Cancer Survivors here please

My wife was just diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. She’s in pretty bad shape and I’m really worried about her. Her chances aren’t good but there’s always hope. Anyone have stories to share about winning or losing against cancer? I’m trying to find out as much as I can about the disease and what to expect.

Am so sorry for your situation and that of your wife. I hope things go well for both of you.

I work in a large plant of about 1500 people and am surrounded by cancer survivors. The hideous treatments they’ve undergone have done their work and we have celebrations when each reaches the five year mark of no remissions. I’m somewhat confident that these treatments work for many people; however, and this is a big however, many have not made it and sometimes I think it’s the luck of the draw.

One man who also had lung cancer was given only a five per cent chance of making it more than six months and he has survived eight years. There’s no reason why he did - he’s just the one that skews the statistics.

A friend who survived ovarian cancer can’t stand the platitudes of well-meaning friends. She’s seen people with great attitudes that did not survive and those with poor attitudes that have. Some diseases defy attitude. She had moments of joy when realizing she’s lived a meaningful life and moments of despair when she realized it might be over.

Stage 4 is not a good sign and you should prepare yourself for the worse as well as the best. The American Cancer Society has wonderful pamphlets and counseling for both of you. AIDS groups also provide information about living and dying either for the patient or for the loved ones.

Life is a tough journey.

My wife was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer 18 months ago. She’s had surgery, chemo, and radiation. The oncologist has cautiously said that she’s in remission. All we can do is take it a day at a time and try to keep our spirits up and try to appreciate each day we do have.

I am sorry to hear about your wife. You will be in my thoughts. I lost my brother to cancer just three months ago. He was diagnosed in January of 2000, had what was called a successful surgery in March of 2000, enjoyed his summer more than ever and was dead before Christmas. Here is what me and my family have learned:

Doctors don’t know everything. At some point guess work (educated, but guess work nonetheless) comes into play.

Find a hospice care group that you feel good about. They know what they are doing. I will always contribute to hospice care facilities. They know what they are doing and they are very good at a very difficult job. They also provide great support throughout.

As tough as this sounds, you and your wife need to decide if the treatment options are really what you want. They may provide nothing but pain and not really extend her life.

It is a tough time, and if you need to talk, I’m here.

Again, my thoughts are with you.

This thread will get a better response in MPSIMS. I’ll move it over there for you.

All the best to your wife.

Jane - That is one of the things we are struggling with now. The cancer specialist suggested we do chemo and radiation for 2 months and see how she’s doing. Right now, she’s on so much pain medication that she’s out of it most of the time. That’s not including the side effects from the treatment itself. During some of her better moments, we’ve talked about how much pain she can endure with such a small chance of survival. She’s been in the hospital almost a month now.

I’m talking to a lawyer this week about an advanced directive for her. She wants to make sure she decides how far she’s willing to let the doctors go.

My cancer was found early so I came through with relatively little treatment. Stage 4 is serious stuff. My thoughts and prayers are with you both.

thewiz - I am saddened to hear of your wife’s cancer diagnosis and that another family’s life will forever be changed by it. I lost my 19 month old grandson, Dawson, 11 weeks ago today to pineoblastoma (a very rare brain cancer) following a year of treatments.

I won’t go into particulars about it, but I fully understand the scope of what you’re dealing with and the decisions that you may face.

Every minute counts in this fight if you choose to battle against cancer. If you do decide to wage a war, is your wife in the best hospital with the best team of oncologists for lung cancer? One of the surprising things we discovered following Dawson’s diagnosis was that some hospitals had higher success at treating a particular cancer than other hospitals.

If you are unable (for whatever reason) to have your wife at the best hospital for her cancer, then try to have her oncologist consult with the hospital that does have the best protocol and have it duplicated there for her. Our family was successful in initiating contact with pediatric oncologists at various medical institutions via email! Don’t be hesitant to use the internet for valuable information and contacts.

Whatever you decide to do, may God be with you and your family. You will have my prayers and thoughts each day.

We lost my father-in-law to lung cancer 2 years ago at 58 YO. His wife was a nurse, that was good and bad (good that she knew what was going on so she could help make informed decision, bad 'cause she knew exactly how bad it could get.) Ed decided he would not have chemo after the radiation didn’t work. He decided he would die at home. He did. Surrounded by his wife, son, daughter (and me) and friends.

The best advice I can give you, (hoping it doesn’t come to this) is to do as Jane D’oh suggested and find a good hospice group if the time comes. They can make everything so much better. They can become almost like family in the time they spend with you. And when the inevitable comes, as it did for Ed, they will be there at the end to take care of the details and help to make things just a little easier for the family. Also very important is to make sure that you have a doctor/hospice group that is experienced at pain management. Ed never had to argue about what he needed. He and his wife just told them and got whatever was needed to make things better.

I hope things never get to this point for you or your wife, and my prayers will be with you both.

No useful advice. Just wanted to wish your wife and you the best of luck in these trying circumstances.

Hey wiz

Don’t forget about your own needs as you move through this ordeal with your wife. You need some good friends and support around you. There are thoughts and feelings you are going to experience that you need to share with people you trust.

My wife is a stage 3 breast cancer survivor. She has been clean for five years now (as of February 6). Although we know that recurrence is always possible, that 5 year date was an important goal for us.

When she was diagnosed our children were 1,4 and 7. Through her surgery and chemotherapy (a pretty intense clinical trial) the support we received from family and friends was incredible. Her base chemo treatments lasted about 9 months. She had (still has) a great oncologist who was very honest with us in treatment options.

While there was great concern and sympathy for her, I felt that my needs were being pretty well ignored. Sure, she might die, but I had to worry about myself getting through this without her and the possibility of raising our three kids on my own. I can’t tell you how selfish and guilty I felt even having these thoughts. It took a good friend and a few beers to get me to ever express those thoughts. Once I got over that hump and realized that I had to address those needs, my mental state improved dramatically. I was a much bigger help to her and much better support for our children.

Today my wife runs 40 to 50 miles every week and is healthy in every way. I’m sure that her touchstone for surviving was just the thought of me bringing up our children by myself.

Do everything you can for your wife, make sure your medical options are laid out for you and accept any help people are willing to give. But don’t neglect your own thoughts, feelings and fears. You will be in much better shape to support her.

My prayers and thoughts are with you and your wife.

My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Five years clear and counting, here, although mine was caught quite early and treated immediately.

Predicting how cancer will go seems to be like predicting the weather – doctors deal in probabilities, not certainties. I know two women who had advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma; both were told that even if they survived, they would never have children again. Both are alive and well and have families. I know that’s probably not much comfort to you, but as I said, anything can happen.

What I would recommend is to make sure that in additional to the physical treatments, you make sure that she (and you) get emotional help as well. There is probably a cancer support group of some sort in your local area, which your hospital or oncologist should know about.

Hey barker,

Thanks for your post. It was encouraging to me to read your story. God bless you.

You all have brought up good points. The support and affection shown by our friends has really shown me how fortunate we are to be where we are right now. I am scared about the possibility that we will come to a point where she’ll say “Enough” and let nature take its course. She’s been in constant pain for 6 months now (although she was only diagnosed with cancer recently) and pain medication that really makes her spacey. We are taking it one day at a time right now and hoping things will begin to improve.

Please keep us posted.