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Breast Cancer: Stage 3 & 4 Community
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Avatar universal

Metistic Breast Cancer - stage 4

My mother was diagnosed in 2000 with breast cancer.  She had a radical mass, radiation and chemo.   She was put on Tamoxifan for 5 years and been feeling great up until the beginning of March when her abdomin started swelling.  I took her to the doctor who direct admitted her.    Since March 11th, she has had over 30 liters of fluid removed from her abdomin.   Beginning of April we were told the fluid tested positive for cancer cells.  The oncoligist put her on Armindex but that has seemed to reduce the production of fluid.    They made it very clear to her that if she is strong enough to start X chemo that it could treat the disease but not cure it.   Mom has gone from yes to no to yes and back to no about the chemo pill.   What is the best answer?   I mean what kind of quality of life will she have if she gets the chemo.   She has lost 17 lbs in 3 weeks, has no appetite and has been forcing herself to eat as twice she entered the hopital for dehydration.    They have given her nausea medicine and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.   The fluid builds so bad it becomes diffficult for her to breath and makes her feel uncomfortable.    If she has the chemo, she fears like the chemo will kill her,  If she doesn't, how long can we expect.   The oncologist has not mentioned sir-o-sis of the liver but the visiting nurse questioned me if she had it?    It is very frustrating............feels like we are not getting direct answers and seems like oncologist are so eager to start chemo if that is what she wants but my mother wants quality of life and feeling as weak as she is now, she does not believe she could get through chemo.   So what is the longest we might get her?   I mean everything on the internet seems to point to the fact it has spread to her liver though the CT scan on March 10th showed only a slightly enlarged kidney.   2 weeks ago..............we were asked if we have been in contact with Hospice yet.    So what do we do?    Can you help me understand..........some I read where people have lived 6 years with the metistic breast cancer................do we try to tell her to go for the chemo.  She has seemed to go down hill so much over the last 2 months.   If I felt she could take the chemo..........than I would encourage it more but for what purpose.............its not curable.  Maybe you can explain whether ir is worth her trying the chemo.   She doesn't want to suffer and has already hit a point of being so frustrated with all the medicines she has been put on.   God, I would appreciate your opinion so much.      
1 Responses
Avatar universal
It sounds like your mother is confused about what to do, and about what will happen if she does or doesn't do chemo. You need to sit in on a thorough discussion with her and her doctors to make sure you have all the necessary info and that she understands her prognosis with or without chemo.
Women who live many years with stage lV are typically receiving treatment to keep the disease stabilized (can't cure it at this point). If your mother's disease is progressing rapidly, then she needs to either receive some kind of stablizing treatment (assuming it can be stabilized), or you need to start setting up Hospice arrangements.
From what you've said (not eating, massive fluid buildup), you don't have a lot of time to make decisions to slow the course of the disease. Is there a breast cancer advocate, a counselor or some kind, somebody to help your mother work through what she wants (quickly)?
It sounds like quality of like is a big issue. You need answers specific to that. If untreated, will she be in massive pain and are there meds to help with that? If untreated, will she continue to have massive fluid buildup? If untreated, can she eat?
Sit down with your mother and paper and pen and talk to her about what SHE is worried about, what SHE wants, is she being unrealistic, is she in denial, does she have a living will, etc. It sounds like you have been talking to her, but I sense a lot of ambivalence and confusion that needs to be cleared up, both at the medical and personal level. You need some specifics from the doctors to help your mom make some specific decisions. Good luck to you and your mom, and I'm so sorry she has to go through this.
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