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Just Thinking About Something

Patti B

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I have been thinking of this for a while now, and something in Jen's post the other day about her kids really brought it out again and I decided its time for me to bounce this off other people.

While I was waiting in pure torture for my last CAT scan and results last week, I would look in my son's eyes periodically and my heart would just break. I wonder how all of this is REALLY affecting him and the person he will turn out to be. Of course, we talk a lot (Nick and I are VERY close) and I know how he feels and how much he loves me and worries about me, but I guess my big worry is that I am cheating him out of part of his childhood.

Although Nick is a happy-go-lucky teenager, or at least thats what I see on the outside, am I robbing him of part of his high school time and his teenage years that we all know was so filled with fun and excitement. Is it fair to him that he has to be the one kid who had a bald mom, has to worry about her having scans, and worry that she may die?? Although thats something that could happen to any teenager, to lose their parent, how many others really have to worry about it on a day to day basis like he does?? And I realize that a lot of kids come from bad homes and have to bear a lot of grief, but of course the guilt then comes in that I did smoke, and some would say that I brought this upon myself and my child.

Sometimes I try to think that maybe this is actually going to make him stronger in the long run, that he is learning lessons that he will take through life, like bad things happen to good people, that you never give up, and that you fight for what you want and you live for the day and ALWAYS show someone you love them TODAY, because tomorrow is promised to noone!! And then I get to thinking that I am just kidding myself that there is any good going to come from this. That maybe I am just trying to make myself feel better!!! Or that those are lessons he should learn as he gets a bit older and learns in not so devastating a way.

I love my son more than anything in the world, and when I think of possibly dying from this wretched disease, all I can think about is him. That he won't have a mom to watch him graduate, or fuss over him at senior prom. That he won't have a mom to see him on his wedding day, or to see his first baby. Will he be angry at me because I smoked?? Or will he just be incredibly sad??

Thanks all for letting me get that off my chest. I would love to hear how others feel about this and how they cope with it.

Hugs - Patti B.

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Oh Patti, I wish I could say something that would make you feel less guilty, but something tells me that nothing will change that. Maybe though, I can offer you some perspective as someone who was a teenager when her father got sick. At 17 and 18 I spent much of my time taking him to and from doctors. Even though I am the youngest, I was always the "science kid" in the family, so Dad would put me on the phone to talk to the Drs. He also knew that I would never lie to him. I had just started college when he died.

Did it affect me, change me? Sure, how could it have not? I often joke about 'who would I have turned out to be if I had not lost my Dad so young'. But in the end, I think I turned out OK. You are right, I think I also turned out a lot stronger a person than I might have, a lot more self-sufficient, possibly. One could even argue, a lot more capable of being beside Kelly through all the issues with her disease because of how strong my Dad's illness made me. Not such a bad thing, I would say.

I always tell people, I will take the 18 yrs I had with my Dad, and the difficult years of his being sick, over 50 years with any other Dad!

So, you won't stop worrying about Nick and feeling guilty, because you are too wonderful a loving mother to not feel that way. But when you do feel that way, try and remember that in many ways, he may grow up to be a far better man because of this, and he wouldn't trade you for any other mother in the world! I know of which I speak! ;)

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Patti, I think one of the main duties of a parent -- other than providing a safe and nurturing environment -- is to show by personal example how to handle life's many problems, including those which seem insurmountable. You've done that, and are doing that, admirably. "We can't always control events, but we can control how we react to them." Aloha,


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I agree with NED completely. I learned so much from my mom while she was sick and throughout her whole ordeal. My siblings and I have all become much more compassionate and understanding people because of my mom's sickness and how she handled it. She was an amazing example of strength and grace throughout. My younger sister is now in the prcess of planning her wedding. Yes, it is hard and sad to think of mom not being there and not being here to help her with the planning but we know that part of her will always be with us. She is with us everyday in how we choose to live our lives. My sister (as well as my brother and I) is holding her head high knowing that she had a great mom that taught her how to get through life's struggles. I think we all find a way to handle the cards we were dealt and I am sure your son will too. It sounds like you have a very loving family and this is just one more thing that will make you stronger.


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My Friend,

I wish I had something profound to add, but I can't.

I have no children of my own, so I will not even pretentd to know what you

are feeling.

I am here to offer you many hugs and prayers. I know

with your fighting spirit and the love you have for

Nick, that the two of you are going to have many

memories to look back on.

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You and I had talked about this topic briefly not too long ago and I stand by what I said. You've been such a beacon of strength and hope for Nick. You've been open and honest with him and demonstrated that even in the face of this beast called cancer, a person can, and you DO, live your life to its fullest and on YOUR terms, not the disease's.

