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Dad started chemo...


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My dad had his first chemo treatment on Tuesday. Original plan was for Carbo/Taxol/Avastin, but the onc dropped the Avastin because dad's primary tumor is close to his heart and major arteries, so there is concern about bleeding problems. The onc wants to start radiation on the lung tumor, as he is very worried that the tumor's growth could cut off blood supply to dad's heart. I am concerned about this...can't they do damage to his heart with the radiation?

All in all, the chemo went great. Dad had no negative reactions, and today when I went over with his lunch he was up and dressed and feeling pretty good. I feel like this is probably the calm before the storm, and I worry about him living alone. I feel like I should be there...just in case.

Just wanted to update and let you guys know what's going on. I am still scared, but hopeful that this chemo will be successful and that we can kick out some of this terrible cancer. I just hate it so much.

Any info on radiation would be helpful. Thanks!


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I missed some of your previous posts, but I did a search on your username and have now read them all. The first thing that impresses me is how much your attitude and approach have changed over the past three weeks. Some of that has inevitably transferred to your dad, and it seems he was a rather positive fellow to begin with, so that's a big plus for him. It's been demonstrated that expectations of success not only provide a psychological boost, but actually cause the brain to release specific chemicals which promote healing and health.

Another thing I noticed is that in the midst of your own troubles and fears you saw another new member in need and reached out to her with words of encouragement. That's fairly common, and very beneficial, for new members who themselves have cancer, but I haven't seen it much from caregivers until later in the game. That tells me that your dad has quite a daughter, another big plus for him.

Also, he's still young (yes, 53 is young :) and he's strong and he's active, more plusses. Add to that his medical team, which from your posts appears to be doing a fine job.

Your dad's comment about not wanting treatment if he's Stage IV was probably based on knowledge he picked up several years ago, when NSCLC Stage IV was practically an automatic death sentence and medical science didn't have a good handle on the side effects of chemotherapy. Since you haven't mentioned it recently and he's now started his treatments, I figure you were able to educate him out of that now obsolete notion.

As you can see from my profile, I had my fourth chemo session the same day your dad had his first. I'll be watching your posts and expect to see a great success story from the two of you.

Best wishes and Aloha.

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I'm glad your dad's chemo went well.

MY Mom was just diagnosed - IIIa nsclc - probably squamous cell. She tried an infusion of Taxol last week, but had a reaction to it - she's going tomorrow for her first treatment with gemzar/carbo, so hopefully that's the winning combo for her.

Her tumor is also near the heart, major vessels, and L mainstem bronchus. Her medical onc thinks sequential chemo/radiation is a good idea for her, but she's 83 years old (although otherwise healthy), and I think much of the reason is not to hit Mom too hard with tons of treatments and adverse effects - at 53, your dad is probably in a better position to deal with both treatments at once. The onc did say that shrinking the tumor with chemo first would allow a smaller radiation windo, and hopefully decrease risk of damage to heart or pulmonary vessels.

She did recommend that we see the rad onc this week, so I'll let you know if he has any other insight.

As for feeling the need to be there - I totally understand that - Mom lives in a very supportive community, but she still lives alone, and I find myself feeling very protective of her through this ordeal.

best wishes to you and your dad - I'll keep you in my thoughts


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Glad to hear the chemo seems to be well tolerated. I know I had 11 cycles of my first chemo and it was tolerated well.

Usually as part of the infusion, they give decadron. That'a steroid and besides protection from allergic reaction, it keeps you up. Generally, I found the 3rd day to be one where I needed some extra sleep and once or twice an anti nausea pill.

Make sure he understands that's just part of the cycle.

I appreciate it's difficult to worry about having him alone. My sister came to live with me and although I am 99% able to handle all alone, it's nice having someone to drive me when I'm tired, run a get a prescription, and even jsut know is available.

Tell your Dad to fight it. I was diagnosed 20 month ago with 6 months to live. And I'm still working part time and feeling well most of the time.


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Hi Stephanie: I hope your dad's treatment goes well and he had good results. Re the radiation, your dad could ask about getting image guided radiation (IGRT) or cyberknife surgery for the tumor near the heart. These are radiation treatments that target the tumor only and minimize damage to adjacent healthy tissue. Cyberknife is the most accurate. Here is a link to a site that is run by radiation oncologists. You can ask them about cyberknife or IGRT.


Don M

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thanks for all the comments.

I think that a stage IV diagnosis feels like a death sentence at first, and it seems pointless to endure treatments that could bring such terrible side effects when there is essentially no chance for a cure, so initially my dad was not interested in chemo or radiation or anything...but thanks in large part to what I have read on this board, his opinion and mine have both been swayed. Regardless of the outcome, my dad will fight the good fight...and I have increasingly high hopes that these treatments will make a huge difference.

My dad had the Decadron and the nurse told him he wouldn't be able to sleep that night...but he ended up falling asleep at 9:30 and sleeping all night in spite of the drugs, which is a good thing.

Today when I visited him, he was feeling good and just taking it easy...though I did get on his case a little for not eating enough. My dad is a naturally thin person, and has lost ten pounds in a month...so he really can't afford to lose any more.

But so far, he is doing really well. I am still pretty scared about the radiation, but we will cross that bridge next week. For now, he is feeling good and is really pleased that the pain in his leg has diminished already...so hooray for that.

Thanks for the encouragement and for all of your amazing stories. It gives me tremendous peace to know that we are not alone on this terrible journey, and I am praying for each and every one of you.


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Hi Steph,

I'm glad your dad is beginning to feel better. It's amazing, isn't it, how quickly the chemo kicks in. As for radiation, I was scared before I started it, but found it to be completely painless. Have your dad try to start putting on a few pounds now, because its likely that as he progresses through treatment, he will begin to lose weight. Lots of shakes, smoothies, mashed potatoes, etc. Good luck to both of you and I hope treatment goes well.


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I hope your dad is still feeling well. But usually with that combination it will hit about 4 days later. He may have some numbness in his legs or feet.

When Joel had his first treatment he felt exilerated and was in the best mood. But it did hit him about 3 or four days later.

Just know that if he feels flu like symptoms it will not last, only maybe 2 or 3 days.

Keep us posted.

Maryanne :wink:

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