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Mom diagnosed last week


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Hi everyone, 

I got the news last week that my mom has stage 3 lung cancer. It really tore me apart, she's my best friend and I owe everything I have, and every part of who I am to her. When she was younger she also battled and won the battle with lymphoma. I've always been so proud of her for that, but I wasn't around to see her go through all of the treatments and how they can change a person. I'm scared to see how the treatment for her lung cancer will affect her. My dad is her primary caregiver but we will all be helping her through this as much as possible. He was by her side through her cancer the first time so I'm happy he will be with her again. He is good at staying positive. I've been doing a lot of crying in private, but staying positive around the family, especially my mom herself. She herself is staying positive, saying today that "she's got this" after we learned after her MRI showed that she had no other tumors in her body as of now besides in her lung. After learning this I felt a big sense of relief, but then it slowly faded once I realized how hard this was still going to be to fight. I don't feel right for allowing myself to breathe and feel hopeful, I feel like I should take this as realistically as possible but I'm not informed enough to even know what that entails. 

Tomorrow she sees a surgeon to see if she should do chemo and surgery or chemo and radiation. At first glance before the MRI they didn't think surgery would be an option at all, so I feel a bit of optimism that maybe surgery can happen after chemo now. I know people have beaten lung cancer with just chemo and radiation. I also know a family friend's mother just had half of her lung removed and is in remission doing very well. These things make me feel so much better but I know every single case is different. My mother is the most resilient, strongest, and most selfless woman in the world. Everyone who meets her loves her and her smile lights up the room. I want to know what I can do to make this easier on her, my brothers, my dad, and myself as well. What are the steps to take? What can I expect to change in our lives? She's always taken care of me and been my rock and I plan to do the same for her.

Any advice, thoughts, anything would be good. 

Thank you!!!

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Oh my, I am sorry to learn of your mom's diagnosis.  Bottom line up front:  I was diagnosed stage III, had pre-surgical chemo and radiation, then surgery, then complications, then more chemo and radiation but all that ended in 2007.  Then, I've achieved a state of "no evidence of disease" or NED; the state all lung cancer survivors hope to attain.  So, if I can live, so can your mother.  I was diagnosed February 4, 2004 and since that time very sophisticated and effective treatments have been introduced.  So, there is hope.

What can you do?  Become a subject matter expert on lung cancer.  There will be questions to ask as tests and treatments take place.  Educated questions prompt alternative treatment ideas.  My wife's TPQ "terribly perceptive question" likely saved my life. Here is where you might start your reading.  Send this link to your other family members and encourage them to learn about lung cancer.  While you are at it, you might pass this along to your dad as he prepares to accompany your mother to treatments.

What can you expect to change in your lives? I wouldn't begin to know how to answer that.  Certainly, you shouldn't have an expectation that your mother's life is going to be different.  I lost a lung and have residual side effects from my many treatments but my life since February 2007 has been wonderful and fulfilling.  If you are temped to peek at lung cancer survival statistics, read this instead and do listen to the Stephen Jay Gould essay cited in the link.

Encourage your dad and perhaps your mom to join us.  Questions?  This is the place!

Stay the course.


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It was the best thing i did to join this group of positive and supportive people and it helped me so much and i have had surgery and chemo and scans showed no sign of cancer so i feel very lucky and positive ..

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At stage 3, depending on the location and Tumor properties, they will treat the patient with curative intent.

Please know that it's alright to be frightened for your mom. Own your feelings, that makes them easier to deal with. Your mom is your mom and I bet she's able to read the fear in you. It's okay to let her know that you are afraid but that you will take strength from knowing that she is dealing with this so well.

Contact the oncology social worker at her hospital. Inquire about support groups for family and friends. My experience in family support groups and now in patient support groups is that there is more laughter than tears and you learn how to help her enjoy good quality of life.

Learn the signs of dehydration (confusion, stumbling, dizziness blurred vision, skin that stays tented when gently pinched. Pulmonary embolisms and pleural effusion may or may not cause sharp pain accompanied by shortness of breath and faster heartbeat. The pain may be referred-it doesn't have to be on the same side as the lung cancer. Watch for unusual swelling in her legs that might indicate blood clots that can break loose and cause heart attack, stroke or pulmonary embolism. If you see any of those symptoms call her dr immediately.

