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Thread: Need advice - Mom has stage 4 lung cancer and is still smoking

  1. #1
    Newbie New User
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    Apr 2012

    Need advice - Mom has stage 4 lung cancer and is still smoking

    She was diagnosed with lung cancer and bone cancer in late February. Was in the hospital for a week, and then started chemo because the tumor is inoperable. She had blood transfusions every 5 days for a few weeks, and had a PET scan last week. We go to get the results of that this Thursday.

    We thought she had quit smoking, but I saw her smoking outside this past Sunday. I did not confront her - was too angry and afraid of what I would say. At first I thought it was a one time thing - assumed she had gotten just one from a neighbor. Then my sister in law told me that she saw her smoking while she was driving by her house last week. So this isn't a one time thing. I am so angry I could scream. I feel I need to confront her about it before the doctor appt on Thursday. My Dad will be there, and he doesn't know. (yet) I want to tell the doctor because I want him to tell her just how bad this action is! Why is she going through chemo?? Why bother? I am so angry and sad right now. I am afraid to try to confront her because I am shaking just thinking about this. Maybe chicken out with a text message? Any advice welcome, please!

  2. #2
    Senior User
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Kermit3, first I am sorry to hear about your mother's diagnosis. I just lost my own father last week to this disease. Your mom and your family will have a few ups and downs through this process. Please do not take what I am about to say the wrong way. But, your mother obviously loves to smoke, she will be going thru an awful lot over the next few months. My advice to you and your family would be to let her continue to do what she loves to do. My father smoked up until 4 days before his death, his oncologist was well aware that he was smoking and pretty much agreed with my dad, at the point he was at with his cancer quitting would not have saved him. My dad was diagnosed on 2/2/2012 also with Stage IV lung Cancer (Adeno carcinoma) with mets thru out his body. I chose not to argue with my father about his smoking. He smoked for 61 years and I wasn't about to take the one thing he really enjoyed away from him.

    I'm hoping the PET Scan results you receive on Thursday show that the cancer has not spread. All I could do was support my dad thru out his remaining time with me and my family. My biggest battle was not the smoking, but his constant need to move around and be independent. But even then, I realized that this was my fathers way of coping with what was happening to him.

    I am very glad my father enjoyed his last few months spending time with me with no judgement at all from me or my brother and sister for his choices. I'm not saying you are judging your mom, so please don't think that. My suggestion to you would be to try and calmly talk with her to see why she want's to continue smoking. That habit is a very hard one to break, especially if the person smoking has been smoking for many many years like my father had.

    All I can do now is encourage my oldest son to stop smoking himself. He's 20 years old and watched what this illness did to his grandfather.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Take Care.
    71 year old Father diagnosed 2/2/2012 with Stage IV Lung Cancer NSCS with METS to the Brain, spine, bones, Adrenal Glands, Lymph Nodes, Liver, Pancreas, omentum.

    Heart Attack 2/19/2012
    Whole Brain Radiation and Radiation to the Spine 2/27/2012 completed 15 sessions on 3/16/2012
    Heart Attack 3/10/2012

    Passed away 3/26/2012[/B] I love you dad, you will be missed.


  3. #3
    Top User emilyloveslime's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    San Francisco
    You know, I've never been physically or emotionally addicted to anything (except food...I can't stop eating, haha), but I now that it is hard for some people to stop addictive habits, especially smoking. She may be smoking out of stress- a cancer diagnosis is really stressful! Think about it from her standpoint. You're assuming a lot of things right now, that she's smoking "on purpose", has smoked more than two cigarettes or doesn't care about her life. Maybe she does, but she's so stressed she can't stop. Maybe she's smoked only those two cigarettes! What do you know? Nothing, until you talk to her.

    I wouldn't "confront" her about it. Totally wrong way to approach it. I would *ask* her about it. Bring it up to her and tell her that you care about her and would love to see her quit smoking entirely. Give her care and give her love. She's a cancer patient. I am just a caretaker (of sorts) but let me tell you, cancer sucks.

    And if she really doesn't want to quit, you know what? Its her life. She can decide what to do with the rest of it. If she's one of those people that will continue to smoke throughout her disease, you can't really do anything about it than to support her the most you can through this journey.

