• Stage 4 Terminal Lung Cancer & Still Smoking

    Asked by kos56 on Friday, February 15, 2013

    Stage 4 Terminal Lung Cancer & Still Smoking

    My husband was diagnosed with stage 3A lung cancer in 12/10. Had one lobe of his lung removed and went through grueling chemotherapy. Yet he continued to smoke. Last week we were told the cancer has spread to lymph nodes in his chest and to his adrenal glands and is now Stage 4 and terminal. He continues to smoke. His moods -- anger, depression, are unbearable for me to put up with. He is the poster child for DENIAL. I am a wreck. Intensive chemo starts in 2 weeks, and maintenance chemo goes on for the rest of his life, which the oncologist said statistically is expected to be a median of 12 months. I have no family or close friends near me to help me cope with him on a daily basis. Hoping this community can offer some support. Thank you in advance.

    23 Answers from the Community

    23 answers
    • SueRae1's Avatar
      SueRae1

      sending lots of hugs and prayers your way. Speak with your husbands oncologist and see if you can get a referral to a therapist and/or psychiatrist that specializes in treating care givers, especially those of cancer patients. There is nothing you can do to stop your husbands behavior, but you can deal with your emotions and reactions. If you can try to see if he is interested in seeing someone to talk to as well. Also speak with a social worker and see if their are any caregiver support groups in you area. My DH finds going to one very helpful.

      over 2 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar
      nancyjac

      You have a tough situation, although blaming his continued smoking for the recurrence or worsening of his cancer and his moods is not productive for either of you and it isn't necessarily the cause of either. Lots of people who have never smoked get lung cancer or have anger and denial issues. Ask his oncologist (or as SueRay suggested, a social worker) about resources in your area for care giver support groups

      over 2 years ago
    • alivenwell's Avatar
      alivenwell

      I read in the American Cancer Society that there are volunteers who help drive a patient to their treatment in some areas. A friend of mine was a chain smoker and lost one lung due to cancer. He continued to smoke. Secondary smoke for you has no filter in it. It sounds like he has given up and will life life as he wishes to do so.

      over 2 years ago
    • Peroll's Avatar
      Peroll

      He may be suffering from deprssion which is often caused by the chemo. Please ask his Drs about getting him treated for depression, meds can help. The chemo messes with levels of seretonin in the brain so the depression is chemically caused and not his or anyones fault. I know how this works first hand.

      You also need to know that the stage 4 is not necessarily termial and that he could live for a long time even if the cancer eventially kills him. The survival time cited to you is an average and is based on data that is at least 5 years old. With the improvements in treatment he could well live a lot longer.

      You probably can't make him stop smoking it is his choice so try your best to let it go and make peace with yourself and him so if he does go sooner rather than later you are at peace and you don't regret how the last months went. Good Luck and let us know how things go.

      over 2 years ago
    • kos56's Avatar
      kos56

      Thank you for your thoughtful replies. My husband has made it clear he does not want to speak to any therapist or social worker and refused antidepressants. In fact, during his first bout with lung cancer as well as this time, he forbade me from telling anyone, including his 2 brothers. He is also addicted to pot, which he has smoked daily for over 40 years, and which has resulted in him being unemployed often and in domestic violence. He has no life insurance, as he refused to buy it when I asked. We have been separated for about two years, but did not divorce because the health insurance is in my name, and he would lose it in the divorce.I felt sorry for him and still do. But I also resent having to care for this person who has treated me so badly for 25 years. I have a therapist I go to, and he resents that and makes sarcastic comments. Although he is a 59 year old man, he acts more like a stoned teenager. There is no one else to take care of him. Very complicated situation.

      over 2 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar
      GregP_WN

      I am sorry for your situation. Sometimes there are just no words to explain why these things happen, and what the heck the person is thinking that it happens to. It must be terribly hard to stop smoking, I've never smoked so can't say from personal experience, but have had a few family members quit, and some try to quit and fail. I also had a friend diagnosed with lung cancer that refused to stop smoking. He smoked right up to the end, even while taking oxygen. There really isn't anything you can do. But please try to understand that this is NOT your fault. You have done your part and then some, it sounds like. Don't let this experience pull you down too.

