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The BIG "S" and surviving


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I've had a question that I've been hesitant on asking for some time now, but after reading the post "calling all survivors" I thought I would ask. So I appologize if I hit a sore subject. I'm trying to find things in common with those of you surviving this dreadful disease. Is it age, stage, sex, prior health condition, type, treatment / surgery, etc.?? Then the other question comes up. How many have or do smoke? My dad has smoked for about 55 years. He refuses to quit even now. As much as I would like to, I'm not going to try to change that. I feel he's going through enough right now. I know your smoking status can effect the outcome of treatment, but do you think it would make a huge difference if he stopped now? Again, please forgive me if this is a sensitive matter. I just have been so curious about your thoughts. Thanks so much.

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My father smoked for 40 years; stopped 15 years ago. It did not help. He is the fourth person on his side of our extended family to get lung cancer. All in the 70's. All smokers. The siblings who did not smoke live to be around 90 or 100. We clearly have lungs genetically predisposed to cancer when hit by smoke.

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My mom did smoke ... to be honest, I'm not sure exactly when she quite completely, because when my first child was born 18 years ago, she knew I wanted no smoking anywhere around him. Therefore, I never witnessed her smoking after that. But I know it's was probably about 10 years before her diagnosis a year ago.

However, in her family she was one of seven children, all of whom smoked at some point in their lives. Neither parent died of cancer. She has one surviving sister who is 82 and has a spot on her lung. All the rest have died of other types of cancer (from ages 27 to 60 some), none had lung.

My dad is one of 13, none of who ever had cancer (him included). He chain smoked so badly when we were kids, if you rolled the window in the car down it was probably like something out of a Cheech and Chong movie.

My guess is there was definitely a genetic or environmental factor involved with my mom's family. Maybe it does me no good that I didn't smoke ... I had second hand smoke as a child.

I think you can beat yourself up if you were a smoker or drive yourself crazy over "why me" if you weren't.

The fact remains, it's a nasty, cruel disease and no one should have to suffer from it.

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I smoked from about 19 yoa until the phone call about the CT that showed a mass on my lung, which ended up being about 27 years at a pack a day.

My surgeon said at my diagnosis time that the best thing I could do at that point to protect my health was to continue to not smoke.

I figure that I have a tendency to develop tumors. Why would I want to risk getting another one?

I also know that I don't want to lose any more lung function than I already have with losing a lobe and scarring and emphysema.

I think non-smokers or at least former smokers tolerate treatment better.

The biggest benefit is that I feel better than I did when I smoked.

But, you can't make someone quit smoking. It's a terribly stressful time, and sometimes people just can't do it.

No amount of talking will make it happen. It was truly the hardest thing I've ever done, and I've had some huge battles inside my head with urges. So far, I've won those battles, but you never know.

As to the info you requested, I am a female, was 47 years old at diagnosis, prior excellent health except for a bout with breast cancer two years prior. I always was, and still continue to be very active, get a lot of exercise, and work full time. With the breast cancer, I had surgery and radiation. With the lung cancer, I had surgery with elective chemo and was Stage 1B. Coincidently (or maybe not), both cancers were on my left side.


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I think that "stress" is a factor in the young non-smoking crowd. Upon examination of the tumor, my oncologist placed the "age" of it at 3-5 years. What was going on in my life 3-5 years before my surgery? One big divorce after a 10 year marriage...I was looking for a job to support myself and my child, health insurance, an affordable place to live, food, utilities, etc. Nope, no stress there...

What makes some of survivors while the next guy with the same diagnosis, treatment, etc. is not? I think it all has to do with luck. The skill of the medical team overseeing the care is important, but all things considered, it just seems to be luck. We ALL have the desire to live and beat this thing, no one wants to survive any less, so I don't think it's the will-to-survive that keeps some of us on the survivors' side of the fence.

What am I doing to stay healthy? Avoiding cigarette smoke and pulmonary irritants at all costs. I've been a secondhand smoker most of my life, if not in the home, then in the public forum. I haven't lived with a smoker since I was 20, so I guess I quit 14 years before I was diagnosed...