    Boyfriend, 25, dx'ed Stage IV NSCLC 6/29/11. Malignant pleural effusion, liver/spine/lymph mets. Adenocarcinoma w/unknown primary! So confusing.

    Jul '11: 2 cycles Carboplatin/Alimta (failed)
    Oct '11: Docetaxol/ramucirumab/Xgeva/Neulasta
    Dec '12: Liver met growth
    Jan '13: 10+ brain mets, 2 wks of WBR
    Mar '13: CDK 4/6 inhibitor trial (failed)
    May '13: Tested ROS1+
    June '13: Xalkori clinical trial for ROS1+
    Aug '13: Liver mets gone, lung spots gone. Doing great so far!
    Mar '14: Leptomeningeal progression. Ommaya reservoir put in for intrathecal methotrexate.
    May '14: Tolerating chemo, hoping for good news...

    Blog: http://ros1positive.wordpress.com/

  4. #4
    Newbie New User
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Wow. Thank you both for your words of wisdom. Exactly what I needed to hear! lalle09, I am so sorry to hear about your Dad. And how quickly it went for him. Very sad. And you are right - I AM judging her!! Just didn't see it that way until you pointed it out. Emily, same thing. Even the word "confront" tells you how mad I am. And that isn't the right reaction. I realized that I am angry, and I've been angry for 6 years. She was told 6 years ago that she had COPD, and if she didn't quit, she would get lung cancer. When she was first diagnosed, she said to me "it's my own fault", and I said to her "No one deserves cancer". Thought I was so noble and compassionate at the time! Not so much now...but much better after reading what you both wrote. So a HUGE thank you for taking the time. It is truly appreciated and made a big difference to me.

  5. #5
    Regular User
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Hamden, CT
    Welcome Kermit3 though I am sorry that you need to be here! This disease is not easy as I just lost my mother a few weeks ago after only a few short months of diagnosis. Fortunately, my mom had actually switched to e-cigs about 3 months before the diagnosis and quit cold turkey the day of after over 40 years. I understand your frustration as I would have been furious if my mom continued. However, the previous posters are both right. This is one hell of a stressful thing to handle and if that's your mom's niche, for now, let it be. Unfortunately at stage 4, her quitting won't change a terrible amount, though may better her quality of life. I would also say ask her about it when you are calm and suggest alternatives like an e-cig. Don't fight with her though. If it will keep her spirits up and she feels like its the only way she will get through this - support her. The best thing you can do is support her. After you ask her about it, tell her you are behind her. Maybe having that support will help her quit. Best of luck!
    Mom, aged 52, was diagnosed 12/2011 with stage IV NSCLC large cell (eventually re-daignosed as squamous). She under went 3 rounds of chemo (carboplatin/taxol and then switched to etopiside/cisplatin). She unfortunately lost her battle 3/15/12. Now we have an angel looking out for us.

  6. #6
    Administrator Top User Didee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    NSW Australia
    I totally agree with the others. I am a smoker so I can relate to your mum. Many, many kudos to you for taking on board what the others have said! I certainly wouldn't quit as it would help me de stress as I have had that crutch for 40 years. Bit hard to quit at the most stressful time of life.
    I was rather gob smacked when I found out my cancer diagnosis has no causal link to smoking.(I felt I would have "deserved"that. Yes I know, no one deserves to have cancer.
    Hugs from Australia.
    Aussie, age 61
    1987 CIN 111. Cervix lasered, no further problems.

    Years of pain, bleeding, women's plumbing problems. TV ultrasound, tests, eventual hysterectomy 2007, fibroids in lining of Uterus.

    Dx Peripheral T Cell Lymphoma stage 2B bulky, aggressive Dec/09.
    6 chop14 and Neulasta.
    Clean PET April/10, 18 rads 36gy mop up. All done May 2010
    Iffy scan Nov. 2011. Scan Feb 2012 .still in remission.Still NED Nov 2012.
    Discharged Nov 2014.

    May/2012. U/sound, thyroid scan, FNB. Benign adenoma.

    Relapse Apr 2016. AITL. Some chemos then on to allo transplant. Onc says long remission was good. Still very fixable.

