What will happen now that chemo has been stopped?

7 answers | Last updated: Oct 27, 2016
Carabien asked...

My mother has terminal lung cancer. We were told today that the tumor is not responding to the chemotherapy treatments, so they have been discontinued, as well as stopping the radiation therapy. What will happen now?

Expert Answers

Linda Ackerman, R.N. has clinical experience in oncology, women's health, and medical nursing. She has been practicing for more than 20 years and is a licensed registered nurse in both Florida and Wisconsin. In addition, she serves as a board member of Breast Cancer Recovery and the Wisconsin Cancer Council.

Many factors can affect what will happen in the days to come. Many of these factors will affect both your mother's physical and emotional well being. It sounds like you are providing support to your mother as quickly as possible.

Up until now, the chemotherapy and radiation were intended to stop or slow the growth of any cancer cells throughout her body, now that these treatments will no longer be given; the cancer will spread and will affect not only her lungs but other major organs within her body.

You mentioned that your mother has a diagnosis of terminal cancer. A terminal diagnosis is typically defined as a condition where the life expectancy is estimated to be for 6 months or less.

Based on your mother's diagnosis, I am hopeful that you, your mother and physician had an opportunity to discuss end of life choices/issues prior to the decision to stop treatment.

If not, I would recommend trying to have this discussion as soon as possible. Once you have a sense of what your mother is thinking and feeling about her condition, you can better prepare her and yourself for the days to come.

I would recommend you request a hospice evaluation from her physician, so that you and your mother could have additional resources available to help with a variety of concerns, such as her day to day comfort, pain control, spiritual support,possible 24 hour caregiver assistance, and community resources.

Caring .com has a section within the web site titled "╦ťHospice Resources' which offers helpful information about hospice care, locations and financial information.

Another resource you may find helpful is hospice care giving.

Community Answers

Handiann answered...

Hi Carabien,

My father passed away Dec 4th last year from lung cancer. He was 92 and had radiation, but wasn't a candidate for chemo. When he was first diagnosed,the doctor gave us a life expectancy of 9-12 months. He lived 12 months and 2 days.

He got to do what he wanted to do in the apt with my mom until he could no longer get up from the toilet. He had lost quite a bit of weight and his appetite just wasn't there and so he was weak. But he didn't have pain. So we moved him to the skilled nursing section of the facility where my folks live.

Near the end (last month), he lost all interest in things around him, no TV watching, no reading, no music. He just slept a lot. I think he was getting ready to go. When he went, it was very fast. He really never had any pain, which is such a blessing. My thoughts will be with you, because I know how hard this is for the family. Best wishes.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I, too, am in the same situation with my husband. The biggest help I think that one can do in this situation is to just be there for your loved one. Knowing that you are there for your mother and that she will not be alone will bring your mother comfort. Please ask hospice or your doctor for your local resources and help. It is not an easy journey but having understanding others near you will help you through it. My thoughts are with you. Terry

Catlady1959 answered...

Carabien--my father passed away on 16 Dec 09--only a short six weeks after being diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung cancer that had moved to the bone. When diagnosed, he was given 12-15 months, so six weeks was a shock to us. He did complete 10 sessions of radiation, but didn't make it to chemo. You never know exactly how long you really have, so spend as much time as you can with her and don't leave anything unsaid. The time may come sooner than you expect. Cherish the little time you have left together and keep her as comfortable as you can. My prayers are with you.

Manita answered...

Hi Carabien,

I am very sorry about your mother. My blessings are with you. I have read all the answers you got so I don't want to repeat anything again. I had breast cancer a year and 2 months ago. I am taking Tamoxifeno daily and an inyeccion monthly. Three months after my operation I was told that I should have 4-6 chemo for prevention and I refused. I have started to read about changing my eating methods. Things I should eat more of and things I should not eat. My husband is a doctor and when I got my cancer he began to do a lot of research the natural way. Lots of foods that are not cooked- the less the better-eliminate all of the preservatives, the dairy products and the red meats.I have heard of many cases of people that have had terminal cancer that I know have felt better and even gotten better.I know it is not fun going places and not being able to eat what others eat- but the question is Do we really eat right? Do we really eat enough vegetables, and drink enough water? I beleive that anything you can do to help her feel better is worth trying! My blessings are with you.

Gabysdad answered...

No plan of what to do after being told you have cancer is complete without serious re-examination of your diet. The truth is, our Standard American Diet (SAD) is chock full of salt, fat, sugar, and preservatives. All of these things are known to cause health problems. They are the leading contributors to the huge growth of diseases in our country.

If you want to truly give your body every advantage in the battle against cancer- and any other disease for that matter- please look first to your diet. Dr. Joel Fuhrman has written several books on exactly what is wrong with our SAD diet, how it leads to disease, and most importantly, how to eat for optimum health. Tens of thousands of people have seen chronic health problems improve and disappear by following his dietary approach in Eat to Live' , and his two-part follow up 'Eat for Health' .

This information should be required reading for every medical professional in the country, and anyone who wants to enjoy a vibrant, long life free of disease. We did, and it works.

Sheew answered...

My heart goes out to all of you. My husband who is only 53 was diagnosed with terminal advanced lung cancer that has spread to his spine and windpipe. The chemo has not had the desired effect, much less tha the 30% shrinkage they aim for. They are going to discuss radiotherapy now but we have already been told that they can do mox two sessions of this as too much damage can be done to the spine and lung. I ahve no idea how long we has left, but we were told at the start of his diagnosis, that he had maybe a year. We have a 9 year old and it is a total nightmare. My hubbie is very depressed, has all but given up and I have no idea how to help him anymore.