Topic: Decision on Chemo? Is it worth it?

My 80 year-old mother was just diagnoised with CC at Johns Hopkins.  I am the youngest of 8 children and working with my family to take care of her.  We are weighing Chemo at this time -- is it worth it? 

Surgery is not an option, her bilarubin (sp?) level was 14 and is now 12 after wall stents-- we just don't know what to expect.  Any thoughts?

2 (edited by JeffG Sun, 15 Apr 2007 08:37:04)

Re: Decision on Chemo? Is it worth it?

Dear Youngsetson....  It is so hard for someone to suggest to you wheter chemo is the way to go or not.  Your family and primarily your Mom has to make that decision.  You need to take in account her age , health overall, what has she been through already, and mostly does she want quality of life vs quanity.  At 80 years of age it would be a tough thing for myself personally to push or encourage chemo treatment.  I would have to say Mom here is the cold hard facts and see what she wants to do.  I personally knew a lovely lady who had CC at age 70 who decided not to do chemo and when she turned 79 the doctors and family encouraged her to start, as it had advanced so far.  So for 9 years she live a pretty good life; pain medication and high protien diet.  In fact I remember her at age 78 shooting basketball hoops with her great grandson of 3 yeatrs old.  But once they started chemo it took it's toll on her body very quickly just  like it does on anyone.  She did not make it to her 80th birthday.  Everyone thought because she got around like a spring chicken she was tough enough to handle it.  But as we all know or maybe should know ,as the years go by our bodies start working against us (old age). Your skin gets thinner, bones more brittle, muscles weaken, organs work harder.  There are many books out there about Old age and Dying you might want to take a peak at before deciding.  I don't know if this post is of any help to you, but I would rather tell it like it is (my opinion and some facts of life) than not say anything at all.  I 'm sorry your Mom has to go through this at her age or any age.  I wish you all God's strength through the trying times ahead.
Jeff G.   
P.S.  Chemo in most cases is considered palliative treatment not a cure.  There are exceptions and miracles do happen.  Hope is always there! If >>>>>I WAS 80 YEARS OLD<<<<< and know what I know today as far as chemo goes I would not do chemo.  I guess that's why we have the freedom of choice and have advance medical directives accomplished.  God Bless!

Take it to the Limit,One More Time! (Eagles)

Re: Decision on Chemo? Is it worth it?

   I agree with Jeff. My father-in-law was given chemo at age 85 ( my husband and I were unaware that it was happening or we would have tried to prevent it) and it killed him in less than 3 days. It completely wiped out his frail immune system. Chemo is terribly hard on youger, stronger people and sometimes you have to really think about whether it is going to do more harm than good. Ecspecially with CC where they say there is no chance for cure with chemo. I love Jeff's story about the woman who went all those years, I just hope that will happen with your mother and my husband. He is doing very well with diet and supplements. He has never had very much chemo, only along with his radiation treatments and it will be a hard decision to make whether he ever should if they decide that it would be necessary down the road. Quality of life is very important and obviously chemo can not really guarantee you quantity.Please weigh your options and make sure your mother understands the side effects of chemo. It really is her decision but at least you will all be informed. Take care and God Bless!  Mary

Re: Decision on Chemo? Is it worth it?

I too agree with Jeff. 
It's a very personal decision.  In my case, at age 59, I tried a course of Xeloda (2 weeks on 1 week off) for 6 weeks.  My tumor markers did go down considerably indicating that the disease had been helped/stabilized.  I am also taking pharmacutical grade mushrooms and something in the combination seemed to help.  By 'help' I mean it may buy me more time. 
However the chemo was very hard on me, not an acceptable quality of life and it ended up putting me in the hospital.  Today, 6 weeks following the Chemo I am just really starting to feel well again.   
Having said this I am also now starting one more course at a reduced dose and a reduced frequency.  I will do two courses of 1 week on, 1 week off and then test for the markers again.  Regardless of the outcome I suspect I will not do more chemo after this although I will continue the mushrooms.   
This was one of the most difficult decisions I've had to make.  Like us all I want more time, but I want good time.   For me being on chemo has not given me the quality I need but perhaps it will be enough to help with a good summer.    Others have tolerated it well and spent months, occassionally years, on Chemo with a quality of life that was acceptable to them.
Blessings and best of luck to you all,

Re: Decision on Chemo? Is it worth it?

Thats a really tough question, I am about to start my 6th month of chemo, and its been alot harder than I though.  My life has stopped as the sickness and tiredness and other effects take their toll on the body.  In my case I am young and the chemo was for piece of mind as the surgery removed all the cancer, so for me it was / has been worth the loss of 6 - 9 months of my life.  But and this is only how I feel - if my cancer came back and had spread to various parts and was looking terminal I would not take chemo as the loss of quality of life is too great if you were only to get a year or so longer in return.  But this is a decision everyone has to make for themselves.  I just hope and pray I don't have to make that decision.

I hope all goes well for your family.