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kelc1963 01-21-2010 03:40 PM

How was your cancer diagnosed?
 
My mom was a 3-pack a day smoker for 30 years. She quit smoking about 7 years ago, because she was diagnosed with "a little emphysema." She's been through a score of antibiotics, bronchitis and pneumonia diagnoses through the years and have had several xrays. She also coughs all the time...when she laughs or breathes even slightly more deep than usual.

Two weeks ago, she went to the ER because her doctor's office thought she may be having a heart attack ...pain in her back and under her breastbone. Her heart was fine, but they took an xray of her lungs and the doctor said he saw a "cancer spot." From there she went to her Pulmonoligist. He ordered another xray and CT scan. Once he saw the results, he immediately ordered a full-body PET scan. Mom said he never said a word about the results on the xray and CT scan or why he order the PET scan. However, he did say they won't do a biopsy and will take it (the spot) out. The PET scan was late Tuesday afternoon. I'm very worried.

Do you think the doctor already knows it's cancer, but wants to see if it's spread before telling my mom? Her situation is even more difficult, because she's also in 3rd stage kidney disease, struggles with cellulitis in her legs and has bipolar disorder and OCD. All this and she's only 68.

Is a full-body PET scan typically ordered? Or, is this only ordered if the CT scan confirms cancer?

DaveInVA 01-21-2010 09:33 PM

Re: How was your cancer diagnosed?
 
The PET scan is done to see if the cancer has spread or if their are other cancers going on so they can determine what the next step in treatment might be. The Doctor probably didn't want to needless worry your Mom until he knew what he was dealing with. With just the one spot surgery may be the best option but if it had been found to spread they may use a different approach.

Dave

kelc1963 01-21-2010 09:44 PM

Re: How was your cancer diagnosed?
 
Thanks, Dave. That makes sense. I've always been afraid that this would happen eventually. I'll be relieved to hear what exactly is going on. Mom is hoping it's nothing, but I'm guessing that it is indeed something, or her Pulmonologist wouldn't have ordered the PET scan.

These boards are very helpful, but it's sad that we're all posting because of this awful disease. I don't know what to expect and I'm scared for my mom.

Marty444 01-21-2010 10:15 PM

Re: How was your cancer diagnosed?
 
[QUOTE=kelc1963;4168234]My mom was a 3-pack a day smoker for 30 years. She quit smoking about 7 years ago, because she was diagnosed with "a little emphysema." She's been through a score of antibiotics, bronchitis and pneumonia diagnoses through the years and have had several xrays. She also coughs all the time...when she laughs or breathes even slightly more deep than usual.

Two weeks ago, she went to the ER because her doctor's office thought she may be having a heart attack ...pain in her back and under her breastbone. Her heart was fine, but they took an xray of her lungs and the doctor said he saw a "cancer spot." From there she went to her Pulmonoligist. He ordered another xray and CT scan. Once he saw the results, he immediately ordered a full-body PET scan. Mom said he never said a word about the results on the xray and CT scan or why he order the PET scan. However, he did say they won't do a biopsy and will take it (the spot) out. The PET scan was late Tuesday afternoon. I'm very worried.

Do you think the doctor already knows it's cancer, but wants to see if it's spread before telling my mom? Her situation is even more difficult, because she's also in 3rd stage kidney disease, struggles with cellulitis in her legs and has bipolar disorder and OCD. All this and she's only 68.

Is a full-body PET scan typically ordered? Or, is this only ordered if the CT scan confirms cancer?[/QUOTE]

Hi my husband was diagnosed almost the same way, with a history of heart diease he thought it was that, and went sent for a CT scan of the heart, it was discovered that he has a huge mass in his lung, then the biopsy, the the pet scan and CT of the head. He has stage 4 kung cancer with metasis to spine, oelvis, thigh, and ribs and is spreading. The stopped all treatment yesterday and he is on hospice. He was 1st diagnosed in Nov 2009:(

kelc1963 01-22-2010 08:32 AM

Re: How was your cancer diagnosed?
 
