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Radiation or not?


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Hi everyone, just looking for some opinions as we are trying to help my in-laws make the decision as to whether my FIL should do radiation or not! I really value your thoughts and input.

When he originally went to see the surgeon about his cancer, the surgeon talked about surgery, then chemo mixed with radiation. After surgery, when he went to see the onc, the onc was talking more just chemo, but a stronger dose of chemo than he could do if they were doing it in conjunction with radiation. Then the onc started encouraging them to talk to radiology to get their thoughts as FIL came to the end of his scheduled chemo - although the onc was not really pushing for radiation.

I think that when they did the surgery, they found out that the cancer was a little further along than what they thought - they have it staged at a IIIA. They found it in more lymph nodes than they expected, and it also had sent out "feelers" and they found little bits of it here and there in the lung.

I have been worried about this, and how my FIL has approached it emotionally - he is treating it almost like an 8 week course in biology or something. As in..."I just can't wait to get this over and get back to my old life." Therefore, it is very upsetting to him now that he is through with chemo and surgery to contemplate another procedure. Plus, he has a very bad hiatal hernia and they say that the radiation will cause him problems with that, and possibly pretty bad swallowing problems. This scares him, and he is kind of feeling like he doesn't want to do it.

The drs are telling him that since it was in the lymph node system, and because it had sent out these feelers, that he really should do radiation. I talked with my MIL for a long time last night, and said that right now, he is physically doing great, the tumor has been removed, the chemo hopefully will knock back anything that was left - if radiation will boost his chances of being cancer-free, and he can physically do it, if it were me, I would do it. He is 81 years old, but he has the physical capabilities of a 65 year old. Even after going through surgery/chemo. I think that he has a lot of life yet to fight for.

I feel really bad about this, but I did talk to her about how much harder it would be to fight six months from now if we all of a sudden found out that it was back, or that he had mets to other organs. She kind of cried, but I felt that they really needed to think about it. He is in a great place right now, and I think that physically he can handle the treatment.

But...he has to want to do it. So, I am looking for a perspective from others who have been there!! Thanks for all your help and support - you guys have been lifesavers for our family!

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