Some don't give up smoking when diagnosed and going through treatment. The monkey on my back? I STILL love me some chocolate - some studies show a diet with sugars may contribute to cancer risk. Pass me a Coke and a Snickers and I'm good, though. There are things that I haven't given up, either. It's an individual thing.

Good luck to your father.

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My mom was a smoker but quit 25 years ago. She was diagnosed at age 58.

My dad was a smoker but quit about 30 years ago. He was diagnosed at age 65.

And I know of countless people who smoke and they have no problems. My belief it is all a "lottery".

My mom's tumor was an aggressive NSCLC adenocarcinoma; my dad's was a less aggressive BAC. The two don't seem to be related.

Like Snowflake said, my parents contribute their survival so far to pure luck. Of course a good medical team helps. But otherwise it was luck of the draw. My mom was overweight and diabetic at diagnosis, otherwise healthy. My dad was a little chubby, otherwise healthy.

People ask my mom all the time: lung cancer, chemo, radiation, lobectomy, pulmonary embolism, brain anyerusm, triple bypass all within 3 years. "HOW DID YOU SURVIE AND HOW DO YOU LOOK SO GOOD NOW???" they ask. Her response "LUCK!".

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Thank you Andrea for sharing that. I know it's hard to talk about. I tell people my dad smokes and still does. They are shocked! It upsets me badly that people judge him so that's one reason I haven't talked about it until now. I just really wanted to see if there was still hope. You know I'm a nonsmoker so to say quit might sound easy. On the other hand I, like snowflake, have other addictions like chocolate. I tell you, I don't think I could give that up even if my life depended on it :lol:

So how could I expect him to give up something he enjoys so much? I've always said I want him to be treated as normally as possible and for him to be able to live his life as normally as possible. I will just continue to pray for a little of that "luck". Thanks again to everyone for sharing your stories.

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My sister smoked from age 18 til diagnosis. I think she still sneaks a puff every now and again. She is 50. Her doctor told her she will die if she does not quit. He told her the treatment is useless if she is going to continue to smoke. She has small cell though..that may make a big difference. I have often wondered if it was the brand of cigarette that people smoke..menthol or non menthol..I have never seen a survey on that. Maybe I will post that on another topic.

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Hi, I couldn't resist the urge to add to this thread. Keep in mind that I am a never smoker, so I may not have as open a mind as I should....My wonderful mom has stage 4 NSCLC (squamous) This was most certainly caused by 40 years of smoking (she quit 7 years before she was diagnosed) Does she deserve this....OF COURSE NOT...but could it have been prevented....probably. This site (lungevity) states that 85% of lung cancer is caused by smoking....I have read elsewhere that this number is 90% My mom's father died of lung cancer. I remember how very sad she was when he died. I was pretty young at the time and I would guess that my mom had probably been smoking about 5-7 years around then. I so wish that she had been able to quit right then...Obviously smoking has a terrible hold on those that start. Of course, everyone that smokes does not get lung cancer...I think the number is around 15-20%....but there are other cancers and lung diseases that are associated with smoking, so I believe the percentage of smokers that are adversely affected by smoking is quite a bit higher. Anyway, I realize that I am preaching to the choir here, but one of my volunteer jobs is to teach a class at the elementary school level about the hazards of smoking....I guess you caught me in my teaching mode! I apologize if I've ruffled any feathers...Shelley

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I was diagnosed last year at age 40. I believe I have lung cancer because I smoked. I started smoking at age 13 and quit at diagnosis last year. It was the hardest thing I ever did and I understand why your dad still smokes. But now that I have been smoke free for a year, I actually feel like a complete loser that I couldn't do it sooner. Anyhow, although I know smoking caused my lung cancer I do not believe that smoking causes lung cancer in everyone. My genetic make-up is screwed up and cigarette smoke is enough of an irritant to cause cancer. In the never smokers, there is enough chemicals or other irritants in the air to cause cancer if their genetic make-up is pre-disposed to cancer.

Why do some people survive and others don't: It is either absolute luck or if you believe in GOD it is his decision.

Prior to cancer, I was healthy average weight but did not exercise often. I also had a baby before diagnosis and I believe the pregnancy may have speeded up the cancer process.


