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Caught my mom sneaking a smoke...


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I just caught my Mom sneaking a ciigarette in her room. She has NSCLC stage IIIA, is in the middle of her second round of chemo, and we are meeting today with a thoracic surgeon. She looked so guilty and said that she only smokes a couple of puffs a day when she is stressed out.

I sat down with her and told her that I know it must be hard for her to quit and that I will do whatever I can to help her. I am trying to be supportive. I don't want her to feel like I am berating her or belittling her. She is my Mom!

But inside I am so dissapointed and angry. I want to go in her room and toss out the smokes, but I am sure she will only buy more.

Any advice?

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Mandy see if her doctor can give her some thing to help her quit the smokes, it is not easy to just quit my husband did quit after his first chemo but every once in a while he had a really bad craving for them but he has not had one since which surprised me because he drove semi and was a 2 pack a day smoker so I was very proud of him. They have stuff to help I quit with the help of wellbutrin or also know as zyban, so try that also commit lozengers helped. Prayers for you and your mom God Bless Charolette

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My father had triple bypass surgery in 2000. His doctor told him it was directly attributed to his smoking. He quit smoking the day he was admitted to the hospital and I thought it was GREAT! We all know smoking is a bad thing and your parent is obviously wiser than you...

So when I saw him smoking three years ago at work, I didn't yell and scream, I asked him how he could get his head that far up his *ss! Yeah, my dear dad and that's EXACTLY what I asked him...

He's smoking again...knows what it can do to him...drinks alcohol with heart meds, too. It's sad, but the one thing that needs to be realized here is that you can SUPPORT her, but you can't CHANGE her. She has to change herself.

It's disheartening, to say the least, to know that your parent is doing something to possible shorten their time with you...BUT, the parent is an adult, and able to make their own decisions even if they are bad ones.

You can't fix the situation, you have to assess how you can change YOU to work with it. You have many options: bribery ("I won't be here to light your cigarette when you are bed-ridden and can't reach your smokes"), begging ("I NEED you in my life")...it's not going to work until your mother decides she's going to quit - and she'll probably need help quitting.

You can offer to help her to quit, you CAN impose "no smoking in my house" rules, that's a respect issue. Don't make it easy on her to smoke, but don't tie it up with guilt so bad that she withdraws and figures that no one would want someone around as "dumb" as her.

Bottom line is she's your mother and you'll love her no matter what - you just won't always LIKE her! :wink:

Hang in there, it's a very ugly battle. Smoking is something else entirely...

Take care,


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My suggestion will not be popular: Love her, accept her and leave her alone. Don't leave pamphlets laying around, drop hints, make faces or turn the TV to an anti-smoking commercial. Your mother knows that smoking is bad for her. She knows she shouldn't do it, and any hint of anger or disgust toward her will only make it worse. It's no different than any other addiction (alcohol, drugs, 000, xxxography, food, etc.). The person performing the act KNOWS all the reasons they shouldn't be doing it. Smoking is a powerful addiction and when she's ready to quit, for good, she will, but not before.

When I was a teenager, a member of my family was a severe alcoholic. I remember pouring alcohol down the sink, throwing fits, crying, shaming, etc., etc. After about 4 sessions at Al-Anon, I learned that I was doing everything WRONG. By condemning and shaming, I was only adding to the guilt and causing the person to increase the activity. I learned to ACCEPT this person just the way they were, but also that I had to let the person suffer the consequences of their behavior. I was taught that "until you walk in their shoes" you will not understand, and that is a very true statement. The person never did stop drinking, but I did learn to accept it and love them. I also learned, after I became an adult, to stay away from the person when I knew heavy drinking was going on. Just because I accepted it and loved this person, didn't mean I had to be around or witness this activity.

If any one of us reading this posts can ever understand why intelligent people continue to smoke, they will be richer than all of us combined. It has NOTHING to do with intelligence. It is an addiction.

I could be wrong about the statement I am about to make, but I doubt it. I would guess that there is a very large percentage of the 1400 members of this board, with and without lung cancer, that are still smoking. I would also guess that a lot of them don't post because they are ashamed or are afraid they will have to admit they are still smoking. I think this is very sad. I would pray that any smokers that don't post would put it behind them and just join us for support, whether they are a caregiver or an lc patient.

Your anger and frustration are very normal and I understand how you feel, but I think if you can get to a point of acceptance and understanding, the anger and frustration will disappear. Your mom knows she can get help from a doctor, wear a patch, buy Nicorette, get hynotized, etc., etc. and doesn't need for anyone to tell her those things. When she wants to quit for good, she will.

God bless you, Many, and I will pray for your mom.


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My mom also chose to smoke after finding out she had lc. She felt it helped her to be comfortable. I know how crazy that must sound. She was a 50+ years of smoking and was not about to give them up after her diagnosis. We just let her smoke if that is what she wanted. I understand your hurt and disapointment like Peggy posted it has to be there choice to quit. I know with my mom if I had even suggested she would quit would of only upset her. My mom actualy had a smoke on her trip to hospice less than 2 days before she passed away. My thoughts are with you and mom.

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I know a bit about Al-Anon myself and it does apply. She already knows, she is grown. You did the right thing, offered your support if she decides to fight the addiction. You can and should limit your own exposure to it, of course -

I would suggest that she feels even worse emotionally having to sneak it in her room - not that you condone it but maybe it would be better to get it out in the open, a chair on the back porch, etc. Shame does no one any good. No use either one of you being miserable about "what is" right now. Yes, the doctor can help.

I wish you both well.

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  • 1 month later...


First, I'm sorry that you are in this position. I must say that I completely agree with Peggy. When I was a kid, I would leave "quit smoking" stuff around the house, articles linking asthma (which I have) to parental smoking...everything trying to guilt my mom and step-dad into quitting. It never worked. The one time she did try to quit she was so emotionally raw that I went and bought her a pack myself. After she was diagnosed, it was VERY hard to see her and my step-dad smoking, but she told me that it was all she had that was "normal", she couldn't hardly eat, she couldn't work, she couldn't get up and garden, but she could smoke. So don't hound your mom too much, (unless by some miracle she was diagnosed early.....) it will just make matters worse. Your mom knows it's not good for her, she's known that for a long time. You can't fix the damage it's caused, so just enjoy the time with your mom. I wish you all the best of luck.


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  • 3 weeks later...

My brother is 48, with stage 3b lung cancer. It came on quickly. We thought he had a a bad cough and he wouldn't go to the doctor. Now his right lung is covered with tumor as is his trachea. He and I are very close. This is very hard, and doubly h ard on my mother, who is still getting over breast cancer from march of this year, 2004. I would appreciate some feedback from anybody out there. it has been a very tough 10 days. thank you.

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