My mother has been dx'd w/ cancer. She had a swollen lymph node pop up above her collarbone on the left side a couple mos ago. Ultrasound showed it didn't look right; CAT scans suggested cancer in nodes scattered through her neck & chest; PET scans showed nothing else anywhere. Biopsy said carcinoma. Oncologist believes that these spots have spread from somewhere else in her body. They did blood work, + did some tests on the biopsy sample. Her mammograms have always been clear, but they did an MRI (w/ a coil?) cos she has "dense breast tissue". Still, the MRI showed nothing.
Yesterday, we found out that the biopsy from her neck is apparently fueled by estrogen. They *still* can find no evidence of cancer anywhere else in her body. Today, they're starting her on Tamo.... (?).
Other than this, my Mom, who's 77, is in amazing health. She only takes synthroid (had her thyroid completely removed in '63), & fosamax. Former gymnast & tap dancer. She doesn't feel sick, has no pain anywhere, no swelling (the spot on her neck they biopsies has disappeared, even though they didn't remove it all), no digestive problems, nothing. She feels wonderful, & the only reason this all came about was cos of that lump that swelled up a couple mos ago.
Is this unusual? How effective is the Tamo....(?)?
Needless to say, Mom's very nervous, & we all are, of course. She's upset cos they don't seem to know where this is coming from. I told her to look at it this way - they can't find any MORE cancer anywhere! They seems to know what's fueling it, & she's starting a med today that will cut off it's fuel supply.
Any comments/similar experiences/stories? This is all new to me, & I'm at a loss.
Hi Ktnil, I took tamoxifen for 2 yrs following my surgery for breast cancer and chemo..I was switched to an AI drug after surgical menopause..I have had no evidence of disease since then..so for me..I have to say something is keeping the cancer away..maybe a combination of those things..and the fact that I exercise everyday, and eat only healthy foods..mostly organic, and have completely eliminated red meats.
I know that this must be a terrible time for you and your mom..for me the time of dx. seemed to hit me the hardest..once I started with my treatments..I felt better knowing that I was doing something to hopefully, kill off any wandering cancer cells..I hope it all works out okay for your mom..Its good that she feels well..encourage her to do all the healthy things she can to help her own immune system work its best.
best wishes to you both,
I had an appt w/ *my* family dr today, & I ran this whole story past him...realizing, of course, that he's *not* an oncologist.
He basically told me that this was a very bizarre occurance (that they can't find anything other than those nodes), & that it could actually go one of 2 different ways. Either (a) they've caught it way early, or (b) they've caught it waaaaaay too late already, if it's in that many lymph nodes. I didnt' realize, also, that any lumps smaller than about 1/2 cm basically *cannot be seen* in *any* tests they can possibly do! A lump too small to be seen could be throwing crap everywhere - first to her lumph nodes, & maybe next, or even already, to her bones.
This has me quite a bit more freaked than I was. I mean, what if it's already too late?
Is there anyone else reading this who has a story similar to my Mom's - a tumor that's never been found, but which is affecting lymph nodes all over the neck & chest? If the cancer spreads/has spread to the bone already, can the med she's on (Tamoxifan?) stop even *that*?
This is so frightening. I don't know how anyone handles this, at any age. You guys have my respect for dealing w/ it, & conversing about your experiences & ideas. I'm 50; I've had MS for 16 yrs & rheumatoid arthritis for not quite 2 yrs, & those feel like so much small potatoes compared to this cancer stuff.
Thanks again, & any other thoughts are most welcomed.
Hi Ktnil, I think it might be time to get a second opinion from another oncologist..what I wanted to add was that there are so many new cancer drugs on the market today..and people can live long happy lives....more peope are now living with cancer. I hope that someone comes along on these boards that can be of some more help to you..I know how frustrated you must feel.
I admire you too..you have alot on your plate..I know people who have MS and rheumatoid arth..and life can be very difficult and challenging dealing with those diseases..so you have my respect as well.
Gee..I sure hope everything is okay with your mom! have her go for another opinion, sounds like there is more information to be had.
keep in touch okay..I usually check this board a few times a week, at least
hugs to you both,
Thanks, CJ. I'm sure Mom will want a second opinion soon. After all, she's pretty feisty, & if she thinks there's anything else that could be done, she's sure to check into it!
I know a lot of people are living longer & healthier w/ cancer than before. One of my best friends had sarcoma, a mass almost the size of a pineapple on the back of her left leg. She was stage 4, & went through chemo & radiation, surgery to remove what was left of the lump, as well as her hamstring muscles (which it had invaded), then another surgery to remove her latissimus muscles to transplant into her leg. As a result of that last surgery, she began bleeding into her chest, & they took her back to surgery, where she died on the table 2ce. They gave her about a 2% chance of living another yr. That was *4 yrs ago*, & she's totally fine, except for her gimpy leg, which she "still* says she wishes they'd have just amputated. She amazes me. I keep telling Mom what my friend always says - "A word can't kill you,
My RA is *much* worse than my MS - & my RA isn't debilitating. Mainly, my right heel/ankle has been sore & swollen lately, & the meds I'm currently on aren't doing much for it. I see my rheumy on the 7th, though, so I can deal w/ it til then. I've had very mild relapsing/remitting MS for 16 yrs, & if you didn't know me from before that time, you wouldn't know I had much wrong w/ me. I used to be a dancer/Ballet instructor, but nowadays my balance & stamina isn't what it used to be, & I'm very heat intolerant. But other than that, it's generally no biggie. Last major relapse was about 9 yrs ago. Little wiggles & wobbles now & then, but nothing that stops me from doing much.
At any rate, thanks again for the advice & point of view of one who's been there & done that. I can't imagine how scary it must be to be going though it....watching it w/ no advice or knowledge to offer is frightening enough!