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KNOWITALL's avatar

How long would you fight recurring cancer?

Asked by KNOWITALL (23664points) September 6th, 2019

How long is long enough to keep fighting cancer, for you?

Is it after your hair has fallen out twice, or when your hands barely move, or when the pain is too great for pills to knock down?

What is your personal limit?

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25 Answers

jca2's avatar

I think it’s up to each individual and their circumstances. It’s hard to say what would be my limit – it would depend on how tired I am, what the doctor says about what my chances are, how much pain I’m in, what kind of cancer I have, so it’s hard to say.

I think of my mom who was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. She went through surgery, chemo and then radiation. Then she was in remission for a few years. Then she was diagnosed with bone cancer (in other words, the breast cancer spread to her bones). Then it spread to her liver.

It was about a six or seven year fight. She had neuropathy from the chemo and other side effects. She lost her hair and got a wig. Then her hair grew back. She had side effects from the radiation.

She was willing to continue because she wanted to live, of course. She wanted to see her granddaughter and she wanted to be with us all. It just became futile but she was willing…...

I saw what it means to have someone with cancer in the family. It means always waiting for the next doctor visit, the next test, the test results, always being nervous about the doctor visit, the test, the test results. At every holiday, every birthday, every family event, every happy occasion, wondering if this is going to be the last Christmas spent together, the last birthday spent together, the last summer vacation together, the last family barbecue spent together. Seeing someone you love in pain, seeing someone deteriorate right in front of you. Knowing your daughter (my daughter who loved her Nana so much) is going to be in a lot of pain from seeing Nana go downhill, and knowing how the whole family is going to be so devastate when Nana dies.

wiscoblond's avatar

I wouldn’t know unless it happened to me.

snowberry's avatar

This won’t be a popular answer, but in this country (US), chemo and radiation treatment is so expensive it bankrupts families. If that were my only option and the expense would put my family at risk, I’d say no.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@jca2 Mom has been fighting the exact same thing for 8 years. It hurts to see her get upset after each scan, or another spot.

Since you went thru it, was there a defining point on when its time to just stop?

@snowberry Medicaid has been so good to mom, thats not the issue. I mean treatment and emotionally.

jca2's avatar

I know with my mom, I couldn’t imagine her dying so I was hoping and praying that she would live. Even toward the very end when it was hard for her to walk and she was really fading fast, I didn’t want her to die and we all were willing to do whatever it took for her to last.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@jca2 So how did you know when it was actually close to the end?

jca2's avatar

She got really frail and had trouble walking and talking. For the last five days she was in bed but would still get up to go to the bathroom. She turned yellow from the liver cancer. That was noticeable for about three weeks. I’d say the really frail and trouble walking and talking stage was about three weeks.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@jca2 Thanks. I hate not knowing wth is happening. Her oncologist keeps saying not to worry. PET showed four more spots. The lymphadema hurts one arm. Its hard to see the pain on bad days.

I appreciate you sharing. As an only child I dont want to push or not be involved enough. She told me to back off a few times already, too. I am a helicopter child i guess. Just want to do the best for her i can. Doctors arent that helpful on that aspect.

jca2's avatar

I was really depressed when my mom was first diagnosed. Then I realized that I had to go to work, had to deal with my child, had to live day to day. Then when the breast cancer was in remission, I thought ok, this is ok now. Then it came back in the form of bone cancer and I was really upset again but she said the doctor said “bone cancer is like diabetes. You can’t cure it but you can treat it.” I had hope. I didn’t realize that when you have cancer in your body, it’s looking to spread, which it did.

I never asked her how long the doctor said she had (prognosis) but I don’t know if she knew because I don’t know if the doctor knew until the end.

I have a sister and we would talk about it sometimes but other times, we just were sad on our own. It was a really painful time.

I feel for anybody who has a family member with cancer.

Friend’s husband was just diagnosed with lung cancer. I don’t talk to her about what I went through because I figure she will find out soon enough. I don’t want to be the bearer of gloom and doom. I know it’s scary and I know they don’t know yet what the treatment will entail, and of course they don’t know what side effects he will suffer and how effective the treatment will be. It’s like a club that many people are members of and nobody wants to be in, but when you talk to people, you find out how many people have been touched by cancer.

canidmajor's avatar

When I was in treatment, I met a woman on her eighth round of fighting, she was upbeat and still going.
I honestly don’t know if I’d be willing to even endure one more round of treatment. The process, although awful, was finite, but 20 years later I am still damaged. I don’t know if I would be willing to lose more cognitive function, have more issues with my gut.
I might, I like living, but Lordy, it’s exhausting sometimes.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Till it beats me or I beat it.

janbb's avatar

I don’t know for sure but I think I’d be ready to let go if it got too rough.

anniereborn's avatar

I do not think that I would go through too much. I have no children. My parents are both gone. I have a few siblings but they are all older than me and are likely to go first anyway.

My sister died over a year go. She fought two different cancers for 11 years.
She started with breast cancer which went in remission. Then she got Leukemia. That got somewhat better, but never into remission.

