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If you don't help yourself why should other people help


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Hello to eveyone I just joined this board.I have a family member that has SCLC he is very important to me. He is on this board so I dont want to say who he is but I have a few questions to ask if you guys can help that would be great.

So he has SCLC and is a smoker heavy for 30 something years and he says I want to live and I am going to do what I have to do to get better and I am thinking great and as his family we are going to be ther for him. I dont want to say when he found out he got this horrible diease because I really don't want anyone to know who I am talking about.

So my father calls me on the phone to ask if I can take him to Chemo and I said yes no problem. We go and it last about 2 hours. I am seeing all of these people going through the same thing he is. I am not sure what each kind of cancer they have but I know that they are all going through a horrible time in ther life.

So when we are leaving and he is weak we get into the car and as soon as we get in he starts smoking and it hit me all at once his he kidding and he says he going to do everything he can to get better well how about stop smoking. so I ask him in a kind way why are you still smoking? He says he needs it asfter chemo because it was hard and he is so upset well I can understand that but my god you have SCLC and you got it because you smoke so maybe you should stop. He goes on to tell me He is going to die and he needs them. NEEDS them are you kidding you NEED to put them in the trash and give your lungs a break

So let me see if I have this right he will go to chemo and radation and take his meds and do all the test that they ask him to do.But he won't stop smoking. So how crazy is that. I let it go for a while thinking who am I to say anything to him my god he has cancer and the worst kind you can have.

About a week later that was yesterday I ask my father why is he still smoking and why don't you say something to him. He said he tried and got the same answer I did. So I ask how much is he smoking? Is it just after Chemo and he said no its all the time he said that he has not cut back at all.

So I told my father that he should try and speak with the doctor and he said he did and the doctor told him that he should stop smoking not because it was going to cure him of this cancer but that it would help his lung not work so hard and keep his blood preasure stable and it could really give him more time.

So I ask all of you SCLC are there more of you out there that think its ok to still smoke and if you please tell me why.

For my family member I hope you are not upset that I joined this board to ask a few questions. You are important to me and I want to see you fight this diease but you need to stop smoking this I am sure about.

I don't mean to upset anyone and I know that I am new but I guess I am a little upset that he thinks there is no reason to stop smoking.

The reason should be to live and for your family and most important for you.

Thank you all for your time and I hope that know one is upset that I am asking this question

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It's nice of you to take him to chemo and give him some moral support, but it is not nice to put strings on it.

I know of someone who had triple bypass and his doctor directly attributed it to his heavy smoking. Not lung cancer, but major heart surgery. He quit smoking for about two years and is smoking again. He's ashamed of it, the smoking, and I empathize with him. I don't condone his smoking, but I am not walking in his shoes, either. No value judgment. What do I do? Repeat to myself that it IS his life and there is nothing I can do to make him stop smoking, I've been trying for as long as I can remember and it's NOT about ME.

He has lung cancer, he smokes. He wants to live, he smokes. He has far bigger issues than "he smokes" and believe me, he KNOWS that smoking is not at all good for him. His doctor will have explained all of that to him. You are adding to his guilt and his shame and that could be triggering more smoking...my thought? Just lay off. Love him as he is, warts and all. It's not about you, it really isn't. He smokes, for some reason, he can't quit. Some people do, some people don't but I'll bet that everyone tries at some time.

If you are a non-smoker, though, you do not have to "let" him smoke in your car. No one smokes in mine.

I hope you can work through your opinions and give him what he needs at this time, love and compassion. He SHOULD stop smoking, but if he doesn't, it's not a reason to stop treating him with love and respect.

Been there,


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First of all, I'm so sorry you are dealing with this and that family member is so sick. It's great that you are helping your family member by taking them to chemo. That's important, needed support.

The beginning of the journey with this stuff leaves you reeling, doesn't it? Mad, Sad, Angry... I channeled my anger in lots of different weird ways--at people who were insensitive, at insurance companies, at all sorts of things.

My Mom was a smoker too (though she had NSCLC). When she was diagnosed she *Tried* to stop smoking. But it was really, really hard. My Dad, her primary caregiver is still a smoker. Mom eventually quit, and Dad quit smoking inside.

Cigarettes are so addicting. I've talked to poeple who have dealt with alcoholism and drug abuse that tell me that for them smoking is the hardest addiction to kick. That says a lot to me.

The way I thought of it was this way: My folks had just been hit with the hardest thing that they'd ever been hit with in their lives. One of the ways they have coped for years and years was to smoke. If they were edgy, they smoked. If they were sad they smoked.

