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Questions - My sister-in-law

wmc's picture
Posts: 1806
Joined: Jan 2014

My sister-in-law said she had Non-Hodgkins and it was in both armpits and groin [Gland or tumor was the size of an avocado pit]it has also in the bones as well. At this point, let me add my brother was in poor health and in and out of the hospital and care facility most all of 2016. I would guess 80% of the time. During that time [he passed away Dec 22, 2016] is when she said she had this. I would see my brother very often and it even got to the point I was called to make medical decisions for him. That was when I called her to come to the hospital as this should be her making the decisions.   When he was better and at home, we would visit and she told me what she had. She said the tumor was the size of an avocado.  

Please don't take this wrong, but I sure have my doubts about her. I am T3; N0; M0; Larynx cancer [suporgolitic SCC 3cmx2.5cm] and had my larynx removed 4 years ago. Now I never had to have Chemo or radiation, just surgery. I have been involved in Head & Neck support and Laryngectomy as well for 4 years. 

She cut her hair to almost being shaved before any treatment started. With hers being both above and below the diaphragm she is stage 4, then it is in the bones it is more like Leukemia. She was treated locally with only chemo. This is hard to describe but when I would see her she would say, "I'm just so tired with a whine in there. She never looked sick, at all. I know hundreds that went through chemo and I know it is different for everyone. I don't know the chemo they used. In a few days, she was ok. Most all of the ones I know, it knocked the heck out of them for days. Even the ones that had it easier than others. During this time my brother had to be transferred to a major hospital to get tests and a colonoscopy as he had several polyps that had to be removed. She didn't go as she was having the chemo then. So I get a call from his head doctor there, and he is being combative. Said he can't lay flat so they can't do the CT needed or the colonoscopy, so they wanted to ask me questions. Then the psychologist calls me. So I pack my bag and drive 215 miles there and will have to stay a few days. His wife's daughter is only 30 miles away, but I'm the one who goes. He calms down and gets the scans, and colon but needs some major surgery. His health is really bad and they send him back to the local doctors. They don't want him to die on them. No joke, that is what they said. The next month he is home for a few days and falls 3 times in one day, so they have to call paramedics to get him up. He is 300 lbs and had knee surgery on both knees and can't get up. Back to hospital.  Through all this his wife had 6 chemo treatments, Never lost any hair, only got tired [said with a whiny voice] never looked really sick at all. They had to do the colon surgery and remove some, then he got so bad they had to put him in a coma to care for him. I see her and looks a bit tired but with all he is going through it's normal. Now he is out of the coma and back to the care facility. He is also a diabetic on insulin.  Dr. orders are 20 minutes he eats to give him an insulin shot. The problem is he didn't really eat, so his blood sugar was low and only 72, but they gave him the damn shot and he crashes and drops to 29 and almost a coma. Ah, where is his wife? Home, she was there for 20 minutes earlier that day. "She is now cured of cancer" tho they never did a PET scan at any time after.  He goes back to the hospital and never leaves. He passed away and I was there with him. He looked up and said, it was time for me to leave. We said our Goodbyes and the next morning he was gone. No, she wasn't there at all the day before. 

Sorry, this is so long, my question is? Does anyone who has stage 4 and both above and below the diaphragm and metastasized to the bones and only have 6 chemo treatments, never lost any hair at all, and is Cured, sound believable.  I'm sorry but I have lost 18 persons last year and 17 this year to cancer. We have 800+ in one group and a total of 1700. I don't know anyone who has 6 rounds of chemo and the only real side effect is she is so tired, and Cured. She is now fine and life is good. I don't think she ever had anything. I know I may sound cold, but I have never seen anything like this. Cured, not in remission, cured. It that believable to anyone?  I would never say to her I don't believe her, just out of respect for my brother. She just never seemed to care. I am a full neck breather and COPD stage 3. I should never be at the hospital due to my immune system. He even got MRSA and they never had a warning on his open door. My doctors had to do emergency surgery on my stoma due to a growth and it dropped down and blocked my airway. They don't know what I had that caused it to do that. All I know for sure is, she's fine, and I lost my brother.


