Will Chemo buy me more time ?? Anyone Ideas?

I was diagnosed 6 weeks ago with stage IV non small cell lung cancer with a tumor in left lob, 1 brain tumor and several swollen lymph-nodes. I was told today I could expect to live 1 year. Beyond 12 months will be in Gods hands. I had targeted radiation on the brain tumor. I have started chemo and it has made me feel horrible. I'm short of breath and I little tired. But when I take the Chemo I feel like it's speeding up my clock. What I mean is I can not help but wonder if the side affects of the chemo will steal more days of my life then this dreaded cancer. Close friends and family are telling me to stop killing myself with Chemotherapy!!! Has any one out there been thinking the same way? I'm so afraid of losing the ability to function normally daily. Ok yes I have a terminal disease I know this. I live alone. I'm an b active 58 year old widow. I can not imagine being in a situation where someone else will have to help take care of me. LUNG CANCER is news I didn't expect. yes I smoked for 28 years but I stopped 3 years ago. I felt better before I started these nasty treatments. I'm thinking of just letting the cancer take it's course. I would love to hear if any of you ever think about just stopping the self poisoning? I have read what many people write in here but most in my age range seem to need a caregiver. I want to feel good enough to enjoy everyday I have left. You know gardening, bridge, hugging my grand children, sewing, plus plus.I want the highest quality of life possible every day I have left. I really want to hear some straight honest views. This is hard stuff to swallow but I'm ready to make a choice. As It feels now...I will spend my time going to Drs. appt. and treatments instead of just living. Please reply

Report post

23 replies. Join the discussion

My mother struggled with this decision when she was diagnosed with leukemia. Hers was a very aggressive form that didn't respond well to treatment. She tried one form of therapy (Rituxan) that was monoclonal antibody. This had very little side effects and appeared to work - this only lasted a few weeks. Her doctor then wanted to start her on a very aggressive chemo regimen called CVP, which has tons of nasty side effects (it is one of the regimens they give when getting patients ready for bone marrow transplants). She was torn with the decision of what to do. I had already told her that if I had to choose between quality and quantity, I would rather have her feeling good for a month, than a year of her being miserable. When the decision came, she asked me what she should do (I am an only child). I told her there was no way I could answer that. It was her decision, her body, her life. I told her that I would love her and support her in whatever decision she made. She went to church regularly, so I told her to pray about it and she would find the answer. In a few days, she told her oncologist that she wanted to suspend her treatment. She never started the aggressive chemo, and I cared for her until she passed away.

Now as I watch my husband go through chemo for lung cancer, and see how he suffers with it, I can even more clearly see how my mom made the right decision for her. My husband is a different personality, therefore he has a different approach. No one can blame you for the choice you make at this point. It is yours to make. I know you will make the right choice for you, and I pray you find peace as you make that choice.

Report post

Yes. I strongly believe Chemotherapy will buy you more time....yes I know it is hard and it makes you feel awful, but I believe you should follow through with what your doctor orders, and see what happens.
I don't necessarily believe that when the doctors give you an expiration date, that is what you should expect.
You should live life, enjoy every minute, eat healthy, and be active, and like I said...follow through with chemo, and as well as targeted radiation.
There has been people on this site that has overcome the situation you have been in, and has lived many years!

Be strong, and stay positive, that is one of the best remedies that can help you through this.

I wish you nothing but the best, and that God may bless you, and that you continue to start feeling better.


Report post

I'm sorry that this disease as come in to your life, yes it SUCKS!!! I pray that you will feel better soon.

My dad is 55yrs old and was diagnose just about a year ago, and yes they told him he's terminal and only had 6 months to a year to live.

I have been there every single day by my dads side and it's been a tough and heavy road to follow. I can't say it was easy my dad hates his life now, he was so active, so hyper and full of energy. I too wonder "WHAT IF???" but I have come to realize that you just can't do that. It just takes even more of your time.

That's a picture of my dad in what they call HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) dad was diagnosed with 5 brain mets and had Cyber Knife radiation back in February. Well about 6 months after that an MRI scan showed that he developed radiation necrosis (dead cells) "the good cells" that got zapped and damaged during the procedure. Now he's under going 40 treatments of this HBOT that's 2 hours a day for 40 days of going to the wound center for treatment and get locked up in this life-size bank tube. Thank God that this Friday will be his last treatment, I pray every night that it's working.

So is it worth it? Is going to chemo worth it?? That just depends on YOU...........

