Lung cancer, I feel so guilty right now for not speaking up.

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Hi, I'm new to this site and have been reading questions and answers. Thank God for this site. My mom is 74, and yesterday they told her she has a "softball size tumor" on her right lung. Softball size! Next week, on Sept 5th, we have an MRI of the brain to see if any cancer is there. Same day, only later in the morning we have a P E T scan. A biopsy is scheduled for the 9th.

Needless to say, we are all shocked. She had been to the Dr., a couple of times with pain in her right shoulder. Oh, the Dr., said it was muscle related and needed therapy! No x-ray. The first time we went to the Dr., well, let me say that she has Alzheimer's. So the first appointment, she told the PA that it was her left shoulder. I said, Mom, you've been saying it is your right shoulder. She kinda got upset and said, "it's always been my left shoulder." She had years ago, Rotator Cuff surgery on the left. So I said ok mom. Well, they x-rayed it. After I asked. Few months later, we went back and I said it's the right shoulder. The actual Dr., pushed and pulled and said, I think it's muscle related...no x-ray. I should've spoke up and said please x-ray her.

This is the same Dr., who for the past 1 1/2 year had been seeing me for a broken pelvis. So, I kind of believed him. WHY DIDN'T I SPEAK UP AND DEMAND AN X-RAY??? WHY DIDN'T HE DO ONE WITH OUT ME ASKING???

I am so angry right now about that and I feel so guilty for not speaking up. I am heartbroken.

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I understand how you feel. Of course if our loved ones got Xrays for everything, they would get cancer from the Xrays!

This is a trivial example, but my husband forgets to take his metamucil for a week, and then has stomach pain from constipation. He wants to go to the ER. We have been to the ER once and to the doctor twice. Part of me knows that the only problem is constipation. Another part thinks, "But what if it IS something serious?"

My problem has an easy solution: Lay the fiber out for him to take every day, and get him to his colonoscopy.

You took your mother to the doctor when she was in pain. With dementia, she can't be very clear about what's wrong. I hope it turns out not to be cancer, and/or that she can be treated to let her enjoy her life. But as much as you don't want to lose her, she is not a young woman. Perhaps this will spare her worse suffering in the future.

You didn't cause it, you can't cure it, and you can't control it. (Al Anon) You don't have super powers. You did the best you could, and trusted a doctor you had reason to trust. Does your mother blame you? I doubt it. Would your mother want you to torture yourself over this? I hope not. Try to accept that this has happened, and move forward with making the most of this situation. Do what's most reasonable to treat the condition. Do what you already do: spend time enjoying your mother and letting her know how much you appreciate the life she gave you. If torturing yourself with guilt would prolong your mother's life or increase her happiness, then torture away. Otherwise, forgive yourself, not that you did anything wrong, but forgive yourself, and be the good daughter that you are.

I can imagine how you feel - I'm so sorry this happened.
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Please, please don't beat yourself up about your mom's situation - you've done the best you could with the information you had. You didn't do anything intentionally. And as Crispycritter said, you'll be dealing with things coming up, so you need to save your strength for that.

My 92 year old dad was diagnosed with a lung cancer tumor and was given 9-12 months to live (I asked, because I wanted to know). The radiation oncologist wanted to do six weeks of daily radiation. I knew there was no way my dad could handle that amount of radiation at his age (just getting him dressed and in and out of the car was a strain on him), so I asked about alternatives. The doc said we could do palliative radiation (just to shrink the tumor enough to keep him comfortable). So we did two weeks (10 sessions). My dad lived for one year and 3 days and had no pain. He was fine (but grew weaker and weaker) up until the afternoon of his passing. He was in Skilled Nursing for the last three months of his life. The blessing is that he had no pain. I am so thankful every time I think about that.

I have no idea what your mom's prognosis is, but you'll have to make decisions about how aggressive you want to be in her treatment. Understand that a lot of doctors will suggest you take aggressive action and it's up to you to decide whether that is best for your mom or not, given her circumstances. I wanted my dad to be kept comfortable but at his age (much older than your mom), there was no way he was going to have years of good life left in his condition. I didn't want the treatment (radiation) to be worse for him than his lung cancer. I'm very comfortable with our course of action and feel so blessed that my dad didn't suffer. Hugs to you and your mom - she's lucky to have you watching out for her.
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So sorry to hear about your Mom's diagnosis. Try not to feel guilty about this .. the way you described her symptoms, it sounds like it would have been one of the last things that anyone might have suspected especially without other accompanying symptoms.

We have been led to believe that diseases are all preventable, it's just not true. Over the years, I have seen some people who do everything right, healthy diet and lifestyle and still end up with disease; others, seem to do everything in the book wrong and remain healthy (my Mom is a prime example, no exercise, ate whatever, whenever she wanted and has smoked all her life, still healthy). Life just doesn't come without complications.

You have a long road ahead of you and you should not be carrying around guilt that you could have somehow made this better. It is unlikely, especially with lung cancer which is one of the toughest cancers to beat.

You are at a point where you will have many tough decisions ahead and difficult days along with your mother. Recognize that it is not possible to control or prevent every problem, do the best you can and try to enjoy one another as much as possible during the coming days.
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