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Thread: Multi-organ system cancer... smoker...

  1. #1
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    Multi-organ system cancer... smoker...

    Hi all,

    My grandmother is 79 years old and only 110 lbs. She came into the hospital last week with severe chest pain in her back and side. The doctors found fluid in her lungs and started treatment for pneumonia. Only after 3 days of IV antibiotics which had no effect did they start to suspect something different. Her PET scan showed multiple tumors including one large tumor in the lung, at least one in the liver, one in the lymph node, and the doctors suspect she has bone cancer as well from her symptoms. They are doing her biopsy tomorrow morning (needle through the rib cage method). It is clear that whatever cancer caused the original tumor has metastesized. She has been a very heavy smoker for almost 65 years of her life, and I am afraid that the lung cancer is the culprit. I have never had to lose someone close to me before, and this is shocking and terrifying.

    I would like to know what to ask the doctors when I go to see her on Thursday. I feel that with all her checkups (including multiple Xray's and MRI's over many years), someone should've caught this by now, but I am very ignorant of how cancer works. Should this have been caught earlier?

    I would like to know if I should be hopeful or not. With the extent of the cancer throughout her body, I am not optimistic. What should I expect?

    I live 900 miles away from her, so traveling to see her often is a challenge for me. I am going to see her Thursday and staying until Tuesday but must return to work and school then.

    Any help or information would be extremely useful to me. I will not have internet access during the trip.

  2. #2
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    MiamiMathGirl, I am sorry that you have to be on this site, however, you will find a wealth of information and support here. You will need to ask the doctors if you are correct in assuming that the cancer started in the lungs. You will also need to know the type and stage of the cancer. This will determine the treatment course if any. If you are correct about this being lung cancer, she is in an advanced stage and will not be cured. They can however, control or manage this cancer and for sure they can mimimize the symptoms and keep her comfortable. Everyone responds differently to different treatments. Some choose to fight for as long as they can and others choose not to consider treatment options. Most cases of lung cancer are not caught until later stages so this is not unusual. In my Dad's case, surgery was not an option, chemotherapy was not recommended nor did he want it, however he did opt for radiation on his lung tumor with the hopes that it would reduce the tumor size and buy him some more time. Enjoy whatever time you can with her. Come back here and let us know how you both are doing.
    Irish
    Irish,
    Caregiver to my Dad, who was diagnosed in June 2010 with Stage 1V NSCLC with single met to brain,
    He sadly lost his battle in August 2010 and we miss his smiling Irish blue eyes terribly.
    My Dad's story:
    http://www.cancerforums.net/threads/...th-how-he-died.

  3. #3
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    Thank you so much Irish.

    They did a biopsy on the liver tumor today and are going to do her lung biopsy in the morning. The doctors should have results back by Friday morning. They are concerned that the liver tumor is the most life threatening at the moment. I appreciate the honesty about the treatment situation. I was not terribly hopeful that there would be any cure or significant improvements, and am sad to see that I was right on that score.

    I think I am still in shock. I was in tears all day yesterday, and today I feel numb.

    I will ask the doctors about what the options are and will post an update as soon as I can.

  4. #4
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    MiamiMathGirl, Please don't give up hope. Advanced cancer can be managed. Read some of the stories in both lung and liver areas of this forum. So many valiant cancer fighters have been around for a long time. This time is still a shock to the system for both you and your grandmother. Do you have other family members that will be supporting you both? Wait until you hear what the suggested treatment options are and how your grandmother responds to those suggestions. In the end it will ber her call and that's when she will really need your support. Take care of yourself, if you really want to help and support her through this you will need to be healthy yourself...it's a tiresome journey and altough it's sad beyond belief it's also a time when all pretenses are dropped and meaningful relationships flourish. Again, I urge you to enjoy this time with her. God Bless you both.
    Irish
    Irish,
    Caregiver to my Dad, who was diagnosed in June 2010 with Stage 1V NSCLC with single met to brain,
    He sadly lost his battle in August 2010 and we miss his smiling Irish blue eyes terribly.
    My Dad's story:
    http://www.cancerforums.net/threads/...th-how-he-died.

  5. #5
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    Well I made it to see her yesterday. She has not pooped or been able to keep her food down in over a week. The doctors will tell us today what type of cancer it is. They just took her down to X-ray her belly to find out why she can't poop. She is in a lot of pain. The doctors are sure the cancer was caused by smoking and originated in her lungs. I am so scared. I hate seeing her hurt this much.

  6. #6
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    I just wanted to post and update. 8 weeks have passed, and my grandmother died yesterday. The cancer turned out to be small cell lung cancer likely induced by smoking that had spread everywhere. She was down the 85 lbs yesterday, and her liver and kidneys had completely shut down. She was at a hospice facility that took really wonderful care of her up until the end.

    I have no idea what to feel. I'm in a weird state of shock, happy that she is no longer hurting, and very sad that I'll never be able to talk to her again. I miss her so much already. She was a wonderful woman.
    Last edited by pbj11; 04-01-2011 at 08:53 PM. Reason: Photo deleted

  7. #7
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    Hi MiamiMathGirl, I am so very sorry for the loss of you beloved Grandmother. I know the feeling of relief that they are now at peace and out of pain but still lost and wondering what your life will be like without them. You will find that you will go through the motions they next few weeks and then your grief will hit you with a new wave. Take care of yourself and take time to feel your loss and talk about her to others who were close to her. I promise that it will eventually start to feel better. Thank you for sharing your picture with us. Try and hold onto your happier times with her. It is so sad to lose someone to this dreaded disease and my heart goes out to you and your familiy. Come back to visit us if you feel the need to talk or vent. God Bless.
    Irish
    Irish,
    Caregiver to my Dad, who was diagnosed in June 2010 with Stage 1V NSCLC with single met to brain,
    He sadly lost his battle in August 2010 and we miss his smiling Irish blue eyes terribly.
    My Dad's story:
    http://www.cancerforums.net/threads/...th-how-he-died.

  8. #8
    Administrator Top User pbj11's Avatar
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    Hi MiamiMathGirl,

    I'm so sorry to hear this news. You clearly loved your Grandma very much and there is little anyone can say to comfort your aching heart at this time. Try to get through this initial time of grief and we'll be here to help you along the new path without her. You can still talk to her, but it's a one-sided conversation. Still, I find it comforting to express my love and feelings for my late husband.

    God bless you and may he comfort your heart.

    Hugs,
    PBJ
    Husband diagnosed with NSCLC Stage IV in 3/2005. Fought & lived over 2 1/2 years with multiple lines of treatment.

    Post describing our journey: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.ph...er=asc&start=0

    Left my embrace to live with our Heavenly Father in October of 2007 and now breathes with ease forever. I will miss this gentle, giving soul with the easy smile for the rest of my days, but have faith we will be together again. He's just getting a little break from me!

 
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