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Thread: 88 year old and chemo/radiation???

  1. #1
    Regular User
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    Jul 2008

    88 year old and chemo/radiation???

    My mom has recently been diagnosed with liver cancer. They are not sure if it's primary or secondary yet...(full story can be read in the liver cancer section)..anyway..it's inoperable and we will be visiting an oncologist about chemo/radiation in a couple of weeks...we were told by the liver specialist that chemo/radiation will not cure this type of cancer but it can help it stop to grow for a while and/or stop the pain process...depending on the individual..no guarantees....I know that chemo/radiation takes a lot out of even young patients...just wondering if anyone has any advice or experience with elderly having chemo/radiation successfully? I don't want my poor mom put through the hell of chemo or radiation for an extra two months of life.
    Any advice...information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    I just posted a very similar question as you in the Lymphoma forum. My grandmother is 87 and has just been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Our family has the same concerns about chemo at her age as you appear to have.

    I think what goes through our heads is that if we do the chemo and she spends whats left of her life miserable and in pain, we will feel like we made the wrong decision. At the same time, if we choose not to do the chemo, when she dies we will feel like just let her die. I don't think there is any "right or wrong" here, but I guess we want to feel like we did what was best for her.

    I'm sorry that I cannot give you any real advice or experiences, other than try to come to terms with the fact that whatever you decide will be the "right" decision for your family - don't get caught up in what ifs.

  3. #3
    Regular User
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    Jul 2008


    Hi Keith...looks like you didn't get too many replies as of yet either huh?
    Your thoughts are well put...we want to do all we possibly can to provide quality life ... what's left of it... to our loved one. Would love to know about other's experiences with this age group.

  4. #4
    Administrator Top User brainman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Blog Entries
    dllfb and keithl, I am sorry that neither of you have received answers to your questions. Unfortunately, I know so little about the effect of treatments for Lymphoma. I do know that it is important to know whether of not it is a primary cancer or a metastatic cancer from somewhere else. I also know that any treatment of a person of any age very much is an individual decision basic a lot on the overall health of the person. If your grandmother is in otherwise top notch shape, the treatment option is a better choice than if she has other health problems. It is a choice that is also based on quality vs quantity of life. For this information, I suggest that you have a frank and open conversation with your grandmother's medical team.

    Both of you and your mothers are in my thoughts and prayer.
    Long-term cancer survivor
    1992 Astrocytoma grade 2, left motor strip
    2005 Recurrence this time said to be an Oligodendroglioma grade 3, same location.
    My Story Part 1: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=2528
    My Story Part 2: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?p=7350
    My Story Part 3: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=8029

  5. #5
    My 87 year old grandfather was just diagnosed with inoperable stage IV lung cancer that has spread to bone. Because of his frailty and other health issues (heart disease, asbestosis and emphysema) his doctor said he's not a candidate for chemotherapy. Two of my relatives, both in their 60s, are cancer survivors and they both said that they wouldn't go through chemo again.

    What my grandpa's doctor said is a possibilty is palliative radiation--to help with symptom/pain relief and perhaps slow the cancer down a little. That, along with good nutrition and excellent pain medication is what we are looking at.

    Do you know what stage your mom's cancer is?
    My wonderful grandfather was dx with metastatic stage IV lung cancer on 8/28/08. He passed away at my home on 9/21/08.

    Rest in peace, Poppy. We love you.

  6. #6
    Regular User
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    Jul 2008

    no stage

    Grand D...No stage was written on the biopsy report...they weren't sure if it was primary or secondary....next step is waiting for an appointment with an oncologist and see what he/she has to suggest. This is o so very difficult.

  7. #7

    Our Story

    Hello this is my families experience and as you know everyone reacts differently to chemo. I am in no way trying to encourage or discouage you but this is our story:

    My dad is going to be 76 in November and has Stage 4 Colon Cancer with mets to the liver and it was inoperable, he was diagnosed in March 2008. He has a host of other ailments that go along with being 75 but always the fighter he wanted chemo and they felt he was a good canidate.

    We went though 3 different types of chemo for 2 1/2 months, trying to find the right fit and each one was debilitating. He had all the chemo side effects and had constant diarrhea and would also throw up regularly which lead to constant dehydration no matter how much fluid or IV's he would get. It got so bad after the 3rd weekly treatment of the second type of chemo he was hospitalized (taken by ambulance). But the Doctors still wanted to keep going and tried a third chemo while he was still in the hospital (the hospital stay from the reaction from the 2nd chemo lasted 3 weeks).

    He did get very good results from the 3rd chemo but the end result from the last chemo was that since he got out of the hospital 15 weeks ago he is no longer a canidate for chemo anymore because he can no longer walk and is too weak. The third type of chemo, that he only had one time took such a toll on him he is no longer able to walk and can barely get up and sit in a wheel chair. The first few weeks after the last round of chemo all he did was sleep. He was so weak after the chemo the doctors had recommended Hospice so we signed him up at the end of June.

    Ironically enough a week after going on hospice he started putting on weight (as of now 40 lbs in 15 wks) and was getting into the wheel chair more often and walking a few steps with the walker. We felt that it was the chemo finally waring off and he was starting to get his energy back. He peaked for awhile and the doctors mentioned chemo even though they had him on hospice but our family wouldn't hear of it, including my father.

    The chemo for our family wasn't a good thing. BUT I can say that I'm glad that we had tried it at least once, because that way we had honored what he wanted and tried. BUT if our family had it to do over we would have stopped the chemo sooner. It has taken away his daily life and activites for the past 15 wks and the wks remaining in his life are now being spent in bed in a diaper with round the clock home care nurses. He is fully mentally there and works on the computer to kill time and tries to get in the wheel chair as much as possible but that's about all he can do.

    Looking back I wish we looked past the oncologist for chemo advice. I don't fault the oncologist for giving us advice (he was obviously pro chemo) but I felt he didn't look outside the box. He was doing his job and recommending treatment. I wish I had looked to people with cancer that were my dad's age for advice. We have heard a few stories since, some choosing chemo and others not going with chemo wish we had met them then !!

    Anyway sorry to be soooo lengthy and I hope our story helps.

    My thoughts & prayers are with all your families.

  8. #8
    Regular User
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    no chemo

    Thanks so much for your advice. As much as I wanted that chance of a miracle for my beloved mom...we have decided not to go for the chemo. She is too weak. We are still working on getting her pain meds under controle. Yesterday her pain meds were changed and she ended\
    up waking up early this morning screaming in pain. It breaks my heart over and over again....this is so hard. Anyway...we gave her more pain killers and I don't know if they are too strong or what...but now she's sleeping constantly. The dr. says we have to play with dosages until we get it right. I don't know if this is quality of life..sleeping all the time???
    God Bless You All and Thanks again.


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