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Thread: My dad has throat cancer and I don't know what to do

  1. #1

    My dad has throat cancer and I don't know what to do

    I found out today and I don't know what to do about it. I'm 15 going into S4 and I don't know what to do. He told me that its in early stages but they can't simply cut it out from his throat so he's starting chemotherapy. I don't know what I'm meant to do. He says he could have years or just months. Its the start of the summer holidays, what am I meant to do? I want to talk to someone but I don't know who. I want to tell my friends or someone but I can't. I thought I'd be into my fifties by the time I'd lose my dad, that I'd have someone like a husband and kids and a family of my own to support me when it happens. I sure he has years, he should. I'm not ready for this yet, how do I respond? Its only early days but I know I won't be able to stop crying. We're going on holiday soon. Does anyone else have this experience? Any advice? Please?

  2. #2
    Moderator Top User HighlanderCFH's Avatar
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    Highland, Indiana
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    Hi there,

    Welcome to The Cancer Forums.

    So very sorry to hear about your dad's situation. I'm not really knowledgable about throat cancer (I'm from the Prostate Cancer forum), but there are sure to be many who have information, experience & advice to offer you. Keep checking back, especially since we're into a holiday weekend -- so responses might be delayed for a day or two since many people are not at their computers.

    In the meantime, here is the link to an article about throat cancer from the iconic Mayo Clinic. Here, you will learn about the disease, symptoms, tests, treatments, prognosis, etc.

    http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-c...n/con-20042850

    I wish you -- and your dad the very best,
    Chuck
    July 2011 local PSA lab reading 6.41 (from 4.1 in 2009). Mayo Clinic PSA 9/ 2011 = 5.7.
    Local uro DRE revealed significant BPH, no lumps.
    PCa Dx Aug. 2011 age of 61.
    Biopsy DXd adenocarcinoma in 3/20 cores (one 5%, two 20%). T2C.
    Gleason 3+3=6. CT abdomen, bone scan negative.
    DaVinci prostatectomy 11/1/11 at Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN), nerve sparing, age 62.
    Surgeon was Dr. Matthew Tollefson, who I highly recommend.
    Final pathology shows tumor confined to prostate.
    5 lymph nodes, seminal vesicules, extraprostatic soft tissue all negative.
    1.0 x 0.6 x 0.6 cm mass involving right posterior inferior, right posterior apex & left
    mid posterior prostate. Right posterior apex margin involved by tumor over 0.2 cm length,
    doctor says this is insignificant.
    Prostate 98 grams, tumor 2 grams.
    Catheter out in 7 days. No incontinence, minor dripping for a few weeks.
    Five annual post-op exams 2012 through 2016: PSA <0.1
    Semi-firm erections 5 years post-op whenever the moon turns blue.
    NOTE: ED caused by BPH, not the surgery.

  3. #3
    Senior User IndyLou's Avatar
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    Hello, UV16. I'm sorry to hear of your father's diagnosis. I'm sure you must have many thoughts and emotions filling your head right now, that's a perfectly normal response.

    Can I ask you a little more about your father's cancer? Do you know what kind it is, where specifically it's located, and perhaps even what caused it?

    The reason I ask is that there is an increasingly more common cancer occurring in younger men like your father. This cancer is caused by the HPV virus. It can actually be picked up at a young age, and carried in the body for a long time before growing into cancer.

    The good news is, this type of cancer responds very well to current treatments, usually a combination of radiation and chemotherapy. There is one kind of chemo called Erbitux that caused very few side effects, and it's particularly useful for this type of cancer.

    We're happy to help here online, but you might need another adult, perhaps a relative or close friend. Your father's doctor may also be able to suggest resources like support groups. Just ask around.

    Best of luck to you and your father.

  4. #4
    Thank you for responding.
    The cancer is oesophageal cancer in the lower part of his oesophagus and it is adenocarcinoma type of cancer. I don't think its been caused by HPV, I'm not sure what caused it, it was most likely acid reflux since what I've read online says that can cause it. My dad isn't particularly young, he's almost 59. From what I've read, it doesn't appear to be stage 4 cancer cause it hasn't spread to any other organs, but it has gotten some of the lymth nodes. I heard the survival rate was really low, but i'm hoping they've gotten it early enough. The doctor is recommending just chemo, does radiotherapy help as well?

