Too Old To Be Cured?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Gillette, Feb 14, 2008.

  1. Gillette

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2006
    Messages:
    8,309
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    14
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Nova Scotia
    My mother was recently diagnosed as having Myelodysplasic syndrome.

    Myelodysplastic syndromes - MayoClinic.com

    We have both gone through the process of learning about the disease, it's symptoms and progression as well as it's treatments and the risks associated with. We were mentally prepared for a lengthy ordeal, finding a bone marrow donor match, chemotherapy, recovery period and possible graft/host disease. What we were not braced for was what the haematologist told us.

    "No."

    At her age my mother would not even be considered for a bone marrow transplant. Period.

    Ouch.

    It was explained to us that at her present stage, even if she were 23, she would not at this point be a candidate. Okay, she's not ill enough, kinda good news, I guess. Understood.

    It was explained that the amount of chemo for a transplant was considerably more than that used in cancer patients because it has to kill off your existing bone marrow completely. Understood. And that her chances of survival, particularly at her age, were very poor. Understood.

    I even understand the portion of the doctor's creed, "First, do no harm".

    What I think we are both having difficulty understanding is that if a patient, regardless of age, understands the risks involved and chooses to take that chance, how is it that the medical communtity can simply say no. When she does reach the point that the only way to keep her alive is with a transplant how is it that they are allowed to determine that she dies by the disease rather than possibly dying in an attempt to prolong her life?

    Better unplug all those hyperbaric chambers with anyone over 65 in them, it's a waste of electricity. We may discover a way to live forever but it'll only be available to those young enough. [/rant]
     
  2. Osiris

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2007
    Messages:
    2,725
    Likes Received:
    5
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Wherever the dolphins are going
    You are in my prayers Gillette.

    This may sound shallow, but I think I know why they won't do the treatment even if the patient is willing.

    Fear of a malpractice suit.

    I know that my mother agreed to some invasive chemotherapy to battle her cancer, and one idiot doctor not only did it, but he inadvertently contributed to my mother's death by causing her rads to be maxed out when they finally had the cancer in remission.

    Could I have sued him even though my mother did consent? Absolutely!

    That is why doctors are scared. Not of the lives they are trying to save, but by the lives left behind when one dies.
     
  3. Rugbypup

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Messages:
    3,194
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    19
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Same thing happens in the UK. In fact today in the news they reported how parts of the NHS have to let someone go blind in one eye before they would attempted to save the second from a condition that effects both eyes just as badly.

    It's extremely sad.

    If you can afford private medical, it seems the only way to go in this day and age.

    Your health is as good as you can afford, and we bitch at China for their human rights.
     
  4. DC_DEEP

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Messages:
    9,029
    Likes Received:
    12
    I'm so sorry to hear that, Gillette.

    It is a little confusing when you can go request a purely cosmetic, vain surgery (lip implants?!?) but are refused access to a possibly life-saving procedure.

    I understand that a doctor sometimes has to weigh possible risk against possible success in any procedure (he is, after all, the expert) but sometimes, informed consent in something like a bone marrow transplant should consider patient willingness in the equation.

    Osiris, the possibility of malpractice litigation could be a factor, but most doctors in a situation like this would have a waiver available. If signed and witnessed, such a waiver could protect a doctor from a malpractice suit. I'm sure that's not the reason for the denial.
     
  5. ZOS23xy

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2007
    Messages:
    5,073
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    directly above the center of the earth
    Sorry for the pain you are going through.

    My Father is 87. He has leukemia. He went through chemo before, and the disabilities he got were damaging. He has opted to not go through it again, realizing the chemo would further weaken him, and kill him outright.

    So he gives us his attention now, where he used to be stand offish, and is getting his time and affairs in order.

    You don't mention your mother's age.

    Hope you can deal with it, carefully. And spend time and talk about things.
     
  6. Osiris

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2007
    Messages:
    2,725
    Likes Received:
    5
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Wherever the dolphins are going
    Valid point, but in the case I encountered, I had four attorneys tell me they could easily get the permission overturned. Were I in it for just money, I would have done it. Money wasn't going to bring mom back so why relive the pain.

