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She's still smoking--Need advice!


Beachmama

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I just found out that mom is still smoking. Someone close to me saw her puffing away in her car at a red light!!! I had a feeling she was smoking, but she would always deny it when I asked her.

My questions to you all is what do I do??? I KNOW I cannot make her stop. Is she really making it worse by smoking, or is the 40 years worth of smoking just too hard to undue and it really won't matter if she quits or lites up? I am so angry right now. I want to say something to her, but what? She just got a clean bill of health and this is how she celebrates! What would you do?

Connie

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That's a tough call, and smoking is a pretty sensitive subject around here, but I'm thinking that if she still hasn't stopped after all she's been through, there's nothing you're going to do or say that's going to change that.

I don't think I could ever bring myself to openly support her decision, but under these circumstances, I might just look the other way and say nothing.

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They are now saying it takes 20-30 years or more to 'undo the damage' of smoking. So why should she quit? She clearly enjoys it so why deprive her, especially after all she's been through? What to say to her, you ask? My suggestion is: 'Here's an ashtray, Mom -- you don't have to hide in the car anymore.' :)

Ellen

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Connie-

This is how I see it. Smoking is such a tough, tough addiction. If you read anything but quitting, experts say it is harder to quit smoking that to quit cocaine.

I am an ex-smoker and I have to tell you, I truly do not know what I would have done if I were still smoking when diagnosed. Being diagnosed with cancer leaves you feeling helpless and without control of your life. Maybe this is one way that she feels she has control.

As a survivor, I would not want anyone telling me what to do or not to do. I get mad enough when my husband goes on his soap-box about how much coffee I drink.

As a survivior, I would also recommend that you say nothing to her. It will only cause a rift between the two of you and bottom line is, you cannot make her quit unless she wants to. I am sure she knows it is not good for her, as all of us ex-smokers knew when we were smoking. Just love her and support her and make lots of great memories with her. And please, don't be mad at her. I am sure she is doing the best she can under the circumstances.

Hugs - Patti B.

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I agree with Bud and Patti. For some people, smoking can be incredibly addictive, more so than even those us who have successfully quit can imagine. Two members of my immediate family still smoke, though only in a far corner of the back yard and never in the house. I've come to terms with that by realizing that it's not simply a matter of will power, and that I too have some less than exemplary habits/traits that I haven't been able to change in 32 years of marriage.

She has done very well in spite of the smoking, and my personal (nonmedical) opinion is that you'll both be better off if you can release these thoughts and enjoy the other 99 percent of your "hero" mom. Best wishes and Aloha,

Ned

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I felt the same way as you did when my mom was Dx and had continued to smoke. Then not was I only upset she was smoking but that she was lying to me too. My mom always taught us not to lie and she was doing it. With great advice from here and a serious talk to my mom letting her know that I know she is smoking and my opionion about it I finally was able to realize that she is the same person and just cause she is smoking does not mean she is scared, stressed, etc... This is how she always new to cope.

So that being said we will be 4 years NED in May and she is still smoking. I don't like it but have come to accept it. It still breaks my heart when I see her lite up.

No gaurantee it will come back if she smokes.....

No guarntee it will not come back if she stops......

Good luck to you it can be a bit frustrating and disappointing

Heidi

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Thanks everyone for your insightful responses. I know where I stand on this topic, but I don't have to like it. I told mom I knew that she was smoking.(she didn't deny it) I told her that I hate the way it makes her smell. (she smokes indoors and in her car). She reeks! And that is the worst part of it. We smell after she hugs us (and my kids). It's just gross. But I do love her. I do. Just not the smoke. Oh well. Thanks again.

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"Beachmama"]Thanks everyone for your insightful responses. I know where I stand on this topic, but I don't have to like it. I told mom I knew that she was smoking.(she didn't deny it) I told her that I hate the way it makes her smell. (she smokes indoors and in her car). She reeks! AND THAT IS THE WORST PART OF IT. We smell after she hugs us (and my kids). It's just gross. But I do love her. I do. Just not the smoke. Oh well. Thanks again.
(Emphasis mine)

If your esthetic displeasure is the worst part of it, then it's your problem, not your poor mother's.

Just my two cents.

