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My heart is breaking...


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Hi all. This past Tuesday I learned that my aunt (my second mom) has a tumor the size of a lime in her lung which has moved to one lymph node. She has had significant fluid drained from the lung. That fluid was positive for non-small cell lung cancer. She has a brain scan set for Wednesday and a PET Scan set for Sunday. We have no other facts. I feel as though my world is falling apart. I don’t want to put my grief onto her while she is struggling with this news herself. I don’t even know what to say to her except that she is in my prayers. I’m trying so hard not to look at everything I feel I am losing, rather be positive for her. This is so very very hard. What should I expect and what are the best ways to help without intruding into her space? I am so so sad. 

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Hi, Gray, and welcome. I'm sorry about your aunt's diagnosis, but this is a far from hopeless situation. You will know more when the tests are done, but I suspect, based on the size of the primary tumor, she's most likely Stage III or IV. It's important to know what type of nsclc she has (adenocarcinoma, squamous, large cell, etc.), and her treatment team should send out samples for molecular testing--for that, she might need a biopsy, even if they were able to ID the cancer from the fluid.

Nobody wants to be dealing with lung cancer, obviously, but it isn't the hopeless situation it used to be. There are people on this forum 15-20 years out from an advanced cancer diagnosis. More and more, it has become possible for many people to treat their cancer like any other serious chronic disease. 

Please try not to treat her like she's checking out anytime soon--she could be around for years to come. I'm sure she would appreciate your concern, but try to encourage her to stay positive. There are many great new treatments out there and more being developed every day.

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So sorry to hear about your Aunt.  As a survivor of lung cancer (diagnosed two years ago) and member of this board for the past two years I can tell you that your feelings are perfectly normal and expected.  I can also tell you that lung cancer (LC) is not the death sentence it once was and there are many here living years past their diagnosis.  There are have been more advances in the treatment of LC in the past 5 years than the previous 50.  I will give you a few words of advice though; do NOT search Dr. Google.  The stats that are posted are five-year averages and do not properly represent the survival and outcomes that are being experienced today.  Also, have your Aunt keep a journal so that she can write down questions and keep them to share with her medical team or with us here.  You too...ask all the questions you want and you'll find great support here based on people's personal experience.  There is also a forum I believe you should look into, it's called "Caregivers Resource Center" and can be found here.  In addition, you and/or your Aunt should take a look at the "10 Steps to Surviving Lung Cancer by a Survivor" which can be found at this site.

You'll find a load of support here by super people


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Welcome here.

I am very sorry to learn of your aunt's diagnosis of NSCLC. I recall my anxiety seventeen years ago when I received my diagnosis. That was in the lung cancer treatment dark ages where there were few effective treatments. But there appeared a "just in time" discovery in the form of precision radiation that rid me of my lung cancer despite 5 recurrences.

Today, the treatment spectrum is so advanced. As Lexie and Lou state, there are so many effective treatments, some so capable, that they eliminate even advanced stage lung cancer. Your aunt is in the diagnostic phase of our disease. Here is a good synopsis of what happens in that phase.

What should you expect? After diagnosis is complete, expect a treatment plan. Further, expect that this plan will work. 

Stay the course.


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