I'm am so sorry to hear about your husband, Marty. I can't imagine all that you're going through. I'm fearful that the same will happen to my parents. I don't want to jump the gun and assume the worst, but the steps taken so far, don't sound good. I'm just curious as to why they would skip the biopsy. This seems odd compared to what I've read on other posts.

I want to be as supportive as I can to my parents and will carry most of the burden, since I'm an only child. Marty, what is most helpful to you and your husband? Do you have any family that is helping out?

I will say a prayer for you and your husband. I can only imagine the sadness and fear that you're experiencing.

DaveInVA 01-22-2010 10:25 AM

Re: How was your cancer diagnosed?
 
[QUOTE=kelc1963;4168470]Thanks, Dave. That makes sense. I've always been afraid that this would happen eventually. I'll be relieved to hear what exactly is going on. Mom is hoping it's nothing, but I'm guessing that it is indeed something, or her Pulmonologist wouldn't have ordered the PET scan.

These boards are very helpful, but it's sad that we're all posting because of this awful disease. I don't know what to expect and I'm scared for my mom.[/QUOTE]

BTW, my cancer was found in a similar manner. I got a CT for suspected Prostate Cancer and instead they found a 7 cm mass in my right middle lobe. The next thing they did was a PET scan just like with your Mom. They ended up removing the entire right middle lobe and some nearby nodes. That was over 3 years ago and now it looks like something new is going on according to my last quarterly X-Ray so I am going in for more tests next week.
Hope it turns out to be something minor with your Mom.

Dave

Marty444 01-22-2010 09:21 PM

Re: How was your cancer diagnosed?
 
[QUOTE=kelc1963;4168694]I'm am so sorry to hear about your husband, Marty. I can't imagine all that you're going through. I'm fearful that the same will happen to my parents. I don't want to jump the gun and assume the worst, but the steps taken so far, don't sound good. I'm just curious as to why they would skip the biopsy. This seems odd compared to what I've read on other posts.

I want to be as supportive as I can to my parents and will carry most of the burden, since I'm an only child. Marty, what is most helpful to you and your husband? Do you have any family that is helping out?

I will say a prayer for you and your husband. I can only imagine the sadness and fear that you're experiencing.[/QUOTE]

Thank you and I am praying for you too:)
I can't understand either because the biospy that they took during his broncsopy(excuse my spelling) ;) they were actually able to at least tell us what type and help to understand the spread in the chest.

It must be hard being an only child, and I hope you get some help. I have 3 kids, but daughter is married (with kids) living 750 miles away in NJ and my youngest (age 21) is severly mentally retarded with autism and is living in a facility. The burden again falls on one child, our middle son Joe, he is 24, single and lives nearby. Joe is a big help, but I am afraid to burden him too much, but he says he doesn't mind.

The most helpful thing to remember is Life is for the living, and as long as they have breath they have life, feelings and hope. Live each day to the fullest, make every monment count.

kelc1963 01-25-2010 07:46 AM

Re: How was your cancer diagnosed?
 
Dave, I'm sorry to hear that your last xray is questionable. I hope that it's either nothing or can be managed as succesfully as your tumor was 3 years ago. Given that so much of your lung was removed was it tough to recover? Was the operation done with minimal invasion or was it done similar to open heart surgery as others have posted? Did you receive chemo or radiation. (Mom has already said that she will not do chemo.)

I'll be thinking about you this week and praying for a positive outcome.

kelc1963 01-25-2010 07:51 AM

Re: How was your cancer diagnosed?
 
Marty, you must be a very stong woman to carry such a load. I'm thankful that your son is close and is willing to help. My own son, who is also 24, has decided not to move to New York, if it's bad news. (He's very close to his Grandpa and wants to help as much as he can.) I also appreciate your words of wisdom and will try and keep all of this in mind.

