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Two Strokes and Stage 4 Kidney Cancer

for_my_mom
Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2020

Hello,

This post is for my mother. She is 58 years old and suffered two strokes this year. The first one was in March and the second occurred in June. The doctors didn't know what caused the first stroke but with the second they found tumors in the brain. A full MRI body scan showed they originated from a mass on her kidney and she was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer.

My mom is depressed and she tells me that she gives up and is ready to die. I don't know how to help her. What words of comfort to give her other than I'm here to help her with this battle if that was she chooses to do. The oncologist gave us a plan of action (radiation and immunotherapy), but she seems unsure and otherwise seems to have accepted her fate. She and I are both in distress. I want to do everything I can for her, including helping her find happiness during these difficult times. I don't want to give up that easily and I don't know if she speaks from depression, or if it's because she truly wishes to no longer fight.

I should add that the second stroke left her right side weaker and she needs maximum assistance with transfers and standing. She is able to tolerate sitting in a wheelchair and she rests throughout the day. She tells me she's tired. I do everything I can to keep her comfortable.

I don't want to see my mother give up on life. I hope that other cancer fighters/survivors can offer her words of comfort that I don't know what to say.

Thank you all,

for_my_mom

eug91's picture
eug91
Posts: 255
Joined: Jan 2019

Sorry you had to join us under these circumstances, but this is a great forum. We know what you and your mom are going through, so if you have any questions or just need to vent, we're here for you. 

I will say that what you're describing as your mom's feelings are normal. The mental struggle of dealing with cancer is just as hard as the physical struggle. The shock of hearing "cancer" absolutely put me into distress. I can only imagine her recent strokes have also contributed to her viewpoint being bleak.

I don't know if there's anything I could give you in terms of specific "say this-do that", because there's only so much you can do or say - considering the complexity from being both their caregiver and their child. Keep in mind that you have reasons to be optimistic - with all the amazing advancements in kidney cancer treatments, there are plenty of stage 4 survivors on this forum. But bombarding your mom with upbeat info might not instantly turn her around. While you're there supporting her, it really is up to your mom to face the challenge. 

However, my one piece of advice - if you are concerned with her hopelessness being depression, mention it to her doctor. Again, this kind of thing happens to cancer patients, so the oncologist has probably seen this before and may have specific suggestions. 

And that goes for you, the caregiver as well. This will put a mental strain on you, too. Please take care of yourself and talk to someone if you feel overwhelmed. 

Oh, one big thing, when you Google you're going to find a lot of bleak information. IGNORE DR GOOGLE. It can be very misleading. For example, you'll often see the number floated around about a low survival rate for stage 4 patients. That info is misleading and out of date - old statistics not taking into account newer advanced treatments, plus not taking into account that your mom is only 58 and therefore younger than the average RCC patient. Information from 4-5 years ago might seem up-to-date, but it's actually not. Modern kidney cancer treatments are advancing quickly, so you and your mom have reason to be optimistic. Don't give up hope. 

Take it one day at a time. We're with you. You've got this! 

donna_lee's picture
donna_lee
Posts: 963
Joined: Feb 2009

You and Mom are dealing with a lot.  So Sorry.  But as said above, your oncologist, primary care doc, or nurse navigator (if there is one) could put you in touch with a counselor, therapist, et.al.  Your mom probably hasn't determined what kind of course she wants to be on, but I'm sure she wants to protect you and the family from the results, no matter what.  A therapist could help your mom sort out her feelings of what and if she makes choices.  This may be something she does solo, without your input; or she may want you there to hear what she has to say.

Decisions like this take time, which neither of you has.  She may also need to be on an antidepressant, which will allow her to think more clearly about choices.

What ever happens, Hugs to both.

donna_lee

jazzgirl's picture
jazzgirl
Posts: 181
Joined: Nov 2017

I can't add much more to what they already said so well. I can tell you that there is a whole community here paying attention, providing support, and following your path, wherever it takes your mom and you. I do know that it is really hard to see a parent ill, and especially one so young. Keep yourself well and sane as much as possible. Prayers for your mom and you. Take care -

AliceB1950's picture
AliceB1950
Posts: 72
Joined: Jun 2019

A good friend of mine has been living with stage 4 cancer (of a different kind) for several years.  She's had strokes, several surgeries, lots of radiation treatments, and several bouts of chemo.  She's older than your mom, and in between her periodic recurrences and treatments, she lives a very normal life.  If your mom has brain mets, those can be affecting her mood besides causing the strokes.  Brain mets, like many other mets, are treatable, frequently by radiation/cyberknife.  Maybe if your mom can be given small bits of information on treatment options at a time, it wouldn't be so overwhelming and she wouldn't feel so defeated.

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