There are two major types of lung cancer. Both are curable if they have not spread. One of them, so-called small cell carcinoma, has a 20% cure rate with chemotherapy. I’d opt for chemo in that case. Bet you would too (untreatreated, small cell carcinoma kills in weeks to a few months, max).
A dear (non-smoking) friend of ours had lung cancer, diagnosed last year at age 58. The chemo took out the tumor, but the radiation fried her lungs. She’s still trying to recover from that, is on oxygen and steroids, and can’t resume working full-time.
There’s chemo and there’s chemo. Some has terrible side effects, others, not so terrible. For me, it would depend on my chances of survival and the side effects together. Small chance of cure and terrible side effects, no thanks. Bigger chance (or prolongation of good quality life) plus not so terrible side effects, probaby.
Everyone is different, though, and I believe it is hard to know what we will choose until the time comes for us. I knew someone who chose to have very low odds brain surgery. She died during the surgery, but would have likely died soon anyway. I don’t think I would have made that choice, but it was important to her to take every chance she could. I can respect that view, even if I think I would make a different choice.
At ths spry young age of 84, my grandmother developed ovarian cancer. She opted for chemo and surgery, followed by serveral more rounds of chemo. At 85 now, she is a happy survivor of Hitler’s occupation and cancer.
Giving up or doing nothing was never an option for her. Ya gotta admire that fight/survival instict.
My mother had lung cancer a couple years ago (age 60). It was diagnosed very early on, and she had surgery to remove 1/3 of a lung. This was followed up with chemo, just in case the cancer had spread. She’s fine now. In fact, she’s a four-time cancer survivor. I think I would do the same, assuming the cancer hadn’t spread so far as to make chemo pointless.
And on the other end is my mother. She developed intestinal cancer at 53, and had a surgery to remove the tumors. The doctors told her she wasn’t likely to live more than a year and a half with the kind of surgery she had, so she opted not to do chemo or any other treatments. Turns out she lived a little over two years, and her hospice nurse was convinced she could have survived with the surgery. But the cancer spread and there wasn’t anything for her to do but wait it out.
It’s very difficult to care for a loved one who isn’t really trying to live. Especially when they don’t go quickly. But I can’t say I would want to do all the chemo and invasive surgeries either. I guess it would depend on the prognosis, but I would be all for speeding up the death process if I was going to give into it.
My father had small cell. A life-long non-smoker, but what does that matter, really? If you want to like, you want to live. He took both chemo and radiation. He wasn’t a candidate for surgery. He lived about 16 months after diagnosis and fought the cancer literally to his last breath.
When I get the “this could kill you…” diagnosis I’m going to try cocaine, heroin, and go skydiving. I’ll head out to the salt flats and see how fast my car can really go. I’ll dive off the high board. Screw the drugs and hospitals and my lackofbankaccount - I’m going to take a couple of months and LIVE.
That’s what I tell myself, anyhow. We’ll see what happens. Everyone in my family lives into their 80s no matter how hard they try to off themselves, though, so I’m not really worried.
Peter Jennings started smoking at at 13 and smoked for forty years which would make him 53 when he smartened up.
The decision to go for chemo/radiation should be the patient’s based on full disclosure by the MDs as to prospects both good and bad. All too many times the MDs and or family make an emotional decision resulting in an extension of a life of misery.
Case I. A ‘fiftish’ lady had been undergoing chemotherapy for months. At conference of the patient and family with the MDs, they were asked “Isn’t there anything else that can be done?” The reply, “Whole body radiation.” She was shipped off to the nearest facility for WBR and died a few days later. IMHO the MDs should have advised that it was too late, even for WBR. The patient and family was grasping at straws. Very sad.
Case II. A 9 yr. old boy had a rhabdo-myo sarcoma in the nasal cavity. Under went chemo and localized radiation. Look like death warmed over for about a year. Is now 25 and set to graduate from Auburn U., AL in December. Cancer free!