Ask Dr. Giles: My mom's afraid of chemotherapy

Benjamin asks:

My mother was just dx with Cholangiocarcinoma 3 weeks ago and my family and I are trying to get our heads around it. My Mother is 54 and wasn’t feeling good since December, she started having abdominal pain and losing weight. My mother is scared about the pain and is on the fence to take the Chemo. We have talked with the Doctor about the drugs and the side effects and she feels as though she doesn’t want to prolong what is bound to happen anyway. She has a 8 inch by 4 inch tumor in her liver and being that large it is inoperable. I am wondering if you have ever talked with anyone that never did the Chemo and I know that every cancer is different, the doctor is giving her 2-3 months (median) without Chemo and maybe a year with…I am in the military and live in Guam, My mother is in NY and I have two other siblings that live in NY and FL. WE support my mother and all her wishes…I just want her last months on earth to be pain free and some what a good quality of life.   Please let me know if you have known anyone else that didn’t take the Chemo.


Choosing a treatment path is a very difficult and complicated task.  It sounds like your mother has a specific path she wants to take and you are wondering if that is the best path for her quality of life and overall welfare.  As you have mentioned, it is important to consider all sorts of variables when deciding upon the way to proceed.  Here at you’ll find patients and their loved ones who have followed any one of a number of treatment options.  Use the Patient Support options of the website to gather information and interact with others.  Those who populate our website are the true treasure of this organization and an invaluable resource.

Ultimately, however, it is important to take the time to clearly understand your mother’s wishes and then to align yourself with them.  She will be ever grateful for that demonstration of love, support, and loyalty.