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Chemo or Not?


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I was just diagnosed with stage 4-lung cancer that has spread to my adrenal glands. Have a 10 cm tumor on one and a 4 cm on the other. The cancer was first discovered in March at our hospital here in Guam. We went to Hawaii to get a second opinion and they told us that the tumor was a hematoma (sp?) and it would just go away. Had a major heart attack in June and got a triple bypass. Was feeling fine, excursing (10-mile bike rides 4 times a week and making a good recovery. My Doc here wanted to check all systems and in process of doing so had a CT scan. The scan showed a small nodule in my lung and the two tumors mentioned above. (The second one formed since March). They did a biopsy and informed me that I would have about 6 mo max with out treatment and maybe 3 to 6 more if I have Chemo.

I feel fine now and am concerned that if I start the Chemo the side effects will negatively affect my current state of well being. My immune system seems to be working as I fought off the flu with a 102 temp a couple of weeks ago.

My question is will the Chemo lessen the quality of life that I have left? I have already survived over 8 months since the 10 cm tumor was first found and understand that stage 4 has a 30% survival rate for year 1 and a 5% for year 2. Since the tumor formed prior to March I am over the 1 year mark and still feeling great.

I want quality of life rather than quantity and don’t want to put my family through more than I have to. If the chemo prolongs my life for a few more months will side effects incapacitate me? I know this is a decision only I can make, but would appreciate any insight that any of you may have.

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While new to this subject... I'm starting chemo tomorrow. I don't think anyone can predict with any certainty how each individual will respond. I do believe that because you are in great shape that chemo will probably not effect the quality of your life as much as thinking that it will, will.

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First off let me wish you Hafa Adai! I was stationed on Guam in 1970 and 1971. I hear it's changed a LOT since then!

Secondly: Man oh man ... You don't know how much I realy, REALY wish you weren't faced with those choices. All of us here with late stage NSLC or extensive stage SCLC have had to stare that particular demon in the eye. There is no way I can give you any answers, but there are some things that I did that may help you reach your own decision.

Firstly .... I threw those doctor's predicitons right in the ol' porcilan fixture. There are people here who've lived MUCH longer than what they were told they would. I personaly know of one brain cancer patient who was told he had not months, but WEEKS to live. He died ten YEARS later.

Next I started to research my disease. I talked to more doctors than I EVER want to see again. I got on the web and went everywhere I could think of to find real information. A good startng point is the National Cancer Institue website at http://www.nci.nih.gov/. And when I'd learned all I could about my illness ... I went out and learned more.

So much for the easy part. From here on out it got hard.

My next step was to talk openly and honestly with my family and friends. I listened to what was important to them about my situation. A lot of tears were shed and a lot of anger came out. It was NOT easy, but we got it done.

Finally I took about a week to be quiet and listen to my heart. I went deep inside myself. Below all the fear. Below all the masks I'd worn and rolls I'd played for so long I'd come to forget they were but parts I was playing in this thing they call life. I went to that place where the REAL Dean Shaffer lives. It just might have been the most terrifieing journey of my life, but it was there I found my answer.

What answer *I* came up with isn't the important part here. The process of finding it IS important. By allowing myself to be open TO myself I not only found an answer to a crisis, I found a well of strength I didn't know I even had.

Here's hoping you can find the answer YOU are right with.

As for what I finaly decided ... it's in my sig below.


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Only you can decide what is best for you of course. The Chemo treatments of today are not like the chemo of years past, Yes they are hard on the bodyand many still have to deal with nausea and other debilitating side effects, but for many of us side effects are few and easily taken care of. I would say discuss the suggested course of chemo with the onc and learn what possible side effects you may face, before making any final decision on what to do.

Mean while good luck and glad you found your way here, though sorry you need to be here



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I am just a caregiver for i don't know what i would do if it were me. I think what dean has said has some merit. One has to figure this out themself. I keep going back to the what if that one treatment loved you and started to take out the cancer from your body. If after a few treatments you find you don't like it, stop. It is always your choice.

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Hi Z_Pacific,

Of course only you can decide on what’s best for yourself. Regardless of the decision anyone makes here, it is respected. It’s an individual choice. My cancer (see my signature below) has spread to my adrenal glands also. I had fantastic success with chemo. As a matter of fact even the doctor (her words was I have exhilarating news to tell you) was surprised back in November. Starting Iressa on the 16th of this month for maintenances. The point I’m making is none of us know until we try. Everybody reacts differently to chemo. My hair did not fall out. I did not lose my (of course I could eat if I was in a coma) appetite. I was fatigued and tired from the (but the cancer also does that when I’m not on) chemo but I still walk an hour a (most days) day. Not saying that I could do everything I wanted to and cannot even now. Do have to make life style changes for sure. Have to except that things have forever changed. Not saying any of this is easy because it is not. Not saying I'm not afraid because I am. As far as stats go I’m coming up on two years and have no plans on going anywhere. They might as well take the stats and put it where the sun don't shine. Research as much as you can. Stay focused and positive. Take one step and one day at a time. Read other post where people were told they had less time and are still here. It’s a hard decision but you can only make that call. Stay with us. Great people with lots of support, information and caring. Peace, take care and God Bless.