    SCT Aug 2016

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Top User
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Hi Kermit3, Welcome to our Forum but truly sorry that you need to be here. Don't be too hard on yourself....I know you have her best interest at heart but very glad you were open to other suggestions on ways to handle your Mom's smoking. I can share my experience with you. My Dad was also diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer with a met to his brain. Stage 4 is not operable. My Dad only had radiation to try to shrink the tumors. He smoked for over 60 years. I also smoked for over 30. My Dad was given a 6 month prognosis but as the eternal optimist...he figured he could at least get a year. We were all hoping for that as he was a very fit, active 82 year old. About month after the diagnosis he said to me..."We should both quit smoking" I reluctantly agreed. My Dad had moved in with me and I was stressed to the max. I was petrified of what was to come but at that point, I would have done anything for him. So the next day we both quit. It was really hard, especially with everything going on. About 2 weeks after we had quit, my Dad called me from my brothers to tell me he had some bad news...he had started smoking again. He said he didn't want to quit but if I started again, he said he would quit again to prevent me from smoking. It was one of his final gifts to me and mine to him. I told him that he had already done about as much damage as possible and likely wouldn't make any difference to his outcome. I, on the other hand had every reason to quit. There had to be at least one good thing to come from what he was going through. I stayed quit and he continued to smoke just a few cigarettes a day. It kept him calm during a very stressful time...at time when he was preparing himself to die. My big strong 82 year old Dad did not even make it to 6 months. He only lasted 10 weeks from the time he was diagnosed til the time we lost him. I am so glad that he found just a little comfort in whatever way he could during that time. I don't think I could have lived with myself if I had made him feel guilty on top of everything else he was going through. We had those final weeks together without secrets and for that I am grateful today. I'm guessing that your anger is mostly about you all having to face this disease and not so much about your Mom's smoking and that's natural. I'm glad you have found this forum and I hope we will be able to help you through as you help your Mom. God Bless.
    Caregiver to my Dad, who was diagnosed in June 2010 with Stage 1V NSCLC with single met to brain,
    He sadly lost his battle in August 2010 and we miss his smiling Irish blue eyes terribly.
    My Dad's story:

  8. #8
    Regular User
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Mexico City
    I lost an uncle recently to lung cancer, he smoked for over 50 years, even after getting the news about his lung cancer tumor was inoperable he kept smoking until a few weeks before his death and nobody in the family tryied to stop him from doing it, I'm by no chance an expert on this but I understand how do you feel.

  9. #9
    Experienced User fighting4dad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Tampa, FL
    This is such a difficult topic to discuss, especially with someone you love going through such a stressful time. I understand your frustrations 100%. Every one is different and handles life differently. I will just share my story:

    My dad was diagnosed with extensive SCLC back in February, and he was a 35 year smoker. He quit cold turkey after finding out the diagnoses. However, for my dad I think it was more the guilt and fear that forced him to quit. Now my mom is following suit (a lot more slowly I might add), but I think she is doing it for my dad. They have always done everything together. Growing up, I was always trying to get my parents to quit smoking and it took a LC diagnosed to be the final straw. I am frustrated, angry, pissed, etc, but I can't change anything that has happened now; I can only deal with the the present and move forward.

    Everyone is different and if your mom wants to quit, it will be on her own terms. Just be there to support her. Good luck to you both.
    Diagnosed 2/25/2012 with Extensive Small Cell Lung Cancer

    My very loving father passed away on 8/11/2012. I love you so much, Dad.

    Jeff A Coplan
    Loving Husband, Father, and Friend

    My Dad's Journey

  10. #10
    Top User Spouse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    I can understand how frustrating it is to have someone still indulge in something that could be affecting their health so negatively. But, adults (including patients) still do have choices. Try to release yourself from the negative thoughts about THEIR choices regarding THEIR health and treatment. It is their decision, after all.

    But one thing that should be considered by smokers ... cancer victim or not, is how smoking can affect anesthesia. Here is one article that gives some basic info, worthwhile speaking to the smoker's physician/surgeon about prior to considering surgery.

    Smoking: Should I Quit for Surgery and Anesthesia?

    Good luck, peaceful thoughts to all.


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