Topic: Chronic stomach ache - sign of worst things to come?

Hello everyone -

My dad has been getting weaker and losing weight over the last month. We are not sure if this is a sign of the chemo, the tumor or both (most likely). He says he is very weak and tired and complains about chronic stomach pain. He describes it as a colic type pain and is sometimes more acute after he eats. As far as I know he has not had any vomit and treats the pain with over the counter medicine so it's probably no to a critical point.

He is not jaundiced or feels any other major pain points so I;m wondering if it might be more a chemo driven problem together with all the additional medication he's taking or if it might be the tumor taking it's course.

If anyone has any experiences with this type of problem please let me know. I would love to know if there is anything I can do to help dad.

Best of luck to everyone.

Amilcar

Re: Chronic stomach ache - sign of worst things to come?

I'm sorry to say it rings awful bells with me. My Mum developed the same thing. Having tried all sorts of digestive aids, charcoal, peppermint, eating less, eating different foods etc plus the regular pain killers she was on, she eventually ended up in hospital, the pain was so bad. Within days she was started on morphine. She went to hospital around April 1st. She died 21st April. Sorry to be so blunt. I hasten to add, that that was MY MUM'S EXPERIENCE.
But that is how it was.
The thing is, also worth bearing in mind, that my Mum had NO chemo, so this may well be chemo related Amilcar.
The last 3 weeks of her life were so very hard, because I felt so helpless.
All you can really do is be there for your Dad, and support in any way you can.
My heart goes out to you. It's all so very frightening, and frustrating.
I hope you receive some more positive replies.
And it goes without saying, that maybe a visit to the Docs would be a good idea, just to see if they can shed any light on what may be happening.
Much love.

Re: Chronic stomach ache - sign of worst things to come?

Thanks for the reply, I really appreciate the insight. What is really strange is that in his last CT scan only about 8 weeks ago he had no visible mass or lesions in the bile duct. (We had always been more concerned about his lung mets). I wonder if there could have been a major growth over the last 2 months. We got his blood work today and all the numbers are fine so it's becoming increasingly strange. I harbor some hope that it could be the chemo and that we could try something less aggressive than cisplatin/irinotecan.

Anyway, I will keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.

Thanks and best of luck to everyone.

take care,

Amilcar

Re: Chronic stomach ache - sign of worst things to come?

Hi Amilcar- my Dad also had a chronic stomach ache that got progressively worse.  He tried over the counter and when they detected the cancer, he went on Dilaudid because it was Stage 4. The Dilaudid helped with his bone pain (his CC spread to the bone), but it didn't do anything for his stomach pain. 

Eventually we learned that the pain was probably caused by Ascites- a fluid that accumulates.  My Dad had his ascites medically drained, but it returned in a day's time.  You can ask the doctors if they feel it is Acsictes... if it is, they can prescribe diuretics- my Dad was dehydrated for much of the time, so diuretics were not an option for him. 

Your Dad may also have an intestinal blockage- an x-ray would help determine this... the doctors never confirmed that my Dad had one, but I suspect he had some sort of blockage as he commented that it felt his food couldn't completely pass through his stomach, he felt as if there was something there.

Best of luck to your dad... peace to your family.

Missing U

Re: Chronic stomach ache - sign of worst things to come?

Amilcar wrote:

Hello everyone -

My dad has been getting weaker and losing weight over the last month. We are not sure if this is a sign of the chemo, the tumor or both (most likely). He says he is very weak and tired and complains about chronic stomach pain. He describes it as a colic type pain and is sometimes more acute after he eats. As far as I know he has not had any vomit and treats the pain with over the counter medicine so it's probably no to a critical point.

He is not jaundiced or feels any other major pain points so I;m wondering if it might be more a chemo driven problem together with all the additional medication he's taking or if it might be the tumor taking it's course.

If anyone has any experiences with this type of problem please let me know. I would love to know if there is anything I can do to help dad.

Best of luck to everyone.

Amilcar

sounds like the pain I have.  I actually describe it as "the baby is kicking and he's got really long sharp toenails".  Is the pain more acute after he eats something with a higher fat content?  Remember that his bile system is compromised so he will not be able to process some foods as before.  It's a trial and error, and sometimes I choose to go with the discomfort depending on the food!  ;-) 

Best of luck to your dad and you.  I think all of us who have it or experiencing in some way go through the "is this how cancer feels?"

Re: Chronic stomach ache - sign of worst things to come?

So dad went to the Dr. today and there are some mixed news. The bad news is he lost close to 20 lbs and is very weak. There is a clear correlation there. The Dr. already gave him some steroids and a bunch of dietary supplements and will be monitoring his weight very closely.

