My mother was diagnosed with Leukemia this year. She started chemotherapy five months ago and I have noticed this therapy has been too hard on her. Now she looks extremely fatigued, fragile and her memory loss is getting worse. Was it a bad decicion?

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Paula, to give the doctor a break, everyone is different. One person might be violently ill, throwing up, etc. someone else might only be slightly nauseous. Being tired goes with Chemo. When you really think about what is going on in your body you can understand it.
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Thank you for your support. When my mother begun this declining caused by chemo, I had to put in a balance the medical things vs quality of life. It´s not easy to decide, since I´m an only child, and she is not able to judge well. I guess I did the right thing, giving chemo a chance, but I feel I must have been informed by the oncologist before, about this bad side effect.
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When my mother was in her 80s her wonderful geriatrician told her
"A spot was found in your pelvic area while you were in TCU. I can follow up now and make an appointment to find out what it is."

Mom: No. I don't want an appointment. If it turns out to be cancer I won't treat it, so what good would knowing do?

Dr: Many of my patients feel that way. And I will respect your decision. But I need to tell you that cancer treatments have become better over the years. If it is cancer, treatment could save your life.

Mom: I have had a long life and a good one. I know I am going to die of something, and if it turns out to be a cancer, so be it.

Dr (to me): How do you feel about your mother's decision?

Me: I think it is her decision to make. I will support her in that decision. I'm pretty sure the rest of the family will, too.

Dr. I will not make an appointment now. If you change your mind at any time, let me know.

As it turned out, Mother did not have cancer. She lived to 96. I think she had every right to make the decision she did, and I think it was the right decision for her. (Personally, I would want to know, and then decide on treatment. One size does not fit all in these situations.)

I am reading the book "Being Mortal" now, and I recommend it to anyone who expects to get old and die some day, or those who are caring for approaching that event.
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I agree with everyone here. I would ask the doctor all the questions and have your mother and yourself decide if it is worth it. Having had chemo for a different kind of cancer, I can tell you it is very draining. I don't know if I would go through it again, I firmly believe in the quality of life. There is a saying about "Chemo Brain". It does seem to have lasting effects on your brain. Remember, chemo is a poison. The goal is to kill the cancer before either the chemo or cancer kills you.

When I was on chemo, the only thing that I could eat without trying to throw up, they gave me drugs so I couldn't throw up, was Boysenberry Pie. So, like RayLin pointed out, if she wants pie, ice cream, steak, give it to her.

Most doctors have the agenda to keep you alive, no matter the cost or pain. I believe in the quality of life, if the quality of my life isn't going to get better, I don't want to do it. I have seen them give chemo until the day you die. Too, that is what they do. Oncologists treat cancer, sometimes they don't look at the whole person.

We just went through this with a different subject. My husband was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's. This doctor wanted him to go on a "healthy" diet. No red meat, blah. blah, blah, also he was to get a recumbent bicycle and cycle 2 to 2-1/2 hours a day. It won't cure it, it MIGHT slow it down. He said to me, I am 85 years old, I have ate one way all my life, I work in the yard. I am not going to do this. I said, "OK". Why should he? He is a meat and potato construction worker. We do eat good. Why spend his last time on earth doing something he hates?

We have lost at least one friend every month since November. Sunday we came home from a memorial service and got an email that another friend had died and Nancy Zeeman who has a Sewing Program, and who I have taken classes from,on PBS is terminal. It is going to be our turn one of these days. In the meantime, we want to enjoy life as much as possible.
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My DH was only 80 when he started Chemo and his was for Colon Cancer, not Leukemia. I would think the Leukemia to be a lot more invasive.

How is her appetite? My husband only wanted steaks and heavily salted so I gave him steak every night and the salt shaker. Everyone told me his BP went up and I told everyone that he is on Chemo, let him have what he wants.

I tell you this because if your Mother is wanting something that is "bad" for her, let her have what she wants. Even if only Ice Cream - sometimes the body will call for what it needs and Chemo is rough. It's bombarding the body and system with chemicals designed to kill the cancer.

I am praying for you and for your loved one to survive this.
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Paula44, an important discussion to have with mom is about her goals for her treatment. Talk about what a good day is for her and what she is willing to surrender. Being in the middle of chemo is going to bias her answers I'm afraid but it is very important for you both to understand where her values are and how much work she is willing to put forth (ie, suffering willing to endure) as she deals with the cancer.
Have you had such a discussion yet?
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I don't know anything about your mom, her mental abilites or quality of life. But this does not seem like a good decision to me.
How much could be gained from chemo at 85? How will she possibly recover from this?

I may be totally off base here, maybe she is one of those exceptional elders who will live to be 100 and have good quality of life. It just seems as though chemo would be almost impossible at that age for most people.
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Paula, that's not surprising. Chemo drains energy, especially from someone who's older. I don't think anyone would know at this point how she'll feel after chemo; it might take a while and she might feel better, but it's really just a guess.

She may also want assistance just for comfort, to have you near her during this probably frightening experience. Or she may have lost confidence in her abilities. Cancer can do that.

Your profile doesn't indicate your location so I can't tell if you're close to a Gilda's Club. You might want to check that out. In my area there are wonderful support programs for people with various stages and kinds of cancer. There are support programs as well for their families.

You might find someone in a similar situation, but it might also be good to connect with others who are, or whose loved ones are, experiencing chemo for the first time at an older age.

Programs include music therapy, pot luck dinners, meetings for people with specific kinds of cancer, and much more.

If she's getting chemo at a hospital infusion center, there might also be programs there that could help. Ours had colored pencil and ceramics class programs, plus others which I don't recall at this time. The "art therapy" allowed people to channel their thoughts into creative pursuits.

One of the exhibits was an expression in needlearts of how cancer affected peoples' lives. The emotion in those creations was literally palpable - it was just so powerful.

I know this doesn't address your question, but I thought it might be of interest.
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Hello, thanks for your answer. Her health has improved with chemotherapy, but in the other hand, she has become a lot more dependant, Now I have to bath her, dress her and help her in almost everything. She has become too fragile. I don´t know If this fatigue will continue forever.
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Is she improving? Is the leukemia becoming under control? That might be the first measure of whether the decision was appropriate. But I wouldn't blame myself or whoever agreed to the chemo. I'm sure you felt it would be helpful. Consider it a lessons learned and time for a mid course correction if you feel it should be stopped.

Chemo is hard on anyone, and especially someone of that age.

I think I'd have a frank discussion with her oncologist and ask what benefit, if any, the chemo is providing, and how long she would be expected to continue with this. And, what were the goals? To reverse, diminish, stop it or control it?

If it's not improving her health, it might be better to stop it before it wears her down and she becomes depressed, if she's not already at that stage.
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