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Guest shannygirl

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Guest shannygirl

My Step-Father was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer(squamus)? about a month ago. He went to the ER due to a horrible migraine and found out that he had 2 tumors on his brain and a tumor in his lung. One of the tumors in his brain was biopsied, came back positive for cancer and was removed. Chemo and radiation were started soon after. He has radiation for 15 mins. a day 5 days a week and chemo for 3 1/2 hours once a month for the next 6 months. To make things worse my Step-Dad has type 1 diabetes. I researched everything I could about lung cancer and about cried my eyes out. The Dr. told my Mom that my Step-Dad has about 4-5 years. My Mom thinks that means he has 4-5 more years before he gets sick again. From everything I've read I was under the impression that not many people survive 5 years. I'm confused about everything I've researched versus what this Dr. is telling my parent's. Hope is a great thing, but I also believe we need to face reality too and prepare ourselves for whatever may come.

My Step-Dad seems very depressed. He talks about dying a lot. He's a Christian and not afraid to die, but told me he's sad about leaving my Mom. My Mom gets angry because she feels like he doesn't want to fight, he doesn't want to live. I get the impression that Ted, my Step-Dad, feels that everyone is sugar coating things. All he hears from most people is to stay strong, think positive, etc. He just turned 45 years old. I think it's natural that he feel depressed, sad and angry, but most people around him don't allow him his feelings. Also, the chemo and radiation make him so sick. He says after treatment he would almost rather die than feel that badly. My Mom is frustrated that he's so sick. She doesn't know if he's making himself feel sicker than what he truly is or if he is really that sick. She's never been sick a day in her life and I think she's having a really hard time understanding where her husband is coming from.

For all of you have gone through this, do you think it's normal for the person who is sick to feel angry? depressed? etc? If it is normal, is there a time when it becomes detrimental to their health to stay in that state of mind? My Step-Dad wont quit smoking either. He figures he's going to die anyway, so why bother. He asked the Dr's if stopping now would improve his chances of living and they didn't say anything so he took that as "no".

I want to be supportive of both my parent's. However, I truly believe my Mom is either in denial or the Dr's are not communicating clearly. Are people ever cured from lung cancer? My Mom seems to think so. I want my Mom to be prepared for the possiblity that her husband may die. Especially since he really seems to be more focused on dying than on living. I want my Step-Dad to feel that someone in the family hears what he is trying to say. I think he feels very alone and more scared than he admits. I feel very sad and wonder if this Christmas is going to be the last one we share together. I am almost to the point of not even wanting to research lung cancer because like I said, what the Dr's say versus everything I've read totally contradicts itself. I think of Dana Reeve's and Peter Jennings, and how fast they passed away. I wonder how the Dr's can tell my Step-Dad the he can have 4-5 more years. I'm confused, scared and would love any advice, wisdom or support anyone would like to throw my way. Thanks for listening to me ramble on. God bless all of you....


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Hi Shannon, and welcome.

I'm sorry to hear about your step-dad, and sorry that you are feeling so confused about his prognosis - that's lung cancer for you!

You are right, the statistics for lung cancer survival are not very inspiring, but the thing to remember is that there are ALWAYS exceptions to the rule, and it is next to impossible to determine who is going to get lucky, and who isn't.

I agree that it is unusual for doctors to predict a survival time of 4-5 years. With cancer, they tend to suggest that if you have survived 5 years, then there is a good chance you have beaten the disease, and could go on indefinitely. At the end of the day, the doctors don't really know how long your step-dad is going to survive - there are plenty of people on this forum who have lived alot longer than their doctors 'gave' them, so try not to get too caught up in the numbers game. Easier said than done, I know.

I'm sure you have found in your research, that once lung cancer has metastasised to distant organs, the chances of long-term survival are greatly reduced. However, I have read that lung cancer is sometimes curable if the only evidence of disease is resectable tumours in the lung and brain, so perhaps your step-dad's doctors are thinking along these lines.

As for the depression and anger, I can only imagine that it is a completely normal reaction to devastating news. I reckon I'd be angry and depressed too. We were very lucky in that Mum remained positive and upbeat most of the time - it would have been alot more difficult for all of us if she had let it get her down. It must be very hard for all of you to deal with. Professional counselling, support groups, talking with his doctor, and/or medication may help a little.

I'm sorry you've had to join us on this journey, but at least none of us are doing it alone....

