Update on My Previous Post, My Mom Has Lung Cancer Please Help Me!!!

Updated on December 21, 2012
R.U. asks from South Weymouth, MA
14 answers

So I had written prior about my mom and mostly about my anxiety and how to deal. Well, after the pet scan they confirmed the mass in her lung which is the size of a quarter is cancer. They also saw on the pet scan something in her salavary gland that lit up as well, and they want to biopsy that. My poor mother just wants to protect me, and I have had to beat info out of her. She is going to Dana Farber in Boston on Wed. She has only seen a pulmonary dr so far. So she got all her scans and a friend who is high up at Dana Farber in Boston got her in with the top lung cancer dr there. My question is this, The pulmanry dr said if the cancer is in her salvary gland as well as the lung then it is not operatable. Meaning she will die. My sister who is a nurse talked with drs at her hospital and they said they have never heard of lung cancer spreading to the salavary glands, that it always goes to the bones and brain. Her scans showed no cancer in anywhere but these 2 places. They said they are not positive it is cancer in the salavary gland and want to do a biopsy. I am shaking so bad. I got intouch with my dr who gave me a low dose of klonopin which has helped a lot. I have never been so scared in all my life. I will we all get through this? Anone know anything about this cancer?? Or heard of it in the salavary gland and lung? Please I beg for help and support, I am desperate. I have lost half of my family in the past 3 years, I am so desperate to save my mom.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for all who responded. I know I cannot get answers here. For some reason it just helps me so much to reach out. and get support. I have contacted my dr b/c my panic was getting out of control. She put me on a low dose of klonopin which has helped me in a huge way. I am sorry I am such a weak person, I am the baby in the family and my mom has always babied me, I am a mother now, and my daughter comes first, just like with my mom and me. I do not have a choice in this I have to go through it. I also am seeing a therapist next week because I know I will need help no matter what the outcome. Please PRAY for us PLEASE!!!!!!!!! I am so young to lose my mom, and the thought sends chills through me. God be with me please. Thank you to you all, your message helped me. Sometimes I am not looking for answers just words of comfort.

More Answers



answers from Portland on

They haven't said that the salivary gland is cancerous. They've said they want to biopsy it. I had a tumor in my lung the size of a quarter and after a biopsy they told me it was a carcinoid tumor which is cancer. I had a lobe of my lung removed nearly 10 years ago and I'm cancer free.

Try looking at the positive side of this. Wait until the biopsy before getting scared. Think positive thoughts. Doing so does help.

My cousin, who lives with me, has metastisized melanoma which is a very virulent form of cancer. He's undergoing treatment and we're holding out hope that he'll come thru it even tho there's only a 7% chance of him doing so. We can control how we react to such dire news. It's scary. It's very depressing. The way I look at it is that what is meant to be will be and whatever it is I will be OK. After nearly 70 years of living and after losing all of my loved ones from the generation previous to mine I can attest that this is true. You will be alright no matter what happens with your mother. You will be in pain but you will be OK. Keep telling yourself this and I suggest you will be better able to manage this.

I suggest, if it's possible, for you to go with your mother when she talks with the doctor after the biopsy. That way you'll know first hand what is going on and your information will be more accurate.

I urge you to go into counseling to help with your fear, anxiety, depression. You will not know the results of this situation for some time and help dealing with your feelings is important.

Later: It's important for you to accept that you cannot save your Mom. Think of the 12 step programs. It really does help to recognize that there is a higher power. When you think in terms of being able to do something you're adding to the stress. You cannot do anything to make this go away. Accepting that will be probably the most difficult step for you to take and I suggest that you'll feel a sense of relief when you achieve that state.

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

okay - first take a deep breath!!! let it out slowly...now, take another deep breath and let it out SLOWLY.....

I am truly sorry you are going through this. I am sorry that your family has been dealt a lot of loss over the last 3 years...I am VERY sorry and I hope their memories are eternal.

However...you are stressing over things you cannot control. You are not only hurting yourself but your mother with your stress. So PLEASE stop panicking...I know - easier said than done. But really - DEEP BREATH!!!

Unfortunately, this is life - you can't get out of it alive. As much as we want to be immortal and have our parents and loved ones around forever, it's not going to happen. Do I like that? no. But it is a fact of life.