Get her up for short walks or swim. Exercise is important. Calories are more important than balanced diet during treatment. Make smoothies or milk shakes with ensure or boost to get the nutrition she needs.

Hope this helps.

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When I was reading the beginning of your post, I thought it was me talking. I feel the same way about my mother as you do. My mom is on her 2nd diagnosis of lung cancer, the 1st being in 2015. My mom had a lobotomy in January 2015 and then followed up with chemo and radiation because the tumor was more involved than the surgeon realized. My mom did great after her surgery and during treatment and she is NOT the epitome of good health to begin with. So if my mom can make it thru, so can yours. One thing that has really helped me with this cancer recurrence is these forums. There are several members who have provided great insight for me. Everyone on these forums are survivors, whether we are fighting ourselves or fighting for a loved one. There is also great information here that can help educate you in your mom's current health issue. Arm yourself with knowledge. Don't pay attention to the statistics,your mom is not a statistic. As Tom says, if one person can survive, so can your mom. Moms are fighters. 

Do know I feel your pain, you are not alone. I am currently crying by myself too. We are here for you. Take care, keep your chin up. Be strong. Once y'all have a definite treatment plan in place, things will get easier.

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Hi Katherine,

I'm sorry to hear about your mom's diagnosis. I still remember the day that my dad told me about his. As soon he said the word tumor, I started balling and everything else was a blur after. Things started rolling pretty fast after that. Surgery, chemo, recovery....

After 2 years, we are still in this and like Tom and everyone else said, it is a marathon. So really, I know it sounds cliche, but take care of yourself. Both physically and mentally.

Your dad will of course have a lot to deal with as well being the primary caretaker so be sure to check in with him often.

As far as making things easier on your mom, just try to be there and help as much as possible. Also, it's important to help her feel a sense of normalcy. If she enjoys making dinner for the family, ask her to make it if she's up for it.

As much as they say they are strong and they've got this? They are human too so they will have good and bad days. And so will you. Take it one day at a time. Get support. Talk to friends.

Your lives will prob never be 100% "normal" again but could be pretty darn close on good days!

Hang in there!

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I don't have experience with chemo (either as a caregiver or for myself), but I just had a lobectomy on July 10th.  The minimally-invasive techniques are FANTASTIC--I have three tiny incisions.  I probably would already be back at work but I had a minor complication of an air leak that caused my face/neck/chest to swell up and I had to go back in with a chest tube for a few days. THAT was tougher than the original surgery.  I would have been fine just having my neighbors look in on me if it weren't for the re-admission, but by the time I got out the second time, I was VERY happy to have my cousin offer to come out and take care of me for a few days.  She just drove me on errands/appointments till I was cleared to drive (which was as soon as the chest tube was removed), and helped with some housework and kept me company.  I was going a little stir-crazy by then.  

If your mom is putting on the game face, roll with that.  The one thing that stresses me out is seeing the furrowed-brow, worried faces.  I'm grateful my family and friends have followed my lead.  It IS scary, for sure, but it sounds like your mom copes with things the way I do.  So to the extent you can support that positive attitude, you will be helping her.  

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Hi Katherine. 

I am so sorry to hear of your mothers diagnosis. My mother was diagnosed last October with stage 3a lung cancer. She received induction chemo which made surgery possible for her. The tumor was too large to remove at first. Chemo can reduce tumors and make surgery possible. She had a left lower lobectomy and then radiation after. She is currently NED, albeit it hasn't been a year, but me and my family are very grateful she is with us and currently in remission. 

Like tom and others have said, you are not alone and talking about the situation with your mom can be therapeutic. I would suggest, if it has not been done already, to have your moms tumor tested for mutations. My mom is EGFR positive, which I understand to mean there is a precision medecine available to attack her cancer should a recurrence occur.

Feel free to message me anytime with any questions. God bless


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