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Would you get treatment?

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
If you were diagnosed with cancer, would you take chemotherapy?

This question entered my mind today because NASCAR legend and commentator Benny Parsons died. He had cancer and was getting chemo treatments. He died from "complications" which to me says "complications from the side effects from chemo." That's what killed my mother too - it wasn't the cancer, it was the chemo that they gave her. I watched that woman suffer through side effects worse than I could imagine - losing all of her hair was just the start and not a big deal comparatively. She lost all sense of taste, got sores in her mouth and throat, her fingernails and toenails got about 1/8" thick and her fingers were so sensative and painful that she couldn't even hold a pencil. She was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia a few times, and what ended up killing her was accumulation of fluid in her lungs and chest cavity that they had drained so many times that if they did it again her lungs would have collapsed. She essentially drowned. Not pleasant in any sense.

Granted, most of that is from the second time she had chemo. The first time wasn't AS bad, and she did go into remission for about 5 years before they discovered it again.

Honestly, I don't know what I would do. I think it would depend on how far along it was when it was found. But there comes a point where I think the treatment is worse than the disease, at least from what I've seen.

Anyone else given this any thought or am I the only morbid one in the group?
post #2 of 37
I wouldnt ... I have had a DNR letter on file since my 19th bday( when I was age of majority in my state)... I grew up in/around a nursing home from birth to about 14 , so I saw close up what many diseases do to you with or without treatment... Yes it is a jaded view but ...
post #3 of 37
I've thought about it - and in my family, I've had 4 family members die from cancer.

My Great Uncle who died over 5 years ago to Brain Cancer, went through Chemo. He had a lot of horrible side effects, but it did extend his life an extra 1.5 years, which was amazing to have with him, but of course, those side effects were horrible.

My other Great Uncle who died last month from the same thing, didn't take the chemo. He survived 5 weeks, and then passed on. Whats sad, is that the dr. said he had 6 months to live, I think thats so sad to hear from a dr. on how much longer you'll live He said he wanted to live his life as normal as possible, without the tubes and treatments.

While I respected both decisions, I really don't know what I would choose. I've seen both sides, and what they both do to you and the family. I guess it would depend on my cancer and how far along it was... and what my chances were.
post #4 of 37
I've read things about people who've chosen not to have chemo and if the cancer was too far along to cure then thats what i'd do. I'd prefer to be as active and alert for as long as possible, even if it shortened my life span by a few months. However I know people who got cancer, had chemo and surgery in combination and 10 years later are doing fine.
A boy in my school called Ali who was a couple of years above me died recently when his body rejected a bone marrow transplant for leukemia. He was meant to be improving but suddenly went downhill. He was only 20, and never got the chance to go to university. His funeral was yesterday.
Basically I don't really know if there's a whole lot you can ever do to combat cancers like that, so its hard to say what's really the best thing to do.
post #5 of 37
It really dpends on how far along I would be when they found it. If I was caught early and they thought they could get it with treatments I would do it. If i was too far gone and it would only make my last hours alive uncomfortable I would just rather go without the treatment. i say that now but I might change my mind if it happens.
post #6 of 37
It would depend for me. My grandmother refused, but then she "knew" she was going to die. I would if I thought that I could fight it, but if there was a voice inside me saying that it was my time I wouldn't.
post #7 of 37
OMG! He died today?? RIP Benny!

