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Thread: Stage 4 squamous cell non-small cell lung cancer with brain lesions

  1. #1
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    Mar 2015

    Stage 4 squamous cell non-small cell lung cancer with brain lesions

    My Mom has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer with lesions on the brain, 7 to 8 lesions. She is going through radiation on her brain currently and received her second treatment today.
    As of right now she has not committed to chemo. She is taking anti-seizure medication and three steroid pills a day. The seizure that she had is what lead us down this road a week ago. We didn't know that she had cancer otherwise.
    My questions are.... Is there anyone here that is familiar with this type of lung cancer? Should she consider chemo even though there is a good chance that the rest of her life will be spent suffering the effects of the chemo. She is very small (100 lbs) and is working on gaining some weight.
    She is only under the care of a radiologist and her primary doctor whom she does not see until next month.
    The radiologist said that the chemo is not something we need to worry too much about right now and that we need to keep on with the radiation for now.
    Does this sound right?
    Last edited by Jlcr; 03-24-2015 at 02:20 AM. Reason: Made mistake in typing

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Top User
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Hi Jlcr,

    Welcome to the forum but so very sorry that you need to be here. I went through the same thing with my Dad. He was 82 when diagnosed with NSCLC. He had a single lesion on his brain. He had 5 radiation treatments to both his chest and his brain. His hair thinned out but he did not lose it all. Towards the end of the radiation he was hit with extreme fatigue but the steroids gave him an extra burst of energy to help him through. The steroids slso contributed to his muscle weakness and he had to start using a cane for stability. He said from the beginning that he didn't think he would do chemo as he wanted to hold onto his quality of life for as long as possible.....turned out it was a mute point as his doctors didn't feel chemo would slow things down much and it wasn't offered.

    I know this is a scary time....we're here whenever you need to talk or ask questions. God bless

    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:

  3. #3
    Administrator Top User lisa1962's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    I too am sorry to have to welcome you here under these circumstances.

    While I do not have anything really to offer regarding radiation, irish does have the knowledge based on her experience with her Dad.

    My guess is that your Mom's radiologist is saying stay the course with the radiation and not worry about the chemo for now, is he probably feels the brain mets need to be addressed immediately without making a difficult situation more difficult.

    I do wonder why she does not have an oncologist overseeing her treatment. Her GP is very knowlegeable but not an oncologist which specializes in cancer. My suggestion, speak with the radiologist and see if an appointment can be arranged with a pulmonary specialist and oncologist. It is best to at least confer with them about available treatments once the radiation is completed.

    Do keep in mind, chemo can be very harsh but even with that said, many do very well with very little side effects. The medical profession has come along way over the years in that side effects are much better managed. Of course, the decision will be your Mom but best to have all the information before making the decision to either pursue it or not.

    Again, I am sorry to hear of your Mom's diagnosis but do know we are here for you anytime and will help guide you based on our own personal knowledge and experience.


  4. #4
    Moderator Top User jorola's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Hello Jlcr,

    My husband has squamous lung cancer. Currently he is stage 3b. He was 40 at time if diagnosis, now 41. They hit him very hard with radiation and 2 rounds of chemo. As strong as he was (mind and body) it knocked him on his butt. His chemo dr was the one really running the show and we owe him so much.

    I agree with Lisa. Doesn't hurt to speak to one with your mom. I get why they are wanting to radiate the brain mets first though.

    My she is tiny. Yes any weight she put on would help make up for the times she may not be able to eat. Lots of protein!

    I am sorry you both are going through this. It's a journey the whole family takes and is very wearing. Stay strong together.

    Wife to husband with squamous lung cancer stage 3 b
    dx - April 20/14
    tx started May 20/14 - radiation and chemo
    June 23 - chemo finished
    June 24 - tumor 1/3 the original size
    July 4 - radiation finished
    July 8 - PET scan shows tumor almost gone, lymph nodes back to normal
    Married July 19/14
    Sept 9/14 - repeat can shows tumor continues to shrink more, no new spots. New coughing and pain due to chest infection or side effect of radiation.
    Sept 19/14 - not infection but pneumonitis, place on dex for 4 weeks
    Oct 22/14 - now off of dex and facing even more symptoms of withdrawal
    Dec 16/14 - pretty much nothing left but a scar
    April 7/15 - ditto scan and screw you stats
    Oct 6/15 - more scarring but still cancer still gone
    Feb 2016 -scan the same
    Aug 2016 - more of the same
    Aug 2017 - and ditto
    Aug 2018 - 4 yrs NED

  5. #5
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    Mar 2015
    Thank you all for replying. The problem that I have been met with during this is the fact that we live in a rural area. There is a semi large town nearby to take her to for radiation. I was warned by a knowing outside person that I needed to get her to a certain doctor for the radiation. Apparently there is one burning folks up and we got her away from him the minute he walked in her room to consult. As for the chemo there are two choices, stay local or leave town. We are considering leaving.
    I say that to say this. Having her local with the radiation every day has given her some hope and time with us without seizures. She is afraid and apprehensive but she is having a good time eating and visiting and just letting go of the rat race of going to work. I am sorry if I don't make a whole lot of sense because we are very close and I am managing only for her and trying to keep myself in check. So I have been driving her to the next town to get radiation and trying to figure out whether or not she can handle the drive to and from Dallas for chemo. Dallas is a three hour drive. I suppose I will not know until the radiation is done and we try it. She does have the option for going to the town we are going to now but I don't believe that they have the same advances that we could find in a larger city.

  6. #6
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    Mar 2015
    Is it common to wait until radiation is finished to go for chemo?

  7. #7
    Senior User
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Hi Jlcr,

    Yes, it is common. My Mom went through many weeks of radiation before they even contemplated chemo. I think that the radiation is mostly for amelioration of symptoms and to keep them comfortable (your mom had seizures, my mom had a hard time breathing). I think that chemo is explored (many times with the decision not to go forward with it) after things are more stable.

    Best wishes - you are not alone.


  8. #8
    Administrator Top User lisa1962's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    If I may make a suggestion, would it be possible to get a consult with the facility in Dallas and then have them work in connection with the local facility? The driving can be come tiresome for anyone expecially someone undergoing treatement.

    Just a thought for you. Keep strong.



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