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Readers Respond: How Are You Coping With Your Stage 4 Diagnosis?

Responses: 91


Updated September 27, 2010

A diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer turns life upside down. So many emotions. So many questions. So many fears. How are you coping with your stage 4 diagnosis? What has been hardest? What has helped the most? Has something or someone in particular helped you cope? Please share your feelings and/or find comfort in hearing the stories of others who have also had to cope with a diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer. Share Your Feelings

Don't know what to feel or think

My dad was suffering with "pneumonia" for 4 months. The doctors gave him two round of antibiotics and then said they wanted to test him for some sort of yeast infection ..three weeks later, my mom finally got a call that they were ready to schedule this procedure..once the procedure was complete, a week past and they heard nothing. 8 days later, he was rushed to the hospital and it was discovered that a huge tumor had burst through his lung and filled his chest cavity with fluid. Further testing /surgery discovered that it was cancer all along. He is 83 years old and has been in ICU for 8 weeks. He is too sick to treat the cancer. The doctors give him only a fews weeks/days? He is on a respirator. His mind is as healthy as ever and still has his witty personality but is fighting to live one more day every day. He tries to sit up on the side of the bed as much as possible but this is becoming less. He is now on morphine to keep him from feeling like he is suffocating. what's next...
—Guest Carol

Recent survival rate studies?

Hi all. My mom was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer recently because of a pleural effusion. Still not sure if it was definitely malignant or not (she also had pneumonia) and we're awaiting the results of all her scans still. The survival results don't look good, but I know they include decades of data before recent advances. Are there any studies of survival rates since monoclonal antibody therapy and such became viable options? I don't want to be pessimistic or naive, so for now, I just feel crazy because I vacillate between the two so often. It'd be really helpful to have more recent stats on average survival time. Thanks and best wishes to all of you! Editor's note: As you have noted -- thankfully -- the survival statistics we have are "old" meaning the number we have are several years old. Since the last statistics were recorded new therapies have been approved for stage 4 lung cancer. I also like to emphasize that people aren't statistics. At the recent LUNGevity HOPE Summit in Washington DC (check it out -- a wonderful and free chance to celebrate survival with others with lung cancer) I was amazed at the number of people with stage 4 lung cancer who had survived 5 years, 7 years, 9 years and so forth. I wish you and your mother the best as you face this nasty disease. Dr. Lynne
—Guest Ashley

There's always hope

in Dec 2012 My wife was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer which spread to the brain she has undergone full brain therapy and has been on oral chemo therapy on and off and the count has all of a sudden dropped to 22 and we are very optimistic that this will drop further and that she will be saved for our family for a couple of years more ! we can only hope and pray for that. There's all ways hope!
—Guest guest bjn

Be faithful

I found out to be a stage IV NSCLC in June 18 2013, taking targeted therapy on Erlotinib (tarceva). I also have brain (Lt temporal) and bone (T2, L5). I am a consultant microbiologist and medical educator. For the previous 10 months long, I keep staying calm, meditate and work as much as I can. No ones know when, where and how he/she would pass the world by but be faithful and living in quality at present moment will make all sufferers like me can leave the world in peace.
—Guest Kaeithi

Stage 4 Lung Cancer-8 Months In

My husband was diagnosed in September 2013 with lung cancer - he finished eight weeks of chemo and radiation in January. A routine brain scan was done a few days later and a small mass was found-now he's stage 4. He had radiotherapy for that spot in February and his doctor has started him on an aggressive round of chemo. Although it hasn't spread again - his doctor wants to "capture" other areas that are most likely out there. He has not been sick thru any of this and he is a fighter. He has some wonderful doctors at the VA Medical Center - he's a Vietnam vet. It is so hard for me to think about losing my best friend. He wants to beat this disease. His doctor is very honest and says the chances are small but to "never say never". Life is to short - my prayers and thoughts are with everyone who is going through this. Take care and thanks for listening.

Stage 4 Lung Cancer

My Mom has a seizure on Friday and was taken to the hospital, they did 2 CT scans and an MRI and diagnosed her with stage 4 lung cancer, she seems to be perfect healthy and this came out of nowhere, she has 5 lessions on her brain that the doctor told her was manageable they still need to do a biopsy in the tumor in her lungs to decipher want exact kind of cancer it is so she can goo for treatment. I am 24 yrs old and being strong for the other members of my family as they are not doing well. I am terrified to loose her. My daughter is 4 and I am closer to my Mom then anyone, I don't want her growing up not knowing what an amazing person My Mom/ Her Grandmother is...so lost at the moment
—Guest Meaghan

So sorry to all of you

I have read all of your stories of your loved ones. I feel so terrible for their pain and suffering. I'm so sorry for your pain and suffering too. None of this will ever make sense. My dad died suddenly from a heart attack. I had no chance to tell him how much I loved him. He died and I lived with so much sadness. Many times I am so grateful I didn't watch him suffer and whither away. In the end, it's all horrible and unfair. Since we can't choose and have no control, just find a way to help them pass with peace. It will help you after they are gone to move forward. I still don't have that peace. I'm filled with sadness.
—Guest Angela

Taken too quickly

My husband was diagnosed stage 4 lung cancer June 18, 2013 and just passed February 3, 2014. He had 5 intensive radiation trtmnts followed by 3 rounds of chemo. Every round of chemo resulted in pneumonia and coming home w/pic line for antibiotics. He fought the good fight and I supported him on his decision to continue the chemo but it was very debilitating.....we chose to stop the chemo and go for quality instead of quantity. For me who is left wondering why did he have to suffer....he was only 62 and after diagnosis the cancer was in the brain and on the bone.....not a day will go by that I wont ask why the love of my life was shortened by such a terrible disease.
—Guest Mary