Now, what can you do? You can stop panicking. YOU cannot save your mom. You have to acknowledge the Dr's might not be able to either and you need to be ready for that. If that is the case, you need to keep your wits about you and you need to find out what you can do to help make your mom comfortable with the time she has left. Keep in mind - she might choose NOT to have chemotherapy or anything else...that is HER choice. YOU MUST RESPECT that if it comes to that.

You can't do anything until you know what it is you are dealing with. Go to the Doctors with your mom. Write down or record what they say - as this appointment will be a hard one to digest. Then let it all settle and ask your mom what she wants to do. Then respect her wishes...if she wants to fight - you go to the doctor with her and find out the next steps...then you make a list of questions you want answered and take that list with you. Record the conversation if you have to - and yes, I believe you will have to get consent to record the conversation...you can tell the doctor the truth - you want to record it so you can understand it all and make a list of questions, etc.

You should also go to the hospital and find out if there are support groups there. That will help you be in contact with families who are going through what you are going through. There are organizations out there that will provide financial assistance as well as other things during this time.

Good luck!! I hope and pray that your mom will be a survivor and have many more years with you!!!

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

You need to talk to a cancer support person, Rt. Please call the hospital and ask for help. We cannot help you here. Your mother needs a biopsy. They will do the biopsy. They will test the tissue and then there will be an answer as to whether she actually has two different types of cancer. You will both have to live with the outcome of the biopsy. Hopefully it will be a non-cancerous tumor that they are seeing on the scan.

This is going to be an uphill battle. You cannot control living and dying in anyone, Rt. You love her while you have her and stop beating info out of her. You are not the focus of this, Rt. She is. Please give her some dignity and get some help from someone who deals with these issues professionally. She shouldn't have to carry your emotional feelings. You are supposed to be there for HER in the way she needs emotional help. Not the way that you need emotional help. Instead, you need to get help another way.

I'm so sorry you've lost so much family, but this desperation of yours for something that you just have NO control over is killing you. It's also going to negatively affect your family so much. Please call the hospital and ask to talk to a social worker who works with families of cancer patients.


8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


now ... take another one.

Honestly, none of us are doctor's here and the BEST thing you can do is take a breath and chill a bit. You'll know more about what is actually going on Wednesday. You'll also know what options are available Wednesday. Until then stressing out isn't going to help anyone or anything.

As for where cancer spreads ... it can spread to anywhere from anywhere. It may have started in the salivary gland and moved to the lung or vice versa. Or the lump in the salivary gland may not even be cancer. A biopsy is really the only way to know if it is or not.

Either way meeting with the doctors is the only way to know what is going on and what options for treatment as well as prognosis for remission are.

I wish you and your mom the best. And BREATHE.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Between going to Dana Farber and having a sister who is a nurse, you really couldn't ask for more in terms of care and knowledge. Please take some comfort and peace in the fact that you mom is going to get the best care possible. Our time on earth is limited, we all know that. Live every day like it's your last and focus on the here and now. For you mom's sake, please take care of yourself (and by working with a therapist and using medication for your anxiety, you already are) so that she can focus on her own wellness. If you celebrate Christmas, make this memorable - not by going overboard and trying to make everything "perfect" but by scaling back and giving your mom what she likes most about the season, be it more time with family, going to see lights or hear music, special foods, etc. Let that be something concrete that you can do right now.

DF has wonderful outreach programs for families dealing with cancer treatments, so do take advantage of the knowledge and support that they have. And know that when you mom dies, be it in the next few years or decades from now, you will survive just like everyone else does. I'm really impressed that in all of this, you are able to recognize that you need some additional help to be able to keep yourself well and not take any time and energy away from you mom being able to focus on her own healing. I am definitely sending prayers out to you, her and your family.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

I'm sorry you've heard this very frightening and devastating news.

There are many different types of lung cancers so it will be hard for anyone to know exactly what your mom is dealing with.

You have every right to be afraid. However, if your mom is more worried about protecting you, she can't focus on herself, and she really needs to be able to do that right now. You have every right to every single emotion you are having so get some help so you can be strong for your mom.

It's hard to think on the positive side of things at times like this. BUT, the good news is the cancer hasn't spread to her bones and her brain. Or anywhere else. There is another spot they want to biopsy, but that doesn't automatically mean it's another cancerous spot.

My ex brother-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer and they removed part of his lung. That was almost 10 years ago. It hasn't come back, it's never spread anywhere else.

Please, remember there is ALWAYS hope. You're getting conflicting information from so many people who haven't even treated your mother that it's just going to make you crazy. Try to stay calm and not let your thoughts get away with you. Your mom is going to be evaluated by an oncologist. There will be more answers and a treatment plan after that.

