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Secrets Kept From My Dad - HELP!

Posts: 1
Joined: Dec 2020

My dad has had difficulty breathing for quite some time and has also lost a lot of weight. He was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia recently and learned he has end stage copd/emphysema. He has anxiety and is terrified to go to the doctor so I think that plays into why he refused to go. 

My mom casually told me he would need a follow up xray and recovering from pneumonia to see if he has a tumor/lung cancer. I don't think she meant to tell me, but she did. What's worse is that my dad doesn't know. He was too out of it at the hospital. 

My mom doesn't want to tell him because he is trying so hard to be healthy, walk, use his oxygen, eat well, etc. She thinks that it will break him and give up. She doesn't want him to waste what is left of his life worrying. She doesn't think, if he were disgnosed, he would seek treatment. 

Physically I don't know what treatment he could even get considering the state of his health and an already extremely poor diagnosis.

I'm not even sure what I am looking for with this post, but I had to get it off my chest. Any advice or encouragement would be greatly appreciated. 

Posts: 1
Joined: Dec 2020

I lost my brother in-law to lung cancer in October and he did a wonderful job hiding information from the family because he didn't "want us to worry".  I don't want to run the risk of being emotional, but 100% disclosure is key to healing - no secrets.  If your dad has the x-ray and all checks out then great, but if the test reveals a tumor, then maybe there's a chance it can be destroyed.  Failing to not get the x-ray just makes wondering much worst.  Get the x-ray.  

Best of luck.

Posts: 844
Joined: Mar 2011

Tell him it's a follow up to the pneumonia to make sure there are no pockets of infection. It may not be cancer.  If there is a need for further testing the doctor can talk to him.  For some people with cancer there can be a grea deal of debilitating pain. it might get be better if he had a low dose CT. There are many treatments available that are easier for the patient. Your mom is reacting to what used To be the expected outcome for lung cancer patients.  If your dad is not mentally impaired he should be the one to decide whether or not to have treatment. It used to be an automatic death sentence.  It's not.  I'm. Stage 4 with copd and I was diagnosed 10 years ago.  

The Go2 Lung Cancer Foundation has an excellent patient education handbook that you can print out or order a free hard copy.  

Dpasch's picture
Posts: 2
Joined: Jan 2021

I appreciate the responses to keeping secrets. My husband is recovering from colorectal cancer and thyroid cancer. He was diagnosed 1/31/20 with a cancerous nodule on his clavicle. We meet with his doctor 1/11/21. The anticipation of treatments, hospitalization, surgury is overwhelming after all he has been through. Making any decision is not something we can do without much consideration. He has been doing rehab for his heart surgery and fighting depression. Any other advice or resources are appreciated.

Posts: 844
Joined: Mar 2011

Is the nodule a new cancer or a metastasis from the colon or thyroid?   If it's a Mets they will treat it the same as they would the primary site.  If it's new they should do some genomic testing to learn if a systemic treatment (Chemo), local treatment (radiation), or precision therapy (targeted meds or immunotherapy) will be best. 

Posts: 29
Joined: Mar 2019

My husband was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2017.  At that time, the doctor told us if the treatments worked, and he went into remission for 5 years or more, he would be considered in complete remission and cancer free.  Any reoccurrence would be treated as though it were a new cancer.  However, if the cancer returned or metastasized during that 5 years, it was considered the same cancer and the chance of survival would be 5% and the life expectancy is typically 5 years.  After chemo, he was in remission for less than 6 months before they found the cancer had metastasized to his brain and T10.  Since then he has had radiation, which took care of the brain tumors, and has started chemo again.  He is miserable with the chemo treatments and the fact that there is no end in sight for the chemo.  On the most recent set of FMLA paperwork I have filled out, to allow me to have time to take care of him as needed and protect my job, the doctor, for the first time, actually said the cancer is incurable.  I don't think my husband remembers the previous conversation and I don't intend to show him the paperwork.  He lost is brother almost a year ago to cancer and has not quite recovered.  He has been trying to stay positive but it is getting harder and harder. 

I realize this isn't the same as the situation you are facing but there are many facets to consider.  When he was first diagnosed I would not have kept any information from him (even though he kept the return of the cancer from me for several months and I just got to deal with his mood and attitude without understanding why), at this stage I do feel it would be detrimental to remind him of the dire treatment expectations.  He is getting enough of that with the slowly increasing tumor markers with each lab before chemo.

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