Is it worth getting zapped by radiation? And yes your right not a week goes that we're not in the hospital or at the cancer center. My Dad, Mom, and I have formed a team, we bonded together and we are here to fight to the end, every single day, every last breathing minute. Is it worth it??? I guess the answer for me is YES, because even thought my dad has gone through some bad days and is still having problems now with his legs again possible damage from radiation to the hip/pelvic area he may have lymphedema of the buttock and legs, the doctor don't even know for sure. Could even be the steroids that he's on for the two reminding brain mets, or the chemo itself.

Everyday I have my dad with me is a special day, something that I never realized before. We really don't know how precious life, and I guess sometimes we need to protect our lives and do everything possible to keep on living.

I hope this site helps you find your answer, I know that there are many wonderful people here. So many survivors that where told the same thing, 6mths to a year just as they told you and my dad, but many are still here today some 2, 3, 4, 5, plus years proof that after the rain storm the sun will shine again.

I will keep you my prayers luvscat2much and which ever decision you make I wish so much success and happiness.

Take care, Julia

Report post

Thanks for joining this site, as you will hear from many of us your Dr should not be telling you you are terminal and have 1 year to live. Nobody can put a timeframe on your life and they are just quoting stats.
First and foremost is don't go looking at statistics, the numbers are older and flawed in many ways. Have you had a second opinion ... not necessarily on your diagnosis, but to confirm that the treatment plan is right for you.
You should also know it is OK to be scared, frightened, even terrified, you are absorbing a lot of information in a very short period of time and being faced with your own mortality.
There is hope and you can beat this, a positive attitude goes a long way.

Report post

My wife, 53 years of age, was diagnosed in May 2011 with two tumours in the lung and three brain mets. We were told 'months rather than years'! Decided on no radiation treatment as there is no conclusive proof that it extends life. Began chemo at the end of June (Cisplatin and Pemotrexed). The first two scans on the lung showed a reduction in the tumour size each time. The third lung and brain scan in December showed that the lung tumours were continuing to shrink and one of the brain mets had disappeared completely. The oncologist told my wife 'that without this treatment you wouldn't be here now'. My wife has had a pretty horrid time with nausea and vomiting - it's a case of finding the right anti-emetic to prevent the sickness. Fatigue is another problem, along with a sore mouth but she hasn't lost her hair. She's been working in our garden, and has considered going back to work but I think the constant need to have naps might prevent that. Overall, very happy with the way things are going. Hope this info will be of some interest to you. Best wishes, Howard. UK.

Report post

Chemo will give you time and if the drug is properly chosen and administerd by the Doc you will add more time . The 1and 2 chemo are troublesome but then your body adjusts to the medicine and you start feeling good .

In my wife case after the 3rd chemo people and some Doc used to ask what is wrong with her .

Have plenty of Boiled Water ( water boiled for 20 Mits ) at least 3-4 liters . Have freshly cooked food only .

Please do not stop treatment ( and please do not try quacks ) .

You will feel fine after 2 months .


Report post

yesterday while having my fourth chemo treatment I read in a lung cancer publication (a year old) that only 30 to 40 percent of stage 4 lung cancer patients are offerred chemo. I felt fortunate to be one. I originally did not want to get any treatment but I thought I defintely should at least give it a try..maybe I will be one it will work okay for. So far is okay although I know it is early in the game. I believe you should give it a try,...later quit if want to

Report post

It's definitely your choice. Chemo is doable and not everyone has a horror story to tell about it. For me the worst part was the fatigue. Maybe I'm fortunate that I have no long term side effects. No doctor should be telling you that you only have a year to live, as they're not God and don't know how you'll respond to treatment. You could be NED for years with treatment. Everyone is different. It sounds like you're already in treatment, what are you getting for chemo?
There are many long-term survivors here over 5 years and up to over 11 years. Anything's possible.
Take care, Judy

Report post

My husband, Jerry, was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer the last week of Jan. 2011. When his oncologist saw him for the first time he said "I can't cure you, but I can give you an extended amount of time, and a better quality of life". After 7 weeks of chemo and radiation the tumor that was the size of an orange is now the size of a pea and is inactive. The other four active spots in his other lung are gone as is the spot on his lower neck and lower spine. His oncologist now is saying he can have surgery to remove the dead tumor (we have till Jan. 26 to decide if he wants to go through surgery as he is 74 years old). Please don't believe everything your doctors tell you. With your own determination, the help of all medical options, and with prayer, anything is possible.
Be sure you go to a Cancer Center for treatment too as they have much better outlooks then just going to an oncologist. Give it your best fight, it won't be easy but you can do it. Best wishes and my prayers.

