What happens when you radiate your brain to reduce the size of growing tumors?
What happens when the cancer in your brain is actually metastasized lung cancer, typically “Stage 4” of the cancer process, which needs to be treated with chemotherapy?
What happens when you are a fully functional adult and wake up one day, in hospital having just had emergency brain surgery to remove a subdural hematoma?
These are the questions my Father is facing. On 25 October an “impressive” blood clot was found and removed from the left side of his brain. It was bleeding and growing, pressing his grey matter against the right wall of his skull. During this emergency event, a chest x-ray revealed his right lung contained a cancerous mass. Then, between 4 CT scans and an MRI, to assess Dad’s brain’s healing from surgery, “Mets” were discovered. In hospital many doctors attended my father, neurologists, surgeons, oncologists and radio-oncologists, all assessing dad’s condition and reporting back to his PCP. We as family were only getting pieces from the above doctors – we never had the complete analysis. By the time Dad was discharged to the skilled nursing facility on 3 November (for two weeks of physical, occupational and speech therapy), the medical team at Morton Plant had assessed dad to have 1 to 6 months left to live.
Then the continuity of his care fell apart. Chester was no longer in his corporate insurance’s network and any approvals for continued discovery of the cancer were denied. He was only approved for recovery from brain surgery. Dad and I never received the facts described above from hospital. This sent us on a quest for answers because the only doctor knowing was 60 miles away and needed to personally see him before disclosing any findings from this emergency. He had two weeks in rehab before that trip could be made and I was facing a frantic countdown in weeks to get answers before his 4 were up. Yet, he had to be in rehab for 2-weeks, in which time I went through hell trying to discover what the hospital doctors had already sent to his PCP. Yet for me, every avenue to answers had a road block, as if Chris Christie were controlling my access to Manhattan. It wasn’t until a return trip to hospital on the night of 22 November from a fall in his closet, that we finally received the full analysis from the hospital team that discovered it 19 days earlier. Multiple Metastasized Lung Cancer tumors filling his brain from the cancer mass in the right upper lung.
Dad has been alive four weeks longer than if we had never discovered the subdural hematoma. We are face with two options, Treatment or Care. No matter which we choose, dad will survive no longer than 5 months. It all comes down to the quality of his life. Which option above will give dad’s last days with friends and family their most meaning? This decision needs to be settled before Monday comes. My research on both radiation therapy for the brain and chemotherapy for the lung, tells me each come with an ample amount of sickness and discomfort unique to both treatment plans. The family is unanimous, it’s time to find out What Dad is Thinking.