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Caregiver Questions - New to all of this


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I am still in the beginning steps of caring for a loved one with LC. My mom hasn't even been officially diagnosed yet but a trip to the ER found an 8 cm mass on her right lung that is 'consistent with carcinoma'. My mom is 60 and a life-long smoker.

This is all very new so we are all still in the 'fog' of trying to wrap our brains around what is happening. We have a great support system - good friends, close family (and we're all nearby) and a great church family. But my mom has been saying things that I'm not sure if I'm responding to correctly. She will say 'This is all my fault - I brought this on myself' or 'I hate what I'm putting everyone through.'

I try to encourage her that we all love her - she is certainly not 'doing' this to anyone and that now our focus needs to be on her health and care. But my words sound so hollow when I say them and I don't want to sound like I'm saying 'You shouldn't feel that way' because I'm sure those are all very normal reactions. But I just hate to think of her carrying around those horrible feelings! Any insight on how best to respond so she simply feels loved and cared for and supported?

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Let her know that 10-15% of newly diagnosed people are NON-smokers.... So that must mean that there is something to this disease besides 'the smoking factor.' Remind her that NO ONE asks for cancer... That if it came down to the choices we make meaning that we 'caused our own problems' then every one of us have our number coming up quick.

Most of all let her know that you're in her corner. That you love her. And that you'll be beside her to help her fight.

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You sound like you are already doing and saying the right things. Even if it feels "hollow"....you sound like you know that it's not her fault and that your family and loved ones are here to support her through it all. Everyone here , at this web site, has been through what you are going through. Every family, every patient, every caregiver, every friend.....we've been in the place where we've tried to wrap our brains around the Dx. There are days when I still find myself in shock that my mom has LC. She's always been a rock. Invincible. And now she's doing weekly chemo.

But as others have said to me, once you start treatment, everyone calms down a bit and is able to think clearly and work towards what is needed and focus on the support. We were so scared and I kept going to the "dark place" until Mom started treatment. After her first chemo, I exhaled. I've been with her for every chemo appointment except ONE. Her sisters have been there when I couldn't. Our family has pulled together for her....and we have found love, support and friendship all over again. You will get through this time and you will exhale soon. Until then, come here and type away....you will find the best support group right here. =)

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Your mom's emotional state is important. I've posted about the anger side of this disease before.

Your mom is most likely mad at herself. To say she shouldn't be is not going to make the emotion go away. But to say you understand why she would be angry, but don't hold it against her...is both validating and not blaming.

I know my mother was mad at herself for the situation we all landed in. And in fact I am still mad too...but that doesn't mean I love her or you love your mom any less. The people we love the most are the people we can be most upset by.

Support your mom, but understand what she is feeling is fair and normal.

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I wonder what colon cancer survivors blame there cancer on, or Breast cancer suvivors. (they didn't eat right, or they didn't breast feed or they did smoke)because smoking IS linked to all cancers) I wonder if those people think it's all there fault they were dealt cancer?

Sadly enough we blame ourselves because we feel shame and most of all we HATE to see our family and friends suffer. Your mom smoked at a time when it was accepted and like it or not, it's STILL VERY LEGAL! We ALL know smoking isn't good for you, it's not good for your heart, your lungs, your breast, skin, etc., etc., but it isn't the ONLY factor that your mom was dx.d with lung cancer.

How do you do you or how would you mom think someone who NEVER smoked, NEVER was around second hand smoke and poof turns up with lung cancer? It's happening MORE AND MORE AND MORE EVERY DAY in this world! Most people who DO SMOKE, don't get Lung Cancer. :shock::roll:

Okay, enough of the hoola on does and doesn't of smoking and what does and what doesn't cause is.

I was hard on myself too. My doc's where VERY understanding to me and they did NOT allow me to beat myself up over the fact that I smoked and that I got lung cancer. Just because a person smokes, doesn't mean they deserve lung cancer or any other kind of cancer. (one of my doc's told me that)BLESS HIS HEART)

Give mom lots of TLC and tell her if she needs an ear, I would be more then happy to chat with her.

She needs to know she's got to stay positive. She'll get past that hump, but it's going to take a few weeks or so.

Good luck and tell Mom I'm cheering her in my corner.

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My dad said things like this from time to time, and I simply responded, "Well, Dad, we can't take away the past. We have to focus on what we are going to do to get rid of it." I didn't validate his feelings, but I also can't ignore his feelings. So...we really have focused on the future, and the fight.

Blessings,

Jen

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Thank you everyone for your advice and insight. I love hearing it from those of you who have been through it and have felt the same emotions yourself. Thank you for taking the time to share it with me. I now have some good 'words' to share if it comes up again.

Mom is doing okay - talked to her this AM and she's just ready to 'get this show on the road'. She had a biopsy appt on 11/14 which Dad successfully moved up to Friday (yeah!) so, here we go.

Thank you for sharing in this journey with me. I will be posting updates, I'm sure.

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I'm going to say that you're moms reaction is normal. Colleen has mentioned this to me once or twice as well. She'll say to us, I'm sorry you have to deal with this, I'm sorry that you have to go back and forth to Dr's I'm sorry for this that or the other thing. She gets like that and has never smoked in her life. I attribute it to the feeling of helplessness that this stupid disease often puts us in. No one deserves it, regardless of what he/she has done.

When Col starts in with that, keep in mind that I am a blunt person, and this is how our relationship works, I tell her that she has to stop thinking like that. I tell her we're here because we want to be here, and we love her and want to help her through this.

It sounds like you are doing everything you can to reassure her. Just keep in mind that there will be a lot of different feelings that arise along the way, some of them crazy, some of them not so crazy, all of them normal.

Perhaps some of the survivors who read here can speak to whether or not they've ever felt this way, but I'm sure that many have. Hang in there.

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Lots of GREAT advice already,

Here are some facts from the National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control

Former smokers (and this included the folks who quit 20-30+ years) is 50 percent.

Current smokers: 35-40% of new lung cancer cases

Former smokers: 50% of new lung cancer cases

Never smoked: 10-15% of new lung cancer cases

We can try to assign blame, point fingers, for just about everything that happens in life. Your mom is probably just really disappointed, and sad or angry or all of those things....But remind her that lung cancer occurs in never smokers too and it's time to FIGHT and beat it!!!

Best of luck to you and your mom. Keep us updated.

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My husband has apologized to me for his cancer (smoker) and I just tell him we are not placing any blame and we are in this together because that is how we do things. He hasn't said anything like that for a long time. He thanks me for being there during chemo and is just so strong (on the outside anyway)

Barb

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Tell your mother that my mother just left this earth 2 months ago from lung cancer, yet she never smoked.

Tell your mother that I am struggling to take off 30 lbs. on Weight Watchers and that having them on me increases my risk for several cancers. Does that mean I am bringing cancer on myself? If so, I'm in good company given the obesity problem in the U.S.

Tell your mother that people have un-safe sex and are stricken with HIV. Do they want it or deserve it?

Tell your mother that most smokers don't develop lung cancer.

Remind your mother that cancer is not a punishment or judgement - it's just an enemy you didn't invite to the party or engage in a fight, yet it's come. And that if cancer was being handed out to those of us who've been less than stellar in the way in which we've treated our bodies, there wouldn't even be enough Oncologists on the planet to treat the citizens of Rhode Island.

Tell your mom you love her and that it's good to get angry and then channel it wisely - at ridding herself of this cancer and making life right for herself again.

I hope she comes to term with her role in this - a survivor who is blameless!

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