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Question for Don Wood


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Don, I have been following your posts about Lucie for a long time and see her as such an inspiration. I just posted on the introduction page as I wanted to ask you a question. My mom is 82 non smoker and a 2 yr survivor of NSCLC. Her actual lung tumor has been gone for for over a year now thanks to Tarceva so we have been dealing with her only mets so far and those are liver mets.She had one back when we first found out she had cancer but there are multiple slow growing mets now that have caused no physical problems yet and even her liver function test remains normal so far.

When we first met my moms oncologist he seemed to have the attitude that my mom was old and old people die and even suggested she not do chemo as he claimed it was very hard on elderly people. I myself wanted to walk out as I did not like that attitude.Mom was very active and a very young 80. My mom seemed to take what he said as a challenge and when he told her with chemo she might make it 6 months to 1 year she sort of took the attitude that she would prove him wrong and she has. She has tolerated her chemo better then most the younger people I have come to know do.

When the Tarceva quit working he brought up doing Avastin with Taxotere or doing Alimta. My mom picked Alimta and did well with it for many months. When those darn liver mets started progressing again he switched her to Taxotere and Gemzar but said he would not do Avastin as it held too much of an increased risk of bleeding in the elderly. I am wondering if they had anysuch fears about this when Lucie started on it? I have noticed that like my mom Lucie seems to tolerate her treatment well so feel if the overall health of an older person is good they do just as well as the younger crowd.

I would appreciated anything you can offer about Avastin as I plan to bring it up again as the doctor has said this was the last chemo he would probably offer my mom and she has been on it since Feb. Many Thanks in advance. You and Lucie are always in my prayers. Thanks Jan

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Hi, JanMarie! I welcomed you in the welcome forum, and I like your mom's positive attitude. That works for Lucie, too. They both seem to tolerate the treatments pretty well, your mom and Lucie. So that is also in their favor. I believe it has been shown that age can be a good thing with cancer -- quite often it grows slower in older people because their cell growth overall has slowed down. Lucie, like your mom, has no cancer in the lungs, and also has liver mets with no symptoms.

We were cautioned when the onc put Lucie on avastin, along with taxol/carboplatin, that there could be internal bleeding. She has had a minor nose bleed the first cycle for a day or two -- nothing really alarming. But we reported it. That has been the only sign. If you are watching for it, you can always stop the treatments, if it is too hard on her. Lucie is into her 4th cycle and her outward appearance, plus tolerance, plus lack of need of breakthrough pain point to positive results. She will have a PET scan in a few weeks to determine whether the present chemo will go for several more cycles before putting her entirely on Avastin.

Lucie's onc is very aggressive on treatment and we like it that way. She has survived almost 4 years now. Wishing your mom the best. Please keep us posted. Don

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Thanks Don, I wish my mom's oncologist would be more aggressive but he seems to feel at stage IV and at her age there is no point to it so he and I have had long discussions. My mom has never wanted to change doctors as she seems to have such blind faith in them. I work with doctors at a hospital so I do not have that blind faith and if I was the one with cancer I would have changed doctors back when he said he would not be aggressive. Kaiser is an HMO so there are only a limited number of doctors and from talking with other cancer patients most seem to feel my mom's oncologist is the best at Kaiser..that frightens me! I am so thankful she has made it 2 years. I do plan to bring up Avastin (again) as I feel what do we have to loose by trying it if the cancer is going to kill her in the long run?

I will send lots of prayers Lucies way in hope that her next scan is a good one.She is such an inspiration to those that read your posts as are you.Thanks again, Jan :wink:

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