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You asked a lot of questions at once. One of them is smoking. I stopped smoking 35 years ago and they consider me a heavy smoker in their reports today. Since I can not find any doctor that can tell me what causes cancer, I have come up with my own opinion. I don’t think age has as much to do with it as ones general health and the ability of their immune system to fight off disease. It is well known that everybody produces potential cancer cells. I believe this goes on until for what ever reason the immune system will no longer kill off the cancer cells. At that point they start to go wild and multiply. Older people generally have a lower immune system as they grow older. Their blood may not be as thin and their circulation not as good. I have noticed that a lot of the newer cancer drugs also cause your blood to thin. This will increase your circulation. This will also increase more oxygen going to the cancer cells and cancer cells do not like oxygen. I think the onset of cancer comes when the immune system drops below the level of what it takes to kill off all the cancer cells. If we could jack the immune system way up right away then we may be able to get rid of the cancer. How fast we will be able to bring the immune system to where it can kill off the cancer cells again will depend on how far your immune system has dropped. Some people will be able to bring their immune system up and some may not. Surgery and radiation will remove or kill the cancer. Chemo will affect tumors throughout the body. Once the tumors have been eliminated we have gotten rid of the cancer, but we have done nothing about getting rid of the cause. If we go back to the exact same life style I would think that the cancer returning is good. Here are some of the things that I think can affect the immune system: Age, diet, stress, exercise, supplements, and many others. Stress I think can be a big factor. The good thing about stress is we can work on eliminating it some times. Smoking replaces oxygen in your lungs so that is a negative. You can’t be sucking in smoke and expect to get the same oxygen level. Can you survive cancer and smoke? Maybe. If you want the best chance of beating cancer then I think it is wise to do all you can. I had a lot of stress before my cancer. It was eliminated by selling my business and getting rid of all the responsibility to running a sizable company. I think the supplements add to my chances of survival, but I can’t tell you which one does the most. When I think about my cancer I am very puzzled. I am stage IV and I have not had any symptoms or bad days yet. It has been 22 months since diagnosed. What has helped me may help others immune system but it may not be enough to bring it up to the level that it will fight the cancer successfully. I have heard that 50% of cancer patients have some other major health problem to begin with. That alone can make a big difference. As far as your concern about smoking, I would not want to keep smoking with the thought that it may keep me from reaching that point where I could fight the cancer successfully. The big thing for me is prayer. I thank the Lord for all that the things my doctors, drugs, chemo. And supplements do for me.

Thanks for making me think. I keep trying to figure out what I have done that others can do. I have checked around and some of the things I take are common to other survivors, but we are all starting at different starting points as far as our general health is concerned.

Stay positive, :)


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I do not believe that smokers deserve to get lung cancer but I do believe that smoking causes lung cancer.

My grandmother smoked all her life and died of lung cancer. She smoked her last cigarette three days before she left us.

My mom began smoking at age twelve and stopped at age forty, when they looked her in the eye and told her she had stage 2 lung cancer (Oct. 2006). She has not smoked since and, thankfully, she is currently NED. She believes that her cancer was a result of smoking.

I am 25 and I began smoking just before I turned 18. On April 4, eight weeks ago today, I smoked my last cigarette in the wee hours of the morning. It was not fun and I would've deeply resented anyone who tried to FORCE me to quit, but I am glad today that I made the choice I did. However, I may still end up having lung cancer - and if I do, I will say that it was a result of my choice to smoke as a young'un (or at least I hope I'll be old enough to say that word).

Having said that, quitting was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I am almost six feet tall and I tip the scale WELL over 300 pounds, but I cried like a school girl on my 5th day without a cigarette. It sucks. I understand your concern but you can't make your dad quit, and don't judge him too harshly. Support HIS decision to quit. I have more respect now for those who've tried and failed. It is a long, hard journey.

