2 radiation treatments due to office problem and the loss of my mom's father. 


Mom had lost 30-35 lbs prior to diagnosis - which we thought was due to diet & exercise.  Since then, she has lost an additional 20, for a total of 50 lbs lost.  Honestly, we aren't too worried about that as she was a little on the heavy side, and still well within healthy weight for height.


She had pain in her back where the tumor was and was on a strict Advil schedule, however, that pain has subsided completely.  Also, from what we can tell, the lung that had been collapsed due to the tumor, has regained use as she was coughing a lot more, and was able to dislodge the junk that was in there for a few months.


It wasn't until about week 4 that she started with minor nausea and heartburn.  That has increased (more so the trouble swallowing) rapidly in the last few days.  She is well aware of needing to keep weight on and eating healthfully. We also have been dealing with a little infection for the past 2 weeks. And surprisingly, at least to me, she didn't have any hair loss until 3 days ago.  It isn't apparent to me without looking for it, so I am hoping that holds to just minor loss.


Does anyone have any idea as to why the side effects took so long?  Why are we doing the chemo every week instead of every few weeks, as I have seen most people state?  Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful that things have been going as well as it has - I know not everyone goes bald, has stomach problems, etc, but the doctor said "you will loose you hair" "you will feel like you were hit by a truck" etc.  She has been feeling great, still working, laughing, and said this is just a stepping stone.  I believe a positive attitude will go a long way, but at the same time, part of me worries if this is enough treatment?


As I said, I am thankful that thus far things have gone very well.  One chemo left, 11 radiation treatments left - then I assume they will do another set of scans.  Can anyone tell me their experience with the end of treatment?  The doctor hasn't said anything about round 1, round 2, etc.  Is this enough??


Thank you in advance - I realize now how much I wrote....


Take care


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Posts: 844
Joined: Mar 2011

And it proves you were paying attention.  First, side effects are cumulative.  Before her next radiation, purchase some honey, Manuka honey is supposed to be best and has a medical grade but it is expensive and regular honey will work. Give her two tablespoons of it right before she goes in for radiation and two more when you get back out to the car.  This will help protect the esophagus from further damage.  The esophagitis will get start to go away a couple weeks after radiation ends.

In the meantime, avoid spicy foods.  I ate lots of applesauce, mashed potatoes, ice cream, Mac and cheese, cottage cheese, pudding cups, buttered rice, finely chopped beef chicken or poultry, buttered noodles, cream of wheat, oatmeal, jello, scrambled eggs, green beans, peas.  Not all of these things may appeal to her, some of her favorite foods may make her nauseous. Getting the calories in her now is most important. The steroids made me ravenous. 

As I said, the side effects are cumulative. As she is having concurrent chemo and radiation it may soon become exhausting.  It was for me but my cancer was further advanced.  Your doctor is being agressive and that is great.  The chemo softens the cancer a bit so that the radiation can get in there and really zap those cancer cells into oblivion. My hair only thinned with that same type if treatment, I never needed a wig.  

Your mom may never need a second line of chemo, there are new targeted therapies coming up that may address her cancer in a manner with fewer side effects.  There are some wonderful programs for patients that have finished treatment.  Btw, my stage four cancer was diagnosed in Oct of 2010.  At that time they suggested I might survive 10-15 months with treatment.  I've good quality of life.  This does not have to be an automatic death sentence.  Life is good. 

Edited to add that your mom is getting a lower dose of the chemo since she is getting it with the radiation.  Therefore she likely doesn't need that break of a couple weeks.  In the end she'll have had the same amount of the chemo, just broken up into smaller doses.  

Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2014

Thank you so much for your email.  Sorry it took me some time to respond - things have been a little hectic.


I will get her the honey asap, and try the foods you have suggested.  She is now encountering the "everything smells wrong or tastes wrong" but luckily she can still do the boost/ensure.


Best wishes to you

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