Posts: 45
Joined: Oct 2015

Hello wmc,

      I am so sorry that you lost your brother.  It sounds like you were a great help to him during a time when he really needed support.  I do not know what type of NHL your sister-in-law had, but I can tell you the experience my husband had with stage 4 DLBCL NHL.  His cancer was very aggressive. He had testicular lymphoma and a large mass near the abdominal aorta.  He had surgery  to remove the testiclular mass, but the mass in the aorta could not be removed.  Please keep in mind that some types of lymphoma are not aggressive and do not require surgery.  My husband went through 6 rounds of chemo (RCHOP), 4 rounds of methotrexate intrathecally (in the spine).  His intrathecal treatments were administered to prevent the lymphoma from spreading to the central nervous system.  He did not have NHL in his bones or central nervous system.  He started losing his hair 20 days after his first round of RCHOP.  He lost all of his hair.  He had a PET scan along with a great many other tests before chemo and another PET scan after his fourth chemo.  He had 17 rounds of radiation after chemo and had another PET scan four months after his radiation was finished.  He had another PET scan five months later. I understand that some doctors like to limit the number of PET scans.  This was almost two years ago and he is in remission.  His doctor has never stated that he is cured.  Everyone is different and there are many different types of NHL and NHL treatments. I can only tell you about the our experience with RCHOP, methotrexate, and radiation.  Some types of chemo for NHL may not cause hair loss.  Perhaps, someone else can share their experience with a different type of NHL chemo. Try to take some comfort in the fact that you were a good brother and were there for him when he needed you.  I'm sure that was very difficult for you both physically and emotionally.  You don't sound cold, but you do sound tired. You have suffered a great many losses and that is emotionally draining.  My wish for you is that in time you will be able to remember your brother and the friends you've lost with more joy than pain.  I hope this helps you in some way.                       Simone

po18guy's picture
Posts: 1222
Joined: Nov 2011

The staging is completely different from all other cancers. Stage IV does not mean marrow, bone, or any such involvement. It means that tumors are located both above and below the diaphragm, as well as at one or more sites outside of the lymphatic system. That could be a mass in the thorax, mediastinum, on or in an organ, or many other locations.

Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 3699
Joined: May 2012


You do not have a lot of detail regarding your sister-in-law's medical particulars, but what you do relate does not categorically indicate that she lied about a diagnosis.  Conversely, lying about a medical condition is not uncommon, usually done by persons with deep emotional os psychiatric troubles, seeking sympathy.   Many women cut off their hair in anticipation of cetain baldness.  You  state that she did not have a post-treatment PET scan. That WOULD be odd, but how do you know she didn't have one ?   Oncologists do use the word "cure" with patients some times, but in a qualified. layman's sense.  With Lymphomia or Leukemia, "cured" is equivalent to complete remission ("CR") or No Evidence of Disease ("NED").  Wonderful, but subject to change .   

If she did not wish to attend to your brother's sickness, there are much easier ways to do so than pretending to have Lymphomia.

You valiantly assisted your brother. You were a blessing to him.   He is now gone.  His wife (I would imagine) is no longer your concern.  If she spitefully ignored her husband, and faked an illness, that is on her.  But there is nothing you can or should do about it.

