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My dad has stage 4 lung cancer... How am I suppose to fight if he wont?

FeliWeli's picture
Posts: 4
Joined: Oct 2014

I'm new on here. I literally just finished making the account minutes ago. I'm not too sure what this site will do for me or my family, but i figured it wouldn't hurt to try.

I'm 28 years old. My dad just turned 63 in August. In August he was not in to good of health: overweight, smokes nearly 3 packs a day, COPD, high blood pressure, diabetes... etc etc..

In late July, early August,  my dad was rushed to the E.R in horrible pain and shortness of breath.. they pumped him full of meds, did some xrays, they figured it was just his copd acting up on him, they were putting his release papers in when a technician just happened to notice something on his scans... a spot...another spot.. more spots... spots everywhere in his lungs. MY brain : HOW DID THEY NOT SEE THIS BEFORE With all of his other scans hes done the past few months... years.. etc. Days later.... and when i say days.. i mean weeks later... we finally get answers from the doctors (do you know how nerve wrecking it is to wait and wait and wait?) Doctor tells us he has stage 4 lung cancer  without chemo 3-6 weeks left, with chemo 3-6 months but with his heart condition we are not sure if we want to do the chemo or not.... BAM to the face... what heart condition?! apparently he has some heart disease as well.. which i can't quite remember the name of it right now, but 90% of its blocked and barely working.  So on top of finding out my father has stage 4 lung cancer, 3-6 weeks to live, we also find out his heart can give out at any moment. And of course with cancer... there is no way that they can do any kind of surgery on his heart.. so if the heart doesnt kill him first , the cancer will.

 Fast forward 3 months--This is where we are now- its october- dad decided to go ahead with chemo (mom basically made him) dads been through 4 chemo rounds. Has 2 left. They want to do radiation after but they cant, because now we find out that he has stomach cancer too... hes had it this whole time.. and its what caused the lung cancer, cancer spread. How do these doctors not see this stuff? I understand that they have to be looking for it... but seriously.. my dad has been in and out of the hospital for years with many different problems, you would think that someone would have seen something.  Good news though, the chemo HAS "shrunk" the growths some.

Dad continues to push 3 packs of cigs a day, eats unhealthy, doesnt use his meds or oxygen the way hes suppose too...How am I suppose to stay supportive and positive when he's not ? Yes he's doing chemo... but thats all hes doing. He's not trying to eat healthy, hes not stopping smoking or trying to cut back. He's not doing anything to help. I just don't understand. And when we try to talk to him about it he just goes burserk. For someone that claims they want to live so badly you would think they would stop doing the thing thats killing them in the first place...

He's losing his hair, gets angry, depressed, mentally abusive, anxiety, hurtful, unrealistic, losing weight-- in august he weighed 308 lbs, as of today he is at 256-. I just want my boring old dad back. It's all just a waiting game.

-End rant. 


Posts: 47
Joined: Sep 2013

Are going through such a difficult time. I wish I had an answer for you. The answer, the answer you want to hear. Sadly I do not know the answer as to why your dad will not stop these things. Only he knows. I'm sorry noone has replied yet. It is a very difficult thing to discuss. I feel at a loss as of what to even say myself. You dad is very sick. All you can do is what you can do. But don't take any abuse yourself. That is just unfair to you. Do what you can to make him comfortable. Be around when he is positive, and leave is it gets difficult. You need to remove yourself for YOUR OWN wellbeing. Life does go on when people pass. It's a fact of life unfortunately.


  I'm facing it possibly myself and I'm tryng to be as accepting of what I can not control myself. Mainly to keep my sanity. I have never been in your shoes. And would not want any person to be as that is a brutally tough place to be in. I feel your pain deeply my friend, really I do. Only I'm the dad in my situation. I will pray for you and your family son. Enjoy the time you have with you dad as much as possible. Good luck. God Bless.