  5. #5
    Administrator Top User Kermica's Avatar
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    Its the start of the summer holidays, what am I meant to do? I want to talk to someone but I don't know who. I want to tell my friends or someone but I can't. I thought I'd be into my fifties by the time I'd lose my dad, that I'd have someone like a husband and kids and a family of my own to support me when it happens. I sure he has years, he should. I'm not ready for this yet, how do I respond? Its only early days but I know I won't be able to stop crying. We're going on holiday soon. Does anyone else have this experience? Any advice? Please?
    Hi there, Violet, and welcome though I am very sorry you have reason to be here. Adenocarcinoma of the esophagus is a challenging diagnosis but it is something that can be beaten with the right combination of therapies so hang in there. I am curious as to why your Dad's doctor is saying that surgery is not an option in his case. Typically, radiation, chemo and surgery are all tools that can be used to help fight the disease, though there are good and valid reasons that one or another may not be helpful in a given case.

    As to what you can do...that is a hard question but the short answer is to try and be there for your Dad. Remember that he is the one going through this though you and the rest of your family are all affected, of course. As to someone to talk to, I don't know where you live but here in the States you could start with a school counselor or your minister. There are also cancer hotlines and hospital social workers who can also be of help. Finally, of course, we will do our best to help you as you and your Dad make this journey together.

    When I said that the best thing you can do is be there for your Dad, I meant things like helping to run the household, listening when he wants to talk, helping him by preparing foods that he can eat while he goes through therapy and things like that. We can help you with the specifics as things go along so try to keep us posted and we will try our best to be of help.

    Good luck to your Dad and to you as you go through this. It will not be easy but you can get through it together if you try to remember that he is the patient so he needs your support. You need support, as well, and hopefully some of the suggestions I have made will be helpful to you.

    Let us know and good health,

    kermica
    When the world says, "Give up," Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."
    ~Author Unknown

    Age 66
    Follicular lymphoma diagnosed August 08, Stage 1
    2 cycles (20 treatments each) localized radiation to tumor sites. Remission confirmed July 09
    Restaged to Stage 3 May 2010
    Recurrence confirmed May 2010 - Watch and Wait commenced - multiple scans with minimal progression.
    Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma diagnosed September 2012. Mohs surgical excision 09/2012. Successful, clean edges all around.
    Significant progression detected in PET scan - December 2012
    Biopsy to check for transformation 1/18/2013 - negative for that but full of lymphoma, of course.
    July 2013 - Rescan due to progression shows one tumor (among many) very suspect for transformation, another biopsy 8/12/13.
    August 2013 - No evidence of transformation, 6 courses of B+R commence 8/29 due to "extensive, systemic disease".
    February 2014 - Diagnostic PET scan states: Negative PET scan. Previous noted hypermetabolic cervical, axillary, iliac and inguinal lymphadenopathy has resolved. Doctor confirms full remission.
    June 2014 - started 2 year maintenance Rituxan, 1 infusion every 3 months. Doctor confirms lump under right arm are "suspicious" for recurrent disease, deferring scans for now.
    February 2015 - Doc and I agreed to stop R maintenance as it is depressing my immune system too much.
    June 2015 - Confirm that the beast is back by physical exam, will scan in August after esophageal issues settle down so we can get a clear view.
    August 2015 - physical exam in error, PET/CT shows no evidence of disease. Remission continues well into second year!
    December 2015 - Cardiologist tells me I have plaque buildup growing at an alarming rate. Stent or bypass down the road but not yet...
    March 2016 - new tumor below the jaw so remission is over. Back to active surveillance until treatment is needed.
    June 2016 - C/T scan indicates presence of multiple lesions in iliac chain.
    August 2016 - PET/CT shows multiple areas of lymphoma as expected plus new areas of concern in bowel.
    January 2017 - C/T scan shows significant progression in cervical and inguinal lymph chains, largest tumor is impacting hearing, measures 2.1x4.6 cm. 4 to 8 cycles of R-CVP, 1x3weeks to commence 2/6/17.
    April 2017 - Mid treatment scan shows about 1/3 reduction in multiple tumors. Also shows abdominal aortic aneurysm with peripheral thrombus. Cardiologist changed meds, spoke of need for surgical repair down the road.

  6. #6
    He has been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer and they say he has about a year to live. It hasn't spread to his other organs but it is in his lymth nodes. He's just getting chemo with no radiotherapy and no surgery currently.
    Advice please?