    I guess this is why people like Farrah Fawcett go overseas for treatment. There is not that overhanging legal liability. Have they changed the consents so that they are now iron clad?
     
  7. dong20

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2006
    Messages:
    6,130
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    The grey country
    But even were such a waiver signed, would it protect against negligence?

    I ask because in some cases, 'informed' consent aside it could be an obvious (even if unjustified) angle - the doctor was negligent in allowing the procedure to be performed at all - i.e. how could a layperson really give 'informed' consent?

    Fear of litigation is costing lives, sometimes drive by people's inability or unwillingness to accept that sometimes, despite the best efforts of everyone involved, things can and do go wrong and the consequences can be tragic.

    Sadly, a growing factor in this downward spiral appears to be simple greed and a misplaced desire for vengeance. Bad things happen, people get ill, people die and it's not always someone else's fault.

    Gillette, nothing I can say would help but I hope you achieve a positive outcome.
     
  8. DC_DEEP

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Messages:
    9,029
    Likes Received:
    12
    dong and Osiris, I'm not talking about a simple "regardless of what happens, the doctor is not responsible" kind of waiver - I'm talking about the doctor, the patient, and the patient's advocate (adult child or whatever) discussing the pros and cons, risks and benefits, and success rate. The anesthesiologist misplacing a decimal point in figuring dosages, or the surgeon leaving a watch inside the patient - those are negligence and malpractice. Neither would be protected in a case like that, nor should they be. But if a patient went into a procedure, informed that success would be 50-50, and died on the table without negligent treatment, the doctor should not be liable. Things like that can be verified.

    I think my Mom's death was due to a new medication she had received two weeks before. I never told my siblings of my suspicions, because I feared they would at least investigate a lawsuit, and I didn't want that to happen. They could have claimed her doctor was negligent in prescribing that medication, but actually, he was not. In her case, the benefit outweighed the risk.
     
  9. camper joe

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    2,839
    Likes Received:
    14
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    North Carolina
    From my limited understanding, there is a point where the risk of dying from the disease is less than the risk from trying to be cure from it, even though she appears to be in overall good health. Or maybe a better way to put it is, the doctors are saying, she probably out live the disease. I hope that makes senses. But I would encourage you to seek another opinion before taking this one doctor's.
    Both your mom and you have my best wishes.
     
  10. dong20

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2006
    Messages:
    6,130
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    The grey country
    I know, and neither was I. I was just suggesting that the definition of negligence is in the eye of the beholder, and such a determination is often made in hindsight and with the added sting of grief.

    I'm sorry to hear about that DC, that must have been a tough call.

    The scenario I was pondering was this - had a waiver of the sort you referred to have been signed after a discussion around the risk of said medication - I was wondering if, regardless of such a waiver the possibility of a lawsuit would have been entirely negated - that there was a real risk the doctor could be sued as negligent for even suggesting the medication, had applied undue pressure in it's use, held out 'false hope', was in the pay of the drug company but didn't declare it and such like.

    It's probably unlikely but surely not impossible and that small risk may be enough for some practitioners, that's all I was saying, obviously not very clearly.:smile:
     
  11. Gillette

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2006
    Messages:
    8,309
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    14
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Nova Scotia
    I'm glad you mentioned this, this is closer to the heart of this thread.

    I think it should be the person who is in possesion of the life in question to decide whether it's worth the risk of treatment.

    I find it mildly amusing that we're being told, 'We won't save your life because there is the possibility of you dying', by the same branch of science who brought us anti-anxiety drugs with nervousness as a possible side effect.:rolleyes:

    Thank you all for the good wishes.

    We're not at the grief stage yet, though. While her platelet count is low enough for concern and monitoring she is not suffering any ill effects. Should her count drop below 80 and problems manifest, blood transfusions
    are still an option. She still has plenty of years in her.

    She's 66, btw. (look at that, one digit short of the beast!)

    Something else that we've been looking into is experimental treatments and possibly getting her into one of the study groups. I'm wondering if we'll get a similar answer there.
     