Ellen

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Hi Beachmama,

I can understand your feelings. I was fortunate that the day my husband was diagnosed he stopped smoking. I think he felt he "had" to and the Oncologist said he felt treatment would go better if he wasn't smoking. I don't know that there is scientific proof of this or if the Oncologist was trying to assist him in his quest to quit smoking and he thought it may help him think more about it. Either way, he quit. It wasn't easy-it still isn't but like everyone has said, it had to be his decision. I am sorry that you are struggling with this. Good luck to you and your Mom.

Jean

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Thank you all for your support, except Ellen in PA. Who pointed out so rudely that I am the one with the problem, not my mother. Unfortunately, accepting her smoking is like forgiving an abusive spouse over and over again, making excuses for him. I know it must be sooooo hard to quit, I understand that. But I KNOW she did quit for a while. Maybe a year... But now she started back up. It's just crazy. I have always hated my mother smoking. I will never be okay with it. And luckily, I am the only one in the family who knows this info for sure. My sisters would REALLY give her a hard time. I will never tell them, because I don't mom to get upset. It is her business, and her life. And it doesn't directly affect me, except for the smell, which does. And the unknown future where I will taking care of her again, while she cries and cries. But I will try to sit here quietly while she gets punched.

Cancer sucks and so does smoking. I don't smoke thanks to years of inhaling my mothers disgusting cigarettes for18 years. I guess that's something good.

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Beachmama, don't be mad at your Mom! I quit smoking 5 years ago and still feel like having one every so often. But I compare myself to a recovering alcoholic and just don't do it.

Your Mom must be feeling pretty darn good to be smoking so let her and just be there when she needs you!

Hugs

Rose

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It's really hard for someone who hasn't been addicted to smoking to understand what it's like to smoke or continue to smoke during/after a crisis.

I know you're hurt and angry. I myself couldn't compare smoking to an abusive person when the person who is smoking is physicall hurting themselves, not intentionally hurting other people. And I doubt your mom is trying to hurt anyone. She's probably very proud of you for helping her and being there for her.

Maybe if you realize that her smoking is a result of her emotional and physical addiction and not a personal action against you (her children) then you will be able to accept her for the person that she is- your mom- and enjoy the time you have left wtih her.

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Please do not be hard on your Mother---I am finally smoke free for 1 and 1/2 years

but I had cancer in 2000 and quit, went back, quit, went back etc. at least 6 times

Everyone knows smoking is not a good thing, but also everyone knows no amount of berating or nagging from another person ever does anything to make another quit!!! it has to come from inside!

Please just love your Mom---you are so lucky to have one!!

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You are doing the best you can. Tobacco is more addictive than heroin, so it is hard to quit. I was so happy when my husband quit but it did take a ca diagnosis to get him to take that step. I'm also a non-smoker and as sick as it sounds, there are days when I would LOVE a smoke even tho I know it's what's caused Glenn's cancer.

Look on it like any other addiction-alcohol, heroin, crack. She's going to do better at some points in her life and worse at others. And you can't make her quit - the choice is hers.

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Hi Beachmoma,

My sister also smoked after she was diagnosed with small cell. She did eventually quit, but only because her doctor told her that she must be suicidal. She did not want to quit, even then, but he made her feel so guilty that she felt she had to. I wish I would have told her to go ahead and smoke. I know how awful that sounds..but that is really all she had a desire to do and towards the end..she was not able to even think of smoking so I don't think that it would have mattered if she smoked or not. I know how hard it is to quit..I am 3 weeks into my quit and it has been pretty difficult...but I don't want to die of lung cancer..but I am sure that if I were told that I had lung cancer today...I would light up a cigarette. I know how stupid that sounds..but that is how addictive these things are. Don't be mad at the smoker...be mad at the Cigarette Companies. Why are they allowed to sell this legally? How can these people sleep at night? They know how difficult it is to quit..not so much the detoxing..but the psychological hold cigarettes have on people is unbelieveable and you can not possibly know how strong this is unless you have smoked and tried to quit.

Be patient with your Mom..I would think with what she is going through right now..with the quilt..and anger..and fear...it would be almost impossible for her to quit. Let her smoke darling..Light a cigarette for her..It is not going to matter at this point..You will wish you would have just let her have her last days in peace.

Love to you,

Bobby

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I'm going to validate what you are feeling while others may not.

"Anger" is an emotion that I think divides the room here. I personally have NO problem with you being angry with mom over this habit...angry about the habit itself...and angry about what it HAS done to you. You certainly despise the smell. I always did too. But what you REALLY hate is that this thing (which cames with characteristics you can sense) has come close to taking your mom away AND has caused you true emotional distress and anxiety.