Report post

In 1985 when my Dad was diagnosed with SCLC and NSCLC, his oncologists brochures flatly stated "there is no proof that Chemotherapy prolongs life or cures anything". We still urged him to fight and at our urging he submitted his body to the chemo treatments. He was fortunate that the side effects he suffered were mild in comparison to some and that the anti nausea medication he was given kept him from suffering that side effect. That said, I rue the day we pushed him so hard to that end. He lived about a year. I was never so grateful for time as I was for that year. He passed away July 15, 1986. About 5 years ago my cousin, the only son of my Dad's sister,
was diagnosed with NSCLC. Dwight had never smoked. He went on chemo and initially had very positive results, only to succumb to the disease about 12 or 13 months from the time he was diagnosed. He died over 20 years after my Dad and I couldn't help but ask myself why. And wonder that could it be that chemotherapy perhaps has not come as far over the last two decades, as some would have us all believe. Last year my 43 year old physical fitness instructor, who was less than 10 percent body fat, a non smoker who ate right and exercised daily came down with a persistent cough. After 3 weeks he went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Non small cell lung cancer....stage 3B. 4 and a half months later after agressive chemotherapy treatment he passed away. Why, I wondered again. I certainly don't understand cancer but I keep reading that cancer is not ONE THING and that it is different in each person and each TYPE and therein lies the difficulty in its treatment. Why does a 61 year old man diagnosed with stage 4 NSCLC and extensive SCLC live over 12 months after his diagnosis; a 61 year old man who by comparison was frail, drank 3 or 4 beers a day and didn't even quit smoking after he was diagnosed; while a physically fit man who took much better care of himself, who exercised every day and didn't smoke, undergoing treatment 2 and a half decades later, only survive 4 and a half months? I read on this board every day....."ignore the statistics" , they don't mean anything. I think that's true....they don't because each case is an individual one and how the cancer progresses can not be predicted nor can how the INDIVIDUAL responds to treatment be predicted. That said, my concern is.....are they really responding at all? Would they have lived longer or shorter with or without the treatment. All I can find is STATISTICS that suggest treatment works for some. Chemo....I certainly don't know. I don't have the disease but I wonder based on my family history and my long term smoking (quit 10 years ago), should I get the disease....would I submit myself for Chemo. I've been researching for over a year and I still don't know the answer, but I do know....each of us MUST decide for ourselves based on the evidence presented to us and how we want to LIVE and DIE and how our decision effects those we love and care for. Good luck. You are in my prayers.

Report post

My sister just passed from non-small cell lung cancer (BAC). She was on Alimta as her chemo drug. As soon as the dr. gave her a time frame of life expectancy she went downhill. We had her on supplements, vitamins, etc. There are tons of alternative treatments if you just type in alternative cancer treatments you will find tons of treatments. Most of the alternative treatments you can do at the same time as chemo. I believe all green is the way to go - I could not get my sister to try that.

Report post

Try the chemo. You have nothing to lose. It worked really well for me. You just never know.

Report post

I was dx with stage 4 NSCLC in June of 2009, with mets to the liver. I did radiation, chemotherapy for my lungs, and then chemotherapy for my liver and have been on Tarceva for two years.

I am still stable and active, wishing you the best.

Report post

The first line of chemo can be very difficult - I won't sugar-coat it. But they should know pretty quickly if it's working or not, and may be able to adjust your dosage if the side effects are too hard. When I got the first scan back that said the chemo had shrunk my tumor by almost half, I decided I could handle it for awhile longer. It was worth it.

The second line of treatment was much, much easier My hair grew back, the side effects were only 2 or 3 days and very manageable. That chemo worked so well that all signs of active cancer have disappeared, and I was able to stop chemo and do a watch and wait. I am now 2 1/2 years past my Stage IV diagnosis, and doing great.

As for help - you will know which days following treatment are the hardest, so plan around them. Get stocked up on groceries, etc., on the good days. Let your friends and neighbors help if they offer. You might even ask a neighbor to let you know when they're going to store and could he/she pick up an item or two for you if you need it, or pick up a prescription on their way, etc. It's just a temporary situation, and most people are happy to help.

Good luck. MJ

Report post

And hey - if you've got cats, you've gotta stick around for them!!!

Report post

There is no definite answer, we are each different and for some it works and some it does not. I was diagnosed 11/06 with ext. SCLC, can not get much worse and with statistics I should not be alive. I had chemo, radiation and it was not pleasant. I have not had any treament since 10/07 and have lived a pretty normal life, working full time as I am single. I was 55 at the time of diagnosis and had the same fears as you, always been independent. Good luck on your decision and prayers for you.