  7. #7
    Administrator Top User Kermica's Avatar
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    New York
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    Violet, remember that we are not doctors here. It is difficult for me to answer your request for advice. Often, in Stage 4 situations, chemo or radiation is administered as what is called a palliative therapy. This means that the doctors are doing what they can to extend life and enhance comfort through the use of these therapies. That may be what is happening with your Dad but I have no way to be sure of that.

    Where is your Mom in all of this? If your parents are separated, you should ask your Dad for permission to speak with his doctor about his case, if he is willing to allow that. If they are together, you should be speaking with your parents about all of this. I also think what I told you earlier about speaking with a counselor or minister would be worth doing in this situation.

    I wish I could be more helpful and maybe one of our other members will have more useful advice than I have for you. I wish you and your Dad the best and hope that you are able to get the answers you seek soon.

    Good health,

    kermica
    When the world says, "Give up," Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."
    ~Author Unknown

    Age 66
    Follicular lymphoma diagnosed August 08, Stage 1
    2 cycles (20 treatments each) localized radiation to tumor sites. Remission confirmed July 09
    Restaged to Stage 3 May 2010
    Recurrence confirmed May 2010 - Watch and Wait commenced - multiple scans with minimal progression.
    Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma diagnosed September 2012. Mohs surgical excision 09/2012. Successful, clean edges all around.
    Significant progression detected in PET scan - December 2012
    Biopsy to check for transformation 1/18/2013 - negative for that but full of lymphoma, of course.
    July 2013 - Rescan due to progression shows one tumor (among many) very suspect for transformation, another biopsy 8/12/13.
    August 2013 - No evidence of transformation, 6 courses of B+R commence 8/29 due to "extensive, systemic disease".
    February 2014 - Diagnostic PET scan states: Negative PET scan. Previous noted hypermetabolic cervical, axillary, iliac and inguinal lymphadenopathy has resolved. Doctor confirms full remission.
    June 2014 - started 2 year maintenance Rituxan, 1 infusion every 3 months. Doctor confirms lump under right arm are "suspicious" for recurrent disease, deferring scans for now.
    February 2015 - Doc and I agreed to stop R maintenance as it is depressing my immune system too much.
    June 2015 - Confirm that the beast is back by physical exam, will scan in August after esophageal issues settle down so we can get a clear view.
    August 2015 - physical exam in error, PET/CT shows no evidence of disease. Remission continues well into second year!
    December 2015 - Cardiologist tells me I have plaque buildup growing at an alarming rate. Stent or bypass down the road but not yet...
    March 2016 - new tumor below the jaw so remission is over. Back to active surveillance until treatment is needed.
    June 2016 - C/T scan indicates presence of multiple lesions in iliac chain.
    August 2016 - PET/CT shows multiple areas of lymphoma as expected plus new areas of concern in bowel.
    January 2017 - C/T scan shows significant progression in cervical and inguinal lymph chains, largest tumor is impacting hearing, measures 2.1x4.6 cm. 4 to 8 cycles of R-CVP, 1x3weeks to commence 2/6/17.
    April 2017 - Mid treatment scan shows about 1/3 reduction in multiple tumors. Also shows abdominal aortic aneurysm with peripheral thrombus. Cardiologist changed meds, spoke of need for surgical repair down the road.

  8. #8
    Senior User
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Lake Stevens, WA
    Posts
    148
    Hello UV16,

    I do say welcome, but I'm sure you would rather not be here.
    First, take the 'year' with a grain of salt. You can find my thread over on the Lung Cancer forum, I had 8 months to a year back in 2012.

    Every patient is different, responds to treatment differently, and survives as they will. Hopefully the chemo side effects won't be really bad.

    The important thing to remember all the time is; "You have your Dad NOW!" Write that on your mirror.

    Advice from a very old Stage 4 cancer guy:

    Make memories, take pictures (lots of pictures). And a movie or two if he'll stand for it.
    Those will come out at future Christmas's and he'll laugh along with you about the time he lost his hair.

    Don't let down on your school work. Make your Dad proud. You can show him how well you are doing while he shows you how well he is doing!

    For now just enjoy your Dad and family. Don't hover, but be around.
    A simple hug from a daughter makes the light shine brighter.

    Regards to you and your family,
    zim (icaps3)

 

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