My 40 yr old sister in law, was having some dizziness, and some unsteadiness over the last few weeks, along with feeling very tired. She went to her GP, and they first thought it was her blood pressure..well they ended up doing an MRI, and found a tumor in her cerebral part of her brain, left side. They did emergency surgery to remove it 4 days later. Surgery went well, and they removed 90% of the tumor..the rest was attached to a main artery in the brain..so removal of the remaning mass was not possible. On Friday they came into tell her that after testing the tumor for cancer cells..that she was in stage 4 brain cancer!! They told her it was terminal, and there was nothing they could really do. They sent her home last night..and keep in mind that she awoke talking..and didnt need any of the breathing tubes..now today her speech is slurred, and she is having trouble with the things she says comming out the wrong way..her face is pretty swollen. Now the only thing i really know about the tumor is that its an aggressive one..and iam not sure if its a primary tumor that started in the brain..or if it started some where else in the body, and then traveled to the brain. All i know is they told her it terminal and shes in stage 4 brain cancer...i guess what im wanting to know is her prognosis really that bleek? Im new to this cancer stuff, we all are, and i can tell you i hated it before..and i really hate it now! They didnt give her any time frame on how long she actually has left, but said there wasnt much they could do. What is the difrence between primary brain cancer, and cancer that spreads to the brain? is one more treatable that the other, or is it the same outcome for all brain cancer patients? thanks in advance
Glad to meet you, but sorry it is under such crummy circumstances.
Cancer has been a large ( much too large) part of my life. I am a survivor of a rare cancer. My parents were both diagnosed within a week of each other Mom, breast and Pop, lung) and a week later my uncle (lung). Mom made it, Pop did not, nor did my uncle. Pop and Uncle actually died on the same day, an hour apart.
My Pop died of brain cancer that was secondary to lung cancer. My dear, dear friend, Mike, died of a primary cancer... glioblastoma, which is a stage 4 astrocytoma in the brain.
Sadly, there really is not a whole lot to do when the tumor can not be completely removed. One of the signs of an ending in stage 4 is that the legs often do not co-ordinate with the brain and walking becomes difficult and then just not a possibility. When this happened to my Dad, we allowed surgery to be done and the end result was that he became paralyzed on his entire right side. From the time of is diagnosis to his passing was six months.
For my friend Mike, surgery was not an option. He did receive some kind of chemo, but in the end, just wanted to be left alone. The chemo was making him so miserable and he had come to peace with his diagnosis.from the time of his diagnosis to his passing was about 8 months. He basically slept through the last month, energy just being totally gone.
The speech... slurred, not coming out properly... for my dad, this happened when the brain would swell. He would be given a shot of some kind of steroid that would reduce the swelling enough so that he could be understood. The inability to speak properly really frightened him. I could see the fear in his eyes. Sigh.
I do want you to know that my Pop and Mike both died 17 years ago. Many new treatments are constantly being discovered. Places like MD ANderson in Texas have specialty clinics and I do believe one is for brain cancers. In your position, I would at the least have copies of her records sent there and hear what they might say. I know that there is currently at least one study going on concerning glioblastoma. Do searches for brain cancer studies. Look into teaching hospitals, like Mass General in Boston that is connected to Harvard. These hospitals have the cutting edge in new treatments.
Myself, I had a myxoid liposarcoma in my left thigh. I actually lived in the Boston area for 6 months to be treated at the Sarcoma center at Mass General. At that time ( 16 years ago) there were only two Sarcoma centers in the world! Now there are many right in our country. So things are constantly evolving and developing.
I would always get at least a second opinion. Having been on both sides of the crappy cancer fence, though, I would say that most of all, listen to what your sister-in-law wants to do. Having cancer does not diminish our ability to think. Find everything you can that MIGHT help, offer it to her and then honor whatever decision she makes. I can also tell you that it was much easier emotionally for me to be the patient rather than the care-taker.
I wish the entire family well. Our lives get turned upside down in a flash sometimes, don't they?
The following user gives a hug of support to reachout: wiemersm (11-10-2012)
Thanks so much for youre reply! I do know that once cancer is in the brain it is almost always impossible to treat, and almost always a death sentance..because chemo cant get into the brain to treat the cancer, so radiation at best, but with the cancer being in the brain now..afraid the radiation will make her ability to function worse by killing healthy normal cells in her brain..just at a loss for words i guess..so sorry to hear about youre parents, and friend..cancer is horrible.
I was diagnosed with an astrocytoma on the verge of becoming a glioblastoma (stage III+/IV- is what my neurosurgeon said). I had six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy over the course of 1.5 years. All of that was 25 years ago.
I'm not without problems now, but I am alive, and my doctors were certain I wouldn't be. Whatever your sister-in-law's diagnosis, and so long as she is receiving treatment, the best thing you can do is help her celebrate "the now." Spend time with her, tell her how you feel, encourage her to contact friends and ask for what she needs, play music, dance, and eat well. Simple things like that can mean so much.
Good luck and let us know how she's doing. And perhaps how you're doing, too.
This day, I got word my older brother, has this condition. I visited him, and his first words were, "I'm not having a good day".
We talked of golf, and I showed him a video of the golf course next door to the hospital. He babbled on, about his "close" hole in ones and such. He really wanted to talk, though I couldn't make much of it out.
He was a much happier soul, when I left. I'm so glad I got to see him, on a day, he was "Tuned in".
So sad, to see such a Healthy person, struck down...so quickly, by this unseen force called Cancer