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Wondering about typical care requirement during chemo


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My mom (age 79) has recently been informed that it appears that she has stage IV lung cancer.  Mets to spine - pain in back was what started all of this. Then after PET scan a lung lesion was found (no other organ involvement).  Thursday this week she has a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.


My question is regarding care.  She is in a lot of pain in her back right now but other than that, is doing OK and able to get around, cook, etc. - though her activities are much less than previous mainly due to the pain and some weakness in her legs.


I expect that shortly after the biopsy we then begin to understand the treatment options, etc. and I expect that chemo is likely (right?).  My dad passed away 8 years ago (T cell lymphoma also diagnosed at Stage IV) and mom lives alone.  I've been spending time with her every day, but not all day.  Will I need to plan for someone being with her all day, every day, at least in the initial stages of chemo?  Any thoughts on what I need to plan for regarding her care?  I have two brothers in the area and I am hopeful between the three of us we can be there when she needs us.


Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated!  If more specific information is needed before you can help just let me know that and I will check back once I have more details.

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Welcome here.


Your mother's care plan during chemo is difficult to project at this juncture.  Different chemo recipes cause different side effects, and of course, side effects vary from person to person even given the same type and dosage of chemotherapy.  If infused, the drugs are administered over a period of time - typical is a 3-week cycle.  In my case, different side effects occurred at different times during this cycle.  For example, nausea set in two days after infusion, while joint paint occurred 4 days after infusion and etc.  Thankfully, this pattern was repetitive in me and after my wife started noting the side effect days on the calendar, we could forward project my care needs.  In summary, I needed the most assistance for about a 5-day period starting two days after each infusion.


There are now oral chemotherapy drugs that may be administered every day and concurrent with infused chemotherapy.  These might alter the aforementioned.


Your mom may also receive radiation in her spine to alleviate her pain symptoms and radiation may be concurrent with chemo.  Radiation brings its own unique side effects to bear.  In my case irritated, sunburn-like, skin and decreasing energy levels as treatment progressed.


Here is some information on chemotherapy side effects to help you read in - http://www.lungevity.org/about-lung-cancer/lung-cancer-101/treatment-options/chemotherapy


Stay the course.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you for your reply and for the welcome!  Since my post, the lung cancer diagnosis was confirmed.  We are still waiting for the molecular test results, and the radiation treatment to her spine has started (day 2 today).


The information you have provided is helpful.  It will certainly be much easier once we know the treatment plan.  But it sounds like we should plan to be there to support her initially (e.g., during first course if it is a course-based treatment), monitor, and then plan based on how that goes.  I really like the idea of tracking on a calendar how she is doing and what effects she's feeling. 


I will read through the link you provided.  Thank you again!

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