  12. Ethyl

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2006
    Messages:
    5,476
    Albums:
    2
    Likes Received:
    495
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Philadelphia (PA, US)
    It's a valid question and one that isn't explored enough. You know the medical community has lost its vision and purpose when a doctor has to weigh the risk of suggesting alternative measures or treatments for fear of being sued. It's not uncommon for three physicians to differ on proper treatment if one were to seek other opinions. As you mentioned, it depends on what the physician hopes to gain or avoid in the situation.

    G - you have a PM waiting for you. Do what you need to do for yourself. Stay strong.
     
  13. Not_Punny

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2007
    Messages:
    5,542
    Albums:
    2
    Likes Received:
    1,204
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    California
    Yikes. Sorry to hear it, Gillette.

    Your mom has a LOT of life potential left, and it seems a shame to spend it under the influence of something that could possibly be resolved.

    You may or may not want to consider it, but doctors in different countries have different policies.

    Costa Rica, for example, has a really good (and reasonable) health system. (My ex has a house down there, so I'm a little familiar with the country.)
     
  14. Gonzo3

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2008
    Messages:
    1,146
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    World wide dudes ,world wide
    ....Sorry to hear it Gillette.
     
  15. Industrialsize

    Staff Member Moderator Gold Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Messages:
    24,294
    Albums:
    2
    Likes Received:
    2,167
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    United States
    I am a Bone Marrow transplant nurse:

    First of all, how old is your mom? I've seen bone marrow transplants done on people in their 60's as long as their underlying heath was ok. There are treatments OTHER than Bone Marrow Transplants for Mylelodysplasia that are ususally tried first before transplant. If your mom is healthy you might seek a second opinion. There are hospitals that SPECIALIZE in Bone marrow Transplants and that's where you want to go. People who don't do them regularly are often not aware of new protocols and treatment plans.

    That being said, I can tell you that the Chemotherapy prior to Bone Marrow Transplant is one of the harshest, most difficult procedures to endure. IT involves months of the worst misery you can imagine. Even under the best of circumstances, things may not go well. I hope you don't think I'm being harsh, I'm just trying to be truthful. I see you live in Canada. I don't know how health insurance works there, but often times in the USA, insurance companies will deny coverage for a bone marrow transplant for elderly people. They're just playing the numbers game and seeing that the outcomes for bone marrow in the elderly are often not good. Patients in the USA will often self finance their transplant in such cases. The hospital I worked at required a payment of 350,000 dollars from patients who self financed.

    I hope i've been of some help. Good luck with your mom and feel free to pm me if you have any more questions.
     
  16. Hippie Hollow Girl

    Verified Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Messages:
    613
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    21
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Austin Texas
    Verified:
    Photo
    Gillette,

    I see that you are in Nova Scotia......is this what the Canadian dr.'s told you or is this from US (Mayo Clinic)?

    Just curious. My mother in law was diagnosed about 7 years ago with something called Multiple Myeloma and it sounds kind of simular......Anyways she had to have a bone marrow transplant and or a stem cell transplant and she is in remission......has been for 6 years now. And she is about 68 years old. Sam Walton (who owned Wal-mart) had multiple myeloma and he poured a lot of money into the University of Arkansas. And that is where my mother in law has received all her treatment. I would look into them and see if there is anything they can do for your mother. I know without treatment we definately would not have had this long with my mother in law. The treatment she went through was really rough but it did buy her some extra time here on this earth. She did it for her family. If she hadn't she would not have seen 5 of her grandchildren. Her cancer is not curable.....it will come back.

    Anyways I know your mother's situation is probably different......but what can it hurt to try?

    It is expensive. My mother in law had great insurance. But she quickly hit the lifetime maximum pretty fast.

    Good luck!
     
  17. Axcess

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2007
    Messages:
    1,648
    Likes Received:
    0
    Gender:
    Male
    Sorry to hear about that. Be carefull with doctors . Many doctors kill many patients with their mistakes. My mother was one of them . She start with a medicine and ended depending of many pills to live because the secondary effects of some pills damaged other organs functions.:mad::mad::mad::smile:
     
Draft saved Draft deleted