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My grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer. Please help me.

Posts: 2
Joined: May 2016
My grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer. It came as a chock to everyone. She was only in her early 70’s when the verdict came. Can any of you that have or had lung cancer answer my questions, so that I can understand her situation better?

  1. What symptoms did you have before you went to the hospital for the first time?
  2. Which treatments did you take or are taking?
  3. What has been your biggest challenge or frustration with lung cancer?
DesertHorses's picture
Posts: 3
Joined: May 2016

Symptoms can be all over the board depending on what type of "lung cancer" is involved - small cell or non-small cell, if it's primary or is metastisized from somewhere else (in which case its usually "named" after the primary site), the stage, etc.  Some are totally symptom-free and only discovered when looking for something else and some patients never need to be hospitalized while others are only diagnosed in advanced stages.

Treatments also vary based on similar factors.  If you read through some of the extensive posts here you'll get a feel for the variety of types different people have eperienced.

I found - and still find - a lot of challenges. Some which had the most impact on me were fear and unanswered questions. A real fear of dying - you quickly discover that breathing is not optional - and of treatment side effects, some of which can be painful (such as esophagitis from radiation).  Unanswered questions about everything from expected prognosis to when and if I will ever feel "normal" again with many people here mentioning they are finding a "new" normal, not the old one they had. Feeling like you're going one step forward and two steps back.

Another challenge is loss or changes in self body image, especially if appearance was important to you but even from the aspect of keeping oneself up and good grooming.  At first I stayed active, went to PT twice a week, did most of my barn chores, put on at least a little make-up every moring even if just walking over to the barn. I worked at cute hats and scarves, etc.  Then I just got too tired and weak to keep it up and had to priortize what I would spend energy on, having to pay people to do chores that I normally enjoy doing myself (like keepimg my horses' feet trimmed) or letting the least important go (like housework and laundry).

It also takes a lot of time to research cancer and coordinate your own or a loved one's care even if being treated at a well integrated cancer center (and the University of Arizona where I receive most of my treatment is awesome). You need to make sure you're going to "trusted" sources like the info links here, cancer centers like Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, MD Anderson and university centers, NIH National Cancer Institute, (http://www.cancer.gov/publications/pdq/information-summaries/adult-treatment), American Cancer Society (which hosts this forum), etc.

This is one of those things where the more you learn, the less you seem to know and everyone's story is different.  Maybe the most important thing you can do for your grandmother is being there for her - phone calls, texts or emails, snail mail notes and cards.  These things from friends usually bring a smile to my face, set up my day in a postive way and help keep me focused on the next sunrise.

Patti in Arizona

Posts: 2
Joined: May 2016

Thank you for your answear. Did anybody else have the same experience as DesertHorses? Can't imagine what grandma and you all have to go through. 

LiveWithCancer's picture
Posts: 5
Joined: Aug 2014

Hi kenlin,

I am sorry about your grandmother's diagnosis. It is always a surprise, i guess, when a cancer diagnosis comes. It was in my case. I had NO symptoms at all. I went to see my PCP because i  was gaining weight and thought i had thyroid issues. I didn't.  But, i did have stage IV lung cancer. What a shocker.

I first underwent 4 treatments of carboplatin,  alimta, and avastin. Then, i had 4 maintenance treatments of Avastin only. When my tumors quit responding,  i went into a clinical trial. I lucked out. It turns out the drug being studied was Opdivo, an immunotherapy. I have been getting Opdivo since 7/2013 and my tumors have been stable since that time.

I am a little different.  I resolved from the get-go to maintain as normal a life as possible.  There were times during my first treatments that it was difficult. Chemo made me very sick, especially during the first week of the infusion. But, with the Opdivo, i am able to live life to its fullest. 

Big hugs! It is really hard to watch someone you love go through this battle.

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