I am sorry, I took so long to respond to you. First of all, I hope your mom is doing well and she enjoyed her trip!
My mom received radiation and chemotherapy at the same time. She received total of 28 sessions of radiation and chemotherapy once a week for 3 weeks, with one week off for approx 7 months. She was supposed to go 8 months, but she decided she had enough. She tolerated both treatments fairly well for about 2 or 3 months, but then complications one right after another. My poor mom was hospitalized approx 10 times in 18 months, most of the time because of the side effects of the chemotherapy. She went thru hell. She then finally decided she had enough and requested to stop chemotherapy. She got about one month off, then repeat PET scan and CT scan. The oncologist was actually surprised that the liver had improved significantly and that the tumor appeared to have shrunk and was not seen on the scans. He wanted to see her again in 3 months for repeat scans. Then about one month later, I noticed she was jaundiced, called oncologist, they scheduled another CT scan and they found that her bile ducts were occluded. She then was scheduled for ERCP, resulting in 2 plastic stents. They could not insert metal stents because the ducts were too narrow. We could not believe in just one month, how she can go from a clear scan to occluded bile ducts requiring stents. From then on, she became sicker and more hospitalizations due to infections from the stents.
Michelle, the stents, especially plastic (because they are smaller in diameter) are prone to infections. My mom became septic, ICU for almost a week, then it was down hill from then on. I think she was just so sick of being sick and spending majority of the time in the hospital.
As I stated, before she was diagnosed, she was her normal self, active, no pain. She was completely symptom free. But, in her case, it was after she received the treatments that she became so ill.
So, in hind sight, I think, if we could go back in time, I think my mom would have chosen not to receive treatment, given the difficulty she experienced from the radiation and chemotherapy. But, when you are told that you have cancer, you initially want every treatment that is available.
Everyone is different Michelle. My mom just did not do well with the treatments given to her. Especially after the stents were placed. But every person has different experiences. What we learned from our experience is that quality of life is so much more important than quantity. We, especially myself was so not ready to give up and did not want to lose my mom and encouraged her to go through the treatments. But, I saw my mom suffer so much that I wish I can go back in time and knowing what I know now, realize early on that quality of life is more important. Sometimes I feel so guilty, but I know that will not bring my mom back. I miss her everyday, but I know that she is with God and is not suffering anymore.
I hope your mother stays well. Don't be afraid to ask questions. You are your mom's best advocate. But, if you feel like crying, cry. It is a tough journey.