      We wish you the best, please feel free to ask more, talk more with us, lots of people here that understand.

      over 2 years ago
    • pulley's Avatar
      pulley

      Hello Ko56,
      I know it is hard to even try to help someone who does not even appreciate your efforts and refuses to help himself. I had a family member who refused to try to stop smoking even after being told he would die in 5 years,which he did. He had already lost both legs because of smoking. (Not Diabetes or Cancer). He died almost 5 years later. His whole life had changed , he loved to dance and was very good at it . and drive a car and wouldn't try to get help to learn how to drive with adjustments made to his car. I do believe it was depression and low self esteem in his case he had given up, tired of the struggle of the adjustments he had to make .God answers many prayers . I know that for myself I have been in very hard situations and sincerely cried to him for guidance and I have made it through,, even had a good result come from the experience. I don't know what or if you are a believer or not but many people have turned in such desperation to him when humans had failed to help (Despite very good intentions and efforts).
      Also there maybe chemical imbalance but if he will not listen to your advice then is there anyone else who can talk to him to let him know he is loved ? (God loves him even in his condition and personality ) and that there are moments of joy left maybe even years if he would take one thing at a time toward that goal

      .I feel for you as I know of a little of a life lived in misery because of abuse....although just verbal. Please,
      you turn to the only one that can help...your maker knows you and him better than we know ourselves
      I am not meaning to offend but to point you to help. Sending you hope for a better outcome than you can imagine . There are many people on this site are willing to help in any way because they too are suffering.
      God Bless. ( Sending hugs as others have. )

      over 2 years ago
    • carm's Avatar
      carm

      kos56,
      Wow, what a tough situation to be in and there are many great words of wisdom that members have offered you. I understand your concerns, but maybe you should try approaching this from a different avenue, a financial one. Maybe it might be easier if you let him know that his habit might raise your insurance premiums and that if he does not try to rein in this habit, it might make health insurance too costly for you, which directly affects him. Perhaps the thought of both of you losing insurance as a result of his habit might cause him to slow down or cease his habit. If he can afford marijuana, then Im sure he can afford some health insurance. I am always amazed at situations like this, and in fact, when working in end of life care with divorced patients, it always amazed us that when the ex husband was dying, the ex wife was there at his side and yet, when the ex wife is the one on deaths door, the ex husband is nowhere to be found. I'm not saying that it is always like that, but certainly more so than even. You need to stand up for yourself and not use his disease as a reason to give in to his demands. Don't go to that pity party, you have to make him realize the consequences of his actions. Sometimes you have to shake the tree to get the best fruit. I think Peroll hit it on the head, I think he is probably depressed trying to cope with his situation. He is also correct in that stage IV does not have to be a death sentence if he curbs his habit. In lung cancer, these mutations can stay dormant, but it is usually outside environmental influences like smoking that exacerbate them and start that cascade of proliferation. The amount of time he has left is up to him, and if his desire is to extend that time, then it is in his best interest to invest in some nicotine patches and get a prescription for Marinol to substitute his habits. If his will to live has now become his will to leave, then his problem will only become yours if you let it. You are kind to carry him on your insurance but it might come back to hurt you in the long run. Best of luck to you and to him as well., Carm RN.

      over 2 years ago
    • kos56's Avatar
      kos56

      It is really helping to hear from all of you. My husband's attitude has already ruined us financially. He has been living off our IRA's for the past 18 months after 2 years of unemployment ran out. He refused to find work. I have been paying our mortgage and bills with our HELOC which is almost gone. Foreclosure looms. He literally doesn't care. He talks about enjoying the rest of his life and everything else be damned. I believe very strongly in God, and pray God will take him sooner than later and put me, him, and our 21 year old daughter, who is more than devastated by this, out of our misery. It is mostly for her benefit that I have not kicked him out on the street. She is due to graduate college in May and I just want her to reach that milestone. I also want to keep my sanity. Thank you all for your hugs and kind words.

      over 2 years ago
    • Queen_Tatiana's Avatar
      Queen_Tatiana

      My heart goes out to you. My oldest sister had lung cancer and surgery for it twice, yet she too continued to smoke. Even in her last months on oxygen she continued to take the machine off and go outside to smoke. It was her choice to make and there was nothing any of us could say about it to change her mind. You can't force your husband to stop and I cannot even imagine how it hurts you to watch all this going on, just as I couldn't imagine for my dear brother-in-law watching my sister. I have gotten over being angry with her for doing this and realize I could not change her, she was who she was. She left us happily surrounded by her family 3 years ago. I wish I had something great to tell you about how to fix it all.

      over 2 years ago
    • Shoeless' Avatar
      Shoeless

      My wife never had cancer but she had several medical issues linked to her smoking, including poor circulation, COPD, and several mini-strokes. She refused to give up the cigarettes right up until she had a major stroke and couldn't get out of bed. She was in a rehab center and everyone refused to give her cigarettes, including me. After 2 weeks in there she had another major stroke which took her life. She was only 63. She knew all the statistics regarding smoking but still refused to quit. There was nothing I could do about that, and there is nothing you can do about your husband's smoking. Take care of yourself first, and don't blame yourself for his behavior. There is only so much a person can do. Talk to a therapist.

      over 2 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar
      geekling

      It isn't the smoking. It isn't the pot. It is the utter selfishness on his part along with you enabling him to be that way. I'm not going to rag on you for your choices but I really don't know what you want. You say you are separated from him but you neglected to separate the money and neglected to insist on life insurance. You say this man abused you. Why are you thinking it is your job to care for him? Is it that if you don't then your daughter will?

