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Stage 4 LC questions.


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Hello everyone.

I am writing you once again because I need some advice.

My mom was diagnosed back in Feb of this year with stage 4 lung cancer. I cannot remember what type of tumor it is (i just called the hospital to check and am waiting for a call back.) Also, the tumor is on the left side.

THe doctors at HillMan Cancer center in Pittsburgh, PA recommended that we do a trial of the two usual chemo agents, plus valcade. The valcade made her impacted and she ended up in the hospital for 10 days almost having to get her bowels resectioned. At that time my mom was inadvertantly doing everything one could do to become impacted, so it wasn't simply the valcade.

This exempted her from the trial.

She was very weak from the hospital stay and everything that happened that they decided just to do one drug: taxol.

She did one complete cycle of taxol and not long afterwards the CT scan showed that the tumor had grown significantly.

Her major problem right now is horrible pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, and the tumor is depressing her lung badly. She is very weak and is on o2 as well. She is 67 years old.

We met with the doctor yesterday and he wants to do radiation on the tumor. We are aware that this is not curative.

The list of things that he mentioned will happen as a result of the radiation make me not want to do it.

Please bear in mind, my mom is willing to do anything to live, so given she has been presented only one option she is willing to go forward with it blindly.

The radiation doctor explained the effects of the radiation will cause burns to the skin, damage her heart (which is already vulnuerable from a very mild heart attack), damage her lungs (possibly make it even harder to breath), and irritate her esphagus. He said she may not be able to drink or eat.

That being said, I know my mom better than these doctors do and if she cannot eat or drink because of the irritation it will certainly be the end of her. I do not want my mom to be tortured by this treatment but this is the only option we are presented with. I have a really bad feeling about it.

I asked the doctor about doing Tarceva, he kind of shrugged it off and said we should do this instead.

The only GOOD thing about the radiation is that they said it would reduce the size by 50%, but as I mentioned before...the esphagus irritation ALONE will without a doubt push her over the edge and I do not want her to go through that.

Basically I am looking for options and I pray the folks on this board can help with that. Please help me.



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Hello John

I wish I had some answers for you but unfortunately I don't. It sounds like your mom has a fighting attitude and that is really a huge plus for her!

I am sure that some of the gang here will be along with some great advice and information for you shortly.

It definitely sounds like your mom has a wonderful advocate in you.

Please keep us posted and let us know how else we can help you out.

I have you and your mom in my thoughts,


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here's my take for what it's worth..

I was also diagnosed as a stage IV. Also tumor on my left side chemo, surgery, radiation the whole works. Radiation was bad and I had it with chemo for 12 weeks. Mine was an attept at curative so I think that's the reason it was for so long. Your mother's will no doubt be a shorter time as it is mainly for pain relief.

the radiation is tough however you are closely monitored. BURNS- I did not have any burns to my skin at all. I was given cream before they started and used it faithfully. That is just something that CAN happen not will happen for sure. HEART-My tumor was actually sorta under my heart. so yes my heart received some of the radiation. Now I do not have heart problems so I can't really speculate on that but my heart is fine, never had a problem with it. However when they did finally remove my tumor my heart sac, my lung and tumor were all kind of concreted together and I ended up losing my heart sac (they made a new one for me out of nylon :wink: ) but I never felt a problem with my heart and I never had any heart issues. I still don't. LUNGS- this is a tough one.. the radiation destroyed my lung completely. However, I didn't notice that, I had the issues from the tumor that affected my breathing. The radiation did not make it worse. I would THINK that if she is having pain and SOB now that if the radiation shrinks the tumor and provides pain relief that may make her breathe easier? ESOPHAGUS-yes, I had problems with this. Mine swelled and narrowed and it was sore and hard to swallow. I still have problems swallowing and I have to really chew my food so I don't choke. But again.. I ate soft foods, but still pretty much ate everything I felt like. They gave me the magic mouthwash and it helped. She may not FEEL like eating much... everything tasted like metal to me. But I drank boost, ensure and I did eat stuff.

I think your onco gave you the worst case senario in my opinion. Not everyone has all of this or even much of any of this. Especially if you are looking at a short period of time. To put it honestly yes, the treatment sucked... but it wasn't torture. Having said that I was younger than your mother when I had my treatment but I had also been thorough 2 chemo protocols and 3 thorocotomys as well so I was pretty run down when I started. I also worked through most of the treatment as well.

This is tough.. my opinion would be to try it. Especially if she wants to try. then see how it goes if it's too much for her let her stop. I will say that no matter how bad the treatment was, how sick to my stomach, how tired, how yucky my throat felt, how difficult is was nothing compared to pain. Pain is just the worst to me.. Just for pain relief it would have been worth it and if it possibly shrinks the tumor and helps her to breathe I would think that would also be a relief to her.

Good luck with whichever you decide to do. You will find a wealth of information and experiences here. Please keep us posted on your mothers treatment.


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