What is "normal" in recovery

Regular Visitor

What is "normal" in recovery

Hi there,

I've just joined and I'm looking for some guidance as this is the first time my family and I are going through something like this - so I apologise for the lengthy detailed post!


My mum (69yrs) was diagnosed with lung cancer (Oct20) with secondary spots found in the hip (which caused fractures) and spine. The cancer in her lung is 1.5cm. Prior to this diagnosis she was fit, healthy, happy, no symptoms at all other than a slight pain in her back which she put down to wear and tear over the years. It was in an x-ray required for some physio treatment that small lesions on the bones were found.


She received radiation treatment on her hip and spine in Dec20, and started her first (of 4) chemo in Jan21 to attack the lung cancer and any other possible sites.


In March21 she received more radiation treatment (another 5) on her upper spine/neck area, and after the 4th she was admitted to hospital with an infection.

During her stay she needed antibiotics, blood transfusion and had the remaining radiation treatment.


She recovered from that ordeal, and this is the 4th week since being discharged. On Tuesday she had a review at the hospital and was told she was too weak for the 4th chemo, and to come back in 6-8 weeks and hopefully that break will bring her back up to a level where she can handle the chemo. If she gets worse during that time then the treatment would be more "short term".


Since leaving the hospital my mum made great progress. Eating more, awake and alert more each day. She left the house a few times to visit me (fortunately we live less than 10 mins apart) and my children. 


The last few days however it seems like her condition has declined. She's in more pain and finding pain in areas where there was previously no cancer. My concern is that it could mean it's spreading.


She's frail. Unable to walk as there is pain in her groin area. Sleeps a fair bit during the day.

When she's awake she sits in her wheelchair with her eyes closed. Although still "alert". She's listening and interacting although a little distant at times and slower to process things. Speaks when spoken to. She eats small amounts, not enough - she's lost a lot of weight. Food tastes incredibly salty to her.

She is able to drink, sleeps well at night and during naps, no issues with urine or bowl movements. 


My question is how much of this behaviour is her recovering from the treatment she's received so far, and how much of this is the cancer possibly spreading as treatment may not working, which what the hospital thinks (awaiting next steps from them to find out what's going on).


I've heard chemotherapy and radiation therapy can take a lot out of you, leaving you weak and sickly but then Google also lists the same symptoms/behaviour for end of life?! Yes, this is why you should never Google these things but I'm keen to know anyone elses experience and insight.


Apologies once again for this lengthy post - if you made it this far! And appreciate any help here!

0 Kudos
New Contributor

Re: What is "normal" in recovery

Recovery can be like you described. I like Google as it teaches me heaps and given that most info is correct. Google Scholar is also good.

I helped my mum care for my dad, then I cared for her both had cancer. Now caring for partner with cancer.


My dad was tired towards end. My mum had 1 year extra due to treatment which was time she wanted. Yes she slowed up but still, I was lucky,  both parents sound in mind.

If your mum picks up or quietly slips away, it’s the love and care you can give to help you both feel strong and know the comfort is there.

‘I hope this helps. Sorry to hear and you keep positive for her and you.

0 Kudos
Frequent Contributor

Re: What is "normal" in recovery

Recovery will take time depending on the body's response. As to the condition of your mom, don't think otherwise. Trust and believe that everything would be fine. 

0 Kudos
Occasional Contributor

Re: What is "normal" in recovery

Thank you for your extensive caring  post🥰

My ex has had chemo and radio for 5 weeks prior to his surgery. He turned yellow, and very pale grey too, as the treatment affected his blood and liver. He just sat in his chair, all day, or slept. The worst side effect was his spirit.. He lot all interest in current affairs, human interactions, his family visiting. It's like the treatment drained his spirit to the point of having nothing to give and nothing to get. You're Mum sound similarly defeated and exhausted. At least in our case, my ex's tiredness and mental and emotional exhaustion had nothing to do with the cancer spreading (It did not spread or grow in that time). So perhaps it is the therapy ...the cancer helpline Australia 131120 might tell you? I don't know if you can access it from overseas....

0 Kudos
Post new topic
Talk to a health professional
Cancer Council support and information 13 11 20Mon - Fri 9am - 5pm
Cancer Information and Support

Online resources and support

Access information about support services, online resources and a range of other materials.

Caring for someone with cancer?

Find out what resources and support services are available to assist you.