      If not, you don't owe him. There are county programs for the indigent. Even as a wife you are not required to give your paychecks to his care. Separation usually means living separately. If you had family or closefriends, they would likely tell you .. perhaps it would be good for you to have an attorney explain to you what separation actually means, assuming the separation was a legal one.

      Apart. Away. Uninvolved except as you might choose to be involved. I don't understand how this man has such rule over your life that he is able to forbid you anything.

      On top of all that, it would be much smarter to not take doctors' prognoses as Gospel. It seems to me that you are swimming in the same river (pun on denial) as your hubby. If you really can't bear it, leave. I don't actually understand what a separated woman is doing with her hubby in any case.

      What is it, exactly, that you want support in doing?

      over 2 years ago
    • kos56's Avatar
      kos56

      Geekling -- You have the BEST response so far. This is what I truly want. To kick the XXX out. I have gone through 3 attorneys trying to divorce him, they have taken my money as my husband will not agree to anything as he does not want a divorce as he does not want to lose the health insurance. I have almost no money left. I have no family to help me. Divorce lawyers at $500 an hr in CA love people like my husband who whine and complain and stall and stall. Divorce is not so simple when you are married to a drug addict like I am. Trust me. But you are absolutely right. If he would disappear, it would be a huge relief. 25 years. I've had enough.

      over 2 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar
      gwendolyn

      Already a lot of good answers here but the main point I'd like to emphasize is that you need to stand up for yourself and figure out what you want. I'm not sure it's in your daughter's best interests to see you in this situation but if you want to keep the status quo until she graduates that may make sense. But, then what? Not to be blunt but your husband could live for years with increasing physical disability and increasing emotional problems.

      over 2 years ago
    • CAS1's Avatar
      CAS1

      I would accept the fact that he is not going to quit smoking. Smoking during treatment is deadly. It has a profound effect on survival. I would sit down and accept the amount of support I was willing to give him and I would look fro help for the rest like the American Cancer society..Go and meet with them in person usually at a cancer center hospital and I would call his relatives for help too. Try and create a plan on how your day will operate. This is just my personel opinion. Regarless of my feelings for him I would not walk away now. I think I would regret that. I would focus on what I could do and find help for the rest. Call your county health department too as they might have services. Focus on finding the services to help you help him.

      over 2 years ago
    • kos56's Avatar
      kos56

      CAS 1, this is a very sensible answer. Thank you. The thing is, I have compassion for him as a human being, but for him personally, I have deep anger and resentment for what he has put me and my daughter through. This is hard to reconcile. I think I have to tell him that straight and set some ground rules like no smoking in the house, as I don't want his cancer, and he has to chip in pay some of the household bills. He said he would when he first showed up, but so far, nothing. He also has to stop making sexual comments to me. I have zero interest in him that way. To me he has been a terrible husband, a burden. A sacrifice.

      over 2 years ago
    • AlizaMLS's Avatar
      AlizaMLS

      Dear kos56,

      .This is not an easy letter to write or read . Your husband has effectively given up. You must now focus more on taking care of yourself emotionally as much as you must deal with caring for him physically, probably more if you can. As some of the other folks here have suggested, try through some of the Cancer orgs - ACS or CancerCare to get volunteers to help transport him to appointments. I'd also see if I were in your situation (and I'm not- I'm a breast cancer patient) if I could register him for a Hospice program. That might sound radical-it's not. It doesn't mean he's going to die tomorrow or next week or next month, but Hospice workers can make life much easier for both of you and there are benefits (they can explain them far better than I) to being enrolled. You need to get support for yourself, i.e., a support group and/or therapy for yourself and be sure to try and avoid the second hand smoke. It's hard. My great aunt died from lung cancer and unfortunately caused my great uncle to die from emphysema though he wasn't a smoker. See if there's any chance he can switch to the patch so he can get his nicotine and you won't be exposed further.

