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Mom newly diagnosed

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My 89 year old Mom was diagnosed with extensive SCLC on 3/28. Lung mass was first discovered last November when she had a heart attack. Took took almost 5 months to get a diagnosis. She is fiercely independent, still lives in her own home and drives short distances. She decided to try chemo & immunotherapy as she is determined to live until October so she can see my daughter get married. She’s had her first treatment and the only side effect is exhaustion. They started her with 1 chemo drug and immunotherapy. When she goes for her 2nd treatment next week, they will add the second chemo drug at 50%. Because of her age, Oncologist is very cautious which I’m happy about.  I go from firmly believing the treatment will help prolong her life and not ruin the quality of it to being terrified that the treatment will ruin what life she has left or worse, kill her before the cancer does. My dad died of SCLC in 1991 so I’ve been through this before but I’m trying to believe that treatment is different (better?) than back then. Bottom line is she’s my best friend and I feel so helpless. I’m 63 years old and am not ready to lose my mom.

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Welcome here. 

Losing parents is not easy; losing both to lung cancer sucks. 

I’ve read about the new combination chemotherapy and immunotherapy for small cell but I believe you are the first to mention its use on this forum. 

Studies show increased effectiveness against lung cancer tumors with immunotherapy when given in conjunction with conventional chemo. Wouldn’t know about the reduction in efficacy for reduced dose. 

Only experiencing exhaustion as a side effect is a good thing. It is a pretty common immunotherapy complaint and hopefully indicates the drug is having an effect. 

I’m betting she has no problem with the wedding. 

Stay the course. 


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Thanks Tom, I appreciate your reply. I’m trying not to go into this with my Mom with preconceived notions from past experience with my dad. But it’s so hard. In 1991 when my dad was diagnosed the time frame we were given was 6 months to a year. I focused on the year. He was gone 5 months later. But then again, he wasn’t a fighter like my mom is. The Doctor feels that treatment with both chemo and immunotherapy will have the best results and doesn’t think being here in October is an unrealistic goal. Most of the time I’m up and positive but on occasion I’m hit with a huge wave of “what if’s”. She’s such a strong woman or a “tough old bird” as she likes to refer to herself, so if she can withstand the next three treatments, I think she’ll be wearing that new dress down the isle at my daughters wedding.

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I’m sorry to hear about your mom.   Treatments have changed a ton since 1991.  I lost my father in 2013 and the treatments have changed completely since then.  The biggest difference is the ability to have both the cancer (somatic) and the person (germline) tested for genetic biomarkers and mutations.  If there are specific mutations a treatment plan can be tailored towards those mutations.   Having a specific goal and something to fight can have an effect on prognosis.  

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