6 Weeks Since Stage IV Lung Cancer Diagnosis

Yesterday marked exactly 6 weeks since Dad received his incurable stage IV non small cell lung cancer diagnosis. At that time, he had severe pain in his stomach and diarrhea, which he was treated for before he left Florida to come for his visit. His doctor was treating him for diverticulitis, and told Dad that if symptoms did not improve, he should return to the doctor. Well, the 5 days were during his trip from Florida to Ohio.

He arrived on October 8, 2018 at approximately noon, and within 15 minutes we were out the door headed for the emergency room. His pain was severe and debilitating. After our 7+ hour wait in the ER waiting room, we were on our way to learning about Dad’s cancer. He was admitted to the hospital where he stayed for nearly 4 days.

Where We Are Now

Just before Thanksgiving, Dad’s legs had become so weak that he was struggling to get down the stairs. Now, he can no longer get down on his own. My son has been helping him up and down just so he can enjoy some time out of his room, but even this has become too much for Dad.

Monday, he is scheduled for a scan to see if his chemotherapy is working. I mentioned in my last post that Dad has decided if the chemo is not working, he no longer wants the treatment. It may be easy for others to say “why would you refuse chemotherapy”, but the reality is, his time is limited and he wants to try and enjoy the time he has left without feeling the way that he has felt for 5 weeks now (since his first chemotherapy treatment).

Part of me wants to believe that his condition is 100% due to the chemotherapy, but the realist in me is struggling to accept that. I believe that his health is declining more and more every single day. Today, he has not been awake for more than an hour (total for the day). As I write this, he is sleeping in the recliner where he has been for several hours. Before that, he was in bed where he had spent the entire day… sleeping.

He has not had a chemo treatment in 2 weeks, so for him to be feeling worse rather than better is a very big concern, as well as a potential indicator that the chemotherapy is not responsible for all of this. I am no doctor, and that is why we are reluctantly anxious to get the results back from his scheduled scan on Monday.

He barely has any feeling left in his hands, and is losing more in his feet every day. He can hardly take his own pills anymore because he is having a hard time getting them in his mouth.

Complaining of Dizziness

Yesterday, Dad began complaining of dizziness to where he worried about falling, as am I. Today, that condition is worse to the point that he did not even want to come downstairs early in the day because of the fear that he may not make it down (even with Austin helping him).

This is really concerning to me as he usually gets up in the middle of the night or early morning to go to the bathroom (it is right across the hall from his room and he uses his walker). I am very concerned about him falling in the middle of the night, and I can only pray that I hear him if he does, or he calls for help.

I just talked with my son (remember, he is 20 so he is no longer a child) and told him that I was considering having Dad admitted to the hospital, but then we both agreed that it would be more dangerous due to his low white blood cell count and the risk of infection. So, we will wait this out a couple more days. I do think that I will have Dad call the doctor tomorrow (or I will call for him), and ask if this dizziness is normal or if we should take him in to be admitted.

This blog has been instrumental in keeping track of Dad’s condition, and I would recommend to anyone in the same or similar situation to keep some type of journal of your condition so that you can track symptoms. I hope that it will help some of you who are looking for information on what to expect, but I also want to remind you that everyone is different, so your condition may not be the same as my Dad’s.

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Enough Is Enough… 11 Days Since 2nd Chemotherapy Treatment

Sometimes, the road less traveled may be your best route…

After our emergency room trip yesterday, we had to take action and get some answers for Dad. I spent the morning talking with my sister and trying to figure out what we can do to keep Dad from being stuck in the bedroom upstairs all day long. Why was he stuck upstairs all day? Because he can no longer get himself up and down the stairs, and the bedroom and our only bathroom is upstairs, so naturally it is the obvious short-term solution that will allow Dad the use of the bathroom when my husband or son are not home to help him come down (or go up). I simply cannot do it, and it is not because I don’t want to, it is because I am not physically strong enough to keep him from falling in the event that his legs buckle on him halfway down the stairs.

Needless to say, this is not an ideal situation, and it is certainly not what Dad’s impression of chemotherapy was. He knew that he would feel extremely ill, fatigued, lack an appetite and lose his hair. What he didn’t know was that he would become confined to a bedroom because his legs are too weak to hold him. He is not able to shower on his own, he cannot go outside, he cannot stand at all unless he is moving from one chair to another. And this is how he feels every single day, and then right back to chemotherapy he goes to start all over again.

He “signed up” for chemotherapy because he thought that it was going to help with his cancer symptoms, not to make them worse.

A desperate call to his doctor…

I called his oncologist this morning, and thankfully, she returned the call this afternoon.

She discussed Dad’s treatment plan, and asked him how he was feeling. He explained to her that he is absolutely miserable, and that this is not how he wants to spend this time with his family. He wants to leave the house, go places, see people, maybe even go on a short trip, but none of that has been possible since his chemotherapy began. Frankly, he feels worse as the days go on.

She told Dad that she would reduce the chemotherapy drugs to a lower dose, and that he will skip one week (he was scheduled for chemo Thursday, December 6th, 2018) to see if his condition improves. Skipping next week is how she is able to gauge whether his condition is deteriorating due to the chemotherapy or due to the cancer itself. For this time only, he will go 4 weeks rather than 3 weeks between treatments. She did explain that reducing the amount of chemotherapy he receives will also reduce its effectiveness, but Dad agreed that it is what he wants to do.

She is also going to schedule scans to see if the chemotherapy is even doing it’s job. Dad told her that if it is not working, he no longer wants to do it, and to “let the cards fall as they may” (his words not mine).

