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Chemo for "better quality of life"???????

beat it

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OK, so when these words where first spoken, being a newcomer to cancer I thought what the ....???? I have always understood that it seemed AFTER a person was dx with cancer and the chemo started THATS when they went down hill.

My MIL has Stage 4 NSCLC. Since main stream medicine cant "do anything for her" the Onc said " ....at this point the chemo is not to cure but rather to control pain and better the remaining quality of life..... Can ANYONE explain this madness to me???

We have went from a person maintaining a fairly normal life (yes there is the need for pain meds) she was working and shopping and playing with her granddaughter, still living......

One day of "Feeling REALLY good" after the first round of chemo and now on the second day, she cant eat, pukes, very dizzy, wobbles when she walks, rashes, in bed, cant function and THIS IS QUALITY OF LIFE???

Can anyone reason me through this? I fear she'll give up, she's so ill. How do I promote "positve thinking, complementary treatments, you can do this, you'll make it?"


Beat it!! (did I mean the cancer or the chemo? :cry: )

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Our Dr told us that if Mom's lung tumor was left unchecked, her breathing would be compromised even more, and she could basically suffocate. Mom is not a surgical candidate, and we were told that the chemo was for quality rather than cure as well.

I know Mom would rather not have the quesasies from chemo, or all that accompanies it, but we have had her around for 21 generally good months post-dx, when we were originally given "12-18" as a prognosis (stupid numbers!).

I guess that's all I can give you. I pray your MIL feels better soon.

:) Kelly

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What is the chemo she is on? They are usually pretty good at controlling the nausea with meds. The chemo does knock you down but sometimes the alternative is worse. You should ask the Dr. about this-- the tumor may be near her heart or spine-- he may be trying to keep her walking-- who knows. Have they considered Tarceva? It would be easier on her. It would help people answer your question if you put her history in your profile. I know it is hard to see someone ill but chemo has to take some of the good cells with the bad-- I hope she feels better soon.

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I can only share with you our experience. My wife had chemo most of her four years after diagnosis. Yes, she had side effects on some, but she was kept going and she actually had a good life, though limited. If I were to go back, I would still opt for the chemo and radiation. She lived 3 more years than she was supposed to, was able to go out to dinner, bathe and dress herself, clear of mind until the end. If she had not been treated, she would have died in the first year and heavily medicated. No brainer, as far as I am concerned. Don

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My hindsight observations as a family member/caregiver were that my mom had a horrible time with chemo and radiation too and not much quality of life happened for her.

However, if we had to do it all over again, I'd still have had mom do exactly what she chose to do. She wanted to fight with that venue open to her and I respect that. Her struggle with the battle did eventually wear her down personally, but it was her call along with support and input from the doctors (and me).

There's no way to predict what the journey will be like. People's responses to chemo. and radiation are highly individual and most go through with relatively little trouble -- side effects for most are very manageable with medications to where many lead fairly normal lives through it. Restricted maybe at times, but lives worth living every minute of. And, yes, side effects can be moving targets that need constant monitoring and adjustments made.

There is always hope. The hard part is keeping the tenacity and where-with-all going if your particular journey is rockier and a bit more challenging today than you imagined it would be.


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I can only share my husband's experience with Chemo

It was not pretty, in fact, it was horrible. But once

Alan got through chemo and radiation, we realized it

was worth it. Alan lives an almost "normal" life. He

is able to care for himself (there was a point he could not even shave himself) :(

Visits family and friends often and we are able to

travel. Without treatment Alan would not have survived a couple of months.

I am sorry your MIL is having a tough time with treatment, be sure to talk to

her Dr. they might be able to help. Prayers for you

and your family.

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Hi -

I too can only share my mom's experience. She too was stageIV at diagnosis and had just run a marathon..she was very healthy. We opted to start chemo about three months after diagnosis as she had only a small spot in the lung and on the backbone -- she did do radiation for pain on the back....but it had started to spread more.

My mom's onc put her on a chemo protocol with many fewer side effects to preserve her quality of life --gemzar/carbo. For about two months the cancer was stable while on chemo, and then it went crazy. I am convinced though that the chemo slowed it enough to give my mom a couple of months to make it til my baby was born -- which is what she wanted.

There are stories like Don Wood's Lucie where the chemo made a HUGE difference at StageIV and there are many, many, many like my mom's where we could never slow it.

Your MIL is on a very tough combo of chemo. Can you ask the onc when the first check will be to see if it is doing anything? If she can deal with side effects til then you would have an idea of "if it is worth it."

Please feel free to PM me and I can explain more.

Thinking of you all,


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I'm inexperienced ... well I have none with the chemo cocktails available and they're purpose. But it sounds to me like she is having an adverse reaction to this particular. Maybe she'd do better on something else???????

It's hard to think they'd say chemo would give her "quality of life" ....... In my experience that is radiation. It too comes with side effects, but slower and more managable as they appear. That being odd I would make the doctor aware of her reaction and side effects. If quality is what he's going for he should be asking her if she would like to seek other options available to her .. like radiation.

Your right though, for some people the treatment for what ever the reason and purpose ... is worse than the illness itself. Take her back or call the doctor and explain exactly what you said on this post ... this is not QUALITY of any stretch of the imagination.

Good luck to you,


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All I can do is send my best wishes your way, and share a bit with you about my experiences with my dad.

Chemo sucked, radiation did too. But we had 7 months we would not have otherwise had. Most of the time he was able to maintain a "normal" quality of life. The beginning and the end were the toughest parts for him, it was almost like his body got used to it. In the end, the last few weeks, his quality of life greatly diminished. But we were able to talk, to reminisce, able to share our dreams for the future. There were times I wondered if we were doing the right thing, but looking back I know we were.

I hope that, as the days go on, things will get better for her. She was only on day 2 at the time of your posting. The doctors may consider adjusting it or giving stronger meds to reduce the side effects of the chemo. Hang in there; I truly believe that as family members...if the sick person wants to fight it's our job to stand by their side thru it.

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Definitely call the onc. Usually the fatigue hit my mom at about days 8 or 10 post chemo, though she would get diarrhea whenever and the nausea on occasion, with no pattern to that. Sounds like these symptoms are occuring sooner than the usual case.

My mom spent nearly the entire 2 years post diagnosis (diag at stage IV, like waaaaaay to many patients!) on some form of chemo. Her most limiting side effect was fatigue, but she pressed on and really lived quite well until the end. She never regretted any of it, and she was quite active, considering all things. In the 4 weeks after diagnosis, she had gone downhill so fast and was so fatigued and short of breath (couldn't finish a sentence without gasping) that I do not doubt she would have died within 4 to 6 weeks and they would not have been good weeks. The chemo gave her so much more life, and yes, it was a quality life! But Linda is so right that each person's disease process is highly individualized, so you can't base your decision on how someone else did on a particular regimen.

Check out the topic "The Path Less Traveled" and see what those who have chosen to forego medical treatment have to say.

I think that her nausea could be better controlled. There is a new Rx for chemo-related nausea, though I can't remember the name. And do not let the office staff or doctor off the hook; there are things they can do to help her! Even if it means adjusting her chemo dose or changing to another regimen that is not so harsh for her.

She also may be dehydrated. THAT will make a person feel like crud, and it can be very serious.

Keep in mind that she is highly susceptible to every contagion, and may have picked up an influenza bug.

I so hope that she feels better soon. No one wants to be that miserable.


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