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- Mon Nov 12, 2007 8:27 pm
Hello. I am asking this question on behalf of my mom. She is 53 and was adopted so we don't know her family history. This is kind of long so bear with me. She had no medical conditions prior to this.
June 2005- my mom was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. She had a partial masectomy and some lymph nodes in her armpit area were removed. She underwent radiation and chemo and seemed to be cancer-free when it was all said and done.
During and after this period of time, she was also going through menopause and had severe hot flashes that were actually interfering with daily activities. She was told not to take anything for them, even over the counter things, because they could affect her cancer treatments (I found that breast cancer feeds on estrogen, but hot flash meds increase your estrogen, so it's a catch-22). She had to get dentures because the chemo made her teeth brittle. She put on a significant amount of weight. She was diagnosed with some kind of nerve disorder or syndrome that made her legs swell and be very painful.
Mom had a surgery to reduce her other breast in order to regain symmetry, This resulted in a horrible infection that actually was a flesh-eating bacteria. Antibiotics seemed to help it heal and it is better now. Then she was diagnosed with a blood clot in her leg but the pain went away with blood thinners.
Mom was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. They did surgery to remove the tumor blockage but the doctors said there was too much cancer to cut it all out. It had spread to her liver and both lungs. The doctors said chemo is an option for a prologing of life but they do not anticipate it curing the cancer. While in the hospital recovering from her surgery, mom was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. The doctors said it is not worth intervening because it is not painful and she is not a good candidate for a pacemaker or anything like that. They say she will die of heart failure before the cancer gets her.
Here are my questions:
I want her to go to a cancer treatment facility and see what they can offer. She is currently getting all her information and treatment at a little hospital in her hometown. The doctors say the liver is not salvagable but she and I are the same blood type so I could give her half of mine. She could also live on one and a half or just one lung. Do you think this is wise?
Also, if she were able to get rid of the cancer at this facility, THEN would she be a good candidate for treatment for the cardiomypathy? Even if she can't beat this cancer, why won't they try to deal with the cardiomyopathy to give her as long of life as possible?
| Debbie Miller, RN
- Fri Nov 16, 2007 2:37 pm
First I would like to commend you on your devotion to your mother. She is fortunate to have a daughter who cares so much. I don't know how much we will be able to help you here. I will give a few of my thoughts.
It would be impossible to say for surewhat the rationale is that make the doctors feel that there is no intervention for the cardiomyopathy. There are various varieties of cardiomyopahty and treatments vary. Often the first-line treatment is medication. Surgical treatment is typically only done if medication does not sufficiently improve the condition. It would be wise to meet with the doctors and explain the questions that still remain. Even if they feel they explained it, we all know that it takes repetition for us to remember complex information, especially when received during a stressful time such as illness.
Your mothers doctors are also the ones best qualified to determine the cancer treatments. Even though you are at a smaller hospital, with computers these days, even small hospitals link into information pools where standards of treatment are spelled out. This allows cancer specialists' information to be accessible to all doctors, no matter where they are located. So, ask the doctors about this.
One consideration they are probably making is regarding quality of life. It may be a kinder, gentler way for her to go from the heart problem than waiting until the cancer eventually gets her. This can be a long and painful death. Nobody wants that. So, while they can make her as comfortable as possible, the difference in her life span may not be worth it when other issues such as what kind of life she faces for that extra time are concerned.
Nobody wants to lose their loved ones and children tend to want their parents to take any treatment possible to keep them there longer. But, it is important to be sure you have all the facts, risks and benefits and that this is your mom's wish; not just yours. Again, this is totally understandable, but I just caution you to be sure you have all the information before you conclude that this is not the best course of treatment.
Good luck to both of you and your family.
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