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Old 12-30-2009, 11:51 AM   #1
HeyIt'sMe
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For those that have dealt with lung cancer in a loved one-Question

Happy New Year's Eve Eve.

I have a question for those of you that have dealt with lung cancer in a loved one. My FIL was diagnosed with lung cancer back in Dec 2007. He went through treatment (chemo & radiation, wasn't a candidate for surgery) from Dec 2007-April 2008 and went back for follow-up x-rays & blood tests every 2 months. Each time he got a good report until Jul 2009 when he was told the cancer was back. He started chemo only again in Sep 2009 using a different chemo than before because it was too toxic to his system.

On Dec 18 he was admitted to the hospital for fluid build-up in the lung (it was not pneumomia and there were no cancer cells in the fluid) and was released Dec 25. He is home now and on oxygen - day & night. He can't eat much and he can't talk much because he starts to cough badly.

When talking to my MIL she keeps saying things like "when he gets off this oxygen" and "when he is better". I just don't see him getting better. Ever. I did see both my parents die of cancer (Dad-kidney, Mom-pancreatic) and it seems like they got to a point where they turned that corner and just got sicker and sicker until they passed.

I know cancer so very unpredictible but when a lung cancer patient reaches the stage that they are dealing with fluid build-up and are put on oxygen what kind of time are we looking at? Has my FIL turned that corner? I just want to be prepared.

TIA,
Debbie
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Old 12-30-2009, 04:27 PM   #2
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I wish I could answer your questions, but I'm afraid I'm in a similar boat. My dad isn't quite as bad as your FIL, but I can't see it getting any better. He's just completed radiation, which has aged him 20 years and is still continuing with chemo (after already being on it for 18 months). From what I've read, the only cure for lung cancer is surgery. Without surgery, I'm afraid there's no good answer. Right now by Dad is absolutely miserable. He can't eat because of the damage to his esophagus, can't sleep, but has no energy whatsoever. It's ugly to watch.
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:15 PM   #3
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I'm sorry to hear about your dad.

I know what you mean about how aged they look. My FIL looks like a little old man and he's only 68 (he turns 69 this Monday, January 4). He always looked so young for his age but now he looks terrible.

He had an appointment with the pulmonologist today and my MIL said she'd call and let us know how it went. She hasn't called so I'm assuming they didn't get good news; sometimes she doesn't call when she has hard news to tell. I'll give her a call in the morning...hopefully she just got busy and didn't get the chance to call.
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Old 12-30-2009, 09:03 PM   #4
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My mom does exactly the same thing when the news is bad. It seems she needs a day or two to digest it herself.

I'm at a point now where I just want peace for both of my parents. Its been awfully hard on my mother. My dad is 77 and I feel blessed to have both of my parents in my life up to this point. It would be extremely selfish of me to wish for a miracle--I just want the suffering to end for my poor dad. He is the wisest man I know and has taught me much, even through his sickness. Time for him to have peace.

Best to you and your family.
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Old 12-30-2009, 11:15 PM   #5
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I am sorry you are going through this. I lost my mom to lung cancer that spread to the brain this past Thanksgiving. I wish I could answer your question but my moms journey was a real roller coaster ride. She was diagnosed in Feb. had radiation treatments and then she had her 1st round of chemo in April. She ended up in the ER with a blood clot and all levels dangerously out of wack and had seizures. I was told she would not make out the ICU that night. After 9 days she made it out of ICU and out of the hosp. She continued with her treatments, finished up in Sept. The cancer had spread to the brain but she was able to go to Disney in Sept with all of us (flew there for NY). Long story short she had seizures in Disney and we were told she was not going to make it for sure out of ER that night. She did. She lost her battle on Thanksgiving after we got her back to NY. That is my experience with lung cancer, my mom "turned the corner" twice before she actually passed. I know how horrible this is and I will keep you in my thoughts.
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Old 12-31-2009, 01:11 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HeyIt'sMe View Post
Happy New Year's Eve Eve.

I have a question for those of you that have dealt with lung cancer in a loved one. My FIL was diagnosed with lung cancer back in Dec 2007. He went through treatment (chemo & radiation, wasn't a candidate for surgery) from Dec 2007-April 2008 and went back for follow-up x-rays & blood tests every 2 months. Each time he got a good report until Jul 2009 when he was told the cancer was back. He started chemo only again in Sep 2009 using a different chemo than before because it was too toxic to his system.

On Dec 18 he was admitted to the hospital for fluid build-up in the lung (it was not pneumomia and there were no cancer cells in the fluid) and was released Dec 25. He is home now and on oxygen - day & night. He can't eat much and he can't talk much because he starts to cough badly.

When talking to my MIL she keeps saying things like "when he gets off this oxygen" and "when he is better". I just don't see him getting better. Ever. I did see both my parents die of cancer (Dad-kidney, Mom-pancreatic) and it seems like they got to a point where they turned that corner and just got sicker and sicker until they passed.

I know cancer so very unpredictible but when a lung cancer patient reaches the stage that they are dealing with fluid build-up and are put on oxygen what kind of time are we looking at? Has my FIL turned that corner? I just want to be prepared.