Quality Over Quantity is Dad’s Wish

When you get to this stage with a loved one, at least for me, it is easier to accept what is happening when you have answers and know a little about why it’s happening and if there is anything that can be done to make him feel better. After all, his chemotherapy treatments are for palliative reasons only, as his cancer cannot be cured at this stage. For this reason, Dad’s conversation with his doctor has made everyone feel a little bit better, including Dad, because at least we are making an attempt at giving him some of the quality of life that he has made clear is the most important thing for him. All he wants is to enjoy his family and not feel like he is already dying.

We will now anxiously await an appointment for him to get the scans done, and in the meantime,  hopefully get Dad out of the house. I am praying that him having an extra week without chemo will give us a chance to do something with him that he will enjoy and feel half-way decent.

 

 

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10 Days After Chemotherapy Treatment #2 and an ER Visit

As if the reality of losing your Dad isn’t enough, we have to deal with all of the worries and heartache that go along with the dreadful disease of cancer.

We got through Thanksgiving, but unfortunately, Dad felt worse than he has felt all along on Thanksgiving Day. His ability to walk is declining every day, and today we made a trip to the Emergency Room.

My dad is very stubborn, which makes it a little more difficult to care for him when he is not accepting the reality of his situation. I cannot imagine how he feels, but on the other hand, it is time that we all get a grip on what is happening here.

I am going to try and get some help with a home health aide, and I am also going to schedule an appointment with Hospice, which was recommended by the ER physician.

They did not want to admit him to the hospital today unless it was absolutely necessary due to his white blood cell count being so low and the risk of infection.

Dad has his 3rd round of chemotherapy scheduled for December 6th, but I honestly don’t know if he can handle it. I am really hoping that his oncologist will discuss his treatment plan with him so that he can make a decision on what his best course of action should be to live a better life for the time he has left vs. how he has felt since he started his chemo treatment in October, which has been nothing short of dreadful.

 

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Chemotherapy and Thanksgiving Don’t Go Together

It’s been a few days since I have posted an update on Dad, and that is likely because there has been no change or improvement. With that said, after a discussion that my sister and I had with Dad last night, I felt the need to post today. It has been 6 days since Dad’s 2nd chemotherapy treatment. Click here to read about Dad’s 1st week of chemo treatment #1.

I realized that Dad hadn’t showered in several days, so I found a way to bring up showering, and he stated that he hadn’t taken a shower in several days because he doesn’t think he can stand that long. Now I’m no doctor, but I have this feeling that his severe lack of energy to the point where he is not even taking showers is not just an effect of chemo.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I have not spent a Thanksgiving with my Dad in many years due to his retiring and moving to Florida, so I am very grateful that he can spend this one with us, as it may very likely be his last Thanksgiving. The downside is that he can hardly eat anything at all being that we are still in week #1 of his 2nd chemotherapy treatment. He eats what he absolutely has to eat to keep from getting sick, he takes his pills, and he sleeps.

I asked him yesterday if he had any special requests for the menu, and he said he is fine with anything that I make. I am just praying that his appetite is a little better tomorrow.

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Feeling Discouraged…

Dad has his 2nd round of chemotherapy on Thursday, November 15, 2018.

He has lost just about all of his hair, but will not shave the rest off even though it would look better. I am beginning to feel that he is losing the hope that he started with.

He cannot get up the stairs without it literally taking his breath away. He has a hard time even getting around the house due to his severe fear of falling because he feels so unsteady on his feet. This was discussed with his oncologist on Thursday, and she scheduled an x-ray to see if the tumor is growing, and she also ordered a MRI on his brain and spine to determine if the cancer has metastasized to other locations.

We left his chemotherapy treatment, and took him for the x-ray so that he would not have to go back out tomorrow. On the way home, I asked him what he ate (I tried to get him to eat before we left this morning, but he insisted that he would be fine as they have food/snacks at the treatment center) and he told me that he did not eat anything. I told him he has to eat, and he said that he would love a junior whopper, french fries and a coke from Burger King. It seemed like an odd request for a man who hardly ever eats fast food, but who am I to argue? If that’s what he wants, that’s what he will get.

He ate the entire meal down to the last french fry.

I am pretty sure that he heard the doctor today when she discussed his weight loss with him, and the concern on her face was very apparent. Dad has lost 10 pounds since he arrived here from Florida on October 8, 2018.

Dad complained to me this evening about his phone acting up. He said that every time he touches a letter to text, it comes out a different letter. I had him restart the phone, but he said that it didn’t help. He asked me to try, so I did and his phone is working just fine. I believe that his coordination is failing, and I am praying for the best when we get his MRI done.

November 16, 2018

I guess you cannot judge a book by it’s cover. All day I was thinking how Dad seems to be doing a little better after his 2nd chemo treatment vs. how he felt when get home from the 1st. He napped on and off, but he did not sleep the entire day like the 1st round, he ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He watched TV while Brooke, my sister and myself played Yahtzee (Brooke won of course!).

Later in the evening, I was doing some work on the computer in my office and he came back and sat down. He said he had a headache. This is the first he has complained of a headache. I gave him 2 Tylenol, and he said that he felt worse this time than he did after the 1st chemo treatment. I found this odd because all day I had been thinking the complete opposite.

I am afraid that Dad is hiding how he is really feeling from us. He has always been this way, not wanting us to worry about him, but this time it is life or death. I feel like we really need to get through to him that he has to share how he is feeling, and if he is not comfortable sharing it with us, he absolutely must share it with his doctor.

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