FeliWeli's picture
Posts: 4
Joined: Oct 2014

for replying. I guess everything is just so fresh and I'm still trying to wrap my head around it all. I'm trying my best. 

Posts: 844
Joined: Mar 2011

There are a few clinical trials going on for a class of drugs in immunotherapy.  Many of the drugs have very minor side effects.   Reading your story, it sounds as though your dad has made a decision already though.  He did not make the decision to have chemo for himself but to make your mom happy.  That he is eating unhealthy, smoking three packs a day, these behaviors are extremely passive-aggressive.  

If he is not on an antidepressant, he should be.  Also, while he is dping chemo, he may benefit from an anti anxiety medication like Ativan.  Chemo patients receive steroids to help them manage nausea from the treatment.  The steroids cause personality traits like anger and aggression.  The chemo is causing the hair to fall out.  

You need and allow him some more personal space in the decision making process.  The changes he needs to make have to come from decisions he makes.  It's okay to let him know that you would like him to make other choices but that you will love him and support him no matter what.  He needs to know that you value him as he is, bad habits and all.  It won't be easy, buit you will find that you can enjoy him more if you let go of the things that he will take as criticism.  

Its time to ask him to tell you some of his favorite stories of his childhood, your childhood, his work, your mom and his interests.  In addition to making memories that will last your lifetime he may find that little spark in himself that gives him purpose and reason to fight this disease. 

FeliWeli's picture
Posts: 4
Joined: Oct 2014

For replying. It was definitely eye-opening. 

You're right. He does seem like he has made up his mind on what he wants. I think we need to have a long talk with him and have him actually tell us in his own words. He is a very stubborn man that doesn't show a lot of emotions (normally), so I don't know how far we will get with him.

He has been on anti depressants, pain, and anxiety meds: citalopram, ativan, percoset, moraphine, marinol, loratabs...he is also taking the nausea medicine.The list goes on,  .

That's a great idea about asking him to tell me things. Would it be weird to video tape him telling me about them? Like an interview/documentary type thing? That way all of his grandkids can see it and know more about their grandpa.

Posts: 844
Joined: Mar 2011

It's a great idea IF he consents.  Otherwise, maybe a voice recorder.  The idea is to remind him that you love him and that his has led a life worth recalling.  He's done a great job if you are a measure of the love and caring he inspires.  

Posts: 773
Joined: Apr 2012

Sorry to hear about your Dad.  Any decision made should be his and his alone.  My husband  (77) after undergoing, 70 rounds of radiation, many rounds of chemo and surgery, decided to stop all treatment.  While I and our sons didn't agree with him, it was his decision to make because after all he is the one going thru everything.  His health before diagnosis was generally good, no other major health problems.  Even his doctors agreed with him.  The only thing offered after after his reoccurrence and spread was chemo and we were told up front that it wouldn't cure him, could hasten his death, or prolong it.  And talk about weight lost -- my husband is 6'4" and now only weighs 124 lbs.  Never was overweight but has been loosing weight steadily for the last month.  

Cancer changes the person is all I can say.  As far as the smoking, I guess your father feels he doesn't have much time left, so why stop what he loves to do.  And your father is lucky if he can still eat.  My husband has been on a feeding tube for the last 2 1/2 years and can't swallow anything.   Yes my husband gets angry, depressed, hurtful but he takes Ativan to help and it does help him.  But he still has his bad days with anxiety and anger and know he thinks why me.  He used to be a big beer drinker (stopped over 10 years ago cold turkey) and was a pipe smoking until 4 years ago when first diagnosed with cancer, and stopped that cold turkey too.  We have two sons who smoke and you would think they would stop after seeing what they father has gone thru and is going thru but no, same for two DIL's.  People also think it won't happen to them, but guess what they are wrong, it can happen to anyone.

