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Cancer - Mom - Canada - Me - Help


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I am a 33 year old woman with a beautiful, loving mother who is dying from Lung Cancer. She is only 56 years old and was the picture of health prior to her diagnosis. She was a non-smoker, organic food eating, yoga practicing centre of calm in our family and now she can barely move around the house. I don't speak about her healthy lifestyle prior to this to infer that she is not like anyone else (prone to cancer), for us it was simply a matter of coming to terms with the fact that despite following all the health recommendations that are shoved down our throats from every direction, she is now enduring a painful, terminal illness. As you can probably tell I am in the anger portion of the 5 stages of grief today, mostly because it is Christmas and I spent the day watching her cry her eyes out because of the pain she is in. Here is our timeline:

May 2nd: Tumor confirmed in her left lung. 4 cm with no apparent spread.

Throughout May it appeared there was no spread anywhere else and her bone scan came back clean.

In June they performed a pneumonectomy and removed her left lung. She recovered incredibly well and bounced back quickly though she was feeling pain in her shoulders and lower back pretty consistently.

In November she went to her three month check up. Her voice was funny and they noted she had a paralyzed vocal chord. They did a cat scan and found three pinhead sized tumors in her remaining lung so they did a bone scan and found the cancer in 4 or 5 different places.

on December 15th she started radiation and went for 5 rounds. That ended on December 22nd.

We are feeling pretty discouraged right now and are completely new to all this. We are inexperienced in this severe of an illness and I am really feeling like I need support and a sounding board. I am not sleeping anymore and my relationship with my partner is suffering. We moved in together a month ago and have been together a year. He lost his father a couple of years ago so he is familiar with a lot of this but it is a heavy burden for him and I feel terrible. I feel like everyday I am waking up in a nightmare. I feel hopeless and desperately need some hope.

Anyways, I am glad this is hear and am looking forward to chatting with some of you.

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Sorry to see your need for this site, but welcome.

As one of many similar apparently healthy never smoked women around here, believe me, we understand. I would never sugar coat the devastation this disease has caused, but I want you to take a breath and step back.

Your Mom is having a recurrence? Very sorry to hear that - a surgical cure is always the best outcome, but not always possible. I had my first recurrence in September 2009 (and another right now, but I have no symptoms) and went on targeted therapy, Tarceva (especially effective in younger, non-smoking females (Asian helps, but not required) with a particular gene mutation - EGFR. Has your Mom been tested for this mutation? With a pneumonectomy, there should be plenty of banked material for testing. Has she even been offered (and accepted) any form of systemic chemotherapy?

Beyond all the interventions, there is almost no reason for her to be in pain. She needs to let her doctors know; they have plenty of options for pain relief.

I am assuming the radiation was for pain relief - and to relieve the vocal chord issue? What is the plan after this? I have to believe her oncologist is recommending either a series of chemotherapy cycles or Tarceva, a once daily pill. If not, she needs to know why not, and get a second opinion. If her functional status is really poor, there are still things that can be done to help her quality of life with or without further treatment.

You've hit a couple of hot buttons - if you read enough stories here, you'll find people with many years of good life who were in worse shape than you describe your Mom. Can't promise you where this may take her, but try to not get too discouraged just yet.

Do let us know what the plan is - and never hesitate to let the docs know if she needs assistance for side effects or symptom relief. There is absolutely no reason for her to be suffering greatly.

Be kind and gentle with yourselves, as well as your Mom.

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I was dx'd Oct 07 by analysis of the cells when I got pneumonia with a pleural effusions. A number of doctors walked around shaking their heads that I looked so healthy. I was a former smoker and no health fanatic but I had been eating well and exercising regularly for years. I had even gone on weight watchers and lost those last ten pesky pounds I was carrying just before my dx. There have been times I was so sick (but always from the treatments) but I am living life pretty well for more than three years. I have the "it's not cureable but it's manageable" 3b adenocarcinoma. I'm sharing all this inform you it's not a death sentence anymore. You may go thru some rough patches with your mother but it can turn around.

Judy in KW

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  • 4 weeks later...


I am 33 yrs old as well and my mom was just diagnosed with stage 3a lung cancer last wednesday. I know exactly what you are feeling. Ever since we found this out I feel as if my whole world has been destroyed. I go to sleep crying and wake up worrying about how I'm going to make it through the day. I just found this site today and for the first time in a week I feel like I am express myself to people who have/or are going through the same thing. I wish none of us had to feel this type of pain. Please know that I will say an extra prayer for you, your mom and family.

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