• Coping tips - cancer that has metastasized to lungs and liver?

    Asked by MeggyinSF on Monday, March 4, 2013

    Coping tips - cancer that has metastasized to lungs and liver?

    Hi Guys, My husband just had his post chemo scans (we thought he was done with a year's worth of treatments) and it came back showing six lesions on his liver and 26 on his lungs, meaning the cancer has metastasized and the goal is no longer to cure, but to prolong life. As you can imagine, this came as quite a shock. Doc says he has 5% chance to make it to five year mark. We are both 30, and were making so many post treatment plans because originally we were told this was curable (when it was local). My question is for others who have been in this situation, how do you cope with that emotional pivot? We are trying to remain hopeful and seeking second/third/fourth opinions, but we are both clinging to each other a lot right now. What can I do as a caregiver to help him remain positive and realistic? I am so sad I can't even put it into words and I can't imagine how he is feeling. Any tips appreciated.

    12 Answers from the Community

    12 answers
    • Peroll's Avatar

      Meggy, Sorry to hear about your news. I know how your husband feels. I too have metastatic colon cancer that has been in my lungs, a lymph node in my chest and my right adrenal gland and now is supposedly back in my lungs. I was first diagnosed 8 1/2 yeara ago.

      First thing you should know is that a scan can't definitively diagnose cancer. A CT scan only sees differences in tissue density and a PET scan sees metabolic activity. Cancer tends to be denser and more active than normal tissue, but there are lots of other things that look the same. Half the healthy population given scans have spots on their livers and lungs that are not cancer. When I was first diagnosed I had a spot on my liver show up but it was not cancer. The only way to know for sure is to biopsy the spots.

      As for the 5% chance of making it 5 years, that number is at least 10 years old as it is what I was told more than 5 years ago when my cancer was first found in my lungs and any number they givre us is atl least 5 yerars old. There has been a lot of good research over the past few years. I personally have had three drugs and tow surgeries that were not possible when I was first diagnosed. I have also hit the 5% end of the probability 5 times in a row so it is possible and he can do it.

      From here he will likely first be givren more chemo with different drugs. There are several chemo drug regimines for colon cancer available so if one does not work then another will be tried. I have had most of them. There are also a lot of other treament options such as radiation, cyber knife, radio frequrency ablation and more. You two probably want to do soime research on them and be prepared to ask questions.

      For second opinions you probably want to seek out Drs that are associated with a research hospital or clinic, preferabaly one tht has all of the different cancer sepcalities under one roof so that his cans can be reviewed by as large a team as possible.

      If you need advice from a care giver you can look up my wife who goes by Queen Tatiana here on WhatNext. She has been wioth me for the entire journey and can give a caregiver's perspective.

      Good Luck and let us know if you have more questions or anyother kind of help.

      over 5 years ago
    • RickinFla's Avatar

      Meggy, like Peroll I am so sorry you two are face with this discouraging and shocking news. Because Peroll did such a thorough job with the technical/medical aspects of moving forward, I won't dwell on treatments other than to say, ensure you educate yourselves as thoroughly as possible so you can pick the best options for your situation. In addition, get a second and if necessary a third opinion as there are differences in cancer treatment options based on your particular location and even, in larger cities, on your cancer treatment facility.

      Take a bit of time to process this discouraging news together. Hold each other, cry together if necessary then get back up and at the risk of sounding trite, "get ready to rumble."

      I won't tell you this disease can be defeated, but make it fight for every inch. Give ground only grudgingly. Fight back, hard. When I was diagnosed Stage IV disease, my only thought was how do I whip this thing's butt. Personally, I am highly competitive and a fighter. For the 37 of the 39 years I have been married to my wonderful wife she has refused to play board games with me, as she says I take them too seriously. Learn all you can about the disease and treatment options, ask questions of your health care providers, seek out the best care available and affordable, question everything, don't quit. Force the disease to beat you. Don't lose the game for lack of trying.

      Good luck and remember there are people who to help and support you.

