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More bad news. Now what?


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My mother in law has been diagnosed with NSCLC Stage IIIB. Since the thorasic surgeon said that she is no longer a canidate for surgery, we met with the oncologists last week to decide a course of treatment. She decided to enroll in a clinical trial being done at the U of Chicago with the NCI. Part of this trial required that she have a bone scan. (She's already had two CTs and a PET scan with in the last 6 weeks). They told us that this was just a matter of procedure and we shouldn't expect anything to be found. The doctors seemed pretty possitive.

The test was last Friday and yesterday, the nurse called and said that there are spots on her leg and spine that they don't like. She had to go this AM to have X-rays done. The nurse said that it could be arthritis or tumors but they won't know until after the X-rays.

With all of the other tests that she's had done, shouldn't someone be able to tell cancer from arthritis? It's just so frustrating!

She was scheduled to meet with the radiation oncologist today but they cancelled that appointment. If the X-rays show that it's not cancer, she will see him tomorrow. We don't know what the next step will be if it does show cancer. I guess that I'm thinking the worst since she doesn't have any pain anywhere! If it were arthritis, I would expect that she would be in some pain.

Now, we have no idea what if anything they will be able to do to treat her. Up until this point, she has had a possitive attitude. It's getting hard to stay focused and possitive. It seems that with every test, we get more bad news.

This has been going on since Sept when her chest X-ray came back abnormal. Things were going so slowly with her doctors in the suburbs that she switched to U of Chicago last month.

Where do we go from here?

Mother in law~~71yo non-smoker diagnosed Nov'03 NSCLC Stage IIIB

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The bone scane is VERY sensitive. When I had mine they found a spot on a rib. X-rays showed negative. It was explained to me that simply bumping your shin on something can show up possitive on the scan. The scan is used as a "negative" type test. In other words, if it comes back clean it's an almost certanty there is no cancer. If it comes back positive it doesn't necessarily mean there's cancer there. It just means that area needs to be checked further.

In my opinion the time you and your Mom are going through now (testing, diagnosis, ect.) is by far the toughest when dealing with this disease. It IS frustrating. Things seem to change from one day to the next. I just had to take it one day at a time. I tried to find ways to enjoy my life in between the doctors appointments and consultations. When I could I did a LOT of research on my own. Every time a new bit of information was added I went looking to see how it affected my situation. The NCI web site (http://www.cancer.org) has a lot of good information. Other folks here have links to many web sites with all kinds of info. By doing those two things I was able to get through the diagnostic phase of my illness with minimual emotional upset.

Hang in there!


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