ng9996 Asked October 2010

Should I put my wife with Alzheimer's through radiation and chemo or not?

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My wife is in the moderate stage of Alzheimer's and was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

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hapfra Oct 2010
Norm--I thought that a reply to this question was sent like yesterday-perhaps it never appeared....Anyhow I would investigate the pro's and con's-either thru the cancer society or the alzheimer's association. I would think that they are equipt to give you their opinion as to which way to go from here.
My best to you and your wife, and until you get some results from either organization-just try to be 'in the moment"~
Hap
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vstefans Oct 2010
oops, meant "your wife's"...sorry
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vstefans Oct 2010
My mom has vascular dementia and general anesthesia does seem to make it worse. We made a huge mistake opting for general instead of regional when she had her knee replacement. She was so much more confused in the immediate post-op period she did not get as much benefit from therapy. I took her to an eye doctor as she is losing her vision -we were hoping there was some treatable diabetic retinopathy involved, but it looks now like it is 90% cortical (strokes to posterior circulation). I'm almost relieved, as I could see she'd find it torture to get eye injections or laser therapy. (She has a hard time just with eye drops and getting the slit-lamp or the glaucoma exams.) But at the same time I am sad we can't do anything, and so is she. Given an option, we would have given her some Xanax and tried to get through the procedures. Now if a vitrectomy had been proposed I just don't think we could have done it given the post-op positioning required. On the other hand, she does not necessarily hate being in the hospital and getting the increased care and attention for those days, some of the studies and tests they do really aren't bad at all for her.

As you get all the details on what the options are and what they entail, try to think what is best for quality as well as quantitiy of life, and I'll join you in praying for guidance in making the best decisions - its not easy! You don't want to neglect doing something that will prevent even more pain and suffering just because of her dementia diagnosis, but you don't want to put her through something that will cause a lot of suffering and do nothing but give her a slightly longer life but a net total of more misery amd less joy in it. And you get to decide without benefit of a crystal ball, to top that off. :-) I also hope and pray the health care providers who help you decide have patience and compassion rather than a "s*** or get off the pot" attitude about the whole thing and can care about your mom's well being nearly as much as you do. Looking back at your specific question, my thought would be to see if radiation alone without chemo might be a reasonable choice, many people find that much more tolerable as the side effects may be nothing more than some fatigue and local skin irritation.
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1234michele Oct 2010
You have to ask your self what does she want or if she was in her right mind what would she say. If she were in 4th stage like my dad, I would just make her comfortable and not put her through the trama. The trauma could push her altzhiemers even further along. Any changes or trauma pushes the disease. You will see when she is further along how awful of a disease it is. Enjoy your time with her, every moment is precious time.
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Ruth1957 Oct 2010
If this were my mom, or sister, or friend, I would research alternatives in treatment before making a decision. OrthoMolecular medicine might be a good place to start. I know that Seattle has a cancer treatment center which combines natural immune-building treatments with some conventional medical intervention. Once you've talked with several professionals in different fields, you'll have a better knowledge base on which to make a decision.

The elderly gentleman I care for is being actively treated for cancer with conventional means, including chemo. One of the potential side effects is, as he puts it, his thigh bones "snapping in two". That's a risk, if he were MY father, I would have not wanted to take.

God bless you as you strive to do the very best for your precious wife. And God strengthen you as you provide care for her. It's not an easy road, I know.

Ruth
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MiaMadre Oct 2010
I posted on your other question about the risks of treating someone with breast cancer AND Alzheimer's. I'm not sure if you saw my response, so I will list my suggestion here too.

Do a search for the American Cancer Society and it should give a cancer.org result. On this website you can find out more about Alzheimer's and treating breast cancer.

God Bless.
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Do what you feel is right. I believe what is right is to treat the emergency ailment which in your case is the breast cancer. Death by cancer is not clean and can be traumatic for those involved. If diagnosed and treated early, the survival rate is high.
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MiaMadre Oct 2010
Norm... my heart goes out to you. WIth all the advances in medical science, talk to the doctors about the options that are available for her. Depending on the 'type' of cancer found, there could be non-invasive options that can be explored.

Since she has 'moderate Alzheimer's' would she be able to endure the treatments without making matters worse? If so, then perhaps it would be worth it.

My mother (much older) had to have a 'lump' removed and I truly believed that the surgery worsened her Alzheimer's Every time she had to have any anesthesia, it affected her deeply. This is just my experience, I am sure others will add theirs.

God bless you, and help you make these decisions wisely.
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