      The other question I wonder is does your husband want Intensive chemo? Perhaps he needs to speak with a therapist to discern that and why. What is his quality of life? There's no law that requires him to have it and if he's smoking I'm wondering what the point is unless you want his company-there's also a lot of suffering (potentially) involved for him. Is it worth it? These are good questions that only you can answer perhaps with the help of a skilled oncological therapist-social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist.

      Warmest wishes,
      AlizaMLS

      over 2 years ago
    • kos56's Avatar
      kos56

      Today I set some guidelines. I told my husband he has to stop smoking pot in the family room as I don't want his second hand smoke. He'd also told me when he first came back to live here that he would contribute to the living expenses. I asked him today how much and when. He said he would give me $500 on Monday, and got very angry and has been sulking. Then he told me that after he sees how bad he feels after the first chemo, he may go back to live in Las Vegas, and told me I need to sell our house and give him half the money. (He is pretty desperate). I told his brother who lives about 30 minutes away what is going on and he promised he would call him -- this was a week ago, and so far no call. He also told me he would give us money, just ask. I asked, and he said, "Can't you go to apply to some low income place?" I know for a fact his brother has well over a million dollars in the bank as he has no children, is cheap, and has been working steadily at the same job for over 30 years. My daughter who promised to come home every weekend and help, bailed on me the first weekend -- this weekend, and instead, went to Laguna Beach with her boyfriend. Everyone is in denial and "busy" except me. My husband said maybe he will go live with his brother during chemo. Little does he know his darling brother is avoiding him. My husband refuses to talk to a therapist. He is going to go through chemo because he believes that it will prolong his life and that smoking has no effect. I am just taking it day by day. I feel bad that he is in pain and depressed and sulking, but I am going to stand up for myself. No smoking in the house. Period. He can give up if he wants. But I am not giving up.

      over 2 years ago
    • Lindy's Avatar
      Lindy

      You are getting remarkable information, advice from some caring smart people, I only have a family tale to share. One Christmas my father was particularly grumpy, to make the event pleasurable for all one of my sisters was secretly dropping mom's tranquilizers in his morning orange juice. I am not recommending you do this but the thought of it may make you smile.

      over 2 years ago
    • kos56's Avatar
      kos56

      exhausted this morning. even though I take prescription sleep meds, woke up at least a dozen times last night. cannot cope with my husband's selfish, self-destructive behavior. last night walked by his room and it reeked of marijuana. this morning found a near empty dominos pizza box in the kitchen. my bones and eyes ache from not sleeping and I feel there is a monster of death in my house.

      over 2 years ago
    • sherryo's Avatar
      sherryo

      Im dealing with similar situation. My husband has stage 4 lung cancer he still smokes and is miserable most of the time. But I cant blame him he was told he would live a year, hes scared.Ill pray for you both

      almost 2 years ago
    • butch13's Avatar
      butch13

      im stage 4 they do double chemo every week yes I still smoke there are a lot of people out there that have never touched a cigarette but I do enjoy them and they calm me down in times of stress the cigs may never had anything to do with it and I feel if I enjoy it I watch my moods because I want people to still want to be around me sometimes I think they think its catching or something I don't know of any doctor to be able to tell how long you have theres only one that can do that and hes not here yet I just try to keep the things that are troubling me to myself because it chases people away I just found this site and am trying it out to see if talking to other people makes it better I hope things get better and you enjoy the time you both have together here my misses asked me to move out lol her sister and father died thru cancer and she don't want to go thru it again I love her and don't want her to be unhappy me I do care about me but ill make it thru have a good day

      over 1 year ago
    • kos56's Avatar
      kos56

      to XXX 13, my husband died 2 months ago, Aug. 8, 2013. almost 6 months to the day he was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. He kept smoking until he was hospitalized for the last 5 months of his life during which he suffered horribly, through radiation and chemo, and vomiting. He wanted to die, the suffering was so bad. Even though my insurance company spent over $3 million giving him the standard of care for lung cancer patients, every treatment they gave him, just made him worse. He lost 75 pounds in 6 months, died a horrible, painful death that no one should have to suffer. I suffered watching him die. A few days before he died, his oxygen level went so low from all the tumors in his lungs ( he couldn't breathe) that he suffered brain damage and did not recognize me the last two days of his life. He died in my arms. At least he is finally out of his suffering and pain. His death was torture, a horror. That is the reality of my husband's death from lung cancer. The 40 plus years he smoked he never tried to quit because like you he said he liked smoking. But as he suffered a slow, horrible death, he said he regretted smoking. Too late. He paid for his mistakes with his life. God bless his soul.

      over 1 year ago

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