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Saw Pulmonologist today


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Friends, my 87 YO mom saw the Pulmonologist today following a breathing test.  He looked at the CT results from the December hospital stay and said that 99.9% sure that it's cancer.  Her left lung, both lobes, have large masses causing her overall lung function to be 57-64%.  She has no sign of COPD or emphysema.   Praise God for small blessings.

He said that it's inoperable,  due to her current weight (85 pounds) and body condition (frail) she probably would not survive surgery.  He also said  chemo would be way too hard on her. Her options are..

A. Biopsy, followed by radiation,  of both lobes of left lung.  That might slow the growth of the masses, but it will not cure her. 

B. Follow up in two months to see how much the cancer has grown.  

I let her rest after such a big day and we will talk this weekend.  Since she is not in any pain from the tumors, and she's not coughing blood, I feel like she will go with Option B to squeeze out all the quality of life she can.  She might surprise me, but I doubt it.  She told my brother that she should have never allowed our Dad to do chemo. It didn't prolong his life, it made him weak and sicker due to how much his overall condition had deteriorated. 

I'm exhausted, calling it a night.  

Godspeed to you all.  

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I'm sorry, Donna.  I don't have any personal experience with radiation, but many others here do.  My understanding is that, in addition to slowing the growth, it can actually shrink the tumors, which would improve her breathing and potentially improve her quality of life for a longer time than doing nothing.  Obviously it's her decision, but the side effects of radiation are usually not as debilitating as the effects of chemo.  Whatever she decides, it would be good to get some palliative care experts on the case to make her feel more comfortable.  It's not the same as hospice--palliative car makes patients more comfortable whether they are receiving treatment or not.

Hope you both get some rest and that she can come to a decision she's at peace with.

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Thank you LexieCat and BridgetO for your replies.  Mom was withdrawn today,  I think yesterday took a lot out of her. My sweet hubby gave me a long, much needed massage this afternoon.   We will take this one day at a time and seek help along the way. 


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Sorry about your Mom's diagnosis.  I had radiation for a recurrence in my lymph nodes and the radiation knocked the cancer out. I've since had another recurrence and a higher dose of radiation started the shrinking process on that nodule. Radiation has some minor but manageable side effects but the biggest one is fatigue. By the end of week 2, I would have to nap during the middle of the day. 

Keeping you and your mom in my thoughts.

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Thank you, Susan.  Mom's masses are so large ( one over 8cm & one over 6cm), and she's lost so much weight that it's scary. If they were smaller and she were younger, I feel like radiation would be her best option. She's so frail (85 lbs) and of poor body condition that two doctors have expressed that treatment might hurt her worse than doing nothing.  

For now we are having good conversations,  working on legal documents so I can make decisions for her, and enjoying each other. 

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DonnaKay, you are in a hard situation. Taking the time to enjoy your mother and working on the legal documents will give both of you a sense of peace. It did wonders for my family.

I lost my mother to lung cancer in May of 2017. She decided in the last few months to receive Palliative Care, which assisted her in controlling her pain and improving her breathing. She also was very frail and did not want chemo, once the disease had spread. One of her bone metastases was to her upper thoracic spine, which was very painful. I agree with LexiCat that the radiation helped to decrease the tumor load, which did help to decrease her pain. It helped overall to improve her quality of life.

I can empathize with your fatigue as a caregiver! Navigating the healthcare system is emotionally exhausting. My husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 NSCLC in December of 2017 from Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam and is currently receiving Palliative Care through Hospice. Life as we once knew it is gone, but it is still good.

Wishing you and your mother a good nights rest and a sense of peace.



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