TIA,
Debbie
My Father died from lung cancer in 2001, he had the fluid build up in his lung, they put a chest tube in and a few weeks later the fluid was back again. There were no cancer cells in the fluid but the problem was the tumor in his lung was large and was blocking the lung so that is why the fluid built up. I know my father was sleeping sitting up because he couldn't breath if he laid down. I don't think anyone will be able to tell you if he turned a corner or not, I had an uncle that lived for 6 years after being diagnosed with lung cancer, my dad died 2 months after being diagnosed.

You have a rocky road ahead of you and I wish you the best dealing with it. Cancer is a horrible disease for both the patient and the family.
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Old 12-31-2009, 02:55 PM   #7
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First, my sympathies for what you and your family are going through. It's just awful.

I guess lung cancer is like any cancer -- it's unpredictable. But this was my family experience. My dad had lung cancer in 1992...no "lung" issues before then like fluid, just exhausted and major weight loss until he was too weak to get out of bed which lead to him finally seeing a doctor and his diagnosis. His was only one lobe, and it was fairly contained (only "irritation" to the lymph nodes at that point). He had the lobe with the tumor removed, a few rounds of chemo/radiation, and 15+ years later he is still cancer free. But my grandmother was completely different. She kept having "bronchitis" issues, they'd drain her lungs, and after about a month of two of this, they finally found the cancer in her lungs. Treatment wasn't even really an option at that point. They couldn't control the fluid build-up. Heck, even her legs began to swell alarmingly. She passed away about a month after diagnosis.

I know hearing two different stories isn't necessarily helpful, but I know I always want to see all sides of an issue, as being informed helps me feel less afraid. the truth is that there is always hope. We all have stories of people who were told they wouldn't make it but are still here today. Sending healing thoughts.
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Old 12-31-2009, 03:22 PM   #8
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My dad was given 6 months back in April 2006 when he went in for a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia. Only symptom he'd had was a nagging cough for several weeks prior. At his diagnosis he was stage 3B, not quite terminal, but not a surgical candidate. He went through radiation to his primary lung tumor that summer and started chemo in the fall. Not long into his chemo he suffered a major setback and spent 15 days in the ICU. They said it was "radiation pneumonitis". He went home on an oxygen tank at the end of October. Miraculously he was off oxygen by January and we took a family trip to Disney in May of 2007. He walked around all the parks-albeit a little slower than previous trips, but it was a miracle nontheless.

Fastfoward a couple months to July 2007 and he started having one-sided weakness--then a brain tumor was discovered. Surgery was the day DD8 started kindergarten. Surgeon said she got the entire tumor and ordered stereotactic radiosurgery just to that portion of his brain a few months later. Then he suffered a gran-mal seizure at home about 2 months post op (all the while after the surgery he suffered debilitating migraines--pure misery). After the seizure they said that there looked to be another brain tumor and they would have to do whole brain radiation - he probably wouldn't make it another 2 months until Christmas that year. That was 2 years ago!!!!

Last spring he had 1/3 of his "good" lung removed for suspected cancer. Today he walks very hunched, is frail and has lots of trouble remembering things. He was SO vibrant before all this started, but he's still here and I'm thankful for every day that we weren't supposed to have. So, like many other stories you'll hear, there is no way of knowing how this will go for your loved one, but don't give up hope - I'm thankful that we didn't when multiple times it seemed like we should expect the worst.
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Old 12-31-2009, 11:35 PM   #9
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I lost my DH to lung cancer & I'm sorry to hear you're dealing with it now. My DH had surgery to remove a lung followed be chemo & radiation. The fluid build up that you spoke about was something we had to deal with too. I'd take my DH to the hospital & they'd drain the fluid & then send us home a couple of days later. The radiation bothered my DH - loss of appetite was a big problem. The doctor told us to get the liquid supplements - Ensure, etc. DH ended up on oxygen 24/7 & shortly after that we had hospice come in to help set up the schedule for meds. Meds were to treat the pain because the cancer spread to his brain. I was told that is pretty common with lung cancer. Every person is different but once my DH was on oxygen he went down hill very quickly. He lost his appetite & really was a different person. It was hard because we have three children & my youngest was only 8 at the time.
As you probably guessed, once a lung cancer patient needs oxygen 24/7 the outlook isn't good. At this stage, they try to keep the person comfortable with pain meds. Have your FIL's doctors discussed hospice? These people are wonderful & will help your FIL & MIL deal with the situation.
Hope this info helps a little - it's such a difficult disease to cope with.
All the best to your family.
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Old 01-01-2010, 08:21 PM   #10
HeyIt'sMe
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Thank you everyone for your responses.

My FIL went back to the pulmonologist on Wednesday. When my MIL asked how long he'd need to be on oxygen she said it was hard to say but definitely at least 4-6 weeks. And she said that if has to keep getting fluid drained they'll just put a port/drain in so it's easier to drain.

My MIL said something about my FIL's lungs aren't "moving like an accordion like they should be and the doctors don't know why". I have no idea what she is talking about.

At this point my FIL is at home resting and will go back to the pulmonologist in 4-6 weeks.
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1970s - Contemporary: Nov 1975
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