BTW, Mom doesn't have the results of her PET scan yet. But, the doctor called and wants to meet with her and Dad, this afternoon. Doesn't sound good ...

Marty444 01-25-2010 08:20 AM

Re: How was your cancer diagnosed?
 
[QUOTE=kelc1963;4170524]Marty, you must be a very stong woman to carry such a load. I'm thankful that your son is close and is willing to help. My own son, who is also 24, has decided not to move to New York, if it's bad news. (He's very close to his Grandpa and wants to help as much as he can.) I also appreciate your words of wisdom and will try and keep all of this in mind.

BTW, Mom doesn't have the results of her PET scan yet. But, the doctor called and wants to meet with her and Dad, this afternoon. Doesn't sound good ...[/QUOTE]

Although I am praying for good news, the fact that they want to meet right away, doesn't sound good.:(
At first we were told on Wed morning, we will call next week with the results, the very next day, Thursday night, the Doctor call and said to come in Friday (next day).

I don't want to scare you, but when called in sooner then expected is usually bad news.
Let us know either way. (( :) )) hugs

kelc1963 01-25-2010 06:51 PM

Re: How was your cancer diagnosed?
 
I just talked with my Mom and she does have cancer, but it hasn't spread. It's about the size of a walnut in her upper lode. Her pulmonary doc told her that they will need to remove about 1/2 of her lung and that will be it. No radiation. No chemo.

Mom is either being incredibly calm or her doctor did a great job of making her cancer sound harmless, because she said they'll give her pain meds and that it's really no big deal. "Just take it out and then everything is fine."

Is this type of surgery really that easy? Is it possible that they'll go in and see something else? Her doctor didn't mention what to expect after the surgery or her prognosis. She had her knee replaced a year ago and she wanted general anesthesia. Her surgeon pretty much refused to do the surgery, unless she agreed to a spinal block. He said this because of her heart and lung functioning and that he was concerned she would die on the table. Surely removing a portion of her lung is risky, right? :confused:

My parents aren't ones to ask questions and I have a million. What can my mom expect if 1/2 of her lung is removed?

Shelleymky 01-26-2010 01:19 PM

Re: How was your cancer diagnosed?
 
Of course it is risky. I had one lobe removed under general anesthesia and was also told that I was cancer free, it was nowhere else in my body, and I did not need radiation or chemotherapy. Less than 6 months later, I had back pain and an MRI revealed tumors in my spine and liver. I am now in the "we have nothing else to offer you" category, having had radiation and rounds of chemo (3 different protocols). Nothing really has touched my tumors - they continue to grow and multiply.

Lung surgery is not easy. You have the basic incision, then two more incisions where the chest tubes go. And removal of 1/2 the lung is misleading because the right lung has three lobes and the left only 2. Taking one lobe doesn't equate to 1/2 a lung, so I really don't know what you mean.

I tell it like it is, and I'm sorry if this info upsets you, but I think forewarned is forearmed!

My best wishes for your situation.

DaveInVA 01-26-2010 06:59 PM

Re: How was your cancer diagnosed?
 
[QUOTE=kelc1963;4170519]Dave, I'm sorry to hear that your last xray is questionable. I hope that it's either nothing or can be managed as succesfully as your tumor was 3 years ago. Given that so much of your lung was removed was it tough to recover? Was the operation done with minimal invasion or was it done similar to open heart surgery as others have posted? Did you receive chemo or radiation. (Mom has already said that she will not do chemo.)

I'll be thinking about you this week and praying for a positive outcome.[/QUOTE]

They did it the hard way and took it out through my back and cut ribs and nerves to get at it. I was in the hospital 7 days not because it wasn't healing but because there was still to much output from the chest tubes. They originally told be 3-4 days. I like to walk every day so the day I was released I walked 3 miles and broke my big toe and never even felt it as I was still on morphine. In the 3 years plus I've had chronic pain from nerves that never connected properly because they dead ended in scar tissue and also from adhesion's. They thought they got it all and did not offer chemo or radiation. Also, the type of cancer I had was known not to respond well to either anyways. I have an appointment next Monday to get more X-Rays from different angles and an ultrasound before they commit to a needle biopsy. The Oncologist got a 2nd opinion from a 2nd Radiologist and that one could not determine what it is either.

kelc1963 01-27-2010 09:40 AM

Re: How was your cancer diagnosed?
 