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Wow. Thank you all for the replies. I really haven't seen many discussions on this matter so I was hesitant on asking it. I don't smoke, but both of my parents do. I would never judge anyone on that. Especially if you started way back when we didn't know the things we do now. I grew up around second hand smoke because it wasn't a big deal then. Now, I am like tiredmom959 and ask my parents not to smoke around my kids. Shelley, you did not ruffle my feathers. Thanks for the info. Ursol, I agree with you. Smoking does cause lung cancer, but so do other things. My dad also worked around oil burner furnaces most of his life. So which one actually caused it? Perhaps both. Ernie, I always value your insight. My dad has been fighting a disease for about 10 years now called Myastheniagravis. It does effect the immune system. About a year before he was diagnosed he decided he didn't need his medication for the disease anymore. As a result it was difficult for him to chew so eating and getting his vitamins and nutrients was a challenge. I keep beating myself up thinking about why I didn't pay more attention. I wish I knew then what I know now and I would have at least made sure he knew what vitamins and supplements he should have been taking. Perhpas we wouldn't be here now??? Who knows.

pewjumper-I admire you for the efforts you are making in quiting. I know it must be tough. You're right it has to be your decission because you are the only one that can make it happen. I would never think try to push my dad to do it because I'm not in his shoes. Keep it up, you can do it!! It's true "old habits are hard to break".

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This is what I have never understood about my family.

My father was a heavy smoker but one day he had a hernia operation, the doctor told us that he did not like the sound of his lungs and he will try to convince him to quit. I think he scared him about, maybe, needing another operation. Anyway, my father stopped it just then and there. Never smoked again. And if asked he would say that stopping it was a piece of cake. I can not understand why it was so easy for him.

His older brother was an alcoholic. But when the lent came he would put away alcohol for a month without even blinking. Strange, no ?

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Deb sttarted smoking in high school, like me. My parents quit years ago cold turkey. We tried many times to quit and did a lot of things. We went cold turkey on April 29th 2003 after wallking out of a surgeons office and having been handed an oncology appointment schedule for Lung Cancer. WOW!!!!!!!! I am srill smoke free. so is she. at age 49 she passed away from Lung cancer. Maximum curative radiation, 5 rounds of chemo, c. dificile fight, Pleural effusion, 5 hours shy of starting her 6th line of chemo. yeah CANCER SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now having got that off my chest. As the moderator for clinical trials and treatment forums, I can say this. No one desrves this. There is a lot of research going on now. everything from cancer caused by nutrition to cancer being caused by genetics. There was a major breakthrough last week in Britain and there was a genetic link for breast cancer discovered. ther has also been a genetic link for Lung cancer if I remember correctly. every day i recieve about 10-15 google news alerts on all things related to Lung cancer and chemo and diagnosing for Lung cancer. i then have to decide what needs to be posted and what is not relevant. I HAVE LEAERNED SO MUCH IN 18 MONTHS OF DOING THIS. there is not just one thing that links all this. there are many things. School bus exhaust, environment, second hand smoke, just about anything you can breathe in ccan cause cancer. trust me on this one.

PEAC AND PRAYERS for a bright sunny day today. Sorry just clearing my brain this morning. Not sure where theis is coming from. :?:?

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This post is so interesting and comments so diversified. I just wanted to add a little something.

Even though it does no good to attempt to analyize my sister's cancer, we continually do. We still can't figure out, Why? She was young (57), a never-smoker, a way above average athlete, enjoyed excellent health prior to her diagnosis, lived a happy, stress-free lifestyle, and loved her 35 year career of teaching and coaching. She just doesn't fit into any "lung cancer risk" category.

Perhpas this is one reason I'm still angry. NOBODY deserves to get this horrible disease. Thanks for letting me vent. Ellie

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My Grandmother never smoked and died from lung cancer while my Grandfather smoked and died from old age.

My Mom never smoked and is currently battling her 3rd recurrence since being diagnosed 6 years ago while my Dad who smoked heavily for over 30 years is relatively healthy, outside of diabetes, and has never had anything show up on a chest x-ray or had any sort of breathing/lung issues.

Mom's Dr has never tried to make a connection to genetics or second hand smoke but has rather taken the stance of luck of the draw as I believe someone else stated, everyone's bodies produce cancer cells, some can fight them and some can't.

