Tips on comforting a loved one who was... - Lung Cancer Support

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Tips on comforting a loved one who was just diagnosed?


Hi all, My mother 59 and a lifelong smoker (although as of today she has quit for 11 days) has just been diagnosed with lung cancer. She is having further testing tomorrow and we are to find out more about the stage on Monday. Does anyone have any insight on how I can comfort my scared mom as we all await the results? We are all pretty devastated and I have been crying daily. When does one start to function more normally after finding out a loved one is diagnosed?

19 Replies

Tell her to not read the internet and listen to her doctors about treatment. Many people are living much longer with lung cancer than they used to and more treatments are coming. The internet has 5 year old statistics and they have been a lot of advances in treatments during that time. Good luck to her!

I am so sorry that you're family is going through this. I can't offer much advice except, just be there for her. Give her someone to talk/complain to when she needs it, and a shoulder to cry on when she needs it. Do not google lung cancer, that information is very old and outdated. Do your best to reassure her that lung cancer is not the automatic death sentence it once was, people can and do live many many years after diagnosis. You may want to check out: as well, it is another web site/support group with some very good advice, and very nice people.

Tell your mom I said congratulations on becoming an ex smoker, I know how very difficult that is. Yes, smoking is the #1 cause of lung cancer, but it is not the only cause, people who have never smoked get lung cancer. I was a non smoker for about 13 years when I was diagnosed with lung cancer and emphysema.

Where is she being treated? Can she go to an accredited cancer hospital? Make sure the doctor in charge of her care is a lung cancer doctor (I learned both of those things the hard way). What tests has she had done?

You guys will get back to a kind of normal, some call it a "new normal". Once all the testing is done and a treatment plan is agreed on, hopefully your mom will be a little less scared.

Please let me know how you guys are doing.

miskellb1 in reply to KatherineK

Thank you, luckily we are in driving distance to Boston so we are getting her testing done at a local hospital and we plan on looking at Dana Farber and Mass General for 2nd opinions

anrean in reply to miskellb1

Love that you are getting a second opinion!! Please get the 2nd opinion from a lung cancer specialist. It is 100% worth the time and effort to make sure your mom is getting the best care possible. I went for a 2nd opinion and ended up with that oncologist because although the first doc was a lung ca specialist too, I felt that the 2nd opinion oncologist was more aware of newer treatments and was more forthcoming with information. Even though it is a 2 hour drive, life is very much worth getting the best possible care!! Some of my needs are taken care of through my GP, which cuts down on some of the traveling, and the two are willing to collaborate. The oncologist will have my GP do things like scans and then I bring them with me when I see the oncologist. It is sort of complicated, but it works well and I believe I'm getting the best care possible!

Reassure her that there are survivors. I was diagnosed in 2013 with stage 4 and six years later, I am living cancer-free. Share with her the following: Try to maintain a positive attitude while undergoing treatment. Believe in hope. Have a good relationship with your oncologist. There are so many new treatments and your doctor will help find the one that is best for you. Have a list of questions each time you go to your oncologist as anxiety about what is going on can make you go blank when the doctor enters the room. Share your condition and feelings with people who will support you either by prayer or to be there when needed and also just willing to listen. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. People want to help but always don’t know how. Transportation, shopping, and food are just a few ways, and you are helping yourself as well as them as they want to feel useful while they support you. My mantra was Romans12:12. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.” This is a journey, one step at a time, and survival, your destination.

Keep us posted.


First, I’m sorry to hear that your mother has lung cancer, but nowadays having lung cancer isn’t a death sentence like it used to be. There are so many new treatments available. Once the shock wears off of all of you, you will have a new vin normal. There will be many Dr. visits and tests, and then treatments. She will need mental and physical support, so be there for her, but don’t forget to take care of yourself. If you have any questions, feel free to talk to me. I’ve been dealing with mine since 2016, and I’ve had 2 surgeries, radiation, chemo on separate occasions, complications from treatments, so I think I’ve had a little of everything. Please don’t hesitate to contact me, if you’d like, I’ll give you my phone number, just so you or your mom, or any family member can talk to me.

Thank you so much 💕

I am in exactly the same situation as you, my mum was diagnosed in July. My initial reaction was many tears, endless nights of worry. However, it does get easier as time goes on and the shock subsides. As others have mentioned, there are many treatment options now, please do not google. You’ll just fixate on outdated statistics which bear no relevance to your situation or reflect the advances in treatment. It is and continues to be a bumpy road but stay positive, my mum is doing well and I’m sure yours will do the same! Look after yourself too, keeping your emotions in check is so important.

All the best to you and your mum, with love from London, UK x

One thing I haven’t heard was tell her to walk or excercise as much as possible if the doctor says ok. Walking helps with so many things.

I was diagnosed with lung cancer may 2018 and had an upper lung lobe removal. It was not bad at all and I was up walking within a couple days.

I was a 35+ year smoker and have quit too with medication. Tell her congrats on stopping and I will be praying for her.

Thank you so much. you all have provided me with so much hope.