The good news is Dad only has the mild stomach pain and nothing else. His bloodwork was fine and his only off numbers where white blood cell count and this is likely driven by the chemo. He's got no ascites, no abdominal distension and no jaundice or elevated alkaline phosphatase.

The recommendation has been to give him an extra week off from the chemo (cisplatin/irinotecan) and then  reduce the dosage. The Dr. thinks dad reacted very poorly to the combo and will evaluate if it makes sense to continue with lower dosages. "Fortunately" he also thinks most of the deterioration was product of the chemo and not excessive tumoral progression. I think it might be early to call but we'll take this for now.

Thanks to everyone for the insights, ideas and support.

Best of luck to everyone.

Amilcar

Re: Chronic stomach ache - sign of worst things to come?

Amilcar,
Very glad to hear that your father's disease doesn't seem to be progressing - in spite of the bad news, most of it seemed very good to me. Sometimes the chemo CAN take too much out of a person so it was wise of your doctor to suggest a break. I hope your father recovers some of his strength and weight - I've followed your story and he is putting up a brave fight.
Much luck and love,
Joyce

Re: Chronic stomach ache - sign of worst things to come?

Thanks for the words of encouragement Joyce.

I am still very worried because he is so thin and weak that  a minor infection could prove incredibly problematic. Hopefully with some rest from the chemo and the new diet he can regain some strength and march along for a little longer.

Sadly to say I don' think he's really putting a great fight and I wish he would be stronger. Maybe being a physician himself and having spent over 20 years studying cancer has left him with all the gloomy views and little optimism these diseases can bear on a person. Sometimes I wish he would be more accepting of other ideas, suggestions and even alternative approaches to his disease but he is so focused on the mechanics and the science that he is worn out.

In any case, the rest of us are rooting for him and will stay with him throughout this.

Again, thanks to everyone and best of luck to everyone.

Re: Chronic stomach ache - sign of worst things to come?

OH I'm so glad that it is not such bad news Amilcar!
I'm sorry your Dad isn't a "fighter". My Mum wasn't either. I think she was just fed up with the whole thing by the end of it. She wanted the quality, not quantity, and when she wasn't getting that, well, why fight I guess? It's just hard for us as "kids"/carers, because we WANT to see them fight, and we WANT them to get better.
Hope you are OK.

Re: Chronic stomach ache - sign of worst things to come?

my husband had similar symtoms which were relieved when he started taking reglan, a drug which I think empties the stomach faster and reduces nausea, he was miserable before this med which he takes before every meal and at bedtime. worth a thought.

Re: Chronic stomach ache - sign of worst things to come?

My mom is also on Cisplatin and Gemcitabine. After almost two months of this combination, we're very close to throwing in the towel with this particular regimen. I think those stomach pains you described are very indicative of what cisplatin can do to one's digestive system. They say the first cells to be killed off during chemo are the ones that line your stomach and that can wreak havoc. My mom's lost so much weight and even eating something like a banana can make her stomach hurt. Her oncologist's suggestion is to eat less fruit. Sounds crazy but I suppose it can aggravate stomach problems somehow.

And as far as the lack of optimism goes...I think cisplatin definitely induces depression, no matter how strong-willed someone can be. The break will absolutely do him some good, even if it's for a short time. My mom is taking a two-week break and we could not be more relieved for this short "recess".

I read in a NY Times article that cisplatin has been known to literally melt away tumors. Okay, so maybe that was based off of testicular tumors but so what...it was an encouraging phrase that I remind myself of when I wonder if cisplatin was the right decision...

All the best,
Abigail

Re: Chronic stomach ache - sign of worst things to come?

Amilcar wrote:

Thanks for the words of encouragement Joyce.

I am still very worried because he is so thin and weak that  a minor infection could prove incredibly problematic. Hopefully with some rest from the chemo and the new diet he can regain some strength and march along for a little longer.

Sadly to say I don' think he's really putting a great fight and I wish he would be stronger. Maybe being a physician himself and having spent over 20 years studying cancer has left him with all the gloomy views and little optimism these diseases can bear on a person. Sometimes I wish he would be more accepting of other ideas, suggestions and even alternative approaches to his disease but he is so focused on the mechanics and the science that he is worn out.

In any case, the rest of us are rooting for him and will stay with him throughout this.

Again, thanks to everyone and best of luck to everyone.