I have always said that only one person controls our destiny and that is the man upstairs and I am not all that religious.  When people ask how do I handle this, I always say I'm just along for the ride and believe me it isn't fun, but I let my husband do what he wants when he can and when he gets mad and angry, I get mad and angry right back.  

Wishing you and your family the best

FeliWeli's picture
Posts: 4
Joined: Oct 2014

for replying...

70 rounds of radiation... That has to be so draining on you all. I'm sorry that ya'll are having to go through so much as well. Your husband is definitely a strong man and is willing to fight. I guess everyone has their limits though, whether its 6 rounds or 70 rounds. And you are definitely a strong woman for putting up with/sticking through it all. 

It's okay to get mad and angry back at him? I usually just walk out of the room and cry my eyes out until I'm able to dry my tears and face him again. Then there's usually the, " I'm sorry" from him.

I do wish my father would make up his mind... but I think he's scared of leaving my mother behind. He doesn't want her to hurt... so he's trying to "try". Well at least with the chemo.. As for his appetite.. he barely eats but when he does (he says its the only thing with flavor) its candy,sodas, and reeeeallly salty things. And he doesn't take his medicine how he should. I moved in with my parents so that I could help my mother care for him, but theres only so much I can do. I can't force medicine down his throat or force him to eat better. 

You're right though.. only he can do it. Not us. All we can do is be there to support his decisions.

Thanks again

Wishing you all the best as well

Posts: 122
Joined: Sep 2011

Just spend every minute you can loving him. He has to make the decision to fight or die on his own. I know from personal experience that is extremely difficult to understand, accept, and allow. Just love him don't let your last memories of him be the begging, pleading, hashing and rehashing of getting treatments, battling the disease, etc. Don't let his last memories be of you doing this. Just love him...

Ex_Rock_n_Roller's picture
Posts: 281
Joined: Mar 2011

It really is his decision, and with all the conditions he has, fighting any harder may not make much sense. Also, as I understand it, even most doctors would say that in this situation, let him do what he wants regarding the smoking and eating. The horse is already well out of the barn on those issues, and if it gives him more enjoyment, that's probably what counts now.

Let him know you're there for him, and hang in there the best you can.

Until Forever's picture
Until Forever
Posts: 2
Joined: Oct 2014

Your dad has made his choices and really they make little difference at this point.  The health changes need to be made many years ago.  My advise having just lost my husband to lung cancer 7 months is for you to make sure you ask him alot of questions.  Things you may wonder about or need to know when it is to late to get the answer.  Be sure to tell him how much you love him.  Record his voice, I would give anything to hear my husbands voice.  You have a difficult road ahead of you but your moms road will be much harder.  When she tells you you don't understand how she feels she is right,  Unless you have lost a spouse you will not.  Hug her a lot and give her space as well.  God Bless you and hold you through this time.

daughter_of_an_angel44's picture
Posts: 3
Joined: Oct 2014

I first want to extend my sympathy to you and your father, as well as the rest of the people who are feeling all of the horrible and erratic feelings that go along with his multiple diseases. My travel down the road you started in late July/early August ended when my mother succumbed to 4th stage adenocarcinoma (lung cancer) July 12th 2014, one day before her 70th birthday. 2 days after her cancer diagnosis she was also found to have a quarter sized brain met which was located on her left frontal lobe and surgically removed the met immediately. I was with her through it all, starting November 6th 2012 as her caregiver first, and her daughter when it fit the time. Please feel free to add me as a friend if you would like to inquire about anything or just talk. I will not fill up the page with my story although I could, but I will try to provide some insight to your questions or the way I dealt with things.

Overlooking/not noticing what later is said to be cancer happens often from what I heard, and it happened to my mom as well. I was told that with the years of smoking, constant chronic cough and reoccuring bronchitis, it is possible that it was mistaken for scaring of her lung. Pushing symptoms and signs under the carpet or implying it is something short term is another habit exhibited by many people. My mothers lung tumor was in her right lower lobe, the size of a softball they say, measuring 6mm across and 8mm around. They said it took the tumor 2 years to get that big and within those two years she had a minimum of 6 chest xrays. How they could have overlooked the same thing on 6 different occassions is a good question.

