First let me say how sorry I am that you and your family are dealing with this most challenging disease. I donít know if youíve read any of the other mesothelioma posts so I will give you a brief round up of what Iíve been through with this cancer. My experience is not typical but maybe it will give you hope.
Currently Iím 43 years old and I was misdiagnosed with adenocarcinoma (meso cells are often mistaken for adeno cells) of unknown primary 10 years ago. Like your Mom I developed fluid around my lung in the pleural lining that turned out to contain malignant cells. They suspected metastatic breast cancer so I was treated with Tamoxifen and Lupron for about a year. The fluid came and went during that time and started to get worse so I was to start chemo but before I could, the fluid cleared up on its own and I was feeling fine. My doctor in MI told me we would take a wait and see approach.
Fast forward to 2002 and the fluid returns. My new docs in CA think that itís not cancer after all just an ideopathic pleural effusion. I take Vioxx for the inflammation and over the next couple of years the condition waxes and wanes. For the most part I feel perfectly fine. In the summer of 2004 I developed a lot of stomach problems and go for an upper G-I where pleural thickening is noted and only a very small amount of fluid.
After weeks and weeks of tests I was finally diagnosed as having mesothelioma with the most aggressive cell type. My local oncologist referred me to one of the countryís top specialists in Los Angeles, Dr. Robert Cameron, who recommends surgery to remove the lining of my lung, a procedure he is an expert in. I start a long journey of getting opinions from other major cancer centers and meso experts. My disease remains stable during this time and the surgeon is concerned that by operating he might cause the cancer to spread. So since my official diagnoses in Nov. of 2004 I have only had radiation treatment to manage pain which only became a problem back in Mar. of this year. I do not handle narcotics well so I opted for radiation to help with the pain. Today I am pain free and feel fine.
I would highly recommend that your Mother get a second if not a third opinion from a doctor who specializes in this disease. Too often oncologists who are unfamiliar with the condition will just give up. Donít assume the worst right now. Itís true that some people suffer greatly and go very quickly but Iím living proof that it isnít always that way. There have been many others who have lived 10, 15, 25 years after diagnosis with various treatments.
Just like any other cancer you can go in a matter of weeks or you can live years with the disease. Everyone is different. Your Mom sounds like she is in otherwise good shape and you should not assume the worst. A positive attitude goes a long way.
As you research online you will find many sites that are put together by law firms. They tend to play up the worst of the cancer. Do a search for research organizations and you will find a great deal of info presented in a more balanced light. I would happily give you their URLs but this site prohibits that.
Do you know what cell type she is? This will often give a better idea of how quickly the disease might progress but again not always. I have the most aggressive cell type and if I were to believe everything I read, I should have been dead a long time ago.
What part of the country are you in? I can suggest physicians in many different locations who specialize in meso.
I apologize for the length of this response. If you have any questions please donít hesitate to ask me. I will be more then happy to try and help.
Take care and God bless.