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Stage 4 cancer diagnosis


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I am very thankful to have stumbled onto this site. I've been reading through post and have a few questions....

My dear dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer on Nov 2. The dr's have called it squamous cell cancer. His cancer has spread to his brain, spine, liver, abdomen, adrenal glands. I know they named other places as well but honestly I was weak in the news and trying not to pass out at this point. He had ten days of radiation and one round of chemo. The dr says he can do 4-6 rounds of chemo and then no more. I am trying to understand why they won't continue with more. He had made wonderful progress with the radiation and chemo. From not being able to even get out of bed to now walking with a walker.

I guess I am wondering if there are any people out there who had a similar diagnosis and what their experience has been. I'm told everything being done for my dad is pallative care. I am so naive to all this that I didn't even know what that was. I just can't believe my dad is dying. There has to be more we can do for him. I see the radiation and chemo results there has to be more. I'm 35 years old and single mom to a beautiful one year old daughter and we desperately want many more years with this man. My dad is divorced from my mom but they have remained friends and she is fighting for him too. I have one sister who has never been close to my dad and is sort of shut down to the situation. She is able to go about her every day life like nothing is going on but I am consumed with my dads diagnosis.

I guess its not so much questions I have right now but hope.

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Usually when they say "no More" they mean a break from chemo, not no more forever.

4-6 rounds of chemo is pretty standard. Depending on the response to the chemo and the length of that response can determine if they give the same chemo or something different when/if it shows back up. Since the cancer has spread, and there is no way of knowing if all of the cancers cells were killed by chemo, that is why treatment is considered palliative and not curative.

Although, I know from my own experience just how devastating this news can be, remember to BREATHE. As a matter of fact take several deep breaths. It will help to calm you and center your mind so that you can meet these challenges head on and in the way best to help yourself and your father.

Keep your faith, Darlin' it helps loads and also remember you can come back here anytime for a refill on just about anything from information, to (cyber) hugs and understanding.


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I can answer a few of your questions and this is the right place to find some hope, as you will hear from folks that have continued to kick lung cancer's butt despite the initial diagnosis.

Palliative means that they are treating the cancer to alleviate the symptoms but not with the aim to cure it. However, not treating with curative intent is not hopeless. I once described this to a family member as - you can't 'beat' the cancer, but you can sure as heck beat it back down and hope to do that for as long as is possible. You will find people here that have been doing that for years.

As to why only 4-6 cycles of the chemo - this is standard in lung cancer when you are dealing with the traditional sorts of chemotherapy. These drugs are toxic to healthy cells as well as the cancer cells. After 4-6 cycles, the attitude is that you have hit the point of diminishing return - the point where the drugs are more toxic on the healthy cells and are actually more dangerous than helpful. At the 4-6 cycle point, the risk begins to outweigh the benefit.

But after that point, there are still other drugs that can be given, or the doctors could give him a break on the medications and monitor closely and then go with a new drug once the cancer begins to show any progression.

It is all very overwhelming and everyone here really understands that. Understanding what all is going on helps a lot and you can learn a lot of that here. Don't hesitate to ask questions. You can also learn a TON from www.cancergrace.org - and I'm sure others here will recommend that site to you.


edited to add - I see you are getting a lot of good comments in another thread. Learning what you can and what things mean really will help you a lot. Knowledge is power, as they say. Just keep asking and folks will help you out. You will feel a little more in control if you at least feel like you understand things. Though everyone here can attest to the fact that nothing makes you feel quite as powerless as cancer. At least here, you can feel like you have taken back some of that power. Good luck, and hang in there. Lots of folks here to help and to support you!

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My dads oncologist did say after the second round of chemo they will do another scan to see if its making a difference. It has to be though I mean it really is amazing the difference I see in his abilities. I don't believe his dr has ever mentioned the drug Triceva (SP?) I keep seeing mentioned on this site and have read about. My dad goes for his second chemo in a week and I am going to ask about it.

Thank you for your replies.

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Lyn, I know I did a reply post yesterday but somehow it didn't go through. We are here with information, support and most especially with HOPE. It is what we all survive on, whether we have cancer ourselves or one of our loved ones does. Stay in touch and keep us updated on your Dad's treatments. We care.

Judy in Key West

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When cancer has spread beyond the organ of origin it is considered Stage IV and most all treatment is technically considered pallative. My mom has been on pallative treatments for almost three years. She was stage IV at diagnosis too. My mom's oncologist told her at the time that he didn't think he could cure her cancer, but he was pretty sure he could control it. And until lately, he has.

This diagnosis is a hugh shock. Try to take it one day at a time. If you see your father improving--GOOD! He will need an advocate so make sure you ask any questions you need and we will help you as much as we can.


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