Now... when confronted with the hardest thing they'd ever dealt with how difficult would it be to quit?? VERY. That coping mechanism would have been gone.

Your family member needs you now. They need your love, your support, and your compassion--not your judgement, and certainly not anger. Cancer teaches us to do the important thins while we still can. To be gentle with one another whenever possible.

Be gentle with your family member. Be understanding. Don't harp on the smoking issue--don't you think he's heard it ALL before? It is debilitating to feel as if you are blamed for your own disease. Don't do that to your family member.

I know that's not your intention, and I know it's hard not to be angry. But realize that at this point in the game, the CANCER is the enemy. Help your family member to fight THAT with all his might.

I'm sorry you have to be here, but welcome to the boards. I hope we'll see you around more!

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I'm so sorry you guys are going through this. It's such an awful thing to have to handle. And, generally, you're probably right - quitting smoking is a good idea. That said, I have to agree - your helping your dad can't be conditional right now. I understand your anger, I do. But he IS helping himself, just not EXACTLY as you would like him to.

I know this is presumptuous of me, I don't know you - but your 'anger' at the smoking sounds like 100% fear to me. You're scared you're going to lose him, so, if you're anything like me, you're looking for something you can control.

He's doing the best he can with a horrible situation. Maybe at some point he will be ready tp quit. Make sure he knows you're there for him no matter what. Unconditional love is not as hard as it looks.

I can tell you, quitting smoking under normal circumstances was TORTURE for me. I can't imagine doing it under the stress of newly diagnosed LC.

Hang in there, yourself.



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Dixie...Welcome to our group. I know there are many people on this board that probably have more valuable information to add that I do, however, I'm going to throw my two cents worth in. First of all, you do realize that not all people have lung cancer because of smoking? In my husband's case, I'm sure smoking was the biggest cause. Like your brother, Dennis had sclc. He had been a smoker for almost 30 years. After a chest xray showed a possibility of lung cancer, Dennis threw down his cigarettes and never smoked again. Of course, the damage caused by smoking was already done and I'm sure quitting smoking was "too little, too late." However, I am glad that he was able to quit. Your brother probably well knows what he is up against. He's an adult and is able to make decisions about his body. I realize your concern is an expression of love and caring but you cannot make him quit smoking. If this is causing tension between the two of you, I would guess the stress is taking as much of a toll on his body right now as is the smoking. Please don't misunderstand. I'm by no means an advocate of smoking and I do realize your concerns. I would just rethink this and try to make life as easy as possible for your brother right now. I'm so glad you have joined our group.

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Hi Dixie,

I'm sorry you have to be here , but glad you joined us. Your frustration is understandable , but I think you've gotten some good opinions here. I would like to add, as an ex smoker (quit 2years 4 months ago), it is the hardest thing I ever did in my life. Smoking is mentally and physically addicting. This site may help you understand. www.whyquit.com It helped save my life..

I hope you will find a lot of information here to help you and we are happy to have you with us. There's lots of information love and support for everyone here. Welcome to our wonderful online "family".

God Bless,


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I agree with all of the above responses. Val, you have put it so well. Smoking is an addicition. My husband smoked and it was hard to see him NOT try to quit after being diagnosed with Lung cancer. But, I was not going to harp on him and add more stress to what he already was going thru. He is gone now, and he knew I wanted him to quit. But, he knew it would be his decision--not mine. So--don't waste your time making your relationship with him rocky over smoking. Give him love; he is addicted to nicotine. It is very difficult to quit. I don't smoke but I saw the pain in my husband's eyes when he was so very ill(two weeks before his death) and he he had to have that cigarette. :( Coughing and hacking, having to remove his oxygen to smoke. How terrible of life is that?? Be kind and understanding. God bless, Nancy C

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First of all let me say "Welcome." Smoking is a very tough habit to break. We had a very lenghty discussion on it a while back. Do a search and you will find the post for it.

Second, and I'm not taking sides here, 30 plus years is a long time. I smoked for 35 years also. Yes, there is no question that he should stop now. You must remember tho, you can't live his life for him no more then he can live yours.

There is no question. Cancer is a deadly disease. The only advice I can offer you is to accept what he chooses to do. Life is short. Cherish every moment you have with him. Don't waste it trying to change him.

Visit us again and let us know how things are. We Care.

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I can understand your fear and frustration. My siser-in-law recently died from an advanced sarcoma (nothing to do with lung cancer.) She cried and told us all how much she wanted to live, even made her husband promise he wouldn't let them "pull the plug" even if she was brain dead.