that's a tough one, my grandmother was diagnosed with melanoma and given 1-3 years to live, but she went through chemo and surgery and lived for 7 years, and those are years I will be forever grateful for as she died when I was only 12, if she had not undergone those treatments, I never would have really known my Grandma and she has been and always will be a big influence in my life. I think it would depend on a lot of factors, how advanced the cancer was, how old I was, how old my family was- if I had children, what kind of cancer it was, like I said, lots of factors.
post #8 of 37
I really don't know, but I tend to think I wouldn't go through chemo at this point in my life, despite having beat leukemia as a child. I've had far too many family members die of cancer despite chemo, and for the most part, their quality of life was pretty poor. My husband's aunt recently went through chemo for breast cancer, and it has returned, after about one year, and has metastasized to her brain, liver, and kidneys. Now she's going through it a second time, but the prognosis is so poor that I wonder why her doctors even suggested it.
Originally Posted by valanhb
She was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia a few times, and what ended up killing her was accumulation of fluid in her lungs and chest cavity that they had drained so many times that if they did it again her lungs would have collapsed. She essentially drowned. Not pleasant in any sense.
Heidi, that is an exact description of my grandmother's death. She also had breast cancer, and refused the chemotherapy. She was much older (70s) than your mother at the time, though.
post #9 of 37
Personally, for me, it would depend on my age, the type of cancer, the location of the cancer and the prognosis.

I watched my Nana beat colon cancer at 83 years old - she had surgery to remove it and had a 20% chance of dying on the table. They got it all in surgery, never gave her chemo, and she passed away two years later from heart failure.

I am currently watching a coworker who is 71 years old go through a fight against inoperable lung cancer (attached to his aeorta) which has spread into his pelvic bones and a few spots on his brain. He was diagnosed two years ago, has gone through three rounds of chemo that I know of and still comes to work 4 days a week, part time.

Since his diagnosis, Dana Reeves and Peter Jennings were both diagnosed and passed away - same kind of cancer.

I think every single case is unique, and sometimes chemo makes sense. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes surgery makes sense, sometimes it doesn't.

I have a friend in her early 30s who was just diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Because the cancer has already spread through her body, surgery is not an option. She is an EMT, and has three young children (single parent) so although she is now planning for her own death, she is also undergoing treatments to attempt to give her as much time as possible with her children, the youngest of whom is just 7 years old.

I think this is something that we would have to decide individually, should we ever happen to step into similar shoes. Pray God that we all manage to escape this particular beast. Cancer sucks.
post #10 of 37
I think it's a decision you can only make in the precise set of circumstances, because there are so many factors to consider. On the whole, though, I think my first two considerations would be prognosis and quality of life. I really don't see any point in prolonging life if the quality of it will be miserable, with the exception of a situation like that young mother's where she is eking out as much time as she can with her kids.
post #11 of 37
I think it would depend on what the doctor's prognosis was. I don't believe they can predict the future, but they do have an educated opinion.

I know someone who had chemo and radiation following a partial lung removal. Cancer had spread - even to her brain. I think it was 1992. She and her husband currently run their own business and she is doing well. I believe it is a miracle.
post #12 of 37
Ive never been diagnosed with a potentially fatal desease but if I was, I guess that I would do almost anything to be cured/stay alive. If that was chemo then I would do it. If it was something else I would do that if they thought it would keep me alive. If I got to the point that I was going to lose the battle, I would rather die with some dignity, so I would probably drop the chemo, and just take painkillers. A terrible dilemma all around.
post #13 of 37
I've been blessed with alright health, nothing to serious going on with me but I have had cervical cancer warnings by my OBGYN and Im only 22. I have wondered what I would do, and for a while it would have been skip chemo and live a great life while I can. But now I am pregnant and I want to be here for as long as I can. I dont want to cut short any minute of it now that I will be a mother. BUT like some have said it would depend on my age and what shape I am more than anything. If I knew I needed to count my losses and move on...well so be it. There is spot for me both here and in heaven...I'm going to fill them both someday(well not at the same time ya know)
post #14 of 37
I would. Having worked in medicine for so long, and having seen some of the things I've seen, I definitely would. It would certainly depend on what kind of cancer I had. If it was something like bowel cancer, that has an excellent prognosis, then yes. If it was something like oesophageal cancer, which has a 3% survival prognosis, then I would take the treatment that would help me with my pain, keep me able to eat and drink, and keep me comfortable, but apart from that, probably not.