Wishing you well,


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it is very normal to be angry and depressed when you get dx with cancer. it wouldn't hurt if his dr. can prescribe an anti-depressant ie: effexor, etc. i think that attitude plays a big part on how well you do in the fight. You may not win but giving up will not help him or the people he cares about. Your mother needs to understand that this is just as much a mental fight as it is a physical one. I can imagine how she feels, I have never been sick and then to receive this was a real shock. I have to remind my self that I'm not as strong as i use to be. as a caregiver the best thing you can do is be supportive and learn as much as you can to help him in the fight. Don't pay attention to the stats, everyone reacts differently. I was diagnosed with stage 4, 1-3 years, and to see me today you wouldn't even know i have cancer. I don't care what the dr. says the only one who knows how much time i have is God and until then I will enjoy all that life has. Please come here with questions and for support. Wishing you all the best!


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Lung cancer is very emotional too! Most all of us have needed anti-depresents. It is so scary and stressful. Perhaps your step father is "normal" and needs them also.

It would increase his chance of survival if he would quit smoking. Smoking makes the chemo less affective. I well understand how difficult it is to be in a stressful situation and even think of quiting. The good news is Zyban that helps people to quit is also an anti-depresent!

He is young and stats by age give him a better than average survival. It seems also that if it is brain mets and they zap them, get good results, sometimes they can even do surgery which also increases chances of survival.

Please keep us posted on how he is doing, coping, and the family.

Donna G

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Hello Shannon and Welcome

I am sorry you had the reason to find this site, but glad you have posted and told us about your step dad.

First and foremost, DO NOT PAY ANY ATTENTION TO THE STATISTICS! Statistics are numbers, many outdated and your step father is NOT a number. You cannot apply those to any single person.

Your step fathers reaction to this seems to be typical. I agree with the others that an antidepressant might be very helpful. As for his smoking, once he is able to come to grips with the initial shock of the diagnosis, he may well change his attitude about that.

Please keep posting here, keep us updated on the treatments, dr visits, ask any and all questions you have and know that we are all here to help you along this journey. Maybe you can even get your step father to at least read some of our survivor stories and see that there is HOPE. He might even think about joining us himself.

Let us know how we can help,


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Welcome! This is the best place to ask these sort of questions!

Everything that you are seeing is normal. The new normal it's called.

Would your SD and mom take an anti- depressent? That can be very helpful! My mom is on one and my dad needs to be but refuses. It helps her a lot! A support group for suvivors and/or cargivers could be helpful too.

I wouldn't look at stats too much either! We don't know what the future holds but we know Who holds our future!

I know what you mean about not wanting to research. When the mood hits log on somewhere if it doesn't then don't worry. How we handle this is so individual.

Blessings to you and your family.

Kelly :D

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Hi there,

I'm sorry this is happening to you, being here you know how many others are in this boat with you. My only advice is don't get too far ahead of yourself. This is a trying time as it is and I don't see the sense in worring about the unknown. Your whole family is scared and going threw a normal shock to news of this horrible illness. You have more than enough emotions banging into each other and taking up your day...leave whatever you can in the corner! Like me your research made you very aware of how severe this illness can be.... But the lives shown here have seen successes that the research doesn't talk about and the stat's don't focus on. I don't come on much since my Dad is doing so well .... I don't feel I've earned my place here quite yet. But I know when I have ... I know where to go!

Good luck in the coming days.


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Hi, Shannon, and welcome here. Yes, it is quite normal to be angry, depressed, etc., not just the patient but everyone closely involved. I am really surprised the doctor gave him 4-5 years when he has brain mets, which means the cancer has metastasized. I believe people with Stage I or II lung cancer, where the cancer was caught early enough to be contained in the lung, can be cured. I don't personally believe anyone with Stage III or IV lung cancer, where the cancer has spread beyond the lung, can really be cured. We just fight it and take what years we can get.

Attitude is very important. I believe the fighters with positive attitude live longer than those who think they are going to die right away and stay depressed. I would suggest, not sugar coating the situation, but helping your stepdad look for positive things out of this. Things will never be the way they were again, but a "new norm" can set in and be a time of good, vital living. But, the patient has to accept that and want that. Keep us posted and let us know how we can help you as things move on. Don

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First, welcome to the board -- so sorry you had to find us, but we are glad you did!

It is perfectly natural to feel scared out of your wits, angry, and depressed with this diagnosis. Many people (both patients and caregivers) find antidepressants to be essential to helping cope with a rollercoaster of emotions that come in this journey.

Even with a diagnosis of LC already here, your step-dad would benefit from quitting smoking now. Research tends to show that treatments are more effective when smoking is stopped and, I thought I saw some newer information come out in one of these forums that says nicotine itself encourages tumour growth (I could be wrong on that one). That said, it's really gonna' be up to your step-dad on what he does or doesn't want to do there.

