Chemotherapy Only - What does this mean?

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Chemotherapy Only - What does this mean?

by EthelB on Fri Feb 07, 2020 10:59 AM

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Hello all, my husband (59) was recently diagnosed with Stage IV adenocarcinoma EC. He's probably been stage 4 for several months before we found out. He has mets to lymph nodes and "innumerable" mets to liver. He will be starting on FOLFOX in a week or so, but has been wondering out loud why he's not getting radiation therapy. His oncologist actually wrote the words "chemotherapy only" when we brought the written diagnosis with us for a second opinion at Dana Farber, the doctor there concurred that that was how he would treat it as well.

What no one is telling us, is what does that mean exactly? Will they use radiation later when the cancer shrinks from the chemo? Or are they just not being honest with his prognosis? Doc at DF said that their hope is that the FOLFOX will work for 6-12 months.

I'm not sure my husband wants to hear the truth - he is ready to fight this no matter what it takes. I am right beside him, ready to fight too, but I also want to be prepared for the truth of what lies ahead. Is that possible? To balance optimism/hope with reality? Or is that just an exhausting, futile exercise in turning a blind eye to the present moment?

I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts here and thank anyone who reaches out and tells me what it means when the doctors limit the plan of treatment to chemo alone. I wish you all well, and pray for your highest good.

RE: Chemotherapy Only - What does this mean?

by ToddlerFather on Fri Feb 07, 2020 04:38 PM

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There are only 2 options:

1) The treatment has a worse quality-of-life-years result than not using it. 

2) The radiation could also affect normal cells to a point of endangering him more than the tumors. 

RE: Chemotherapy Only - What does this mean?

by EthelB on Sat Feb 08, 2020 08:47 AM

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Thank you for your insight, it provided some clarity.

RE: Chemotherapy Only - What does this mean?

by Treasure on Sun Feb 09, 2020 08:10 PM

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Chemo therapy goes every place in the body,cwhilst radiation is a targeted therapy used for one spot! I also was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2011 and was told chemo was just a treatment. For me I knew nothing was impossible for God, so I got God involved in this journey. Today I'm enjoying life and am a stage 4 pancreatic cancer survivor. 

Blessings as you both continue on this journey. 

Joy

RE: Chemotherapy Only - What does this mean?

by EthelB on Mon Feb 10, 2020 10:49 AM

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Thank you for your reply, Joy. It's so wonderful that you are still here enjoying life after fighting what must have been a long, hard battle. Congratulations!

So, I do understand how they differentiate as therapies. I think my worry is that his cancer has progressed past the point of any other therapies working. Not that we're looking forward to radiation, but we both know chemoradiation is the most effective way to battle this disease. My husband isn't an information junkie like I am and is not one to do research or seek answers on his own, but he did say one night, "I wonder why I'm not getting radiation." I didn't have a good answer and didn't want to speculate and say the cancer is too dispersed in your body. I think that would eat away at his hope and optimism, plus, I believe the doctor should be the one to tell him that if it were true. My job is to be his rock after hearing devastating news.

He's still recovering from the port implant a few days ago. He began vomiting under sedation and they had to put him under full anesthesia and intubate him quickly before he aspirated the junk into his lungs. He's sore with new pains in his belly. I'm just trying to keep him comfortable and keep his spirits up.

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