I would see all the specialists available and determine the kind of treatment and its side effects, and whether or not that would be better than the symptoms of the cancer that it would be treating. There have been so many medical advances, people are being cured of cancer all the time. It's actually quite an inspirational field of medicine.

So, yes, I would, because treatment is only half the battle, but it sure helps you with all the rest.
post #15 of 37
There are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoo many variations and factors that go along with the type of cancer you have and the type of treatment that is best for you. My best friends mom currently has stage 4 cancer and is dying. It is absolutely heartbreaking to watch. She has had all of the radiation they can give her though- anymore and she will die. She cannot have Chemo for whatever reason. Surgery is her last option....but the odds don't look good. The thing that makes it really hard is that she "looks" of- she has all of her hair and she likes to "pretend" everything is fine- she still goes to work and everything one day a week just to get out a little. It's soo hard to watch such a vibrant woman suffer. She was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer at age 18. Back then, the techonology wasn't what it is today- they took out her thryoid but missed some cancerous cells- so in reality....she has really had thyroid cancer for 30+ years. How it went unnoticed until recently i don't know She went in to the West Clinic one day for her anemia (i think it's a result of her cancer) and they shocked her and told her she still had cancer. IT was stage 4 and it was in her lungs now. After several radiation treatments and surgeries (they had to wait to give her radiation until all of her thyroid medicine was out of her system- since she didn't have a thyroid- she was on meds for years) The treatment got rid of the cancer that was in her lungs. But juts two weeks ago we found out that it is now in her neck (you can actually see the bump) So since she's had all of the radiation they can give her- the last option is surgery. AFter this, they aren't so hopeful. I'm trying to encourage her to seek out other opinions at different clinics- there are always new studies and new medicines comming out- i'm not willing to give up on her yet- neithor is anyone else. So if this doesnt work -we'lll be seeking another opion. So yes, i believe in some treatments...but it just depends IT also depends on the individual and their bodys reaction to the medicine as well.
post #16 of 37
I would get all the information I could first..including usual survival rate for the kind of cancer, be sure I knew what stage it is, what all possible treatments are. I've seen my mom go through cancer twice (once cured by surgery, second time, most recently, surgery/radiation and chemo...3 years ago).

I would do whatever I could to extend my time with my husband, to stay. I It's a relationship that is so special to me, I really don't have the words to express it. I also know I would realign my priorities to do more of what I feel is most important.

I would most definitely call on my stubborness to help me heal.
post #17 of 37
wow, i did not know he was even sick.

Anyway it depends. i know that it(chemo) has saved several of my fmaily members. But it does kill the body. They told my mother that they would almost kill her to save her. But when she first started trements the improvement in her was almost like a new person. The huge knot on the side of her neck vanished in 3 days. We managed to keep her for 3 years. But the cancer just kept coming back. l lost my mother true. But i have aunts and uncles and a cousin that is still alive thinks to chemo. So it would depend on if i thought it would give me a chance or not,

hmm i hope that answers the question.
post #18 of 37
This is an excellent question! In pharmacy school, we often discussed quality of life issues and how we shouldn't judge those who refuse treatment. I'm not sure how I would react... it would depend on the kind of cancer, the kind of chemotherapy, my chances of getting another cancer due to the chemotherapy, and my chances of remission.

My father died when I was 13 from chemotherapy. He was in remission, but the chemo had knocked out his WBC count so low he died from an infection and a reaction to a blood infusion.
post #19 of 37
NO NO NO!!!! I watched my Dad go through that HORRIBLE stuff and would NEVER put my family through that.
When my Biopsy showed Uterine Polyps that often turn to Cancer, I told my Gyn to take it all out cause I wouldn't do radiation or chemo.
post #20 of 37
For me it would have to depend on the type of cancer and the prognosis. I also wouldn't make any decision until I've had numerous multiple opinions.

On a side note, has anyone ever heard of laetrile?