In the meantime, try not to emotionally put your mom in her grave just yet.
Even, God forbid, the worst case scenario happens, you want to enjoy every minute you have with your mother while you have her, right?
No one has confirmed that your mom is dying.

Truly, no one knows the length of our days. I just know that if someone told me I had x amount of time to live, I'd be on the first plane to the warmest and sunniest place I could possibly think of. I'd surround myself with the funniest, most hilarious people I know and love because I would want to laugh and enjoy every minute possible. I wouldn't want the last months or even years of my life spent with everyone crying all the time. That's depressing.

I have two kids, 26 and 17. I have a grandson. I love them so much. They would be devastated if anything happened to me. I wouldn't want to go with my last vision being of them crying.
But that's just me.

It's the holidays. In the midst of all this, try to have a joyful time. Bake, be silly, laugh together. Treat your mom like she's living, because she is.

Just my opinon.
Very best wishes to you and your mom and family.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

My mother had a 3.5" mass in her lung. She is now a 6 year survivor. You will be a great support to her, but you need to find support for yourself, too. Finding out what type of cancer it is will be important. Talk to her earnestly and let her know that hiding information from you does not protect you. Instead, it makes you more anxious because you don't know what to expect or how to help. Let her know you respect her privacy, but you need to know as much as she can share with you. It will help if you're not freaking out at the time you tell her that -- show her you can handle and be a help -- the last thing she needs is to have to support you (which is why parents "spare" their kids in the first place -- my parents do the same thing). I can't say it'll be okay, but I can say that you will handle it one day at a time and that it can be survived.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

{{{{hugs}}}} try not to worry till you know. Sounds promising that it usually does not present in the salivary glands. Make sure you breathe - it really is relaxing. Thoughts and prayers to you and your mom.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

Obviously I'm not a Dr, but I will say what I know from my own experience when my mother had cancer and passed away over 17 years ago. Cancer originates in one area then spreads to other parts of the body. Depending on the type of cancer, it has a typical route throughout body parts (per say), 2nd to last will be the bones, and then lastly the brain. The brain is always the last organ to be infected and also incurable by chemo, it needs radiation to keep the cancer at bay, but eventually the cancer takes over. My mom had breast cancer that had metastasized to the lungs, then bones, then brain. The cancer in the lungs was inoperable because of the location within the lungs; it was wrapped around some lymph nodes and they just couldn't do it, and it continued to spread. That was her particular situation, everyone is different. In your mom's situation, they don't even know if it is cancer of the salivary glands or not, so try to not jump ahead. The only thing I can think of why the one Dr said it wasn't operable was maybe because of the location, not because of the actual cancer. Not sure that makes sense? Hang in there, so sorry you are going through this. Praying the biopsy is negative!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Here is a link from Mayo clinic on salivary gland cancer. It's good to be informed but you need to realize your mom is in good care and you have to just be there for her. Our lives are in God's hands.
In just a few years, like you, I lost 2 uncles, a grandpa, and my dad. It seemed it would never end but it did for now. I know what a sad time it is and cancer is not easy to deal with. You need support from others, your church, family, etc. too. Don't be afraid to talk about it and what you can do for your mom. I'm sorry you have to go through this.



answers from Tuscaloosa on

I know others have said this, but there are many different types of lung cancer and they behave differently. My darling mother was diagnosed in April with one of the worst, very rare kinds (sarcomatoid carcinoma). We were told it was in the early stages, but had a very poor survival rate (5%). The 5% who survived were all caught early, so we were cautiously hopeful. She had chemo and radiation and was ready for surgery in July, but unfortunately her lung cancer spread to her abdomen (not bones). A very tiny spot was found near her pancreas/gall bladder, which made it inoperable. They scanned her brain and found it there too and she passed away in Sept. I know what you are going through and it is terrible, scary, frustrating, devastating, etc etc etc. I'm sorry you have to go through this, but I will keep your mom in my prayers that she has one of the better, treatable kinds of lung cancer and does well and is healed!


answers from Boston on

I know you have a lot on your shoulders right now, and the hardest part is not having answers.

Now there are a couple of things to think about. First of all, there may not be cancer in the salivary gland - they just have to check on that. Secondly, be sure you understand the doctor. Even if something is not OPERABLE, it doesn't mean it's not TREATABLE! Many cancers are not operable - leukemia, lymphoma, bone marrow cancer, and many other cases including some lung, brain, breast and you-name-it cancers. Those cancers are treated by chemotherapy or radiation, and sometimes both. Chemo and radiation reach cancers that are unreachable by the surgeon's scalpel or which are spread into too many areas. So it doesn't mean she's going to die! So you don't have all the answers.