Of course you will second guess and question your decisions. All of us who are parents do that, it is normal. I'd be more concerned and worried about you if you did not have these thoughts and feelings!

My gut instinct is that Nick has had a wonderful life thus far and that he, AND YOU will continue to do so. Nick has something in his life that many kids do not have. Parents who are there for him, with him and care, genuinely CARE about him and his future.

Patti, you are an amazing lady, and I am so proud of you and how you are dealing with all of this. Keep it up and YOU GO GIRL!

Love and hugs

Chris xo

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This is a tough one, no true easy or "right" answers. I can only speak from my experience with my Dad. Daddy didn't die young. He was 79 when he left, but, I don't think it made the loss any less devastating. I think about how lucky I was to have him watch my kids be born, have him walk me down the aisle etc etc. BUT and this is a BIG BUT... there are still things going on in my life that he missed... and I needed him for!! My grandsons birth... my daughters recent tragedy in her life (i haven't shared that one with you all), the graduation of my son from HS... etc... etc... point being, no matter when you die, its always devastating for your children. NOW that being said,

Daddy was a smoker, and DAMN proud of it... never quit even with LC... do I hold that against him? NOT EVEN FOR ONE FRACTION OF ONE SECOND. Its called unconditional love and most kids, when raised with love, have unconditional love for their parents and don't judge them too harshly by the mistakes or choices they may have made. I am sure your son is one of these children.

To watch the courage that Daddy had when facing this disease has inspired me beyond belief. I will carry it with me until I see him again ~ and everytime I face some adversity, I think back to his example and draw incredible strength from that.

I am rambling now... I can feel it. Patti, I don't know if my words helped... I hope they did. Love, Sharon

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I don't have answers, but I have love , compassion and lots of hugs for you. Your son is one of the most blessed kids in the world, he has had and still has you, Patti. Not all kids have such a loving parent. Second of all, please stop blaming yourself for this disease. That's not allowed here because we know it may or may not have been caused by your smoking, but no one DESERVES to have cancer. If you had known, positively, for one minute that you WOULD get cancer, you would have quit. One more note, my mom quit 22 year ago and she still was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Patti, You aren't robbing Nick of anything. You didn't choose to have this disease and I am of the belief that all things happen for a reason. Let happen what happens. Give love to Nick and take his love back. Live life to the fullest. If this disease takes you from him, he will grieve, but he will draw great comfort in the part of you he will carry in his heart.

I'm so sorry you have the pain of worrying about these things. I'm so sorry you have lung cancer. I pray you will be here for a long time. You are such a giver, dear Patti, and I'm inspired by you every day I come here. I hope someone can post something to help you to find peace in your thoughts. In the meantime, know that you have my prayers, ALWAYS!!!



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Hi Patti. I haven't read through others posts here so will probably echo their thoughts. You know I have 2 young kids as well so completely get where you are coming from. I am a tough gal...and have hardly cried at all over this C thing...but when I have it has been primarily about my kids and how this is so not fair to them.

Hardest thing ever in my life to tell them. They have seen first hand other family members who have died...and young. And I was so public initially in doing some advocacy stuff...stats and all, and they heard and read it. And I thought oh no what I am doing to them. But their reaction was always "you go mom". In their hearts though they will always worry and that is not fair. They deal with it totally differently...one more concerned, the other in a bit of denial. My son has even taken to yelling at smokers through car window..."don't smoke, it will kill you" (closed window thank goodness, usually quite a shy kid!) and my heart just breaks that I have done this to them. But they have never given me a hard time about smoking...nor do I think they will. Kids are resilient and yes I think they have learned alot through how I have dealt with it.

As has your son, because you are an absolute inspiration. Just keep doing what you are doing...and continue to enjoy every day with your son.

thanks for posting on this topic

your friend Sandra

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This post of yours reminds me of conversations I have had with my mom since her DX.

I don't think going through this disease with a parent is easy no matter the age of a child. Believe me it is not. I have recently allowed myself to cry like a baby when I think what my mother has gone through so far and then I cry at work sometimes for 'no reason' then I fluff up and say "How blessed I am."

How blessed that this woman was chosen to be my mother and no disease will ever take that nor her love from me and it won't take that from your son and you either.

And while it is true I had my mother for all of those things/events you mentioned, this disease threatens to take my mom from me and I am not ready to say bye. No child is ever ready and unfortunate-

ly, no parent can ever protect their child from that possibility no matter how old or young. My mom and I have plans and life to live and this disease threatens it all.

