Friday, April 01, 2005

It Ain't Pretty

I got the call at 10:47 am yesterday. Mom has small cell carcinoma. She's leaving for Arlington this morning to go to "one of the country's premier cancer centers". Evidently people come from all over the world to go to this place. I don't know what her odds are yet. I won't really know anything until next Thursday, that's when she has her first appointment.

I did some research on small cell carcinoma. It is caused by smoking and only 20% of lung cancer is small cell. It is also very aggressive. People that have surgery are four times more likely to survive than those that don't (hers is inoperable). There are two stages, limited and extensive. For limited stage small cell cancer, cure rates may be as high as 25%, while cure rates for extensive stage disease are less than 5%. Limited means it is confined to the lung and extensive means it has traveled to other parts of the body. So far we think she has the limited variety. Patients with extensive disease have a median survival duration of less than 1 year. Patients with localized disease (ie, limited stage) have a median survival duration of less than 2 years. The 5-year survival rate for small cell carcinoma is less than 20%.

The only cure is chemotherapy and radiation. The only way to avoid small cell carcinoma is to stop smoking. So best case scenario is she's in the 25% that gets cured. Worst case is 2-5 years of not-so-quality life left.

I want to thank every one for the well wishes and e-mails. It has meant a lot to me. On the exterior every thing is normal. Internally I am a wreck. Your comments and e-mails have helped me make it from day to day. Those of you that I have the phone numbers for, I will be calling eventually.

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