      over 5 years ago
    • carm's Avatar

      I am sorry to hear of your situation. Although with much respect, I do not agree with some of what is posted in response; I am NOT a patient, I am an oncology/end of life nurse; so I will only address the part of your question regarding your supporting role.
      You are so astute and wise in recognizing that you not only must remain positive, but also realistic. For any of us walking this earth at this very moment, living and breathing; our future is no more a guarantee than your husbands. We cannot forsee the future either, so the best advice I can give you is to help him to concentrate on what he can control...the present. You need to first address the situation with him and ask him how he feels about this latest turn of events? I would assume his reaction would be one of frustration, gloom or anger which is expected. Ask him how you can help him to come to terms with this, what can you do that will make this easier for him? If he tells you that he does not want his life to end too soon, or that he is frightened of what his future holds then you must validate his concerns by telling him that you hear and understand his concerns. Repeat them back to him; you are his mate and so of course you feel the same, but what can you do to help him prepare for that future he expects if he chooses to think in the future? Then get him to focus on the here and now. Time is such a big influence to us all really, such a necessity and yet time is man-made; in reality it does not exist. What does exist are moments. These are the most precious gifts of life to us. I am sure that if I asked you what you were doing two years ago today at 3:30 PM, you probably won't remember. However, if I asked you about the first time you fell in love, your first childbirth (if applicable), your first significant loss, your best Xmas...that you will recall with ease. Moments are the true visions of the soul. They become the lanterns that light the landmarks in this journey of life, and they serve such a purpose at the end of the journey...believe me. The whole purpose for life's journey is to experience those moments. There is an old Hospice saying, "The beauty of the flight is to glorify the sight." It is so true. If he just concentrates on the moment he is in, and then moves to the next moment he will find that the moments yet to experience are an unimaginable amount.
      Of course, it goes without saying that you both should seek a second opinion. If you are not already getting treatment from a university hospital, you should seek that opinion there. They have the latest technology, research studies, and the patient is their textbook; so the patient is equally as valuable as the physicians on staff. We have all heard those stories about the patients who were given less than 6 months to live and are still going strong two years after that diagnosis, and I can tell you from experience that it happens more than you realize. There are many variables that go into the survival rates and personally, I disregard them myself, but you must also recognize to be fair that although the latest technology, and advancements in compounds do extend that 5 year estimate, the mortality rate stays the same. However that being said, modern advancements in screening and preventative therapies have altered those figures quite a bit and many of those statistics are indeed outdated. No one knows your husband, or his will and determination, and if there is one thing, ONE thing that I can tell you from working in end of life care; it is that no one ever leaves until THEY choose to. As humans it is in our innate behavior at that most precious time to choose, not yield. He will always be in control. When his will to live becomes a will to leave, he will plot his course and steer forward toward his intended destination. Until then, your role is to support his journey and be the moments that light his path. The very best of luck to you both, Carm RN.

      over 5 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      Just sending you hugs and prayers as the others have given you such great answers.

      over 5 years ago
    • SandiD's Avatar

      I want to say how much I hate cancer! Ok, now down to business. The others gave great advice. I think you can allow some time to get over the shock, then decide how to fight this! Listen to what these strong people here have said. In the mean time, your husband may want to speak to a Social Worker, Therapist or Clergyman about getting some emotional support. You might consider this for yourself too. Please take really good care if yourself during all this by eating well, getting enough sleep, exercise, breaks, etc. You are going to have to stay strong emotionally and physically. Besides the other opinions, I suggest you try to read or speak to people who have had successful stories. Surround yourselves with positive positive people whenever possible. If you believe in a Higher Power, seek that out and spend time in Nature as you can. You both need this positive energy now. Never give up! Every day your husband is alive and breathing there is hope. People do beat cancer. Read about Michael Douglas, he was Stage IV. We hear the stories all the time. I wish you both the very best. I pray for all suffering this disease and their loved ones.

      over 5 years ago
    • NanaL's Avatar

      I'm so sorry to hear your news! I don't understand all of the colo/rectal cancer in young people that is showing up so much these days! I go to Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis, Mo. and I see more and more young people with metastatic colon cancer. I also have stage 4 rectal cancer with small mets to my lungs. I was told i would be cured (initially). And now I take bi-weekly treatments to maintain the cancer. Dr said it was treatable but not curable. I know how terribly difficult and scary this is for you and your husband. Try to remain as positive as you can and know that many prayers are being sent your way. God Bless you both!!

      over 5 years ago
    • SpunkyS's Avatar

      Sending you hugs and prayers and virtual support. I hope you have people around you to give you the tender loving care you need right now.

      over 5 years ago
    • Joachima's Avatar

      So sorry about your news. Just sending love and prayers for you & your husband.

      over 5 years ago
    • Knockonwood's Avatar

      Hi Meggyin SF,
      I am stage IV rectal cancer with mets to the liver, lungs and ovary. I've gone through the first and second lines of chemo and am considering a clinical trial at USC. For me, the cure is not something I am thinking about, but prolonging life is my priority. I used to buy healthy foods because they were good for me. I used to exercise because it was good for my health. I used to talk to God every once in awhile when I thought I needed something. Now I eat healthy food, exercise and talk to God daily because my life depends on doing this things. Everyone is different in how they respond to treatments. I'm not sure how much we as individuals can control what happens inside our bodies, but I do believe that we have a great deal of control of what we think and believe. Keep believing that you will survive. Don't die until you die. Keep the faith. Hugs and prayers to you both.

      over 5 years ago
    • MeggyinSF's Avatar

      Wow thank you ALL so much for your heartfelt responses. We spent the whole day getting records copied and sent off for second and third opinions so I did not see everything until now. There is a lot of great info here, and I really appreciate the time you all took to send details and well wishes along. I wish all of you well, and I will pay it forward when I can. Hugs, love and peace to all.

      over 5 years ago
    • alivenwell's Avatar

      Personally, I have almost died for various reasons and am still alive. There has to be some purpose to my life. We are all here for some purpose. We just have to find it.
      Be positive. Personally, I knew somebody with leukemia and a very positive attitude who made it through treatments and is in remission. Maybe down the road they will find ways to cure this horrendous disease.

      over 5 years ago
    • fluteplayer's Avatar

      your life is not over till God says it is. when I was told stage 4 I tried susicide and was not very good at it. I was given a year three years ago.. a second dr saved what life I have left. seen my sister in law die from the same as I have and she suffered so .thats why I did not want to live. I will never understand why God wants me here but I am going to live my life to the fullest

      almost 4 years ago

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