LC in advanced stages is not cured per-se, but it is a manageable disease with many, many years of quality living possible with what's called NED (no evidence of disease). It all depends on the individual, the knowledge and support of a good medical team, knowledge and caring support of caregiver(s), and aggressive pursuit of the next treatment option if one happens to not work as well as is needed.

Chemo. and radiation treatments can have side-effects on patients and just make folks feel really crummy while they are going through them and can last for months after treatment is finished -- life adjustments will need to be made depending on your step-dad's progress and how he reacts to treatment that your mom needs to be encouraged not to get frustrated over: your step-dad isn't making up feeling bad from treatment, no matter what his attitude is. The doctors can do many things with medications to make side-effects as minimal as possible -- many people go through treatment with very few problems and maintain a good quality of life in the process. Again, it's individual.

The doctors may have given 4-5 years "prognosis" based on your SD's state of health now and what they currently believe is possible in treatment and how they believe he will respond -- they really don't know, however. Whatever the reason, LC is a survivable diagnosis for many years beyond even that.

Keep us posted.


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Hey Shannon!

I'd like to welcome you aboard. You've found a great place to ask your questions in a supportive environment. I don't know what I would have done without this place!

I'll echo what everyone else has said. Stats mean very little. My mom was given 12-18 months 20 months ago, and she is doing very well--even went to my son's soccer game today.

Try not to worry about "last" events. I thought last year would be my "last" Thanksgiving and Christmas with Mom, but I'm looking forward to this year. Enjoy every day that you have, and support your SF in any way you can. I have learned to help mom weather her depressive episodes--it's one of the sad parts of this beast. She has managed to bounce back each time.

I'm praying for you guys! Keep us posted.

:) Kelly

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Hi Shannon-

I am sorry to here about your step-dad's diagnosis however-I am so glad you found this place. There are so many supportive people here and so much can be learned from hearing other peoples journey.

A diagnosis like LC will push the a human soul to the limit and I imagine that everything your mom and sd are going thru are pretty normal.

My family has ridden the emotional roller coaster and we have all dealt with it in different ways. At first, my dad was very angry at mom for 'leaving him' and even more angry at God for taking away from him the only thing he ever really loved more than life....he thought mom's dx was God's way of getting even with him for some imaginary crime he committed.

My first reaction was 'uh-huh, no way-this is NOT happening to my mom' I handled my emotions by researching every single possible treatment for this disease. My sister lives 3000 miles away so her reaction is very matter-of-fact and while she makes no bones about the fact that this sucks she is a realist much more than optimist like me. She can be quite harsh sometimes when we talk about mom's health but I know that is just her way of coping.

8 years later we have all just learned to take one day at a time....I guess that is all we can do really

Try not to take your Step-Dad talking about his death as some sign that he has given up on life-maybe he NEEDS to talk about it, maybe he is trying to make all of you feel better by expressing that he is okay with dying if it is his time. In 8 years my mom has only talked in brief spurts of her own death. Not too long ago she told us where the dress is that she wants to be buried in...this while she was NED no less so it really wigged us all out-why would she talk about that if she is getting well! Try to feel the blessing that he is having time to share with you how he feels at all and is at least open enough to do that....So, I understand that it is disconcerting to have to hear-you are doing well to be supportive of him despite your own hurt and fear so pat yourself on the back for that please.

Anyway, I would not pay any attention to the 'time left' thing....that is anyone's guess truly.

There is a fine line to walk between hope and honesty. Hoenstly, I know my mom will die sooner than I would like her too and that most probably it will be from her LC. Hopefully, I enjoy each moment we have together and focus on what she CAN do rather than what she cannot do while we are together. Is the manner of her death something I focus on ever-NO WAY--is the courage and determination and sheer joy that she is fighting this disease with and living her life with each day something I focus on-Absolutely!

Not much advice from me I am afraid-I just wanted you to know that you are not alone and that I am here if you need to talk

Blessings to you and your family


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I totally agree with Chris, Do not pay attention to statistics. They are abysmal. I can understand that your entire family is in shock over all of this and yes everyone deals with the news in an entirely different way. I think if the Dr has said he has 4-5 years that you ought to take that as a terrific sign that this can be beat and for much longer. Give your Step-Dad time. It is what he needs to come to terms with this. Don from this site told me I had no idea what was going through my Mom's mind who was dx with sclc earlier this year. He said that as much as I could be there for her that she was the patient facing the dx. I understand now that my need for my Mom to fight and get up and live each day was MY wish and need, it wasn't hers. I had to give her time and space to come to terms with everything. Oh and by the way, the Dr. gave my Mother a most grim prognosis and guess what? She has no more tumors and is doing pretty darn good. The Dr's as good as they are don't know everything!!! People defy the odds every single day and I'm praying for your Step Dad to be one of them.


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