Re: [MOL] lung cancer - Dinah - TJENNINGS [01662] Medicine On Line

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Re: [MOL] lung cancer - Dinah - TJENNINGS

Hi Dinah

Glad you found this forum.  The people here are great in helping us thru
this journey.  My dad, at 76 years old,  was diagnosed with small cell lung
cancer several years ago.  He found out in Sep 96.  His major tumor was
wrapped around his aorta and growing.  They gave his palliative radiation
(just to reduce the tumor enough to keep him from having a massive heart
attack from the tumor growth).  Because of his age and other health
problems, they didn't feel he was a candidate for treatment. He felt really
good for several months and then had about 6 weeks of slowing down before
he died.  We had Hospice help for the last month and they were a Godsend. 
Luckily your dad does not have any signs of cancer in the bone and brain
scans.  Very good news with small cell.

In May, my husband (53 years old) was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer
(go figure...what are the odds of that) and started in June exactly the
same treatment you describe for your dad.  Bob, my husband, is getting
treatment at the Cancer Center of Flagstaff Medical in Flagstaff AZ.  It's
about a 3 hour drive from our house in Pinetop, AZ to Flagstaff.  We are
between 3 to 4 hours from Flagstaff, Albuquerque, Tucson, or Phoenix,
anyway you figure it.  The most convenient was Flagstaff for us.  It is
very reassuring in sharing this information in this forum to know that
similar therapies are used in different parts of the country.  At least it
seems reassuring to me.  

Bob had a fairly large tumor on the left lung with some lymph node
involvement, but like your dad, no sign of it in the brain or bone when
they did scans.  They also did a bone marrow biopsy and that was clean.  

Bob also started the same chemo regimen as your dad and then started on the
radiation after they knew he was tolerating the chemo.  He, then had 28
days of radiation which he finished two weeks ago.  He had about 25 days
and then they reduced the area to get radiation because he was getting
burned pretty badly.  

His reaction to the radiation was not terribly bad.  He was very, very
tired and he had trouble swallowing.  His blood counts dropped and he lost
his appetite.  It seems a lot of the above had to do with the radiation. 
We'll see now with only chemo how much was radiation and how much was chemo
reactions.  He did start losing his hair on Father's Day and decided to
take matters into his own hands and shaved his head.   I think it would
have taken some time before he would have gone bald on his own, but he
didn't want to watch it thinning.  We applauded his "bic" look.   

He was supposed to have chemo again week before last but we went to Flag
and were sent home because of his white blood count.  Too low.  They gave
him Neupogen shots to raise his counts back up.  They are daily shots taken
several days in a row.  They test the blood every couple of days and when
the levels are good, stop the shots.    Last week supposed to have it again
but, this time, platelets too low.  He fell several times,  from dizziness
probably from low blood counts,  and had some really huge bruises from the
fall and I suspect this had something to do with the platelets as well.

Now he is scheduled again next week if his blood test Monday is OK.  He has
three more chemos to complete before the end of this treatment schedule. 
They told him Tuesday that the new Xray shows that the tumor has mostly
disappeared, only scar tissue left.

The oncologist told him that he is well on the way to "remission" but with
this kind of fast growing cancer it is hard to control.  It usually doesn't
go away, it just isn't always apparent.  I have found though that there is
not a single kind of cancer that someone somewhere hasn't beat the odds and
survived.  Where there is life, there's hope!!   

They will continue to monitor him to make sure that it doesn't show up in
the brain.  In fact, if he goes into "remission" and they can find no sign,
then they may schedule him for brain radiation to keep the cells from
spreading there.  It seems that the brain is a likely place for it to show
up next.  In small cell lung cancer the cells are so very fast growing and
cells are so microscopic that until it's already spread, it's hard to know.
 So the brain radiation is one way of treating it before it hits full
force.  Still the brain radiation has some drawbacks so before that step
Bob intends to do some further inquiry about the possible side effects.  
The chemo, which works thru the blood stream, apparently doesn't work on
the brain because of some brain barrier that won't let the chemo in (I am
like a first grader giving information here,  I obviously don't have any
medical background :-)))

Does your dad live with you or near you??  Where does your dad get
treatment?  There are several very knowledgeable and loving people on this
forum who have sclc or someone in their family has sclc and I'm sure you'll
hear from them as well.  Please feel free to write anytime.  We all need
each other.  Hope I've been some help.  May God bless you and your father. 
Love Paula

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