Then the breast cancer came back with a vengeance. It spread everywhere. She fought very very hard. I know it was for her two daughters. It was awful. Just awful.

Zaku's avatar

May I never have to find out!

MrGrimm888's avatar

I suppose, it would be largely circumstantial…

seawulf575's avatar

I don’t know personally. My dad gave up after his third recurrence, but there were many other extenuating circumstances as well.

cookieman's avatar

Not long at all. Maybe zero.

I say this because about fifteen-ish people in my family have died horrible, protracted deaths from cancer — fighting tooth and nail the whole time. I had a front row seat for the majority of them and it is brutal. Most of them were long shots from the beginning. Not caught early, very aggressive, spread quickly.

And, in all cases, it was devastating emotionally and financially to the immediate families (my own included).

I would not do that.

Unless some very good doctors (and there are many here in Boston) told me we caught it early and there was an excellent chance of beating it with treatment, I’ll continue on without treatment. Just make me comfortable as we go along toward the inevitable end. I’m okay with my impermanence.

Of course, I’m an incredibly stubborn asshole as well, so this may all go out the window in actual practice.

rebbel's avatar

I’m with @cookieman on this.
Including that last sentence.

JLeslie's avatar

I can’t know for sure. I think it’s one of those things that is almost impossible to understand until it has happened to you.

It would depend a lot on the likelihood of treatments working and how brutal the treatments are. Some chemos are much worse than others. Female cancer chemos tend to be very punishing.

When I hear a cancer reoccurred I usually jump to it’s probably in more than one part of the body, but luckily that is not always the case.

More recently they are changing the schedule and doing some chemo and then taking a break and then some more for some cancers. The idea is more about keeping the cancer at bay while keeping the body in a healthier state than when it’s overloaded with chemo poison. This is for cancers that can’t be cured.

I think if I had young children I would be willing to suffer much more to stay alive. I see how parents worry about leaving their children, I’m sure I would feel the same. Not only worry about them, their safety, their sadness from the loss, but also I would want to see them grow up.

When I was very young (under 25) I think I would have wanted to give up faster than I would as an older adult. When I was young the idea of going through horrible illness from cancer treatment was terrifying to me. Now, I think I would handle it better, but who knows.

When my neighbor’s nephew got cancer in his early 20’s he went through horrible treatment. The cancer was one that has very low survival rates. A few months after the treatments the cancer was back or still there, whatever the term was. The doctors said they could try the treatment again. He didn’t want to do it. He desperately did not want to do it. His mom begged and pleaded. I told my neighbor I would let him choose. I couldn’t understand why the same treatment would work this time. My neighbor said it had less than a 20% chance of working. Eventually, his mom “won.” He did the treatment, and died shortly after it.

Mind you, I was one of the jellies who was all in favor of tying down that teenager and forcing her to take cancer treatments just like the court ordered in that one case a few years ago, but that instance the treatment was very likely to work.

KNOWITALL's avatar

For me, being child-free by choice, I would hope to just go be alone and let it happen. I also would highly consider assisted suicide, or unassisted if I had to. I refuse to spend my life savings on a few years.

As far as mom, they gave her a max of 10 years, 8 years ago. I know the reality, which is why we moved her in. To focus on her health and be stress-free. She did not get mammograms so it was Stage 4 when found, in 8 places including skull and spine. Least aggressive and most responsive to treatment though, so who knows. Good news rarely makes the impact on me that bad news does, with my mom.

My cousin works at a hospital and said we’re all dying of cancer eventually, pops up in young, healthy people with no apparent cause. But treatments are better.

Thanks to all for sharing. I hope some of you join me in advocating compassionate end of life care and if you believe in it, assisted suicide lobbying. Our people shouldnt have to die at 78 pounds in pain, its not okay to me.

janbb's avatar

@KNOWITALL NJ just passed an Aid in Dying law. A friend was very instrumental in working for it.

mazingerz88's avatar

How long. I wouldn’t know. I lost a beloved aunt who I also consider as a second Mom to cancer. She was 58. Her last words to me was she wanted to live and she didn’t want to die yet. I’m guessing most likely I would have the same sentiment despite all the hardships of fighting cancer. One caveat though. I have a low pain threshold so I don’t know.

JLeslie's avatar

Assisted suicide goes on all the time in hospice. I guess maybe some states might be different than others, but hospice will help you die if you want to.

Aster's avatar

I’d give up when I was unable to get out of bed. I say this because two of my friends passed away after they were bed bound for a couple weeks. My BFF had a lot of chemo and radiation, kept getting worse and ended up in Hospice. My close friend’s husband couldnt get up for less than a month then passed. He never had any chemo at all. @KNOWITALL , I so very sorry for what you’re going through. It must be unbearable. Hugs.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Aster She’s up and around most days, just found four small spots, discouraged her a bit. We’ll get thru whatever comes. I’m very thankful she lives here, sooo much easier to help and feed her.

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