Being angry with your loved one is not the opposite of love. Indifference is. So when you say it ticks you off, I get it. It is this AWFUL presence and reminder of possible future heartache and past stress.

Do I believe it is a battle worth fighting, however...nope. My mother loved me SO much. And I begged her to stop from when I was a small child. She couldn't do it. It is an evil industry and habit.

I understand your emotional response, I understand the anger. I 100% would validate how you feel. The problem IS NOT YOU. However, from experience you will have to accept this thing which you can not change.

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This is such a painful topic. My sister feels very much the same way you do...and she's angry too, and also disgusted by the smell...

I can't be angry at my Mom, because I'm still smoking too. I can tell you though...I'm VERY angry at myself!

I don't think there's a right or wrong answer here. But I do think we're all better served by love than anger.

(((((BIG HUGS)))))

Linda

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Hello Beachmama,

Emotionally, we respond to situations, especially when they concern our loved ones. I have been in both positions, and know the feeling from both sides.

A smoker (having been an ardent one myself for over 40 years) is an addictive person. That was my label only ten short years ago. I knew I was, and it made little difference. The addiction can be that strong.

The one thing I do know, most surely, is that if someone had kept at me about it, I would have been so stressed out, that smoking even more would have resulted. Yet, I would know that they loved me and wanted the best for me. Still, I would have been uptight.

One of our two sons who smokes, has taken his wife's advice and cut back, and only smokes outside. That, in and of itself, has lessened his intake - a good thing.

It also protects his family from inhaling along with him through second-hand smoke. Of course, that doesn't eliminate the smell from clothing. If he could smell it he would be really be surprised. When I smoked, I could not smell it on my clothing, or in my house. It can dull some of the senses.

Loving your Mom goes without saying. We know that you do - so very much. :D Being angry with her is your deep caring and concern manifested emotionally. I love my sons and wish they would quit. Maybe they will, one day.

Until then, I accept them as humans, as we all are, with our own "quirks and habits."

Barbara

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  • 4 weeks later...

i also understand the anger. my mom smoked for over 30 years - 2pks a day. she was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer with mets to brain, lymph nodes, and bones. it eventually spread to adrenal gland and pancreas. she fought for almost 2 years and smoked up untill the last few weeks of her life. i would always make comments on her smoking but it was something that she loved to do. she would tell me that she was trying to quit but i knew better. i got really angry when she would go out to the garage to smoke and fell down every time. she could not get herself back up and i had to help her. i was 8 months pregnant at the time. after a week of falling she finally went in to the dr and they found out that her brain tumors were growing and causing the falls. they told her she had 4-6 wks left. she said she only wanted to make it to see her grandaughter be born. she had no choice but to quit and my daughter was born on new years eve. my mom passed away 11 days later. i feel bad for yelling at her about smoking - really bad. i knew she couldnt do it and i probably made it worse for her by showing my anger. its normal to be angry...but is it worth it to be mad at her - no. cant change decisions she made long ago so enjoy what u have. i wish i did more.

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Thank you all for your wise words and support. Just to update, mom continues to smoke daily. But I do not mention it. I have NOT told the rest of the family about it either. It is not my wish to upset her. I am just so disgusted that she started smoking again after being free for a year!!! NOW, her cough is back with a vengeance, and she of course smells like the smoke and it ends up all over the baby when she is here, (which is daily). I AM happy that she she is ALIVE and HERE to be with us. But the thing about my mom is that RIGHT NOW she is CANCER-FREE!!! and she is just TEMPTING FATE. SHe absolutley cannot imagine going thru chemo again. And neither can I, frankly. I just shutter at the thought of it. ANd she just laughs in cancer's face. Like as if to say "bring it on!". And after allllllllllllllll the radiation, and alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll the chemo. And being smoke-free for a year......it's just terrible. And I hate it. And she's so non-nonchalant about it. Lighting her cig while on the phone with me, taking drags./....It's like a BIG SLAP in my FACE. She can't even be discreet. She can't wait til we hang up.

My sisters would totally FREAK OUT of they knew. I am the least of my mothers troubles. She better hope they don't find out. But, whatever happens you know and she knows that I'll be there for her. But I will be angry. And will never forgive her for smoking. BUt I will be strong for her and support her. It just seems like she's inviting the cancer back to her sore lungs after so much trauma. I almost cannot believe it.

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