My mother has apologized to us for all she is putting us through, especially me since I live far away. And my words to her are the same, "You have NOTHING, not one thing to apologize for." Yes, smoking is ONE cause of this disease but it is NOT the only cause. If blame is pointed, point it at the legal tobacco products,etc but NOT at yourself Patti, EVER(that's an order...lol)

We children are so glad to be here for our parents at this time. I was able to rub lotion on her legs and cut her toenails when her vision was blurry from the brain mets pre-surgery, it was a an A-HA moment (for lack of a better term).

I was able to be there and take care of her; it was sad and yet it was a beautiful. I can't describe it.

But do I wish it came to that? NO. But I was able to take care of my mommy and that says it all.

We know our parents would never want to see themselves nor their children go through this-they love their family/children so much. One thing my mom does is let me talk about what I feel and she istens and offer advice and her own feelings and I digest it and I do the same for her.

We keep the lines of communication open about our feelings- BUT I don't cry over the phone in front of her, I save that for after the call. We did cry a couple of times in person, but that was mostly during the earlier days right after dx; we are in warrior mode now.

But what I have found is it is her attitude that keeps me going and it's contagious. IF she won't fall apart, then how can I?

We children, no matter our age, are very resilent and we will walk whatever road for and with our parents arm-in-arm.

I think your last paragraph says it best to a degree, lessons of value being learned, just as my mom is teaching us with this. Yes Patti, there are other ways we children would have preferred to learn these lessons I don't deny that and...

We have fears for our parent as they fight this disease, but you are NOT robbing your child of anything good-and my mom is not robbing her family of good things either.BELIEVE that. (that's another order...lol)

As a matter of fact, something I said to my mother right after I got her dx, "You are my mother." and she said "And I always will be." And that's all that matters for nothing, not even this disease, has the kind of power to take that away from any child and their parent. Besides, my mom is a Scorpio, need I say more...lol.

Patti, you are a warrior and I admire you. You and yours will be a-okay---you BELIEVE that.



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I think your questions show just how caring and loving you are.

I don't have much to offer except that I understand completely. Our girls were 16 and 10 at Charlie's diagnosis. It is still devastating to me to think about them walking down the aisle without their dad, having grandchildren, etc. without him here to hold them and love on them. I do think they are stronger for having gone through this and it may impact their future careers, attitude towards other cancer patients, etc. Only time will tell. They are now 21 and 15 and appear to be doing better. Take care.

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Hi Patti,

I can't go through a whole long post. I just want to say that your honesty and love for him will make him a better person. You are so brave and that makes him so proud of his mom. Yes, of course he worries but I know because of your honesy and the type of person you are you do make it easier for him to accept what you are going through.

Are you robbing of his teenage years? No you are still here and right by his side. You are doing everything right.

As a mom I could only imagine how you are feeling, but you are still here and fighting hard. You got great people in your corner pulling for you. He knows this and this helps him cope....and as you know from so many people on here so many have beaten the odds and are doing just fine. Keep that wonderful positive attitude you have. That is half the battle there.


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I know what you mean! My twins just turned 18 and they were 10 years old when I was diagnosed. It has affected them, but they hold it in. I think it makes us closer during these rebellious years. I find they deal with things as they come, and see only what is in front of them. It helps them cope. The fact that I look healthy to them now, and have my hair, etc., is a way for them to ease their minds. We will deal with things as they come. And I feel as you do - when I think of dying, I am not afraid for myself. I worry so much about my children. All they have is me (I'm a single mom) and my family all died of lung cancer. I'm not religious, but I am very spiritual, but find it doesn't help my worry about my sons. I am trying to deal with that through meditation and relaxation techniques (not working .... yet):D

Take care,


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Dear Patti,

There isn't much I could possibly add to what others have said. You have received thoughtful replies, added to your own very competent sense of things. Your concerns and thoughts are introspectiv, probing, and wise.

I will send a (((hug))), and let you know that my sense tells me that your son has received all of the best, loving care, and he will be in touch with that - whatever may be in the future. He has the gift that will keep giving.

One thought about self blame, Patti, although we may regret having smoked, there have been no definitive answers to the "whys" of the disease. They are still coming up with varied causes and influences.

Surely, few of us who began smoking ever thought we were embarking on an extremely addictive behavior.

They have only just discovered that the nicotine receptors in the brain, once utilized, are always "ready to receive" the substance - even when one stops smoking. They are "quieted," but ready to begin at the first spark.

Also, lung cancer "...is what it is." No one deserves it, whether or not they have ever smoked.

Hope always,


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