She wouldn't do any of the physical therapy she needed so she could get out of the hospital bed in the living room. She also decided she didn't want to eat after she had chemo and "lived" on cigarettes and black coffee. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital several times when her heart almost stopped. Her mother (who was living with her) her husband and her friends were all beside themselves with fear and guilt and helplessness. It was awful.

I found myself feeling frustrated with her and asking the same thing you asked - "Why should anyone wear themselves out to help her if she won't help herself?"

I quit smoking the day I was diagnosed and you couldn't MAKE me have a cigarette now! I thought, "I'm doing EVERYTHING I can do fight this and improve my health. How DARE she just throw her life away like that and then tell us she wants us to help her live?"

Luckily for me, I was able to open my mind and soften my heart and realise it was her life and her right to live what was left of it in the way that caused her the least misery and discomfort. And our role was to love her and be there for her even if she made it darn hard! :wink:

I still think it's sad because she was only 39 and it seemed like, no matter what she said, she had already given up. But that's my opinion about another person's experience. She had to live it; I didn't. If Michelle, my sister-in-law, was spared anxiety she didn't think she could handle, then it's something I just have to accept.

Hang in there. Share your anger and frustration here and try to let your father be - even if his choice seems crazy to you. Cindi's quote about teaching a pig to sing is spot on!


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You received some good advice here from all the previous replies.

I understand your frustration and fear. But, you have to let your anger go, for it will not change things.

The only one who can make the change has to be him. Not you... It's his life, he does what he does. It may just keeping his sanity through all of this.

He probably feels he is doing something to help prolong it. That being the chemo. He is going through chemo. HOORAY for him, so you see, in his own way he is doing something. He just never meant not to smoke. That is something you assume. And righfully so, I understand your frustations. That's your dad, you want him to fight, to be there for you. I would feel the same way. But I also would have to respect his decisions, as they are his.

Dixie, you heard the old saying, "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink". Need I say more.

You must let this go Dixey girl, and just spend as much time as you can with him. Support him in any decision he makes, as it is his decision. You may not like it but you have to show him respect, he's you dad. He deserves it.

Let it go...show your love, for that's what he needs right now. You will start to feel so much better! Take a day or take some time, and make it a Dixie day. Just do something for yourself. A manicure/pedicure, hair done, facial whatever. But you have to do this for yourself, to just relax, for a day or for a little while. You need that. You deserve it too, you were given a shock.

Take care honey, thinking of you and hoping your start to feel a litte better then you did when you first posted. :wink:

Sorry this was so long, sometimes I tend to get carried away. :roll::wink:


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The title of your thread is:


The answer is :

Because that is what you do.

You help.

You accept that if any of us had to be deserving and 'worthy' of love and help none of us would ever get any.

You just do it.



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Thank you Dixie for a great post. You will find lots of help and support through this difficult time. I am really thankful you brought this up and had so many replies as it has also helped me see that I too am not as alone as I thought I was. My husband stopped smoking for about a month after each of his heart attacks and again after he found he had LC. But he is back at it only cutting his smoking in half. (3-4 ppd to 1/2-1 ppd) YES it is SCARY to watch someone with LC continue to smoke, but like the others, I just offer support. He KNOWS I would be thrilled if he would quit smoking, but I don't bring it up anymore. He has been told of every possible problem and risk associated with continuing to smoke, by every magazine article, newspaper article, every doctor, and each and every one of my children, he knows!

So I just focus on what I can do and try not to focus on what I can't do day by day.

Also keep in mind we all go through the emotional "stages" of cancer. I don't know them all, but I know it starts with "Denial" and "Anger" is in there someplace...maybe you are at different stages emotionally... I know we are over here.

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Hello Dixie and Welcome to the board.

I have NSCLC. I quit immediately. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Sometimes when the news was the worst is when I wanted a cigarette the most. There are still times I want one. And there are times I still reach for them. It has been a little over three years since I quit. Now do I think I would have done as well as I have if I had not quit? My opinion is NO.

Just let your Dad know how much you love him.

Best Wishes,


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I struggle with kind of the same battle. My mom quit smoking about 2 years before she was diagnosed with SCLC (she smoked for about 30 years). I am, unfortunately, still a smoker, and it is such a battle with the ironical stress of "I just want to smoke a cigarette" and "This is what my mom is fighting." I don't know how to put it to a non smoker, but it's just not easy. I really don't have much to contribute, but I understand why you are disheartened by this. I am by my own smoking and my dad's, but hard times are the hardest times to quit. I've cut down a lot but there are times when I just breakdown. I'm sorry, I'm sure it's so hard to understand from your position :(

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