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Found out it could be vaginal cancer. White spots were found. No bleeding.


Funny, Mom sleeps good. Eats good. Very kind. Sweet. We have the most wonderful mother! Hate this is happening to such a beautiful woman in our lives. Seeing our mother with ALZ breaks our hearts. We are very loving to her. Understanding. Share in her faith. Honestly, she is absolutely a dear dear mother.


Some say go the palliative care route. PET scan and surgery, radiation etc will be too much.


Who’s gone through this? Anyone have good advice?

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This is a cop-out, but what is wrong with "watchful waiting"?

I read and re-read your post, and I'm sitting here with a cross frown on my face. White spots were found? HOW? The doctor happened to be passing and thought he'd have a quick peep?

But let's assume that there were other symptoms bothering your mother, so there was an exam, so these suspect areas were seen, so the doctor has recommended a PET scan. What other investigations have been done? Are you satisfied that other, less alarming causes have been ruled out?

I'd ask the doctor to relieve any symptoms and then keep an eye on things. There is no point going looking for a tiger if you're not fully prepared to fight it.

This decision is fully yours, is it? How advanced your mother's Alzheimer's Disease is does matter. If she is still able to understand what her doctor is telling her, then you must involve her in the discussions. If she isn't, then you should aim to avoid any treatment that is likely to be worse than the disease. It's one thing to go through these ordeals when you understand what is happening and are looking ahead to recovery: the hope of recovery makes the treatment tolerable. But to have this done to you, with no understanding of why or what for, would be cruel and can't be justified unless a good outcome is certain.
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NYtoFLAgirl Jul 11, 2019
I respect your comment. This was very helpful. I appreciate all you said.
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To add to my previous post...

Honestly, truthfully, if I had to decide between dying of cancer and dying of Alz, I'd pick cancer any day. The end years of Alz are not something I want to go through, being practically bedridden, with mind already gone, pooping and peeing in diapers and needing people to wipe my behind, feeding me, possibly acting crazy, screaming incoherently, making the lives of my children hell.

I shudder...
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Countrymouse Jul 11, 2019
With respect, that's an easy call to make when you're not facing either. God forbid you ever should.
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The PET scan is looking for cancer.

Does it matter? Would she want to treat it? (I a currently treating for Lymphoma, and if my 90yo mother had cancer I would NOT be on board with putting her through this. It's not awful, it's pointless at some point. I am going to beat this and expect another 20+ years. I told my DH "when and if this comes back, I'm done. One and done. I will NOT put you or the kids or me through this.) I'm txing only because I'm only 63 and in good health and this is only stage 2.

PETscans do not hurt. Probably the ONLY cancer detector that didn't. MRI's and CT scans don't hurt either.

I would ask for palliative care if she is in pain, but no, I would be 100% opposed to treating at this stage of health and life.
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Riverdale Jul 11, 2019
What does txing mean?
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Remember that with ageing, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. There is no recovery to the past. Make the present as good as possible. Love xxx
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polarbear Jul 11, 2019
Very true Margaret.
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I think I would want to know what will happen and how long will she remain symptom free if you do nothing. After watching my mom fade away I know she lived far too long with zero quality of life.
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Did you mom leave any living will in which she expressed what she wanted in situation like this? If not, you or whoever has POA will need to decide for her.

Talk with the surgeon.

Will it be an invasive surgery where she will be cut up and then sewn up. That will be a lot of pain.

Ask about the chances of infection which is very real. If it occurs, will it require more surgery? More pain.

Ask about recovery time. How long? How much discomfort?

Ask about radiation. It BURNS. How long? Yes, a lot of pain.

Ask what her quality of life will be after the treatment.

Ask yourself if you were in her shoes, at her age, would you go through with it, and for what purpose.

Then you can decide.
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NYtoFLAgirl Jul 11, 2019
You are correct. We made decisions about the quality of her life with other issues. We’ve talked about this years ago. I think it’s the way the Doctors are presenting it that makes us feel a bit confused. But I know within the next few days we will make the right decision. I’ll keep you posted. Thank you so much for your honesty and concern!!
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If your mother can tolerate it well, I would probably get the scan to have additional information both for choosing treatment and for her palliative care. If the cancer is still localized, I might consider surgical removal of the cancer but I would not even consider putting an 86 year old with ALZ through chemo or radiation treatments. I would need to know there was a big health benefit before considering any surgery because of the possible impacts of the anesthetic on her cognitive functioning. Saving the body at the cost of losing the mind is not a good choice in my opinion.