Quite possibly, you will never know the answer to her medial past.  Legally and morally, you have no right to her information.  And, she has the right to share or not share whatever she wishes with you.   Bu it does not matter.  If you find her offensive, forget about her and move on with your own life, proud of your own actions.   There is no healthy or beneficial reason to investigate what she did now,



Posts: 709
Joined: Jan 2017

Max is right in that she has the right to withold info and no obligation to tell you anything. Just let it drop and move on. However if this is gnawing at you and is something you just have to know, simply ask her. If she is hedgy or gets mad and refuses to simply say yes or no you will know she probably faked it. If she answers you directly and precisely can say she had it. In any case you need to move on.

lindary's picture
Posts: 711
Joined: Mar 2015

My experience is with follicular non-hodgkins lymphoma. I had 6 cycles of chemo (R-CHOP) with a treatment ever 3 weeks. I'd say I was a wet dishrag at least 4 days. I was able to work most of the time but the big concern was being around people who were sick because the chemo knocks the white count down.  There were times when I went to the hospital I had to wear a face mask.

That said, reading your story I can understand why you would be suspicious. With her behavior and actions I would be too. If you do ask her about her cancer definitely ask her exactly whay kind she had. 

Reason I say this is I know someone whose mom has twice told her she had cancer. First time it was breast cancer but the Dr was just going to watch & wait. When I asked what kind of breast cancer she told me her mom didn't know. (Doesn't every victim of cancer know what kind?)  Several years later the mom claimed she had cancer in her back. Again did not know what kind. It's been over 10 years and her mom is still alive and I am not sure she ever got any treatments for her cancers. I used to talk to her mom but cut-off contact at least 10 years ago because of her behavior.

If you were to find out she really did have cancer would it change the relationship you have with her. If not, let it drop.


Evarista's picture
Posts: 320
Joined: May 2017

Not knowing your SIL or her situation, I would like to offer the following:

I cut off my hair before I got my final diagnosis.  knew that some form of cancer + chemo was in my future.  Andeven before diagnosis, I was no longer able to take care of it.  Just bathing was increasingly difficult and shampooing a full head of hair was not possible for me.  Going to a salon weekly was also out of the question.  So off it came and what remained fell out several weeks later.

Looks can be deceiving.  Throughout my ordeal, I "looked" well (except for the hair/eyebrows of course).  With a cap on, no one would have known that I was sick just by looking at me.  This actually caused me a fair amount of frustration, as even people who knew would exptrapolate how I looked to how I must be feeling:  "She looks great, therefore she must feel OK. Let's have a dinner party".  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  At times I even became worried that friends and family would think I was faking. 

Not knowing your SIL, I cannot comment, but there is room here to give her the benefit of the doubt. So sorry for the loss of your brother.  Best of luck to you.

wmc's picture
Posts: 1806
Joined: Jan 2014

Thank you all for your input. I would go over and see her and my Brother every week and many times twice a week. She would go into detail about the tumors and size as well as location. I am aware it is staged differently than the others.  It was stage four but I really didn't listen to what type, only that it was above and below the diaphragm, and then added it was also in the bones. 

She was good for my brother, but he always described the Marriage/relationship as complicated. I thought it was just him. We did have some long talks about her condition as she knew I had cancer and very poor odds to survive, but I did. She is the type to always have a worse cold than someone else, but it was the way she would word it. Out of respect for my brother, I would never doubt her to him, and I would never question her about it. She told me what she wanted to and that is fine. We still see her just not as often. She is traveling to her daughters and Granddaughters. 

I got the information I was looking for. I do wish all of you the best, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

wmc  Oct 2013

Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 3699
Joined: May 2012

It seems you have found some inner peace as regards your sister-in-law, wm.  I am glad.  I am proud to think that the writers here had some role in that peace.

Bless your Thanksgiving,


wmc's picture
Posts: 1806
Joined: Jan 2014

Just getting it out helped as well. I am at peace with it, and glad she doesn't worry anymore about being sick. My Brother got the peace he wanted and knowing he has taken care of her. That meant so much to him.  She and I are still on good terms. We had long talks when My brother was sick and what she was going through in great detail. At that time my main concern, was my older Brother was no longer afraid and at peace. 

I do thank everyone who gave their insight, as it did help. I have been NED for 4 years now with my throat cancer and removal of my larynx, and my Brother said I gave him the strength to fight.  So we both are at Peace.

Thank you

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