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MIL Recently Diagnosed Stage 4 — Help.


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Hello all, I’ve been reading these forums for a couple of weeks now but this will be my first post. My sweet Mother-in-Law was diagnosed unexpectedly with Stage 4 NSCLC just 3 weeks ago.

She had been having a bad cough for weeks with diagnosis of pneumonia, bronchitis, etc. Finally she went in to the ER where they found a large tumor partially blocking her airway that had caused a pleural effusion. They did a procedure to drain the lung, diagnosed her with cancer and sent her on her way. She went to an oncologist a week later who told her it was stage 4 and they couldn’t cure her but could treat her. A few days later she was back in the ER with fluid accumulation again. They did the procedure to drain it and then put a large chest tube in to drain it continuously. Their ultimate goal was to the talc procedure but for some reason it was put off, possibly due to her o2 levels and them having concern about intubating her because of the tumor so next goal was to get her into radiation ASAP to get it shrunk some. Well, she went in for a fairly minor procedure yesterday where they took the large chestube out and replaced it with a catheter so she could drain the lung at home herself and go home. Today she went into afib which she has done before. She’s on a beta blocker.

Now my father-in-law (FIL)wants a transfer to get her started on radiation because this hospital won’t begin her treatment all of a sudden. They originally said they could have her tumor shrunk in 8-10 sessions and she could start chemo after that to treat the mets. Now they’re basically saying she can’t start radiation yet and no one will take her as a transfer. They’ve also started monitoring her fluid output. I don’t understand why they seem to be giving up on her? We all just want her to have a fighting chance. Her husband (my FIL) has been advocating so much. She’s been on morphine and Ativan which makes her loopy and beta blocker and blood thinner o2 continuously, but she was in better spirits today supposedly. We live a few hours away and we’re just up there this weekend to see her. She was emotional and loopy but my sister in law said she was  better today.

I just don’t understand what’s going on and why they can’t get her transferred? Is she being treated like a second rate citizen because she doesn’t have the best insurance? I just would appreciate some input, advice, similar experiences on this. My sister in law feels like the hospital is leaving stuff out and are just giving up on her. This has all been within a 3 week period. We are all so confused and frustrated and just want her to have a chance to fight this monster invading her body. She’s only 54 and has the soul of a saint. What’s especially weird about all of this is that she just had a bronchoscopy and biopsy done earlier this year for a nodule that came back benign and a CT that was also clear. This huge thing popped up in a matter of a few months. What should we expect next? We are scared and also frustrated with her care. 

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I can't answer for the hospital staff and why they are not treating her cancer.  But, from information in your post, it sounds like your MIL has a number of complicating health problems (AFIB, Blood Thiner, beta blocker) and this complexity could be the reason radiation and chemotherapy have not yet started. 

I recommend your FIL call our Lung Cancer LUNGevity HELPLine at 844-360-5864.  The help line is open M-T 10 am to 6 pm and Friday, 10 am to 5 pm (Eastern Standard Time). This appears to be too complicated a situation to address in this forum.

Stay the course.


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