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Lung cancer?


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#1 BWretched

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 04:56 PM

I'm building/outlining a story in which a character has lung cancer and is hospitalized. This character isn't my MC, nor will he even been seen very much, but he, and his terminal cancer, are catalysts for the events of the story. I'm planning on it starting just on the day when he's hospitalized and I do intend for him to die, unfortunately. I'm wondering some basics:

 

Terms I might use that are repeated from his teenage brother's perspective. (the story is YA and mostly from this character's perspective)

Reasons that lead up to longer term hospitalization rather than just going in for chemo appoints regularly a la breaking bad. (story takes place over a couple of weeks)

Any sort of equipment that might commonly be around him or in use for him and, in general, how he might look, react, or be feeling physically. (hot/cold, numb/stabbing pains, etc.)

And any other info anyone might want to give.

 

It's a hard topic I want to get a lot of information on.


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#2 Thrash

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 08:19 PM

People who suffer from lung cancer are at a highly increased risk for pneumonia, which can be deadly much more quickly than the cancer itself, making pneumonia the immediate cause of death.  Chemo or radiation can also weaken the lungs and make it harder to fight the infection. This would be the most likely scenario given the relatively short timeline you've set out and that the character is hospitalized for a part of that time. Pneumonia decreases the oxygen level in the blood because fluid prevents absorption. This means the patient would be on oxygen (nose tube) and oxygen levels would be monitored closely, (100 is healthy, 90-100 is safe, 70-90 is worrisome, below 70 is dangerous). The patient will likely also be intubated as things get worse. (Tube to the lungs) If so, sedatives and painkillers are given in conjunction with fluids since the patient can't eat with the tube in. Intubation is a scary escalation--patient can't talk, but is intermittently aware and communicates by writing, but sometimes the writing doesn't make a lot of sense because of the poor sleep and drugs.

 

My mother developed BOOP--a autoimmune form of pneumonia--after receiving radiation for breast cancer (they did say it wasn't related...but it was worse in the lung under the breast that was radiated...) and it was horrifying (and I was 30, not a teen, at the time) .  I stayed up with her a couple nights because she'd wake up and because of the drugs, not remember right away what was happening, so I'd have to tell her and remind her. (It would only take a couple seconds for her to remember). She would write me notes that sometimes made little to no sense, and she was clearly frustrated that she couldn't communicate. And sometimes I couldn't read her handwriting at all. There were alarms that would go off if her O2 level dropped below 85, if her IV was empty, and others for no apparent reason that I could see so it's near-constant noise. But she wasn't totally out of it--they used reduced sedatives during the day and she could follow the plot of TV shows and write more coherent notes. (For my mom, it was making sure we were all eating enough because that's who she is.)



#3 BWretched

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 07:58 PM

People who suffer from lung cancer are at a highly increased risk for pneumonia, which can be deadly much more quickly than the cancer itself, making pneumonia the immediate cause of death.  Chemo or radiation can also weaken the lungs and make it harder to fight the infection. This would be the most likely scenario given the relatively short timeline you've set out and that the character is hospitalized for a part of that time. Pneumonia decreases the oxygen level in the blood because fluid prevents absorption. This means the patient would be on oxygen (nose tube) and oxygen levels would be monitored closely, (100 is healthy, 90-100 is safe, 70-90 is worrisome, below 70 is dangerous). The patient will likely also be intubated as things get worse. (Tube to the lungs) If so, sedatives and painkillers are given in conjunction with fluids since the patient can't eat with the tube in. Intubation is a scary escalation--patient can't talk, but is intermittently aware and communicates by writing, but sometimes the writing doesn't make a lot of sense because of the poor sleep and drugs.

 

My mother developed BOOP--a autoimmune form of pneumonia--after receiving radiation for breast cancer (they did say it wasn't related...but it was worse in the lung under the breast that was radiated...) and it was horrifying (and I was 30, not a teen, at the time) .  I stayed up with her a couple nights because she'd wake up and because of the drugs, not remember right away what was happening, so I'd have to tell her and remind her. (It would only take a couple seconds for her to remember). She would write me notes that sometimes made little to no sense, and she was clearly frustrated that she couldn't communicate. And sometimes I couldn't read her handwriting at all. There were alarms that would go off if her O2 level dropped below 85, if her IV was empty, and others for no apparent reason that I could see so it's near-constant noise. But she wasn't totally out of it--they used reduced sedatives during the day and she could follow the plot of TV shows and write more coherent notes. (For my mom, it was making sure we were all eating enough because that's who she is.)

 

Thanks so much for the detailed information. I'm really sorry your mother had to experience such a thing and that you did as well in as a result. It all sounds so difficult to even imagine. I hope things are doing much better now.


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#4 Thrash

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Posted 01 March 2017 - 10:24 AM

You're welcome and thank you, yes, she made a full recovery.



#5 BWretched

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 01:13 PM

You're welcome and thank you, yes, she made a full recovery.

 

I'm glad to hear. :)


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