Shelly, I'm so sorry to hear that your cancer has returned. You must feel so cheated and angry. I know I would.

As for your straightfoward approach, I appreciate your honesty. Yes, all this is scary, but it just confirms how I feel already. Because of my mom's emotional problems, this whole process is even more complicated. She's also in very poor health (emphysema and kidney disease) and she's always been sedentary, never exercising or walking. Shoot, she's never even walked down the street in the neighborhood that she's lived in for 35 years!

Mom met with her surgeon, yesterday, and was quite a bit more rattled than she was after meeting with her pulmonary doc. :( But, I do have a little more information, now. Her tumor is in her left lung (upper left lobe behind her heart) and she again said they "are taking half her lung." I asked her how many lobes they are removing and she was confused, saying they didn't mention any lobes. She also didn't know (or want to talk about) too many details of the surgery, but it sounds like they are entering through the side of her chest. She also mentioned that they keep tapping her back when they are showing where her cancer is. My dad goes to the appts. with her, but he didn't know either. Usually, my dad (who's 69) is pretty on top of things, but his mom died right before Christmas and now he's dealing with this, too. I think he's pretty overwhelmed and is afraid to ask too many questions, as it's upsetting to himself and my mom.

I was thankful to her that her surgeon (cardiothoracic) is running preoperative tests to check on her heart and lung functioning. Mom is going in for a stress test, tomorrow. I guess it's the kind of test where they inject a chemical to stimulate the heart and see how it functions. Which leads me to my other concerns ...

What if she's not a good surgical candidate? Also, I'm very concerned that the surgery itself will be her undoing. I'm afraid to mention this to my mom, but I would rather see her spend her remaining time in a relatively comfortable state, than disabled from the surgery and dealing with what sounds like an inevitable outcome. She's just so fragile -- emotionally and physically. I always hoped that she would die quickly and peacefully, when the time came, because of how complicated her psychological state has always been and how my dad has always enabled her in so many ways. Now, they are facing so many terrible variables. My heart breaks for both of them. I will do my best to provide stability and support, but I too am scared about what the future brings.

Shelly, thank you for taking the time out of your own cancer fight to help a stranger. I also wish you the very best and will pray for you, too.

kelc1963 01-27-2010 09:54 AM

Re: How was your cancer diagnosed?
 
[QUOTE=DaveInVA;4171750]They did it the hard way and took it out through my back and cut ribs and nerves to get at it. I was in the hospital 7 days not because it wasn't healing but because there was still to much output from the chest tubes. They originally told be 3-4 days. I like to walk every day so the day I was released I walked 3 miles and broke my big toe and never even felt it as I was still on morphine. In the 3 years plus I've had chronic pain from nerves that never connected properly because they dead ended in scar tissue and also from adhesion's. They thought they got it all and did not offer chemo or radiation. Also, the type of cancer I had was known not to respond well to either anyways. I have an appointment next Monday to get more X-Rays from different angles and an ultrasound before they commit to a needle biopsy. The Oncologist got a 2nd opinion from a 2nd Radiologist and that one could not determine what it is either.[/QUOTE]

Dave, you have been through so much! I am humbled by not only your experience (and obvious strength), but by all the other stories shared on this board.

I'm hopeful that your xrays are more definitive, but with a positive result. The not-knowing has got to be so awful! Please continue to post your results and experiences. I want to offer whatever comfort that I can during your journey. The cyberworld is not the same as family and friends, but it does provide an opportunity for those of us who feel powerless over the ravages of this disease to provide some comfort to those who need it. Please take care and let us know how you're doing.


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