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Mom's surgery


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Well, we got through the surgery today. It was a long wait but the surgeon completed the procedure much quicker than anticipated. It was not uneventful though as the electricity went out twice for a fair amount of time. Of course, we were all freaking out about whether or not they could still do surgery. Luckily, they had backup in the surgical rooms! Talk about making us more nervous than we already were.

So the surgeon came out and said everything went fine and there was only a small incision etc. Then we asked some questions and we wished we wouldn't have afterwards. I asked if she would need any radiation to get any residual and he said no. Then my Dad asked if the tumor had fingers or if it would grow back. The surgeon said, "No malignant tumor is curable. If she lives long enough, it will probably return and we would do radiation. This is not a cure this is just palliative." We all just looked at each other like, "Did he really just say that?" We didn't ask anymore questions after that. Luckily that wasn't in front of my mom. I could just tell that my Dad was so wishing he wouldn't have asked and he even said that a couple of times. Why did he have to say , "If she lives long enough." Why couldn't he just say yes it could come back? I am so sad now. I should be happy that they got the tumor out, right? I just told Dad to act like he didn't even hear that. After all, if not malignant tumors weren't controllable or curable no one would survive cancer, and people do. I am trying so hard not to think about it but I can't get those words out of my head.

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I just hate that word, "palliative" They used it with my mom also. Maybe thay can't say that they are able to "cure" the cancer when it is stage lV, but that doesn't mean we (and they) can't give it everything we've got. Palliative certainly doesn't mean there's no hope. We are certainly praying for many more years with mom, despite the fact that they consider her treatment "palliative" Maybe they just need a better word? My husband is a Dr. and he has seen many patients live (and continue to live) much longer than anyone expected. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family for the very best outcome with your mom. Shelley

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I read somewhere (probably somewhere on this site)about how attitudes about lung cancer are changing from something that means a definite death sentence, to something more like a chronic condition. There are tons of things out there that we can't "cure" so the goal becomes managing them to maximize our quality of life.

THe got the tumor out, right? so that's a good thing. focus on that - You can't erase what what the surgeon said, so - in the words of Suzie Q "chuck it out the window!!


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I have a friend that had 28 operations in 18 years for cancer and is doing fine today. I would not pay much attention to the doctor’s statement. I was told that I had 16 to 18 months. I am now at 20 months and feel great. There is One higher up than your doctor that has more control than him. Keep us posted.

Stay positive, :)


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The surgeon was being direct (and tactless) and he was honest about the worse case scenario..

Let's think about tactless-

We are ALL terminal and we will all die of something.

IF we live long enough- we will ALL die of a disease or some kind or organ failure.

None of us escape death.

OK, that's the tactless truth.

Now you know the worse case scenarios- let's think about the flip-side.

1) There are survivors of lung cancer who achieve remission.

2) There are survivors of lung cancer who never have a recurrence of their disease.

3) There are survivors who have survived one or more recurrences.

4) Each individual responds differently to treatment and we can not rely on statistics alone.

5) There are survivors who never attain remission, BUT have been successful in treating their lung cancer as a chronic disease- attacking each new problem as it arises.

6) You CAN live with lung cancer.

7) Lung cancer is not a death sentence.

I know you can't stop those negative thoughts from swirling in your head. That's normal. You love your mom so much and you are afraid. But remember, each negative thought that comes to your head, hang onto your hope, encourage each other, and fight those negative thoughts with the positive ones.

My thoughts and prayers continue for your mom and your family. Keep us posted.

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As far as I know she will resume normal activities as soon as she feels up to it. Hopefully, recovery will be quick. She will be in the hospital for up to 4 days depending on how she is doing.

Thanks everyone for your responses. I knew I would feel better after hearing from all of you!

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Now that is some great advice you got from these folks! What a fantastic group of people. The doc is being direct and tactless, as stated. But, KateB has it cold! Her words are the ones to have stick in your head - not the doc's. My wife is a nurse and we have many friends in the medical comuntiy. Doctors are not always right by any means - they are just people, they all have opinions, some right and some wrong - just like anybody else. Be positve and print Katie's post and hang it on the wall - send a copy to your doc! God Bless!

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[wondermom] The surgeon said, "No malignant tumor is curable. If she lives long enough, it will probably return and we would do radiation. This is not a cure this is just palliative."

I think the first part, about no malignant tumor being curable, is flat-out wrong. It's way too broad. The only reasonable explanation I can come up with is that he misspoke or he was misheard.

The rest of the quote is potentially disturbing but in a different way. Some surgeons are more skillful with scapels than with words, especially words that may be technically accurate and convey a precise meaning to a medical colleague but which have a negative implication for most folks. I'm thinking of words such as inoperable, incurable, and palliative. If you look up these words in Webster's Collegiate or another good dictionary, I doubt if you'll find any mention of imminent death, terminal illness, or the like -- but for many that's the first thing that pops into the head. Surgeons should know that and choose their words carefully. And we as patients and family should realize that we all have conditions which are inoperable/incurable that we hardly ever think about, and that we all take medicines and supplements that are palliative rather than curative.

The part about living long enough is essentially meaningless -- it's like someone saying "if I live long enough I'll probably die of old age" -- and I really doubt if the surgeon meant to imply anything negative. Again, surgeons should know that every word they utter at a time like this is intensely searched for meaning. Some of them wouldn't have much of a career as an embassy foreign service officer. :roll:

Katie's post pretty much says it all. Aloha,


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Unfortunately surgeons are not often known for their bedside manner. Our surgeon was pretty tactless too. I really didn't care, because it was ALL about his hands and skills! He was smart enough to have an assistant that would take over for the "patient talk" part who was very sensitive.

Like my father always said, "Consider the source!"

Glad your Mom's surgery is over and was successful.


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Just keep smiling and look on the bright side they got that thing out of there and it is gone, gone, gone. Katie was right on target with her post. I have been using oxygen on occasion since my treatments and I had a friend tell me he thought I should not use it because I would become dependent/addicted to it. I literally laughed out loud and told him we are ALL pretty much dependent on oxygen.

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