The Power Of People Helping People / The Power Of Knowledge / The Power Of God / The Power Of Believing / The Power Of Positive Thinking / The Power Of Never Taking No For An Answer / United We Stand, Divided We Fall / That’s The Key


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http://www.usnews.com/usnews/nycu/healt ... hqcanc.htm (Best Hospitals)

https://www.alcase.org/advocacy/sign_the_petition.html (Advocacy /Sign the Petition)

http://www.cancersymptoms.org (Oncology Nursing Society)

http://www.plwc.org/plwc/MainConstructo ... 08,00.html (Questions to Ask the Doctor)

http://www.alcase.org/education/publica ... reath.html (With Every Breath A Lung Cancer Guidebook / From ALCASE / A Wealth Of Information / Free)

http://www.cancersurvivaltoolbox.org (The Cancer Survival Toolbox / Free / From NCCS)

http://www.centerwatch.com (Clinical Trails Listing Service / Center Watch)

http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&editi ... ung+cancer (Lung Cancer In The News)

http://www.thewellnesscommunity.org/pro ... /guide.asp (The Wellness Community / National Cancer Support, Education And Support / Free)

http://www.drugs.com (Drug Information Online)

http://www.alcase.org (ALCASE / Alliance For Lung Cancer Advocacy, Support, Education)

http://www.nlm.nih.gov (Unites States / National Library Of Medicine)

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/encyclopedia.html (Health Information / Medical Encyclopedia)

http://www.google.com (Great Search Engine)

http://blochcancer.org (R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation, Inc. / Please read: A Letter to all newly diagnosed cancer patients)

http://www.cancer.org (American Cancer Society)

http://www.cancer.gov (Cancer Information Service / NCI)

http://www.cancerresearchcenter.org (Cancer Research Center)

http://www.aicr.org (American Institute for Cancer Research; Nutrition Hotline / AICR)

http://www.cancerhopenetwork.org (Cancer Hope Network)

http://www.acor.org (Association of Cancer Online Resources / Free Online Lifeline For Everyone Affected By Cancer & Related Disorders)

http://www.meds.com/lung/lunginfo.html (Lung Cancer Information Library)

http://www.lungusa.org (American Lung Association)

http://www.ama-assn.org (American Medical Association)

http://www.docguide.com/news/content.ns ... g%20Cancer (Doctor’s Guide / Lung Cancer)

http://www.healthfinder.gov/Scripts/Sea ... ?topic=506 (Healthfinder)

http://www.medicinenet.com/Lung_Cancer/article.htm (Medicine Net)

http://www.cancerindex.org/clinks2l.htm (Cancer Index / Lung Cancer Resources Directory)

http://www.nfcr.org/site/PageServer?pag ... ncers_lung (National Foundation For Cancer Research)

http://www.patientadvocate.org (Patient Advocate Foundation)

http://www.lungcanceronline.org/effects ... fects.html (Lung Cancer Online / Hematologic (Blood) Effects)

http://www.cancerlinks.org/lung.html (Lung Cancer Links)

http://www.cancer-free.com (Cancer Free Connections)

http://www.healthinsite.gov.au/topics/C ... ung_cancer (Health Insite)

http://www.lungcancerclaims.com (Lung Cancer / Lung Cancer Information Page)

http://www.cancerlifecenter.com/engine. ... =dictionar (Cancer Life Center/ Cancer Dictionary)

http://www.canceryellowpages.com/Resour ... G%20CANCER (Cancer yellow Pages)

http://icare.org (ICARE / The International Cancer Alliance)

http://www.vh.org/index.html (Virtual Hospital)

http://www.lungcanceronline.org/support/financial.html (Lung Cancer Online / Financial, Legal & Insurance Issues)

http://cancernews.healthology.com/focus ... cancernews (Cancer News)


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If I could catch a rainbow, I would do it just for you, And share with you its beauty, On the days you’re feeling blue. If I could build a mountain, You call your very own, A place to find serenity, A place to be alone. If I could take your troubles, I would toss them in the sea, But all these things I’m finding, Are impossible for me. I cannot build a mountain, Or catch a rainbow fair, But let me be what I know best A friend that’s always there. Author Unknown


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