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I found out about my lc In October 2003 at age 59. since then, I have had a lobectomy, a completion pneumonectomy, 4 rounds of carboplatin/gemzar, 33 treatments of IGRT, 4 rounds of alimta. The chemo and radiation I had done in the presence of my third cancer. My third cancer ignored the treatment. My first 2 cancers were cut out. I am about to have cyberknife treatment which I think will finally kill the third cancer. Although I have had this current cancer since at least August, 2005, I have had no spread as of my last PET/CT scan in March 2007. My third cancer stayed smallish until September, 2006 when it tripled in size compared to the previous 3 months. It is 4 by 7 cm now. I have had no new disease since August, 2005.

I smoked between age 24 and 40. I quit smoking in 1984, 19 years later I got cancer. I also have a family history of cancer and have had significant exposure to forest fire smoke and pesticides.

Don M

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"daddyslittlegirl"]I'm trying to find things in common with those of you surviving this dreadful disease. Is it age, stage, sex, prior health condition, type, treatment / surgery, etc.?? Then the other question comes up. How many have or do smoke?

Let's see.... Harry is a 56 year old male, has smoked for about 40 years, (and still does), had bypass surgery 10 years ago due to clogged arteries- (It runs in his family, terribly, on both sides), and he has small cell cancer, limited.

The doctors have mentioned smoking as the main cause of his cancer, but he has also always worked in the Construction industry. He tore down old school buildings full of asbestos,etc., before they knew how dangerous it was to do that without protection.

He had a high level of lead in his blood one time, (many years ago), from working with cable wire, etc., so it could be "either-or", from what the doctors say.

Other then the genetic heart history, he was always healthy .

It was interesting to read everyone's responses. Thanks for posting a good topic.


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My husband has smoked for 33 years...since he was 14!

It is my understanding that statistics show that once you get lung cancer if you keep smoking it doesnt really affect your prognosis/life expectancy...UNLESS you go into remission THEN your odds of getting it AGAIN do increase if you keep smoking...

my husband is still smoking but he is not expected to survive this so I have not pushed him to stop...he has enough going on already...

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Very interesting post and all the responses too --- thanks!

Smoking cigarettes causes 80+ percent of lung cancer, continued smoking during treatment has been shown to undermine some chemo agents, but it is a personal choice. Radon, diesel fumes, Teflon, asbestos and so many other airborne toxins don't help either.

Big factors in survival are:

Type and sub-type of lung cancer, cell differentiation (poor, moderate, well), how fast the cancer grows or re-occurs after initial treatment, overall health prior to diagnosis, how aggressive your oncologist/radiologist is about treatment, and a larger assortment of chemotherapy/novel agents available with more on the way.

Genetic predisposition has not been proven per online chats with our good Dr. West.


I always wish that board members would list sizes, locations, SUV’s, cell differentiation and numbers of tumors in their profiles so that others can see for comparison. Same thing holds true for any supplements. I’ve noted no clear-cut survival benefits from people on the board using them. The caveat is that if all the data is not present or factored in, one cannot draw any useful or valid conclusions. Even with all information available, our bodies are unique chemical factories and that is probably the biggest wildcard.

What I have noted is all Stage IV's are not created equal. There is a huge range of presentations within the Stage IV category. Cell type, differentiation, SUV levels, & tumor burden can be radically different in each Stage IV.


Factors often cited or credited for survival are a strong religious belief, positive outlook, and faith that your treatment will work. Tony and I whole-heartedly embrace all of these, yet we know others who also did and are sadly no longer here.

We do give a lot of credit to the mutual support system we have as husband/wife, the love, prayers, and support of our children, family, friends, and neighbors. But again -- plenty of people had this and did not survive. It makes the JOURNEY easier, but doesn't dictate the outcome.

Laughter is also good for the soul. We don't take ourselves too seriously and we still maintain a keen sense of humor.

My husband quit smoking 23 years prior to diagnosis. He has an immune system like a Sherman tank, never been sick a day in his life, and yet lung cancer came knocking at our door anyway. He handles quantities of traditional chemotherapy that would kill a horse and his marrow keeps cranking out his blood cells and platelets with minimal assistance. Why? Only the good Lord knows. (We are ever so thankful!)

The only hard and fast rule in this game is that there are no hard and fast rules!

ONE THING I DO know with surety is that God loves ALL of his children equally.

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