Report post

If only we could clone ourselves, try various treatments, then pick the one that worked best.
I was diagnosed in August with stage IV NSCLC with a dozen mets to ribs femur pelvis, skull, and spine.
I had 2 week radiotherapy to the skull, which was effective in stopping progress, and headaches.
I cancelled my scheduled Chemo after testing showed I had no identifiable mutations, So was not eligible for targetted therapy.
I have adopted a strict vegetarian diet, I meditate and do Gigong. I have 5 fresh vege juices a day, and take a few supplements. A herbalist specialising in traditional medicine has made me a tonic I take 3 times a day. This is my alternate chemo.
My latest scan showed no new cancer and a mild progressive enlargement of the exisiting ones.
I feel fine, no one would suspect I was ill. Apart from the 2 weeks Radio I have spent VERY little time in the hospital environment
I had chemo 30 years ago for leukemia, so it does not worry me. I do not believe (Non targettable) chemo offers me much advantage. It will also do a huge amount of damage to my own defense system.
Maybe I am just fortunate to have a slow growing cancer, or maybe what I am doing is right. I will never know. But I am so happy i gave my body a chance to fihure this out for itself before embarkink on toxic intervention. Chemo might be the right thing for me down the track, but for now my bodys immune system has a chance to catch up to the disease and maybe stop it. Myself, my wife and my oncologist are very happy with my situation and see no reason to change, at this stage.
All the very best to you.
(Having hope, and support will offer benefits that cannot be easily measured, but are invaluable)

Report post

Sweetheart, My Jack was given 3 -9 month to live.
He lives still after 1 year and 8 month and feel fine.
Alimta has beem good to him with almost no sideeffects.
It keept him stable now for 5 month without any treatment at all.

Love / Tereza

Report post

I do think chemo should be something to try, sooner or later, and maybe even try multiple times with different chemo drugs. It's not a guarantee, but it is worth trying in case it does help.

Also, although smokers with NSCLC are most likely to have the KRAS mutation (which is difficult to treat although some drug trials are trying things), if they are tested and it turns out that they do *not* have that KRAS mutation driving their cancer, then there is a chance that they might have a drug-targetable mutation like EGFR or ALK (esp. if adenocarcinoma type of NSCLC). Not likely for a smoker, but sometimes a small chance is worth checking with a test.

One of those mutation-targeted drugs, Tarceva, can also be tried even on cancers without the EGFR mutation it is known for. There is a chance it might work anyway, and it's easier than chemo. You might prefer to save trying that for when chemo isn't working for you anymore, or when you need a break from the chemo but want to keep up something.

Beyond those options, if a fresh live sample of cancer can be surgically obtained, something called functional profiling might be useful in picking combinations of chemo drugs to try that have a better chance of working than guesswork. Not many oncologists use that since the published research on it is limited, but there are a few big fans of it here. When it gets hard to choose which chemo to try, that seems a good approach if you're up to it.

Best hopes

Report post

Many thanks to each of you who took the time to give me your opinions. I will re read your notes and think carefully. My Dr was intent on me starting chemo full speed ahead. To be honest I wonder if money is a driving force in the push for so much random chemotherapy. I wonder how they select a drug for each person. I would like be sure it's not eny meney miney mo---- lets try this one to see if it will help her. They gave me so little information I have had to haunt the internet for details. Carboplatin and taxol seem to be very hard on everyone. I feel very sad about the young man who died so quickly while in treatment. Poison is poison ---- and poison kills right? OHHHHH
I might try Tarceva because many in here say
it helps them but I also see that they are tormented with the horrid side affects. I will ask about it.
Yes I have 3 cats. They are an important element of daily life. Sadly they can't help me with anything. Not even one of them has learned to wash dishes, drive or even answer the phone. If I would have the kind of side effects I've read about I just can not imagine how I will manage. My family lives 300 miles away. I wouldn't ask casual friends to nurse me. I want to be positive but the only thing I'm totally positive of is that I hate this cancer. It's on my mind all the time. It's a terrible thing to feel you have so few options. I trust in God but I do not trust in Chemotherapy.
May you have many blessings and miracles in all your lives this year. Luv Cats

Report post

This discussion is closed to replies. We close all discussions after 90 days.

If there's something you'd like to discuss, click below to start a new discussion.

Photo of Dave Grant

The Lung Cancer Survivors Support Community has provided support for patients, caregivers, families and friends since 2006. We welcome over 600 new members every month in the fight against lung cancer.

ALK mutations and lung cancer

Join the discussion about ALK mutations and lung cancer

Things you can do

Discussion topics

Community leaders