Amilcar, I sympathize with your frustration regarding your father's attitude, as I had the same feelings about my mother - but then I think about how it must feel to KNOW you're going to die, I try to imagine the crushing weight of it, and I really can't blame someone for being depressed and losing hope. As the loved ones, it's our job to be the cheerleaders and advocates, but the job of the patient is to go over their mortality in their minds over and over. It must be very lonely - something you really can't share with anyone.  So I still say your father is putting up a great fight, because he's hanging in there, he gave chemo a chance, and I'm sure he still has the will to live. Some people have wonderful optimistic attitudes no matter what is thrown at them, but they are the exception and they're the lucky ones. Just feeling physically unwell all the time is enough to make you mentally miserable, but the bad prognosis on top of it is just devastating. I'm not saying that he's going to die anytime soon, but just having the sentence hanging over your head, not knowing if you will make it through another year, must be crushing to the spirit.

No criticism of you is implied here! I felt the same exact way but when I put myself in my mother's place, I realized how terrible she must feel and how helpless and hopeless. We never know how we are going to die and if we'll face it bravely when it comes, but I believe the truth is that when the time comes we will all be afraid, even if it's just at the very end. But as the caregivers, it's devastating to see the mental havoc as well as the physical and we want so desperately to help. Maybe a therapist/clergyperson could help your father? Or someone else he can talk to?

Sorry for rambling - obviously I've been thinking about these things a lot lately.
-Joyce

Re: Chronic stomach ache - sign of worst things to come?

Stomach ache!  Gads that's what got me to see the Doctor in Mar. 2001.  They didn't find the problem causing the stomach ache, but they did see a 8-10 cm mass in my liver -- CC. 

My stomach ache is still there, gets even worse some of the time (I think it is stress related, although eating sometimes causes problems, sometimes, not).  They said the pain was not, is not, related to the CC.   Of course after 6 years of surgeries, chemo trials and radiation, I think that combination may have also contributed to the pain.

What ever it is, they can't seem to find the problem -- other than to say I'm like an old car with well over 200,00 miles on it.

I hope your dad can try to ignore it as best he can (but it's really hard to do when it keeps you awake nights and you feel like crap all day).

Of course everyone is different -- this is just what I've experienced, but I could have done without the stomach ache, but then that is what got me scanned in the first place, so I guess every ache has it's positive side.

Jerry

Re: Chronic stomach ache - sign of worst things to come?

Hi Jerry - 6 years! wow, it's always so encouraging to see people that have put up such a great fight.

Dad is eating a little better and it feeling marginally better as well. I think the chemo just  wiped him out. Hopefully it did some good. I am really worried about another cycle - probably more than from the cc itself at this point.

Thanks for the advice and best of luck to everyone.

Amilcar

Re: Chronic stomach ache - sign of worst things to come?

I was diagnosed with cc in March 2007, and have had discomfort in my solar plexus, just below where the ribs come together, almost the entire time.  I also sometimes experience the feeling that my stomach is not emptying.

I haven't had any chemo.
I do not think it is nerves, or anxiety.
I am losing weight.
I am not hungry as much as I used to be. (oncologist suggested that was due to depression, but usually I eat in response to depression!)

I think it is a symptom associated with something going on with the cancer.

Sara C.

Re: Chronic stomach ache - sign of worst things to come?

Hi Sarah, my husband was diagnosed in March 2007, he is having no chemo or treatment other than milanta and pariet for reflux.
He is not depressed but has discomfort in the solar plexus the same as you. He also feels that his stomach is not emptying. This is the CC or klatskin tumor causing these symtoms as everyone seems to have the same thing whether they are on chemo or not.
Colin has lost 16kg since January 07 and this is our biggest worry, I would like to know if you are having the weight loss problem, he is losing about 1kg a week at the moment.
We live in Australia and they have told us that Chemo does not improve length of life enough to warrant suffering the side effects. Maybe you have better treatments in America.
Fran with hugs

Re: Chronic stomach ache - sign of worst things to come?

Hi everyone -

My dad has improved marginally and has started to eat again and has not had any increase (in fact a mild decrease) in stomach pain. The only issue that lingers is that he has pretty severe diarrhea. When he started with the new chemo regimen we all thought it was the combination of irinotecan and cisplatin. Now he has not had chemo for two weeks (given his low white blood count) and the evacuations started again.

He was able to moderately control it with low dose morphine and with bismuth but it's not working all that great anymore. He is no pain (except the sporadic colic) but he has lost a lot of weight (about 18 lbs) and he will not recover the weight with these symptoms.

Has anybody experienced anything similar? The symptoms are very close to what you would expect from the chemo but he has been off for a while now so it could be something else.

Any ideas/suggestions/experiences will be greatly appreciated!

thanks and best of luck to everyone.

Amilcar