There are groups on both sides of the fence that point to conspiracies in regards whether or not laetrile can be a cure for cancer. I really don't know enough about it to form a concrete opinion. At the same time it wouldn't really surprise me if there was a cure for cancer that was being covered up by government agencies and especially the pharmaceutical companies because "treating" cancer is a multi-billion dollar business. The thought disgusts me but greed, unfortunately, makes the world go 'round.
post #21 of 37
I would if there was a chance tha it would put me in remission. But if the doctors were just trying to give me a few more months to live then I wouldnt. If I would for sure die in the end anyway why put myself threw that?
post #22 of 37
God forbid i ever had to be in the situation but i think i would.

My best friend Pam had ovarian cancer approx 11 years ago. She had chemo but fortunately she never lost her hair, she just had the feeling of sickness (bad enough though!). So if she hadn't had chemo she wouldn't be here today.

I think it depends on how aggresive it is and how early it's caught.
post #23 of 37
I have cancer on both sides of my family, mother's and father's. I have thought long and hard on this because I also have a family.

However, after much thought I have decided that if I do anything, I MAY consider the surgery but there will be NO chemo and NO radiation.

I simply can not get through my head how two poisons, chemo and radiation, both of which are carcinogens, can be of any help at all.

This stuff about how it only affects the cancer cells is baloney. It affects every cell it comes in contact with. Fortunately, my kitties don't mind my decision and I have made provisions for them if anything undue should happen to me.
post #24 of 37
I knew someone who became a paraplegic because of chemo. Mind you, she's still alive today over a decade later.
I think I'd do what it takes, I'd want to go out fighting.
post #25 of 37
Like so many people have said, it depends on so many variables. But I think I would if there was a reasonable chance of cure/remission or of extending my life substantially. Yes chemotherapy is tough, but if the alternative is death I'd want to give it a try.

Originally Posted by pushylady View Post
I'd want to go out fighting.
I'd hate to turn it down and then spend what's left of my life wondering What If..
post #26 of 37
My aunt and grandmother (Dad's family) have had breast cancer, same aunts husband passed away from a brain tumor. My aunt and grandmother both had chemo and my aunt has been in remission now for 5 years. I would have chemo too it saved them.
post #27 of 37
I work for the Canadian Cancer Society and have heard about and seen the effects of Chemotherapy. Chemo can be painful, make you sick, and somtimes it dosn't work.
I have seen Chemo work amazingly well and I have had the experiance of Chemo not working for my grandmother.
I would take a round of Chemo to see if it worked. The doctors can tell you if the chemo is begining to work with a few simple tests, if it wasn't working I would ask if there was a different type of chemo that might work but if not I would rather have a few months of good positive time with my freinds and family rather than being sick and lythargic for the rest of my life. I would want to live as much as I can.
post #28 of 37
I would definitely get chemo or whatever treatments might help... I can't imagine not taking a treatment if it was offered to me...even if it might be painful and make me feel horrible I'd still try it because if they were offering it that means it might work... My dad had cancer and he had treatment which worked and he is healthy today. It wasn't chemotherapy, not sure exactly what it was, all I know is they went in to do surgery, opened him up and found a huge blood vessel in the way so they had to stop, and they did other treatments instead which worked great.
post #29 of 37
I am a cancer survivor. 23 years in remission.
Would I go through the chemo again? Probably, even though it was horrible....the worst thing I have ever experienced. It beat me down real bad, but I bounced back better than ever.
I'd do it again because I know my family, friends and my bengals need me.
I of course hope and pray I'll never have to go through that again......
post #30 of 37
Like many others, it would depend on the particular circumstance. I work in a cancer center studying blood disorders including cancers, have a coworker who beat childhood cancer and have lost a parent to cancer. Chemo can be very nasty, but it can also save lives. If chemo would increase my chance of survival, no matter how small, I'd chose to have treatment.
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