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My good friend has Stage IV lung cancer - what do I say to her and how can I help

Posts: 512
Joined: Nov 2007

A close friend was diagnosed in September with Stage IV NSCLC with mets to back, pelvis and leg. She did well with her chemo and was briefly in remission. Yesterday, after 3 rounds of maintenance chemo her scans showed the primary tumor growing as well as progression in other tumors. She will have radiation to try to help with back pain and then is going to a Phase I clinical trial.

My question, she is having difficulty dealing with her prognosis (who wouldn't) but I am often at a loss about what to say or do when she says things like "well I guess I won't be around for Christmas." or "I can't believe I am going to die soon." I go with her to her appointments and chemo's. I am there for her to talk to but I really struggle with what to do. I am a colon cancer survivor, but I was diagnosed Stage III - a very different animal.

Her family and friends all say things like "don't be silly you are going to be fine."

She is 54 and a lovely person - any suggestions would be appreciated.



Posts: 21
Joined: Dec 2010

Hug her and pray for and with her. I am a 25 yr colon/rectal cancer survivor and have recently been diagnosed with Lung Cancer. I have those same thoughts at times but have handed it over to the Lord and asked for peace... I am sorry your friend is going through this as well as you. God Bless you both.

Glenna M's picture
Glenna M
Posts: 1576
Joined: May 2009

Sorry your friend is going through this but I understand her thoughts and feelings. When I was first diagnosed I felt like it was a death sentence, that was 18 months ago and I'm still here and doing good.

I don't have the answer that you are looking for but would like to suggest that you have your friend come on CSN and read some of the posts of other survivors. Maybe that would help her realize that there is always hope. If she is suffering from depression (which is completely understandable) she may need to see a professional who can help her overcome these problems. There is no shame in seeking help when you can't handle the stress alone.

Please post again so we will know how she is doing. We care!!

Stay strong,

Posts: 218
Joined: Mar 2011

Pam, I am new to this site and have stage 4 Esophagelia Cancer. The last thing we need to hear is that we are going to be fine. We know better,though these things are said because those that love us are so devastated that they don't know what else to say. When I was dx last April, my first goal was to live thru the summer and the treatment regime I was on. My second goal was to be here for Christmas and be able to eat. We need goals. Tell your frind to set a goal to be here for Christmas and fight her way to that goal. This time last year, a tumor was completely blocking my esophagus and I was on a feeding tube, I can now eat and am at least stable. The tumor has been eliminated. I pray that your friend can see her way clear to become positive and take each day as a blessing. Her situation as well as many others is devastating. Many prayers on her behalf.

KLScoville's picture
Posts: 161
Joined: Mar 2011


I am in the same boat you are. There are two differences. one difference is that it is 'my husband' with the same thoughts as your friend. At his first oncologist appointment the nurse asked him how he was feeling and he said "not bad for a dying guy". The other difference is that his family recognizes his illness and have been making plans to come and see him.

Like others have said, you best bet is have your friend get on this website. If she is unable to (my husband is unable to) tell her about this site and what you are doing. Tell her the support you are getting and the advice.

Thanks for listening!


Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2011

I am so sorry to hear about your friend. You are a wonderful friend for supporting her the way you do and for wanting to do more. Being there to listen, telling her about this network, or researching a local support group or yoga and or meditation group may be of interest to her. Doing some of the leg work may help her out because it can be emotionally difficult to do it for yourself.

She needs to know everone is an individual and to keep having hope! My mom is 66 and has being Living with LC for just over 6 years. Over 4 of those years have been at stage 4! I did not think this was possible, but like I said EVERYONE is individual. in her case, a good support system, and switching to a positive ongologist who works in colaboration with other doctors for input in putting together a plan has been a big part. It has been a roller coaster for 6 years with good news and bad news along the way.

I wish I could be of more help, but sometimes hearing a positive stage 4 story with LC may be helpful. All the best and I will keep her in my prayers.


catcon49's picture
Posts: 394
Joined: Aug 2008

I lost my BF from high school to lung cancer (she was dx feb 28 died march 29)2 1/2 years before I was dx. We never talked about it. I just made sure she knew I was there for her everyday. She never even had time to come to terms with her illnes. Sometimes you don't need to say anything. I'm not sure words are necessary to help her, maybe encourage her to keep fighting. Everyday they are coming up with new ways of approaching cancer cures. Somestimes my cheerie attitude is annoying (especially to my mother who has recurrent ovarian cancer)so sometimes she may need someone to just cry with. While I'm not advocating wallowing in tears all the time, but maybe allow her time to cry, to feel what she is feeling, and then as Soccerfreaks might say she will have to "man up" and get through treatments. (Soccerfreaks I hope you don't mind the reference but I loved it, not meant with an ounce of meanness)I hope this makes sense to you and helps a little. As a caregiver, please don't forget to stay in tune with your own health. God Bless you and your friend. And sending my cheerie and positive thoughts your way.


Posts: 48
Joined: Nov 2010

Your Mom has had lung cancer for 6 years?? That is incredible and spirit lifting!! Please give us more info and help us increase our hope for our future! What kind of treatments and success she has had, and also what were the downfalls along the way? The bad times let us know that we can get through our own struggles. Thank you for sharing. This is for susieo.

Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2011

Hi Susan,
I am so sorry to hear about your mom and her battle with cancer. What a miracle she has been with her continued fight against this terrible disease. You are very fortunate and someone is watching down on her from above. I found this website in the past week and it has been a way for me to educate and get inspired. My mother was just diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer. It has spread to her lymph nodes under her arm and around her right lung, then to her liver and now to her brain. We have discovered all of this in less than one week. She is starting radiation on the brain today - she will do this for two weeks. Then she will start her chemo. Please tell me - what type of cancer does your mom have - where did it spread too? What treatments has she used that have been so successful for her? I am in the process of getting my moms records sent to Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for a 2nd opinion - I would give anything to save her but the doctors say she has an agressive cancer. I know she has fight in her and she is strong and healthy otherwise - this all came as such a shock. She merely went in for some swelling under her arm. Thank you so much and God Bless you and your mother.

Posts: 4
Joined: Apr 2011

I was diagnosed in July 2010 with Stage iv lung cancer nonsmall cell at age 45 with 2 young children. friends and family say to me they don't know what to do or say. I tell them I don't know what to do or say, so just talk to me from the heart and we will get through this together. TALK to her, Touch her (a simple hug or hold her hand), sit by her in silence, just having someone next to you is so important. She is afraid! She doesn't know how to react and how to go one with a "normal life." Life will never be normal again, it is now life with cancer. I have turned to God...if she is open to this, pray with her....just talk to God outloud, ask him to protect her, give her strenth, to help ease her fear and pain and find the good out of what seems so bad. Always remind her she can say "anything" to you...good or bad and you will help her get through her feelings.
Unconditional love is powerful.....May God help her and give her strength.

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