The tumors shrinking is definately a good thing and they may continue to do so a little more even after the chemo is complete. I am not understanding why they cant do radiation to the lung cancer. What role does the stomach cancer play in their decision not to provide radiation treatment? Will it not provide him a bit more of an extension in his life to be with his loved ones?

Your fathers behaviors, like seeming as if he doesn't care by continuing to smoke and eat unhealthy, could be because he sees no point in correcting anything now. Even though it is not a miracle cure if he did,it could add some time with his family. My mom continued to smoke to, and I thought as you did, why care if they don't, but I quickly realized who was going to be out the most at the end. Many people start smoking because it seems to relieve stress and relax them. Imagine what is going through their minds and how scared they must be. It plays its roll as the calming mechanism while they silently deal with the situation all alone. I feel that when a parent falls ill, they choose to bottle up all their erratic thought, emotional fluctuations and fear. They try to continue being the strong protective parent while in the presence of their children. My mom never spoke one word to me about her feelings, fears, thoughts or concerns. She bottled them and took them with her when she left me.

The will power, desire to fight, strength, and drive needs to come from the people around him. By pushing positives, supporting his choices, understanding his concerns, showing him infinite amounts of love, encouraging him to try the available treatments but at the same time provide him the option of not continuing them if they are bothersome. That will let him know that your willing to accept his decisions if he at least gives what they offer a chance. Tell him you feel that if he does try and it doesn't bother him, it provides you a bit more time with him, and that's all you want out of all of this. You nor him can control the inevitable, but working at it together, fighting the battle together, respecting each others reasons, supporting him and being the coach of his willpower and strength will give both of you an extension to enjoy one another.

My mom never talked to me about how she felt, but when I addressed her illness I didn't pamper the situation. It was cancer and neither of us want it, or asked for it, but we have it and we must deal with it. Refusing her nebulizer treatments was an ongoing issue. I tried to reason with her before I couldn't watch her cough and struggle any longer, then I laid it out in black and white. I would tell her its not a game and even though we have been lucky with catching her airway constricting before it was to late, shes gonna refuse one to many times and I'm not going to do anything, she will then realize how serious her games were. Those hard reality slaps worked for awhile but she would fall back into her refusal game again.

You need plenty of strength, love, support, and understanding. We never want to lose our parents, and sometimes we take over making their decisions because we think they aren't making the best ones for themselves. I feel they are adults and as well as parents and if they want to continue engaging in the same unhealthy behavior which caused them to become terminal, respect there decision for nothing more then they are your parent.

Posts: 5
Joined: Mar 2014

I just lost my father this past June. My dad & I were very close. It's hard to watch, but my best advice is to enjoy any time you have with him. My father couldn't eat anything for months and it killed me to watch him slowly waste away. But when and illness takes hold all you have is the time you can spend together.

And when time ran out for me, we spent every minute me telling him how much I loved him and how much I would miss him. Make memories, don;t fight with him anymore, if he's sick way does it matter if he still smokes or doesn't eat or sleeps all the time or doesn;t come out of his room.

Don;t leave yourself with bad memories. And if you lose him, it will be the hardest thing you will go through. my payers are with you & family

Posts: 14
Joined: Oct 2015

Choosing cancer treatment center is one of the biggest decisions your dad 'll face. There are several factors to consider as you narrow down your options for a cancer treatment center. A little extra research may cause you to opt for a different approach, suggested by a second opinion. Choosing quality care should come first when selecting a cancer center. 

Posts: 15
Joined: Dec 2015

I agree with kikirio, you may have to allow your father for whatever he wants to do. If you lose him, those memories will give you strength for your whole life. Make memories don't fight with him.
I and my husband will pray for your dad.

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