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Mom with non small cell carcinoma


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I am a new member and hoping to find out more information on non small cell carcinoma. My mother, who is 80 was diagnosed in April 2008. She has elected not to have any treatment and seems to be getting very frail, but with no pain, just more and more nausea. I'm wondering if there is any way to figure out how fast and how long she has left to live. In April the doctor said she would be greatly deteriorated by year end, this seems to be the case. It was determined the cancer had matastesized(sp) but there was no involvement in her brain. Is nausea a sign of progression and does it mean the progression is becoming aggressive? How is a family to know what to expect and how long a person has to live?



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HI Reed,

I'm so sorry for what your mom and you are going thru.

Simply put- there is no way to know short of having all the tests and knowing where the cancer has metastasized to and what is causing her symptoms. We can guess, and a prognosis is just a guess- be we can't know for sure how long she has.

My dad had no pain and no symptoms other than dehydration, he was in between treatments and we all thought he was stable. One routine visit to the ER for fluids and they told us his cancer had spread throughout his skeletal system and that he had just hours to live (he lived 11 more days) I share that story to show an example of how blindsided we can be by this disease and how no one can ever know when "the" time is.

I also suggest talking to her doctor if you can and get advice from other experts too. We have a great resource over at GRACE- Dr. West answers general medical questions for us as well. www.cancergrace.org

If your mom is doing well and not having pain, can you suggest to her some tests (scans, etc) to see what is going on? I know you said she doesn't want chemotherapy but her symptoms, (pain, nausea, breathing) can still be treated to improve her quality of life.

I wish I had some real answers for you, but most of all I just wish your mom and you didn't have to go thru this.

Keep us posted. This is a great place to come for support and friendship from those who've walked this journey.

I'm hoping for the best for your mom.

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Hi Reed. I am so sorry about your dear mother and your need to be here. As Katie said, there is no way to tell how long a person has. We all need to take each day we have as a blessing and make as many good memories as we can. The most important thing for your mom is to keep her as pain free and comfortable as possible so she can enjoy the time she does have. Keep after those docs to make sure that happens. Take care


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Hi, Reed, welcome to the group. It's hard to be positive when a loved one is slipping away, but the fact that your mom is in no pain is a blessing. Is she receiving hospice support? If you haven't discussed hospice options with her doctor, this would be a good time to ask. For someone being cared for at home, the visits by experienced hospice nurses can be exceedingly helpful to the family as well as to the patient.

I second Katie's suggestion to visit cancergrace.org and ask Dr. West your questions on the nausea issue and anything else of concern. Though he can't give specific medical advice to a person who is not his patient, he has a knack for laying out all of the considerations in a clear and objective yet compassionate way. Not only is he an internationally recognized expert on lung cancer, he is committed to answering individual questions online within 24 hours, even on holidays and weekends.

With Aloha,


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Reed, I just wanted to chime in and give you our personal experience.

I did some research on the internet and found a list of milestones, if you will, that many people experience as they get closer to death. The very morning my husband passed away, I was telling a friend of ours that I expected him to live for another month or so, at the minimum.

But no one can answer your question with any certainty. Just like any other statistic, these milestones were developed from the experiences of a broad range of people. And we are all individual.

If, after reading all these responses, you still want the information I compiled, send me a PM.

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Reed, I'm so sorry you had to find this site. I am glad your mother is pain free, but I personally find naseau to be a really debilitating symptom or side-effect. Until the doctors come up with a remedy, if she doesn't have a sugar problem, you could consider picking up some hard candies (flat white with red stripes like a candy cane) that contain real peppermint oil for her to suck on. Or, you can drop two or three in a cup of tea. It can't hurt and she could get at least some temporary relief from the naseau.

I'm sending much positive energy and thoughts to you and your mother.

Judy in Key West

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Hello Reed and welcome to LCSC

I am sorry you had need to find a site like this but glad you have joined us!

I cannot add to the advice you have gotten already but I wanted to say hello and welcome you. Please keep posting and let us know how we can help you.

There is always someone here who can offer some advice or suggestions or even just listen when you need to talk to someone who understands...



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I am so encouraged to see how many people care about one person's posting. You are all in my prayers and I thank you all for adding your thoughts to my post. As things progress I will try to update my post in hopes that it may lend insight to someone else someday.

God Bless,


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