If she's going to Dana Farber, that is great. It's a fantastic center, and there are satellite centers all over the area so sometimes a person can be seen at the main center and then treated with the same care and expertise at a location closer to home. People aren't sent there if they are going to die. They are sent there for evaluation and treatment.

It's great that your sister is a nurse and can talk "medical language" to the doctors. But remember that sometimes these professionals don't always put things in everyday language for the rest of us. Moreover, you sister is a nurse but she is also a daughter. She may be emotional too and not getting everything exactly straight. For example, if they are saying they have never heart of lung cancer going to the salivary gland but it "always goes to the bones and brain" - that doesn't mean your mother's cancer is going to do that or that everyone's lung cancer goes to those places. For many people, the lung cancer is TREATED and it doesn't go anywhere! That's what you can focus on. Many, many people go into remission and the treatment even cures the cancer, so it doesn't spread anywhere. If the usual route for metastazied lung cancer is to the brain & bones, that doesn't mean each individual's cancer will go anywhere. Be sure you understand what they are saying. AND, if she hasn't even been seen by the experts at Dana Farber, you're getting way ahead of yourself. You are trying to get all this info out of your mother, and she may be shielding you but she also may have too many things on her mind and may not have asked the questions you have asked.

My own mother is receiving treatment and rehab for something completely different, but I can tell you that there is no substitute for actually being at her side when the doctors and therapists come in. She misses certain things, or she asks different things that matter to her but which don't necessarily paint the whole picture.

You live in the same area as your mom, which is great. You can become involved. You are also seeing a therapist and taking some meds which you and the doctor feel are helpful for you now, so that is great. You've got to take care of yourself.

In your SWH, you say you are the baby and "such a weak person" - but you also say that your daughter needs you and YOU are the mother now, so it's time for you to step up. You also are very open about your panic issues, so try to remind yourself that it may be YOUR issues that are making this a dire situation rather than your MOTHER'S actual condition or the doctor's information. Even if one doctor said one thing, remember that there are second opinions and that doctors are often wrong the first time out. SO you need to calm down (with professional help) and you can also try to see this as an opportunity to no longer be imprisoned by weakness and by your status as the baby in the family. You are an adult and no longer the baby, and it's time to step up.

There are also tons of things you can do to use other things such as nutrition to support cancer treatments. I have a colleague who conducts a nation-wide call dedicated to dietary changes that help cancer patients. It's every Thursday and there's also one on Sundays (both evenings). A friend of mine has been using this information for about a year for her own elderly mother, who has multiple myeloma (in inoperable bone cancer) - and guess what? Her mother has sailed through the chemo treatments with a lot of energy, more than she ever had even when she was young, and her cancer numbers are improving tremendously - far better than the doctors ever expected in so short a time. And this patient is in her 80s. Yet no one has given up on her. My friend has found the call to be very informative, and her mother appreciates everything the daughter is doing to step up to the plate and help out.

So if you want to listen in, PM me and I can tell you the info and even "take you onto the call" myself so you don't even have to think. It's a listen-only call, not a participatory call, so you just need some quiet space to sit and listen. There is a huge network of cancer support out there for people just like you.

SO cancer is not a death sentence, and you will benefit by focusing on what CAN be done far more than you will by panicking yourself into paralysis.

Keep focusing on getting yourself the help you need to be able to help your mother. Then put together a series of action steps, perhaps with the help of your therapist, and let your mother know that you are not someone else she needs to take care of while she is sick but rather that you are going to be a source of strength to her.



answers from New York on

Right now just take one day at a time. Let them look at the scans and see their opinion and treatment plan. Remember just one day at a time, no more. Will keep your Mom and your family in my prayers.



answers from San Francisco on

We're here for you to lean on during this very hard time. But we are not doctors and even if we were, everyone is different.

I would find hope in the theory that lung cancer does not usually spread to the salavary glands.

At this point, you need to give it to God (or whatever higher power you believe in) because there is nothing you can do to change whatever is going to happen. You have to trust God that whatever happens is in his plan and pray for the courage to accept whatever comes your way and the faith to see it as God's plan.

We are praying for you and your mom. Good thoughts and positive thinking coming your way!

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