Lost my Mom Jan 2014 Lung cancer

My mom was diagnosed Sept. 2012 with stage 4 cancer. She didn't show how sick she was. My dad knew & he would tell us 3 girls had a horriable delivery saying "your mom is going to die. I went to visit & she never had many details, My dad was fully depended on my mom, she was the core of the family. I always heard many people say how fast it happens but I was becoming hopeful, maybe even in denial, I felt lucky we had her over a year later. The Sunday after she WALKED into the ER for swollen legs & a little cough.? She was admitted, 5days later she was in ICU, its foggy to me but a few short days later Dec 13th she was home on hospice. The Xmas season did not exist to me. My dads bday is the day after Xmas, She held on until the 1st hrs of Jan. 2 the day after New Years. The last 3 days she didn't eat or talk but I know she could hear us & I am thankful for that. She only worried about my dad & us 3 girls, she was afraid of dying but she was at peace. I now know what "fast" means.
—Guest Suzann

Lung Cancer and lived for 3 years

My Dad had lung cancer and he lived for 3 years, he died now but not from lung cancer. He was stage 4 and metasis everywhere. but he was one hell of a strong guy. It was not as bad as everyone thinks. its better to think of it as a chronic disease like diabetes that you have to live with... only the first couple of month where bad. till he was properly diagnosed. there is a medicine for all the symptoms. yeah he died from a car crash :)
—Guest raz


Married 30yrs to my now ex husband, who has lung cancer,we have a daughter 3 grandchildren and from IVF program twins now 16yr old I,m angry and sad for them he left when they were 2yr old my daughter grew knowing her dad being home for her,,they are not coping with his illness he has gone down so fast in 2 months in lung,asophagas in spine and hip having chemo,but lungs keep building fluid, and now found blood in fluid from lung,I want him to be ok for my children we don't see each other at all I visited him and could not recognise him,this is an ugly disease if you love your families don't smoke.STOP!. It seems not enough information coming from the hospital to my daughter either, I have tried to search for information myself finding some answers none of them very good. I read above letters and wish I could do something. I keep telling myself I had a wonderful 33 years with him, we should all value the good times and love and laughs. Pray for a cure.
—Guest Lori

This is to much to bear

My father was just diagnosed with stage 4 cancer last week and it has metastasized all over his body including his brain. I love my Dad so much, I hate seeing him like this. Sometime he can remember my name and other times he can not. People say that I should just make him comfortable, but I feel like I am just watching him die and not doing nothing about it. I really am having a hard time accepting all of this. Editor's note: Feeling helpless is so hard when a loved one is dying. I've heard more than one patient with stage 4 cancer say that it was easier to be dying from cancer than it was for their loved ones who looked on helplessly. All your dad needs is to have you near and to say you love him, and, to sense that you are caring for yourself. Just as you feel helpless, he must feel helpless as he can't be the father he wants to be for daddies girl. Be easy on yourself. Be kind to yourself and pamper yourself. Tell your dad you love him often. Hearing is often the last sense to go away. He may not be able to remember your name but will remember your face, your voice, and your love.
—Guest Jonnell Daddies Girl

Dad's been fighting for two years

Dad, who has always been healthy, the rock of our family was diagnosed two years ago this month with stage 4 lung cancer. He has gone through chemo and radiation the last two years. He never complains about his illness, nor does he want to talk about it. I've see my dad slowly fade away, from who he use to be. I make the 150 round trip drive every other weekend to be supportive to he and my mom. It breaks my heart to see my dad so sick and weak. He doesn't talk about his illness with my mom. She won't go to the Dr. with him. He just finished another round of chemo and blood transfusion. He had a CT scan a couple of weeks ago and they said everything was the same. He has been sleeping more then usual and very tired . How can they tell if the cancer had spread to other parts of his body? How much longer will he be able to live? I just want answers that no one will give me I'm scared for my mom loosing the love of her life. Can anyone help me? Editor's note: I wish we could predict how long someone will live with lung cancer. We have statistics, but people aren't statistics. Your dad has already survived twice as long as "average" for someone with stage 4 disease, so maybe he will continue to disprove statistics awhile longer. Fatigue can be a sign of cancer progression, but it can also be a side effect of all the treatments we give people. As far as spread, here is an article that talks about where lung cancer spreads and common symptoms people may have when it does (there are links at the bottom of each section that go into more detail on spread to different regions of the body) http://lungcancer.about.com/od/typesoflungcancer/a/Where-Does-Lung-Cancer-Spread.htm That said, people may not have any symptoms when lung cancer spreads, or conversely, they may have symptoms that suggest spread but are due to something unrelated to lung cancer. My heart goes out to you and everyone here. I will keep you in my prayers and will continue to advocate for lung cancer as long as I can speak or as long as anyone has to face this disease.
—Guest Daddy's girl

Feel Guilty

Mom was just always ok. 73 she was in pain so we took her to a physio. The physio said she must walk more and move. She spent December with me and between complaining of pain and my sister taking her to physio, I forced her to walk, today jan 29 2014 we find out she has stage 4 lung cancer metastised to the bone. My poor mom was is in pain and I was hard on her probably her last xmas. I will never forgive myself
—Guest Daughter

Lung cancer fluid on lungs

My mom has fluid on her lung and they found cancer cells in it so its makin it stage four I don't understand. Editor's note: It sounds like your mom as what is known as a malignant pleural effusion -- that is fluid around the lung with cancer cells in it. Until just a few years ago this would have been considered stage 3, but now if someone has a malignant pleural effusion lung cancer is considered stage 4. While stage 4 isn't curable, it is treatable.

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How Are You Coping With Your Stage 4 Diagnosis?

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  5. Stage 4 Lung Cancer Diagnosis - Coping With Stage 4 Lung Cancer Diagnosis

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