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Feelings of shame


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I feel like such an idiot! My mother died of lung cancer 30 years  ago and it was horrible. Did I stop smoking? Oh no I didn't. Smoking has always been an emotional crutch for me and yes I admit I'm addicted. Now I Have to quit ( not that I haven't tried many, many times before) and it's a struggle. Now I have ( I can't even say the C word) and it's all my fault. I realize I can't change the past but a part of me feels like I deserve to suffer. I must admit that I'm angry that I have to give up cigarettes. As you can see I'm totally twirly whirly. My'm mind is so bumfuzzled with the diagnosis and giving up cigarettes and trying to be strong for my kids and grandkids.....to put on the happy face. So I come to you for info, advice and inspiration. Here I am, a messed up 72 yr old woman who would like to live but not quite sure I'm strong enough. Thanks for  reading.

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Oh my goodness. Dear Susie, you cannot beat yourself up like that. Of course you do not deserve to suffer. I too smoked for 30 years, and although I quit 7 years ago managed to join this group of LC survivors. As you will find, there are many never-smokers here, and I am sure we all know long-time smokers happily puffing their way into their 80s, so life just isn’t fair. Of course there is a link, but blaming yourself will not give you the extra years you really want. Going up cigarettes is a real battle, and I wish you all the best in this first step. Keep reaching out to people on this site and others when you feel down, so you can get some support and strength to get through what sounds like dark times. All the best, Rikke

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Susie,

I'm 71 and have survived nearly 18 years from recurrent stage IV lung cancer. I also smoked. But as a career soldier, I was exposed to all kinds of stuff bad for my lungs. So I'm not really sure what caused my lung cancer. This saying holds: correlation is not causation!

Regardless, you've a tough row to hoe now. Lung cancer treatment is bad enough without adding cigarette smoke to irritated lungs. So, just do it. Hard is not impossible and there can't be a better time to quit!

Stay the course.

Tom

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Susie,

The stats are that 1 out of 7 smokers will likely get lung cancer.  That is 14% of smokers.  So, let's move on from the guilt and self-flagellation and onto what you'll need to do in order to be a survivor like Tom and so many others here (including me).  Can you tell us more about any testing you've had done, what your doctors are telling you and what next steps you're looking at?  In this way we can share from our personal experience to help support you along this road.

Lou

PS:  I quit 17 years ago and still got lung cancer and my mother died of it and my father of bladder cancer.  So, you need to realize that "what's done is done" you can't undo it, but you can do things now; get rid of the cigarettes (try Nicorette, it worked for me).  Share more data with us and take a few minutes to browse through some of the posts.

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Hi Suzie and welcome. I also recommend that you stop beating yourself up.  And get used to saying the "C word". Cancer is a disease. It's not a curse or a death sentence. I'm a never-smoker and I got lung cancer. We don't care whether you smoked or not-- we're all in this together. And we can help each other to cope with diagnosis and treatment. So say " Cancer". Say "Cancer sucks!", because it does. Let us know how we can support you and what questions you may have. That's what we're here for.   Hang in there! You can do this. 

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I blamed myself too. I went back to work in Lower Manhattan the week following 9/11, when Downtown reopened. The air was horrible for months but we were assured that it was "safe". I could easily have gotten a new job in Midtown. I kicked myself when I was diagnosed 2 years ago at age 66. Hindsight is great. 

But it has been important for me to forgive myself and let the guilt go. I can't change the past. I've been through a lot in my treatment journey but it's all been worth it. I'm NED now and doing great. 

My oncologist often says that no one deserves cancer, including smokers. The fact is that anyone can get lung cancer, regardless of smoking history. But it will help with your treatment/recovery if you are able to stop smoking, whatever way you can. Take it one day, one hour, one minute at a time. Best of luck. 

P. S. This article from Cure Magazine explains the stigma better than I can:

https://www.curetoday.com/view/-stigma-kills-kathy-griffin-s-diagnosis-brings-lung-cancer-needs-to-the-forefront-regardless-of-patient-smoking-history

Edited by Judy M2
Added P. S.
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Please don't beat yourself up over getting lung cancer because you were a smoker. Never smokers also get lung cancer. My mum was a heavy smoker who quit 15 years ago. Even though she quit, unfortunately the damage was still done. Luckily she's currently NED and hopefully will remain NED. The best thing you can do after a lung cancer diagnosis is to quit. People with lung cancer who quit smoking have a better outlook than those who continue to smoke. Smoking can make treatment less effective and cause additional lung problems. It's important to try to improve your lung condition in order to improve your health and outlook. The doctors were surprised by my mum's excellent lung capacity so quitting has benefits. Smoking will only further damage your lungs. 

However please don't blame yourself. Everybody in life has vices and different coping mechanisms. You get super healthy people who never smoke, drink and are a healthy weight but get cancer. My friend's dad never smoked or drank and was a healthy weight but got pancreatic cancer. Even one of the doctor's told my mum not to blame herself and his sister in law was a health freak but died from a brain tumor. 

The best thing you can do is focus on treatment and take positive steps forward. A lung cancer diagnosis sucks but it's not all doom and gloom. Advances in treating lung cancer have improved massively and there are people even with stage 4 who have been living with cancer for years. 

What type of lung cancer do you have and what stage are you?

Monica x

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