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84yr old considering surgery for stomach cancer

10 Mar 2019 18:19

I am an 84 year old woman but very fit and active. I have been diagnosed with stomach cancer but won't know until Friday 15th whether I can have an operation (it would be a full stomach removal). I am very afraid and wonder if I should have surgery at my age as at the moment I feel fit and well with no symptoms.  Is there anyone who is or has been in the same position and what was your decision? If you had surgery what was the outcome?

Re: 84yr old considering surgery for stomach cancer

10 Mar 2019 22:59 in response to Beffy

Hi there ...

Well your in a dilema ... trouble is no mater what others do, it really has to be your decision .. what I did was get all the info... the fors and against ... took a few days to weigh them all up .. as I'm 64 with many other on going health issues ... 

I had a breast cancer .. and was like you wondering which way to go ... I was extremely lucky .. I had a supportive surgeon and family that would be right there by me, no mater what I decided ... as my lump had got close to the surface and knew it would come through in time ... l agreed to the operation .. that was a no brainer ...l was again so lucky not to need chemo .. but I weighed up the radiotherapy offered and declined as my health wouldn't take it ... but I agreed to tamoxifen tablets for the foreseeable future ..  everything was my decision. . Right or wrong it was down to me .. I'm glad I took that path .. as I'm still doing well down the road ..

If i were you I'd ask exactly what the cancer is .. where it is .. has it spread ... and what percentage it would give you having treatment to not having treatment ... take it all in and weigh it up .. some want everything no matter age or health .. some want quality of life over quantity ... but what ever you decide .. don't look back ... and know it was your decision. .  If only we had a crystal ball. .. 

Take care ... hope you get other points of views ... but in the end it has to be what your comfortable with ..   Chrissie ❤

Re: 84yr old considering surgery for stomach cancer

11 Mar 2019 00:47 in response to Beffy

Hi Beffy

sorry to hear of your diagnosis, I understand how scared you must feel. 

I am only 46 and was diagnosed with stomach cancer in August last year, since then I have had 4 rounds of pre operation chemo, a total gastrectomy early January and have now moved on to more chemo. 

I know your age is a consideration for you but as you say you are fit, I can tell you my own experience of the surgery, whilst I was fit upon diagnosis chemo considerably affected me, having said that I was able to gain weight in preparation for the operation knowing weight loss would be coming after the operation. I was in hospital for 8 days in total, I felt weak, I was not able to eat for a few days and the soft purées for 2 weeks, that was honestly the hardest part. Emotionally it was harder than physically, I was surprised to be up and about the day after surgery and not in pain that couldnt be managed easily. 

I personally found the first 5 weeks the hardest but tolerable, compared to the current chemo I’m having it was a walk in the park. Learning what and when and how much to eat is a bit tricky at times but I’ve not had any major problems, it’s actually surprising how well we can live without a stomach. On my ward there were women of all ages having similar surgeries, I didn’t see anyone who seemed to be in any distress. 

How independent are you? Do you have support at home for after the operation? If you were to refuse the operation has your team discussed what the other treatments are?

Since my diagnosis I’ve spoken to many people with stomach or oesophageal cancer, I have not encountered anyone who has said their quality of life is poor, food is still to be enjoyed even a little wine, exercise, holidays all carry on. My surgeon told me his eldest patient was 76 who went on to climb Kilimanjaro a few years later and is still going 10 years on. 

I respect your decision, as Chriss says arm yourself with all the information.  If I can be of any further help please contact me. One website which is useful is the oesophageal Patients Association site, there is so much information there about surgery, recovery etc. 

Very best wishes to you xx

Re: 84yr old considering surgery for stomach cancer

11 Mar 2019 15:30 in response to Beffy

Hi Beffy,

I am a 76 year old man and had partial gastrectomy about 7 weeks ago. My experience is that after about the first 3 weeks I could enjoy most food (even better because I could now eat fatty and sweet snacks). Watching TV and surfing the Web on the tablet is not a bad life. But I understand that full recovery may take months even a couple of years. 

Of course finally it is your decision. However as written before it is essential to have somebody to help you all along.

Best wishes and Regards. 

Re: 84yr old considering surgery for stomach cancer

13 Mar 2019 20:11 in response to Chriss

Hi Chrissie,Thank you for your reply and helpful advice. So Friday will be the big day when I find out what options I have. Feeling very scared. Trying to find out as much as I can... As you say, it's my decision and I hope I make the right one.

Beffy xxx

Re: 84yr old considering surgery for stomach cancer

13 Mar 2019 20:16 in response to Mikeswife

Thanks so much for,your reply and I wish you all the best with your recovery. Your post was helpful to me. I would like to know how the pre op chemo affected you? Did you cope ok or did it make you feel very ill. I am just worried about the chemo because I am a lot older than you, will I cope with it at my age, even though I am fit and well.... What stage are you at now and have you lost a lot of weight. 

Wishing you all the very best for a full recovery, 

Beffy

Re: 84yr old considering surgery for stomach cancer

13 Mar 2019 20:20 in response to pcd

Hi there and thanks so much for your post. This is helpful as you are closer to my age. Did you have pre op Chemo and if so, how did it affect you? Was it worse than the surgery and would you go through that again? 

You say it's about 7 weeks ago,so am wondering how you are now - can you go out, walk, enjoy life normally? Have you lost much weight? 

Wishing you all the very best for your recovery,

Beffy 

 

Re: 84yr old considering surgery for stomach cancer

14 Mar 2019 23:19 in response to Beffy

Hi Beffy, I am pleased to be able to give you any helpful information I can. 

By two weeks after the surgery I lost one stone. Since then the weight has been stable.

The multi disciplinary team (MDT) which examined my biopsy samples and CT scan decided I did not need chemo before the surgery. After the surgery the surgeon said the oncologist may consider chemo - but I have not yet heard anything.

I am generally fine but I still have slight pain/discomfort in the surgery area. I sit out when it is sunny but have not gone out walking. I can walk a long distance as I found out for my outpatient's appointment but still do not feel normal regarding the stomach.

Good luck for Friday. Best wishes and Regards.