Chemo working or hurting? - 1242492

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erica
Chemo working or hurting? - 1242492

Hey everyone, I am so excited that i figured out the new site. I have to admit, it shocked me at first. :)

I'm happy to hear that so many of you are doing good with your treatments, and sad to hear that since my last visit 5 months ago, that we lost some Grace friends.

My question has to do with Chemo, and if it actually can kill you before the cancer. My MIL's bone metas. has been controlled, and she is no longer in pain. Her brain radiation also worked, and that test also came back clear. All of this good news, but her quality of life and her appearance is showing something totally different, and its very confusing. Her weight is down to 94 pounds, she is in bed all day, and can barely sit up and eat. When she attempts to walk, she is very unsteady and walks on a slant. Its seems like she is at the end, but when we speak to the Doctor, she expresses how well the chemo is working.

I don't understand how its not obvious to the doctor, but we expressed how it was more then depression and feeling sorry for herself, and finally got the doctor to give her a daily steroid. The steroid has been helping her get out of bed, and her appetite improved. Im wondering if this could be a sign to still do the chemo with the steroid, or stop the chemo for now, and help her try to gain weight and strength. The doctor said a break would be fine, but she wants to see what her new scans will show. She will get the scans at the end of the week.

Wow, sorry for babbling, I hope I explained our situation well enough for someone to give us an explanation or some insight on our situation. Grace doctors seem to have a certain compassion and way with words.

Thanks so much,

Erica

Dr West
Reply To: Chemo working or hurting?

There are now multiple different forums, and this particular one is specifically for issues around the website and technical issues. I think your question would be better in the forum for "General Cancer Questions", which is under the "General Cancer Info" part of the navigation bar up top (or here). You'll probably want to do a little exploring: there are now several subject areas that each have their own forum. The down side is that you need to do a bit of work to find the right place, but once you get the hang of it, I think it will work out well.

I must admit that it does sound like you MIL is debilitated enough that she be at or past a point where chemotherapy or other significant anti-cancer therapy is more likely to harm than to help. There is some evidence that in people who are very compromised, chemotherapy can shorten survival. It's also true that some doctors are very reluctant to recommend against more treatment, even when it it's hard to imagine it being anything other than harmful. Sometimes it's because they hate to acknowledge that they can't control the cancer. Sometimes they become personally invested and feel that they need to be doing "something". Of course, another issue is that doctors only get a glimpse of how a patient is really doing and may not have a realistic picture of the situation. Finally, because doctors are paid to give therapy, one potential reason to over-treat a patient, even to the point of harming them, is that there is a financial incentive to do so. I don't think that's a leading reason in most cases, but rather that doctors, like patients and caregivers, can have their interpretations clouded by wishful thinking.

-Dr. West

+++++++++++++++++++++++++
Dr. Howard (Jack) West
Associate Clinical Professor
Medical Oncology
City of Hope Cancer Center
Duarte, CA

Founder & President
Global Resource for Advancing
Cancer Education

cards7up
Reply To: Chemo working or hurting?

How long ago did she finish WBR? What is she getting for chemo? Both of these can be contributing to her status. How are her blood counts? Sometimes the fatigue can be overwhelming as it chemo is cumulative. You say she's down to 94 lbs., what did she weight? I'm sure her onc is taking everything into consideration. By my fourth and final chemo, I couldn't stay awake hardly at all. I had body aches and just didn't want to move. It took me awhile to feel human again and be able to stay awake all day.
Do you go to her appts. with her so you can find out what she's telling the onc? Wishing her the best.
Take care, Judy

erica
Reply To: Chemo working or hurting?

Great, I thought I figured out the site, so sorry for posting here. I've been a stay at home mom for six years and it has left me computer illiterate. :) Thanks for commenting Dr. West and Judy, I thought this was the issue, but my place in her treatment is not upfront, my father in law and I don't see eye to eye with her treatment, and he is in control. He is very sensitive if I say anything that goes against what the doctor is saying. Thats why its so hard and I'm grateful for you guys to help me through. He knows I know too much, because we just lost my dad to cancer last year. I know the Drill!

I now notice my signature is not showing up, I will go update it on her treatment over the past 2 years. I believe she is on a combo of 2 chemos....carbo and taxol every 3 weeks, she had 8 treatments so far, I think! I will check. Tarceva worked for a year, and then she went down hill, with excessive bone and brain metast. The weird thing is her blood counts are perfect, she has had no problems with any levels, and the chemo is controlling the cancer to some degree. The doctor said she should be feeling better and that the chemo is supposed to give her a better quality of life. The doctor said we are at a catch 22. Her weight before treatment was 130 pounds maybe 125 from being in the hospital for 3 weeks. Her weight was 155 when diagnosed almost 2 years ago, I will pass this along to my husband and then it will be up to him what he tells his parents. I have a feeling Dr. West is spot on with the reality of the situation.

Thanks for your concern Judy, Im glad your treatment is going well.....im off to try and figure out the right forum for these questions.

Dr West
Reply To: Chemo working or hurting?

I'm glad if I was able to help.

You've helped me figure out a better way to shepherd people to the right forum for their questions. I'll ask Mark to change the nav bar to make it what I hope will be foolproof, more or less, and far more intuitive than it is now.

-Dr. West

+++++++++++++++++++++++++
Dr. Howard (Jack) West
Associate Clinical Professor
Medical Oncology
City of Hope Cancer Center
Duarte, CA

Founder & President
Global Resource for Advancing
Cancer Education

erica
Reply To: Chemo working or hurting?

Glad i could help! :) Im not kidding, I really got it now!

catdander
Reply To: Chemo working or hurting?

That's right cs, D's squamous has been controlled for 15 months with scans coming in the next couple of weeks.
B-1, I'm so sorry to hear wife is having to move on but hope she has as good a run on gemzer as D is having. It's difficult to compare side effects but it is noted to be easier than others. His blood counts have remained steady after the onc changed him from 3 weeks on 1 week off to 2 weeks on 1 week off. Thank goodness that change was made after the 1st round and found to be adequate. D's schedule has become fairly predictable; today is Wednesday, the day after chemo and he will sleep a lot, take anti nausea drugs for the next 2 days and when asked state he feels like he's been hit by a truck. He and I look forward to the week off when he will begin to feel normal and work around the house and laugh and talk a lot.

As the months have progressed D needs more anti nausea care. He started gemzer taking promethazine as needed. Dr. G added steroids about 4 months ago which have helped (however he has to keep in mind that he isn't as capable during the steriod high as he seems to be) and he has added zofren to the "mix" Wed and Thurs mornings.

If we are lucky (you and I and D and t wife and everyone else) we watch, communicate with the cancer center, and alter care as needed. It's such a delicate balance.

All my hope to you B1 and t wife,
Janine