Keep the hope active! There are so many new treatments that have upended the old statistics for lung cancer! It is a shock initially, but as time goes on you can focus on getting the best care for your mom and the shock will lessen. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in May, and we went through much the same feelings as you, even though I am working on my 5th primary cancer. Support and open communication with your mom's oncologist are vital. I go to every appointment because it is amazing how much we miss different things. We bring a written list of questions because it is easy to get side tracked as you hear what the oncologist is saying. Her onc is fantastic and will repeat things so that I get them written down properly. After each appointment we go to lunch to review the notes and talk about what the onc has said so that we are on the same page. It also helps my mom feel less anxious when she knows there is going to be something fun after the appointment. Be there for your mom and let her talk as much as she needs; for you, choose a trusted friend or two to talk things out with. It is very tempting to get on the internet and do some research - just be extremely careful that you are using very reputable sites and even then don't pay attention to the statistics. Everything on the net is pretty much old and treatments are advancing so fast that the statistics don't apply anymore! Also, don't be afraid to ask for psychological help. Many of us are taking anti-anxiety or depression meds to help, and there are counselors who specialize in cancer. Your oncologist may know of a few. Don't be afraid to ask us questions, too. This site is a good resource for support and good information. You are not alone! Wishing you all the best as you take this journey.

No need to discuss her smoking status, it only hurts and implies it's her fault. It's not, it rogue cells that mutated and became cancerous.

There lung cancer patients who never smoked and others who quit many years ago. Sadly the smoking stigma hurts funding and research. I truly hope someday the question of smoking will never be asked.

I wish your Mom the very best. There are many long term survivors, living years now, thanks to new treat advances, I hope she'll be one of the us.

I had second opinions at Dana Farber and MGH, but ultimately stayed close to home at Lahey and have no regrets. They all had the same treatment plans and I love being close to home in a small center where everyone knows me. I'm now in Remission and will celebrate my 5th cancerversary in March. I was 56 at diagnosis and had a grim diagnosis - Stage IV, with a brain tumor and a pulmonary embolism, thankfully I've kept a positive attitude and fought hard. The first weeks were very overwhelming, but it because easier through support groups and by educating myself. The GO2 foundation has a fantastic patient handbook and a wonderful support system. Another group which helped me greatly is the lung cancer support bgroup on I recommend them, as well and have been a member there for almost five years.

I wanted to have grandchildren in my life and have since been blessed with two baby girls 2 1/2 and 5 months. They are now my greatest inspiration. 💜

Be there for your Mom and help her find a great Oncology team. You're come to a great place. Best wishes to her.


Sorry to read your news but responses so far have been realistic and reassuring. I had surgery 9 years ago to remove half my upper left lung and diagnosed in Jan 2011 with non small cell lung cancer. The specific type I had was not recommended for follow up chemotherapy so my follow up treatment has been 'vigilance/watchful waiting' by the hospital. In the last 5 years or so I've become very involved in lung cancer research and wish I could explain to people how the situation has changed in those last few years yet sadly much of the medical profession (unless directly involved) or the general public are aware. I've met patients who've survived 20+ years prior to the new treatments available yet hadn't appreciated there were any. The internet is woefully out of date and frightening. I am a member of Roy Castle lung cancer foundation patient panel and we review literature on their website and printed and it is regularly updated by clinicians. It is the only Uk charity dedicated to lung cancer and has reliable informed information about the various types and treatment options. good luck as you begin what is likely to be a long journey - keeping active is important. I was back at work 3 months after surgery and swimming and have gone onto swim further without half my lung than before it. hope you get some good advice on treatment options and once you know the specific information, can plan for the 'what is' rather than panicking about the 'what if'.


It’s been more than 9 years since I was told that I could only expect to live 10-15 months with my stage 4 lung cancer. There’s no reason that I should have survived this long, I am grateful every day for my life.

Hi all! Tonight we got a phone call from the doctor confirming that the cancer is localized in one lung and has not spread elsewhere!! We are so grateful and hoping to move forward with surgery soon. Thank you for all of your hope, knowledge and support

LewLew19 in reply to miskellb1

Fabulous news!!!! All the best to you

That actually sounds promising in terms of treatment. There is good information on Roy Castle lung cancer website about lung surgery with suggested hints, tips, milestones and more in plain English. Good luck for her treatment.


Hello miskellb1,

You have landed in the best place for you and your mom. This is such a caring and supportive community. I am glad to hear you are already scheduling second opinions. Even if they recommend the same treatment, you will all feel better knowing you are on the correct path. Our helpline can help you with questions to ask and other resources and support. Our number is 1-800-298-2436 or by email at Sending hugs to you and your mother!



When my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 NCSL , she said...well...i smoked my whole life. I won't stop now. She was 62. I was getting married in 3 Weeks. How do you talk to her. You ask her how she feels? Is she afraid? if so, afraid of what? Treatment, pain, surgery, chemo, radiation, dying? We are all different in our parent child relationships so not knowing how you are with her under life's different circumstances ( figure our what you are comfortable talking about) Start somewhere. Church? Doctor? FAmily members?

Sorry . There is not an easy answer. Just be there for her. Jane

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