My uncle died from pancreatic cancer that had spread to his liver and spine 7 weeks after diagnosis at age 66. After the initial stage 4 diagnosis my uncle researched pancreatic cancer for a couple of days, then announced the cancer was going to kill him and the treatments that would delay his death would also make him too ill to enjoy being alive. Although he didn't take chemo or radiation he did have a small operation to cut some nerves to reduce pain. He was able to really enjoy one last Thanksgiving with his family before engaging Hospice and then slipping into a comma a couple of weeks later.

My mother made me her POA after her brother's death and while my father was just entering the bad phase of his vascular dementia. I had a decade to have conversations with her about what she wanted before she began having any cognitive issues at all. Mom wanted to scale down medical treatment when her quality of life was compromised. She didn't want cancer treatments after 85, just palliative care to manage her pain. I asked about a ventilator when treating pneumonia. Mom told me that was acceptable if she was expected to have a full recovery to a good quality of life but if she already had other issues compromising her quality of life then she didn't want her life extended with a ventilator.

Mom is now 87 with MCI and no short term memory. After a fall last year she has limited mobility and must use a walker or a wheelchair. Since the fall and my father's death Mom has displayed some dementia symptoms at times. I have reluctantly acknowledged that Mom has entered that "reduced quality of life" she talked about. Medical decisions now have to be made to maintain her comfort as long as possible but not necessarily maintain her life as long as possible. It's a difficult bridge to cross.
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IF she had cancer would she opt for treatment if she were making the choice? If not then why bother to determine what cause is. Not sure what the white spots have to do with cancer as often a symptom of genital warts and cancer doesn't usually show as spots, but maybe they were found at some other investigation of symptoms. Maybe they could develop into cancer? Any way it all seems rather irrelevant, as the question is IF it turns out to be cancer does one put a LO with ALZ through the treatment that will make them feel awful and which they will not understand and will simply think someone is hurting them. So much depends on what Mum can understand and would want, personally I would refuse the PET and any further diagnosis or treatment. What will be will be, and very loved is not a reason to cause distress to an LO. - Purely a very personal opinion, you have to choose knowing Mum.
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NYtoFLAgirl Jul 11, 2019
I respect your comment. And honestly all these comments are heart warming to me.
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Hi, I’m sorry you are going through this. I just went through this with my husband (78 years old) He had T cell Lymphoma which caused large bumps and one broke open which was a large sore. It effected his day to day because the large broke open one hurt and his leg hurt to walk which is all he does anymore. After talking to specialist we decided to try radiation to get rid of it. The cat scans were the worst part, he did good but it obviously scared him. He thankfully only got 8 radiation treatments. It hasn’t been a month yet but looks like it’s going down. Sore is still there but not the others that were there. He also has spots on his liver, spleen, lung, kidneys and a lymph nod. They wanted to do an MRI and I told them no way he could do that. I can’t say for sure but my thought now is I’m not doing anything about those spots. If it was me I would hope nobody put me through long bouts of radiation and chemo. It’s a horrible position to be in. I was fortunate to be able to talk to the specialists and decide what to do but it’s very stressful. I wish you the best as you decide what to do and as I was told, any decision you make will be the right one because you are doing the best you can.
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No treatment as it would be a very bad way to go, would be my advice as a nurse. Treatments for cancer kill quite often, and one must be strong to survive them. No, I would ask for palliative care consult. Is there pain? How was this condition found, as cannot imagine a pelvic done on a woman this age? Have Palliative care consult and consider hospice. There is no way to tell how quickly this will progress, and with some cancers, in truth they do NOT progress until something else kills the elder. That is true of most age-related prostate cancers, as well. I would not treat. We are all different but I would not test and I would not treat.
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NYtoFLAgirl Jul 11, 2019
I respect your sincere comment. Especially being a nurse. We’ve been reading so many things these past few years. Wanting to be in the know. And have all the right questions for the doctors.
Yes we wish we discussed this kind of situation occurring with mom what would she want. We have been told our whole lives you have a healthy beautiful mother. I’m 60 now. Moms 86. And now our little mom facing this. NOT ALONE. We will never leave her. No nursing home all these years could beat the personal care mom receives at home. Doing our best!!!

thank you for your responses.
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