Chemo Not Working. Alternatives?
I wanted to ask for your kind help.
My mother is 88 years old, and has esophageal cancer.
Her initial diagnosis showed that her cancer had spread outside of the esophagus to multiple lymph nodes along the trachea (windpipe) and near the lungs.
She has been receiving treatment since March 2011 (about 2 years ago).
She had chemo from around March 2011 to February 2012. During this approximately one year period, she refused to have chemo for about 3 months since it was making her very weak and tired.
An endoscopy in February 2012 showed that the tumor in her esophagus had grown slightly larger.
She then had radiation for only 3 weeks in March 2012 in order to improve her swallowing. But she stopped chemo at that point cause she was so weak.
The radiation produced great results since many of the cancer cells in the esophagus were killed or became dormant.
However, when my mother started radiation, she stopped having chemo for about 7 months.
So from around April 2012 to September 2012, she received no treatment whatsoever.
She had a PET Scan around September 2012 which showed that, despite not receiving treatment for 7 months, the cancer outside of the esophagus had not spread.
However, the PET Scan showed that the cancer in the esophagus had become more active.
So my mother started chemo again in September 2012. Due to her weakness and fatigue, she had chemo only once a month, once in Sept., Oct. Nov. and Dec.
Unfortunately, the chemo in November caused heart problems - atrial fibrillation, a rapid and irregular heart beat - and she had to go to the emergency room and subsequently see a cardiologist.
Due to the heart problems, the oncologist changed her chemo drugs for her treatment in December but she still experienced heart problems and had to go to the emergency room once more and follow up with the cardiologist again.
She also fainted twice about a week after the chemo and heart problems in December.
She is having difficulty keeping her balance when she walks and fell down twice.
And she has no energy at all to the extent that she canít even take a bath by herself anymore. For 3 months now!
Due to all these problems Ė the difficulties with chemo, heart problems, fainting, falling, great weight loss, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, etc. Ė we decided not to do anymore chemo, and we tried to find some alternative treatment.
I found a drug online called Escozine, which is a natural extract from the blue scorpion. Iíve heard that like chemo, Escozine works well for some people but it does not work at all for others.
My mother stopped chemo for two months (January and February 2013), and started Escozine for about a month.
However, she started to feel pain again under both sides of her chest and in her back. She was panicking, and thinking that the cancer is becoming more active and spreading.
I thought otherwise because in the past, I remember she would have pain and she thought the cancer was getting worse but a PET Scan would show that the cancer had not spread much.
I also thought the cancer wasnít getting worse since her pain would subside considerably as soon as she took Tylenol. She has to take Tylenol on a regular basis now but it does reduce her pain.
My mother wanted to get chemo right away due to the pain, but I told her that the chemo would cause her more harm than good, and that Escozine may possibly work but that she would need to take it for at least 2 months.
However, my mother decided she didnít want to take any risks and wanted to have chemo done right away since she was afraid the cancer was getting more active and spreading.
She had chemo about a week ago, and she started experiencing heart problems and fell down once.
I am really worried and donít know what to do.
Is there anything that can be done?
I know that if we see the oncologist, he will want her to do more chemo.
I think the problems with chemo outweigh the benefits.
Is there anything else that can be tried aside from chemo?
Or is it time to think of hospice care?
I would greatly appreciate hearing any thoughts, advice, opinions, information or ideas.
Thank you very much for your kind help!